Wine grape harvest is looking good for many Leelanau County growers

Grapes are coming off the vines, but this time it’s by growers and not because of a weather anomaly. ( photo)

LEELANAU COUNTY, Mi. (WPBN/WGTU) - Grapes are coming off the vines, but this time it’s by growers and not because of a weather anomaly.

Warm summer temperatures helped ripen wine grapes in northern Michigan, and now many growers in Leelanau County are looking forward to a good crop as they start to harvest their grapes.

"From what I've heard everybody’s really happy with their crop so far this year,” said Paula Ciccone, Wine Production Manager at Ciccone Vineyard and Winery. “We've had two years, last year, like I said, we had nothing last year and the year before we had very little because we had the two polar vortex winters, and then this year they just kind of bounced back."

Workers at Ciccone Vineyards have been picking grapes since Monday.

Ciccone said they will likely be picking grapes for about a month. The time varies based on how many workers they have.

"This year it's huge so far,” said Ciccone. “We're just picking the Pinot Noir so far. It looks like it's going to be as big as our biggest year, which was 2012, but that's just the Pinot Noir."

Some growers are waiting for the grapes to get sweeter before picking them.

One way for that to happen is with warm temperatures and sunlight.

"Grapes are ready when they meet a certain brix, that would be sugar count, and the pH, and we do look at the acidity too,” said Creighton Gallagher, Owner of Rove Estate Vineyard. “Once our winemaker sees that they have met these requirements then we go ahead and start picking."

Growers are taking extra precautions to prevent damage to their grapes so they can have as big of a crop as possible.

“The nets mainly are for the birds. It keeps birds out. We also have a hawk call. It's a predator call that keeps the birds away,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher said he's hoping to start picking grapes in a few weeks.

He's would like to harvest at least 25 tons of grapes. There are 150-gallons of wine per ton.

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