Cost of Establishment and Production of Vinifera Grapes in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, 2010
White, Gerald B.
In recent years there has been increased interest in the Finger Lakes, as well as in other parts of New York State and the eastern United States, in planting Vitis vinifera grapes for premium wine production. Acreage of red varieties such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc all increased in the most recent orchard and vineyard survey compiled by the New York Agricultural Statistics Service in 2006. Acreage of Riesling increased by 60 percent from the 2001 survey, while Chardonnay decreased by 16 percent. Overall, vinifera acreage increased by 38 percent (to 1596 acres) in the Finger Lakes in the five year period, led by Riesling, with a total acreage of 543. Vinifera accounted for 18 percent of grape acreage in the Finger Lakes. The acreage report by variety will not be conducted again until next year. However, it is likely to show strong growth, as indicated by the total production of vinifera grapes in New York state which has increased from 4,670 tons in 2000 to 9,790 tons in 2010, an annual growth rate of over seven per cent for the decade. There has been an increase in consumer demand for quality wines (interspecific French American hybrid and V. vinifera cultivars, or designated appellations). Wine consumption in the United States has increased by about 3.3 percent during the last 10 years driven by good news regarding the health benefits of moderate wine consumption. New York is gaining stature as a producer of high quality wines that command premium prices, and the Finger Lakes has benefited from a surge of sales and interest nationally in Riesling varietal wines over the past three years. However, the prices received by Finger Lakes growers for vinifera grapes did decline for all major varieties in 2008 and 2009, probably due both to the recession in the US economy, and increased plantings of vinifera in New York in recent years. Prices for the major vinifera varieties rebounded slightly in 2010.