For an area so rich in agriculture, grapes were never very popular — until recently.
A report, conducted in October 2016 and released this year, shows northeastern New York has seen a huge bump in grape production since 2001.
The report, “Grape Production in the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Region,” said the growth has been particularly notable in Saratoga, Washington, Essex and Clinton counties.Those four counties went from close to zero acres of grape production in 2001 to nearly 100 acres in 2012.
“We have seen a proliferation of vineyards, along with hops, cheese and fiber niche industries, able to take advantage of the infrastructure built by our local dairy industry,” said Greenwich Supervisor Sara Idleman, in a news release.Locally, the increase in grape production has been credited to the boom in the craft beverage industry.
“The wineries have really taken off and not only contribute to our local economy, but help keep our communities strong and maintain our agrarian land base and the rural quality of life our business owners and employees want,” Idleman said.
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Local winery owners have pointed to the assistance they receive from groups such as Cornell Cooperative Extension.
“From site evaluation for planting our first vines and best management production practices to winemaking techniques and the business of tasting rooms, the assistance of the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program has directly benefited our farm business,” said Gerry Barnhart, owner and operator of Victory View Vineyards in Easton.
Cornell Cooperative has been able to assist grape growers more in recent years because of “the advent of grape varieties that tolerate NY winters.”
In response to the report, the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program, a branch of Cornell Cooperative Extension, has hired a specialist to promote the grape industry and assist growers in 17 northeastern New York counties.