Do Wine Growers Gamble?

We spent several days visiting wineries and vineyards in the Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Niagara Escarpment region of Ontario. Although growers were optimistic, they hesitated to fully commit to a vintage year. Paul Lizak  of Legends Estate Winery in Beamsville shared that he was asked if he ever went to a casino to gamble. He responded that he gambles every day walking out to his vineyard.

Last weekend growers were looking forward to harvest. Then Tuesday it rained and people were gloomy looking on Tuesday and Wednesday. Owner Mauro Scarsellone of Ridgepoint Wines in Vineland said he won’t be happy until the grapes are in the tanks. Growers carefully watch the Gulf noting that remnants of hurricanes often make their way over parts of Ontario. Tuesday’s rains did not seem to matter much, brix and acids levels did not seem to drop.

Many wine enthusiasts don’t think of the optimism and pessimism of growers. Nothing is certain. Our Niagara grapes at home were at 12.5 brix prior to us traveling to Portland for a week in mid-August. When we returned home, the grapes were gone. It didn’t take the birds long to strip the vines. Another year that we were looking forward to ended in disappointment.

Now we wonder how things are going in the Atlas Peak area of Napa Valley. We are sourcing Cabernet Sauvignon from this AVA to craft a barrel of wine this autumn. So far, growers are optimistic about this year’s harvest. But we remember 2009, the last year we sourced grapes to make a barrel of Cab. Right before the Cabernet Sauvignon harvest, several inches of rain fell over California.

It seems that growers do gamble. Yes, they are eternally optimistic. However reality has a tendency to alter hopes and dreams. The same can be said for playing slots at a casino. Optimism is ever present, then reality shows up!


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