Fruit of the Vine

by Mark on September 2, 2010

Photo by Valerie Knoblauch

Pedaling out of Naples, New York at the southern point of Canandaigua Lake, the group pace is brisk. The skies are grey and a cool autumn breeze brushes wisps of fog along the lake. As we climb a hill, a luscious aroma captures us. Bordering each side of the road, like purplish-blue curtains, are vineyards bursting with grapes. It is harvest time in the Finger Lakes.

Tractors stack boxes along the rows. Migrant workers arrive with hopes of a big payday in the frosty north before returning to warmer climates. 9,000 acres must be picked along the shores of 10 Finger Lakes between Rochester and Syracuse. These long and narrow waterways carve into the southern hills, creating magnificent fjord-like vistas. The region is second to California in grape production.

The largest portion of the harvest will flow to the 100 local wineries. The Finger Lakes have come a long way since the early 1980’s when the region was best known for ‘Mad Dog’ and other vintages guzzled out of paper sacks. Now, the area’s Rieslings and other white wines receive international awards. A good place to sample one is Dr. Konstantin Frank on picturesque Keuka Lake, where John Travolta is rumored to be ‘cottage hunting.’ Or you can appraise a bottle of Cabernet Franc while brunching at Sheldrake Point on Cayuga Lake, enjoying the strings of a Cornell quartet. Limos and buses safely transport wine enthusiasts up and down the rolling roads.

The remaining harvest is exported to vineyards in other states or sold to grocers to decorate our plates. Finally, there are the joyous celebrations at the grape festivals. Naples hosts the area’s biggest . The highlight is the grape pie eating contest where the winner’s wardrobe is permanently stained tie-die purple.

Back on the bike a chalky patch of blue is piercing through the clouds. Maple and hickory trees project a brilliant red and gold canopy. A beam of sunshine illuminates the vineyard’s greens, blues, and purples. The mirrored lake reflects the magnificent kaleidoscope. My heart skips a beat and my legs pedal faster as a Mark Twain quote comes to mind. “Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

meg January 27, 2011 at 7:25 am

The photo at the top of this blog post was taken by Valerie Knoblauch (my boss). The view is as you describe, overlooking Canandaigua Lake, looking North as you leave Naples, NY. And you are right about the wonderful smell of grapes at that time of year around the Finger Lakes. Heavenly. This photo was taken at sunrise in 2009. So glad that you picked it up. Would you be able to add a photo credit? Or even a link to our website?
I very much enjoyed reading your post.

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