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The Sweet Smell of Grapes in the Finger Lakes

The grape harvest is well underway in the Finger Lakes. The first of the big trucks started to roll about one week before Labor Day. One advantage of having a motorcycle is that you can explore the Finger Lakes countryside and experience the hills, valleys, and curves in three dimensions as they pass by you. You can also take in all of the odors from the homes, fields, and farms on your ride. It sort of adds a fourth dimension to the trip! I dearly love the smell of freshly cut hay in the summer. And then I can always recognize a dairy farm as I pass by due to the smell of the disinfectant used on the cows’ udders before milking. It’s a smell that I will never forget since I grew up on a family dairy farm.

In the waning days of summer in the Finger Lakes, the smell of ripening grapes adds to our olfactory pleasures. The smell is much like that a freshly opened jar of grape jam and is very pleasant to experience. Grapes are now one of the largest of the fruit crops grown in the Finger Lakes (next to apples) and they make New York the second largest wine producing state in the country (click here). Most commercial growers harvest the grapes with a mechanical picker, but many of the smaller vineyards are still harvested by hand.

Before fall arrives and the leaves on the trees begin to turn to their magnificent red, orange, and yellow colors, it’s well worth your time to take a “grape foliage tour” and experience the sights and smells of our Finger Lakes grapes. Of course, one must also stop at a few of the many wineries around the Finger Lakes and actually sample some of the juice. Most of the wineries will offer you either the fermented juice or just grape juice if you ask.

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