A sustainable wine future in the Finger Lakes

April 23, about 40 from the wine and grape industry met at Heron Hill Winery to chart a sustainable future for the Finger Lakes wine region. The group included area growers and winemakers, along with experts from Cornell University and New York Wine & Grape Foundation. They talked about a plan first promoted more than a decade ago — VineBalance Guide to New York Viticulture — that outlines best practices to manage vine growth, weeds, diseases, insects, and soil fertility.

VineBalance is not an organic viticulture program with a defined set of allowable and unallowable practices. But it is a guide for making the most of using sound growing practices — addressing how various methods impact environmental, economic and social outcomes on the farm.

Heron Hill grower and co-owner John Ingle led off the discussion at the winery in Hammondsport, which included the VineBalance Guide along with additional thoughts on tackling the most current threats. Those include dealing with invasive species in the vineyard such as the spotted lanternfly that feeds on trees, hops and grapevines. While not yet a threat in New York state, the destructive insect is expected to soon be a problem.

Ingle said the Finger Lakes wine industry has succeeded in warding off past threats and can, as a united front, continue to do so.

“We sent the frackers packing, we fended off the garbage burners,” said Ingle. He referred to several examples of the Finger Lakes wine industry playing a significant role in protecting the region from environmental threats. Those resulted in a ban of natural gas hydraulic fracturing and trash incinerators and stopping a propane/natural gas storage facility from being built near Seneca Lake.

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