Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) have agreed to establish a teaching and demonstration vineyard at the Anthony Road Wine Co. in the Yates County town of Torrey.
The 2.5-acre vineyard will serve as a site where CCE's Finger Lakes Grape Program can conduct applied research projects and demonstrations for current and prospective grape growers in the Finger Lakes region and beyond.
Students from FLCC's Viticulture and Wine Technology program will help conduct the research, provide most of the vineyard labor, such as pruning, shoot thinning and harvesting, and learn how characteristics of grapes translate into winemaking. Their curriculum was designed to enable the students to transfer into Cornell's four-year viticulture program; Cornell faculty and staff worked closely with FLCC to develop and implement the degree program.
The students will tend to a wide range of vines, including such well-known varieties as Catawba, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Cayuga White, and others that are new and upcoming such as Corot Noir and Marquis (both developed at Cornell), Grüner Veltliner, Marquette and an unnamed Cornell selection. The vineyard will also include a small planting of seedless table grapes that have been bred to grow well in Finger Lakes conditions.
"The partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension will allow the students firsthand access to current topics in Finger Lakes viticulture while expanding their networking opportunities," said Paul Brock, M.S. '07, FLCC instructor of viticulture/wine technology.
Hans Walter-Peterson, viticulture extension specialist and team leader for the Finger Lakes Grape Program, approached Brock earlier this year with a proposal for the demonstration vineyard after learning about a grant that could fund the project. CCE of Wayne County, on behalf of CCE's of Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, Wyoming and Yates counties, was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Genesee Valley Regional Marketing Authority to improve production of value-added agricultural products and the public's access to them, with a portion of those funds designated for the development of the teaching and demonstration vineyard. FLCC and the Finger Lakes Grape Program will evenly split the annual costs to operate the vineyard.
"These funds will allow us to develop a vineyard where we can test and demonstrate new and improved vineyard practices that will help Finger Lakes grape growers to improve the quality of their fruit while also increasing the sustainability and profitability of their farms," Walter-Peterson said. "Sharing this vineyard with FLCC will enable us to provide cutting-edge information and education not only for our current growers, but for the next generation of vineyard managers and winemakers as well."
About 35 students are enrolled in the FLCC viticulture program, which was developed with the help of winemakers, grape growers, faculty and staff from the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station and other industry members to train students for immediate employment in the growing wine industry.
The new teaching vineyard expands Cornell's viticulture resources, which include the Cornell Viticulture and Enology Program, Cornell Vineyard Research Laboratory in Fredonia, N.Y., (and that opened more than 100 years ago), the on-campus teaching winery that opened in 2009 and the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland, N.Y., that also opened in 2009.