Vineyard Worker, Mike Betts
Mike is originally from Rochester, but his parents bought property in Valois in 1967. Since then, he’s loved the atmosphere and the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes. Mike first worked at a commercial vineyard when he was twelve, and he had that job until he was twenty-one and joined the Navy.
Since 2012, Mike has worked at Atwater, and he enjoys the people, the gorgeous view, and the work environment. While he works primarily in the vineyard, he also has shifts in the tasting room. For him, seeing the results of the crops each harvest and the response of the customers to the wine is the most gratifying part of the job.
He thinks that Atwater fans may be interested that some of our grapes are picked by machine, but many are also picked by hand in what can be an intense process done in weather of all kinds.
Mike’s hobbies include darts, golf, and spending time with his two mastiffs. His favorite Atwater wine is Blaufränkisch. In fact, he loves the wine so much, one of his dogs is named Lucas Blaufränkisch Syrah and the other Syrah Blaufränkisch!
Our harvest season ended on November 5 with late harvest Riesling last off the yellowing autumn vines. Be sure to tune in to our LIVE webcam to watch the vineyard transition from fall to winter.
September was generally dry with many warm and sunny days along with cooler nights—ideal ripening weather.
Although we usually have a hard frost by mid-October that causes the leaves to drop from the vines, this year, without such a hard frost, they have been able to send their nutrients from the leaves to the roots on their own time. This process accounts for the yellowing across the vineyard. As harvest season comes to a close, the vineyard crew is shifting to vineyard maintenance. They are removing unproductive or underperforming vineyards to rest and cover crop the soil for a couple of years before replanting with varieties that better suit our site. They are also installing trellis in our new blocks, repairing trellis that was broken throughout the year, and improving trellis setups so that we can manage our canopy better and more efficiently which will help with ripening and disease control. There are also many miles of posts and wires that support the vines that have to be maintained.
We have a short window when there are no grapes on the vines and the ground is not frozen when we can make these repairs and this is a critical time for setting up next year.
Fermentations are proceeding at a good clip in the cellar and while a few Rosés have gone dry, the majority of our whites are still marching along. The last of the red fermentations are winding down and are all now pressed off their skins. Those reds will be making their way into barrels where they will finish both alcoholic and malolactic fermentations before they begin their winter hibernation. The next stage will begin looking at each individual wine to assess whether it needs any corrective intervention. This usually involves a series of blending bench trials to determine how best to finish the wine.
NEW WINE RELEASES
We are happy to announce that we've added two more states to our ship list: Maine and Oklahoma. In 2020, we hope to examine the regulations and licensing fees for additional states. Although we would love to be able to ship directly to every state, each has different laws. Some do not allow wineries to ship to consumers, and some have taxes and licensing fees cost prohibitive for a winery of our size.
Are you curious about wine shipping rules to your state? The website FREE THE GRAPES summarizes state-by-state legislation.
On October 13, wine club members joined us for our annual Hands on Harvest, an immersive experience that teams club members with our harvest crew and winemakers to provide a unique perspective on the winemaking process.
After an orientation with Vineyard Manager Chris King, participants hand-picked Riesling then joined winemaker George Nosis for an introduction to the press deck where they got to sample wine at various stages in the production process. The afternoon closed with a lovely lunch paired with a selection of our wines.
We were thankful for a beautiful day with lovely weather and appreciated our club members who traveled near and far to join us for this special event.
George Nosis, Winemaker
In 2008 George began working at a Sweet Land Farm, a CSA in Trumansburg, New York. There, he learned the fundamentals of managing a 20-acre farm operation and gained hands-on experience in the fields producing both vegetable and fruit crops. At the same time, he founded a self-financed, small-scale educational winery to explore vinifying techniques of red vinifera varieties from the Finger Lakes Region. During this period, he produced wines from five different vintages to establish his style of
Since 2014, George has been assistant winemaker at Atwater Vineyards and has appreciated having Vinny, who is always willing to share his knowledge and expertise, as a mentor. George has brought his signature inventiveness and work ethic to the position and in winemaking has found an ideal combination of science and art.
One of the things George enjoys most about Atwater is that the entire process is conducted on our extraordinary site. From growing the grapes in the vineyard to making the wine on the same property and meeting customers in the tasting room, he enjoys seeing the process from start to finish. He also appreciates the seasonality of winemaking, both in terms of how the winemaker’s tasks change throughout the year and how vintages change over time. This year, he’s particularly proud of the opportunity to share the winemaking process with our wine club members and guest through events
such as Hands on Harvest.
George’s ongoing passion is working with wild fermentation which is being used in three 2019 wines: Pétillant Naturel (70% Riesling, 30% Gewürztraminer), skin fermented wine (Pinot Gris), and Cabernet Franc. In August, he was a featured speaker at the Finger Lakes Fermentation Festival, sharing his knowledge of wild fermentation with the community.
Outside of work, he enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors on his Burdett property with his wife, Aimee, and four rescue dogs. He also is a fan of reading and movies.
He loves to pair salads with Atwater’s Dry Rosé of Blaufränkisch 2018.
Patrick McGloon, one of our vineyard crew, was born and raised in Geneva, New York. Because his father was in the military, his family often moved. They left the Finger Lakes region for Idaho when Patrick was around eight and there he caught the agriculture bug, planting mint, picking beets, and bailing hay. After his father retired from the military and moved to the private sector, the family moved to Northern Virginia. During 9/11, his father was working at the National Headquarters of the American Red Cross. After a few years Patrick's family moved to Marcellus when his dad took a job at Welch Allyn. In Marcellus, Patrick met his wife, Lindsay, who was going to school in Rochester while Patrick was trucking in Syracuse.
Patrick was an avid home-brewer, and Lindsay encouraged him to look into the Viticulture and Wine Technologies program at Finger Lakes Community College. After completing that program, he obtained an internship at Three Brothers Wineries. Patrick worked on various farms on Cayuga and Keuka Lake and at Ravines Wine Cellars and Mackinaw Trail Winery in Northern Michigan before landing back in the Finger Lakes at Atwater Estate Vineyards. His favorite thing about working at Atwater is the family atmosphere. He also enjoys converting older blocks to Scott Henry Training systems from High Wire Cordon/Umbrella trellis management systems.
This season, Patrick has enjoyed witnessing many firsts at Atwater. We had our first harvest of Gruner Veltliner this season, and we planted two new varieties on our farm: Lagrein and Zweigelt.
Outside of work Patrick enjoys spending time with his extended family, wife, and 3-½ year old daughter on camping trips exploring the Finger Lakes. He is also an avid horror movie fan!
Patrick's favorite Atwater wines are the Big Blend and the Skin Fermented Gewürztraminer/Chardonnay. Big Blend is one of the first Finger Lakes Bordeaux-style blends he ever tasted, and he fell in love with it. He thinks Vinny is a superb red wine maker and the consistency of Big Blend is second to none. The Gewürztraminer/Chardonnay almost drinks like a bourbon as it opens up the closer it gets to room temperature once its been chilled.
Patrick is the exception to the rule and feels lucky he was able to attend school for something that he wanted to do and then make it his career.