Long Island Wine Region - Climate
Climate and Soils and Long Island Terroir
Long Island's maritime climate and its unique glacial soils form the key natural components of our terroir. Our long, warm summers are tempered by cooling breezes off the Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean that prevents excessive summer heat. The surrounding water gives off warmth to the East End that extends summer into a mellow fall, allowing us ample time to ripen our fruit well into October and November. It also provides buffering breezes during the winter months, protecting the vineyards and allowing us to be the largest producer of European grapes in the Northeast.
Our climate is characterized by warm summer day temperatures and warm summer night temperatures creating a relatively low diurnal fluctuation and moderate rainfall in each month of the growing season. Although, nearly every summer contains a stretch of dry weather lasting 3-4 weeks. Our average growing season accumulates between 2,700-3,200 Growing Degree Days (UC Davis system, >50F) depending on the distance of the vineyard site to cooling breezes coming off the Ocean and Sound. The hamlet of Cutchogue, in the heart of the North Fork of Long Island AVA, is considered the sunniest location in New York State, indicating that Long Island wine country has relatively high insolation.
Our soils are formed in glacial outwash till from the retreat of the Wisconsin-age glaciers of 10,000 years ago. Their excellent internal drainage, modest fertility and moderate water-holding capacity control and limit the impact of the periodic summer rains, controlling vine growth and promoting grape ripening in the fall. The three main soil types are the Haven Loam and Riverhead Sandy Loam on the North Fork and the Bridgehampton Silt Loam and Haven Loam on the South Fork.
Our moderate climate with plenty of sun allows Long Island to grow and ripen well, an array of grape varieties from the most dependable and widely planted duo-Chardonnay and Merlot—to the whites Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Gruner Veltliner, Albarino, Chenin Blanc, Semillion, Tocai Friulano, Pinot Blanc, and the reds, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenere, Blaufrankisch, Dornfelder, Syrah, and Pinot Noir.
Long Island Wine Council
5120 Sound Avenue
PO Box 600
Riverhead, NY 11901
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