LODI, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Wineries took a financial hit from the pandemic but our weather pattern this summer may help them make a comeback, including those at Boundary Breaks Vineyard in Lodi, NY.

“When the restaurant industry closed down, we saw a kind of abrupt end in sales to restaurants,” said one of the owners, Bruce Murray.

He and his wife Diana felt the hit in March but the pandemic also brought them new customers, who were avoiding planes and instead choosing to drive to the Finger Lakes, some of them for the first time.

I would say the number of people coming through our front door here at our location on the east side of Seneca Lake has doubled. With the loss of all our restaurant sales, the increasing number of visitors here for tasting at our site has made up for that.

Bruce Murray

It’s been forcing them to get creative and take their taprooms outside. “Everyone was separated, they sat at chairs and tables, we served them as you might expect to be served in an outdoor cafe or an outdoor restaurant,” said Murray.

In the middle of all that tasting, mother nature gave them a gift.

“Generally speaking for everyone in the region, this might have been the best year in the last ten years. We got less rain. So, less moisture tends to be positive for grapevines,” said Murray.

Dry heat is really good for winemaking purposes because if the vine itself is suffering you know, not having enough water, it actually transfers more of what’s in the soil as minerals, into grapes. You get more of the minerals from the soil and you create these really rich grapes and you don’t have plenty, but that’s very high quality.

Syracuse University Professor of Supply Chain Management Burak Kazaz

According to Syracuse University Professor of Supply Chain Management Burak Kazaz, many wineries were also hit by hail storms, including Boundary Breaks.

Boundary Breaks Vineyard

They lost 75% of their foliage at the time, but because the hail storm hit their vineyard in June, which is earlier in the season, the Murray’s got lucky. The plants produced a second crop so they weren’t completely wiped out.

Kazaz has been traveling through the Finger Lakes and saw first-hand the impact of hail storms at a number of vineyards. If wineries weren’t lucky enough to have a second budding, he recommends two strategies to boost sales:

  • Work with restaurants and bars who may be able to sell bottles of wine with takeout
  • Work with wine-club members and enable online shipping

As for Murray, he’s still rooting for restaurants to recover.

“We still need to get our wines into people’s glasses,” he said. Many loyal customers start with samples at a restaurant.