FL Grape Growers Help Hospitalized Vineyardist

This Saturday and Sunday, April 10 and 11, grape growers, winemakers, viticulture experts, friends, neighbors and even strangers will gather at Ray Emery’s 60-some acre vineyard on the west side of Keuka Lake for two days of hard work. Why? To ensure that he has a grape crop in the fall. Emery has been hospitalized for well over a month due to a serious lung condition called Wegener’s Disease. His hospitalization comes at a time when he would ordinarily be preparing his vines for the growing season ahead. In a normal year, by now, posts have been straightened or replaced, wire has been tightened, and vines have been trimmed and tied. But Ray’s vineyard on Darby Corners Road between Pulteney and Branchport are way behind schedule. Enter a group of caring and competent friends and colleagues who are putting their own busy lives and businesses on hold to help a man in need – and a plan is hatched. A series of work bees have begun to get Ray’s vineyard back on track.The first of at least three work bees took place last Saturday. It was organized by Don Tones, Jim Bedient and several other Finger Lakes vineyardists who shared their expertise with a couple dozen inexperienced volunteers, loaned their equipment and put in a full day of hard labor to get the job underway. Some straightened and pounded posts. Others stretched and stapled wires.The next work session will take place this Saturday, with an expected turnout of 50 or more volunteers. Some will keep pounding posts and tightening wire. Others will trim and tie. Those with experience will again train novices and work closely with them to prepare as much of Emery’s land and plants as possible. On Sunday, they’ll do it all over again.Last Saturday’s volunteers were from all age groups and represented several surrounding counties. One man is putting all the vineyard expenses on his own credit card. Others are donating machinery, tools and heavy equipment. The vineyardists are sharing their expertise and teaching ordinary people how to work the vines. One man is assessing the scope of work to be done and rounding up the materials and equipment needed. An area caterer is donating lunch on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday. Others are planning a fundraiser. People as far away as Florida have sent money to help keep Ray’s health insurance paid. It takes a village.Yesterday friends learned that Ray may be coming home from the hospital this weekend and may be able to see this grassroots outpouring of support in action.Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation says, “Grape growers care about each other, and care for each other.”Emery Vineyard is located at 11470 County Route 78, Prattsburgh, NY 14873. Locals know this road as Darby Corners Road, which runs from Branchport to Pulteney. From Branchport, go up Italy Hill past Hunt County Winery. Take the first left and drive south on Darby Corners Road. The vineyard is on the east side of the road just past Coryell Road. Organizers will be there at 7:00 am. Volunteers are expected to get started around 8:00 am. Donations are being accepted to help pay for vineyard and health care costs. Checks made out to Ray Emery may be sent to Ray Emery c/o Steve Marchionda, 163 Main Street, Penn Yan, NY 14027.Note to the press: If you would like to pursue this compelling story, we invite you to come to the Emery Vineyard this weekend where you’ll see a community working together to help a man in need. The contact below will put you in contact with key people involved.

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