Dozens Turn Out to Help Ailing Vineyardist

On Saturday, April 10, nearly 100 people turned out at Emery Vineyards in Pulteney, NY on the west side of Keuka Lake to help Ray Emery, an area grape grower who has been hospitalized for nearly two months. Emery has Wegeners disease, a serious illness that affects the lungs and other organs. Another 50 volunteers (some repeats, some new) continued work on Sunday.Fellow grape growers, winemakers, long time friends and people who just wanted to help Emery spent the weekend pounding posts, trellising, pruning and tying vines on his 60‐some acre vineyard in Steuben County.Don Tones, a grape grower from Branchport, coordinated the “work bee” (as it is called in the agricultural community). Tones said on Sunday, “We’ve made a big dent in the work. The trellising has been completed so we’re down to trimming and tyinga lot of vines. Work on the more sensitive Seyvals is now complete. We could have lost them, but we feel they’re in good shape now.”A remarkable mix of people of all ages and all walks of life worked side by side over the weekend at whatever task needed. Experts taught novices basic skills. Art Hunt of Hunt Vineyards, for instance, showed a group of six volunteers how to trimConcords. The group had traveled from Watertown with Deanna Nelson, Assistant Attorney General for the Watertown region, who grew up near Emery’s vineyardthirty years ago. When Nelson saw a post on Facebook about Emery’s illness and the bee, she rallied a carload of friends to come on an adventure with her—among them a periodontist, two teachers, a caterer and a nutritionist, none of whom knew RayEmery. Meanwhile, Greg Tones showed novices such as Erin Brown from Baldwinsville how to tie the more sensitive Seyvals.The volunteer force read like a who’s who of Finger Lakes viticulture: owners and managers of vineyards, winemakers, excavators, educators and advocates of the wine and grape industry.Doug Miles of Miles Wine Cellars in Himrod came to help out while his wife ran their own vineyard. He added, “My daughter, Maren, is holding a bake sale today to help pay for Emery’s vineyard expenses.”Winemakers Guillaume Gashes (Dr. Frank Winery) and Bernard Cannac (Heron Hill Winery) are both originally from France. When asked if this sort of thing would happen in France, Cannac replied, “Yes, but a little differently. People from the closest village would help, but it is unlikely volunteers would come from so far away. This is very touching.”Helpers not directly connected to the wine and grape industry were out in force, as well, including a financial advisor, bank manager, pharmacist and Steuben County Sheriff, Joel Ordway from Canisteo. Ordway said, “I’m here because Ray supported me when I ran for office. It’s the least I can do.” Jane Russell, owner of Around the Corner Catering in Pulteney, donated lunch on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday. She joked, “I needed to choose betweentrimming grapes or cooking. I decided to stick with what I do best.”Gary Cronk, an excavator from Bluff Point, was there, in his words, “To pay back… I was in a similar situation 18 years ago, and people came to help me,” he said. “I’ll never forget how much that meant to me.” Cronk wasn’t alone. Richard Jerome of Jerome’s U‐Pick in Naples was also there because he’d been helped years ago when he had surgery.Age‐wise, every decade from 8 to 88 came to lend a hand. Eight‐year‐old Nate Nesbit was helping his dad, Terry, trim vines. Retired grape growers Barb and Walter Faber, now in their eighties, knew Emery’s grandparents. They both happily worked for long hours both days. Barb Faber explained, “He needs help, that’s what we’re here for. That’s why we’re here on this earth.”While trellising with his teen‐aged cousins, Emery’s son Ethan, 18, said, “Without all this help, my dad and I don’t know what we would have done.”Ray Emery was released from the hospital on Friday. When he woke up the next morning, dozens of people were in his vineyard… operating post‐poundingequipment, tightening and stapling wires, trimming Concords, tying Seyvals… all with one goal: to lend a hand to a well‐liked and respected community member in need. Several will be back during the next few weeks to continue work.Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation commented, “Grape growers are the salt of the earth—hard‐working, dedicated, caring people who never give up and are always ready to help one another. This well‐organized and well‐attended working bee provides another example of those characteristics. It has also been the grape growers who are largely responsible for all the progress the grape and wine industry has made over the past couple decades because it was their vision and promotion of unity that got the ball rolling.”Donations for assistance to Ray Emery may be sent to Ray Emery, c/o Steve Marchionda, 163 Main Street, Penn Yan, NY 14527.

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