Austin Fingar out-cuts the competition in pruning contest

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Austin Fingar, back to camera, competing in the pruning competition.

When the FELCO Second Annual East Pruning Competition Contest was held at Anthony Road Wine Company Jan. 31 Penn Yan’s Austin Fingar, a Cornell University student, came away with a ticket to Switzerland.

Fingar grew up working in his family’s vineyards on Bluff Point overlooking Keuka Lake. He is a Cornell University student studying viticulture & enology, and is a past recipient of the Monty Stamp Scholarship.

The competition was conceived by the FELCO Company as an initiative to teach and demonstrate the importance of fine pruning in vineyards.

The FELCO Pruning contest targets young farmers and college students with a passion for viticulture and developing skills in fine pruning. Contestants are 18 or over, while underage contestants 17 years old are accepted with a signed letter from a parent stating permission for participation.

While each competitor receives a gift for participation, prizes for the winners of the competition include:

Collegiate Student Prize: Trip to Switzerland for 75th Anniversary of the FELCO company. Visit the factory, local vineyards, and attend the competition and celebration. (Sponsored in part by New York State Wine Grape Growers)

1st Place: Trip to Switzerland for FELCO’s 75th Anniversary to compete in the global pruning contest, including airfare, hotel stay, and tours for winner and one guest.

2nd Place: $300-dollar gift card and FELCO manual tool of choice (under $200 dollars)

3rd Place: $200-dollar gift card and FELCO manual tool of choice (under $100 dollars)

In addition to Fingar, contest results were:

• Pruning Champion: José Aguilera of Sheldrake Point Winery

• Second Place: Ellis Parseghian of Treleaven Winery

• Third Place: Roberto Aguilera of Ventosa Vineyards

FELCO has committed to grow this event over the coming years. To do this FELCO looked for sponsorship/support in the form of industry leaders, associations and institutions, who excel in the field.

New York native Ryan Amberg, FELCO Marketing and Business Development Manager for USA and Canada, found support from his alma mater, Cornell University via Russell Moss, a new member of the Cornell Viticulture and Enology team who is looking to try new ideas and efforts to put the industry’s hard-working vineyard managers in the spotlight.

Peter Martini graciously accepted as host of the event at his Anthony Road vineyard in Torrey, showing his dedication to bring more eyes on the industry in New York State as a great wine region. New York Farm Bureau supported the communication of the event.