When you hear the words “New York”, your mind might go the flashing neon lights of Times Square, busy city streets with yellow cabs, and the glamorous stores of 5th avenue. But there is another New York many people are aware of, and that is of beautiful rolling farmland, waterfalls, cornfields, stunning mountains and clear river lakes. Most of New York state is in fact rural, and this is where the state’s gorgeous wine regions are located.
Frances and I visited the Finger Lakes a few weeks back, a mere 4 hour drive from the Hudson Valley, where we both reside. Sometimes the best jewels are right in your own backyard, and this is what we discovered. We spent our days there this time, around Seneca Lake, which has over 40 wineries and emerging as a very important wine region.
Wines from the Finger Lakes are mostly made form the vinifera specific grape varieties, however there are also some great examples of native American hybrids that produce noteworthy and interesting wines as well. The region has many French, German and Swiss immigrants who were experienced at grape growing and winemaking and the Finger Lakes has clearly benefited from this.
Riesling does exceptionally well in the Finger Lakes. In fact, few Rieslings in the United States can compare to the quality produced here, as they demonstrate a purity, preciseness and quality similar to those from Germany, Austria and Alsace. Although as of 2010, about 60% of all the wine produced in New York State was white, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir are also garnering attention from consumer and the wine press and showing more and more sophistication.
There are a number of other cool climate grapes being planted and grown such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, Rkatsiteli, Baco Noir, Cayuga, Seyval Blanc, Vidal, Lemberger, Blaufrankisch and Teroldego just to name a few. The climate is conducive not only to dry table wines, but also to sparkling and dessert wines such as late-harvest and ice wines.
In fact, there is such breadth of variety of grapes and wine styles, we were amazed and pleasantly surprised to discover the vibrant winemaking culture that exists in the Finger Lakes and how passionate the grape growers are about their wines.
While most of the wine produced in the Finger Lakes is sold and consumed locally, we were so impressed with the quality of the wines, the way the winemakers and vineyard managers were making the wine with such love and respect for nature, the environment and their land – we just knew we had to bring back some bottles for our club members.
Rest assured we brought back our top picks for you all, that will represent the variety of grapes and styles (red, white, sparkling and rose) as well as different wineries to showcase the breadth of offerings from the Finger Lakes. We are absolutely thrilled to send these bottles out to you in the fall – stay tuned, and if you haven’t signed up to one of our clubs yet, click the tab button “wine club” up top and do so today!
Other fun facts about the Finger Lakes:
✔︎ It’s the oldest wine district in New York
✔︎ 90% of the state’s wine is produced in the Finger Lakes
✔︎ As of 2014, there were 119 bonded wineries, and many more are forming
✔︎ The region is comprised of many lakes looking like fingers on a hand, hence the name Finger Lakes
✔︎ These lakes were carved by Ice Age glaciers, and the lakes significant to the wine industry include Cananadaigua, Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga.
✔︎ Among the Finger Lakes’ most historic and famous wineries are Dr. Konstantin Frank, Hermann J. Wiemer, Wagner Vineyards, Vinifera Wine Cellars and Bully Hill Vineyards.
✔︎ The women’s rights movement began in Seneca Falls in the Finger Lakes, with the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848.
- Facts and figures presented in this article were taken from The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil and Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine.