I went to college in upstate New York - in Ithaca to be exact. When I first realized that my school was in the middle of the Finger Lakes wine region, I got pretty excited. I figured there would be plenty of opportunities for some wine tasting with new friends *obviously* once i turned 21! helloooo!?! The first winery I remember visiting was Treleaven, on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake. Though my palate of newly of legal drinking age was still inexperienced and unsure, I did enjoy a few of their Rieslings, a Cabernet Franc, and a Seyval Blanc. I left with a bottle of Semi-dry Riesling(with lots of residual sugar) and a 375 of ice wine to drink at home. (Yes, I totally loved ONLY sweet wines back in the beginning, who else is with me on that??)
Flash forward six years - Here I am, working at Snooth, I've just completed the Advanced Certificate for the WSET, and I have a much more experienced palate ( Evidence !). Maybe its just me, but since learning about the magnitude of wine's impact on world culture, I tend to be more fascinated by wines from foreign places, as they are, well, foreign. I've grown an affinity for wines from the Rhone Valley, Northern Spain, and South America. I definitely gravitate to these sections when I enter a wine store or search online.
I decided it was time to ask myself some important questions. When was the last time I opened a bottle from Upstate New York? Can I remember? Have I forgotten that I lived in this wine region for four years of my life and really enjoyed drinking the local wine? In one of my WSET classes, the lecturers asked why New Yorkers seem to be so enamored with famed French wines and classics from Napa, yet rarely enjoy our own state's products. Its a good point. Why don't we find more New York State wine on New York State wine lists and in New York State wine stores?
I decided to break free from the 'shackles' of my love for Chliean Malbec and just do it. On Saturday night, I opened a Hosmer Seyval Blanc that I had been saving since my last visit to Ithaca. It was dry and crispy and had a very refreshing apple and citrus flavor, not too dissimilar from an Austrian Müller-Thurgau or Chablis. I proudly continued to drink, because whats not to be proud of? We New Yorkers make some good wines and we shouldn't forget it.
Since I know the area surrounding Cayuga Lake better than the other Finger Lakes , I can wholeheartedly suggest trying Cayuga Lake wineries Hosmer (their dry riesling wins wine awards annually), Sheldrake Point, and newcomer Thirsty Owl.
What NYS wines do you like? Don't you heart New York too?
Proud to be an New Yorker! (I'm talkin' Upstate)
- Reply by Philip James, Jan 23, 2008.
The Finger Lakes holds a special place in the evolution of my wine life, as in one weekend there i managed to try 12 new varieties. It was that trip that got me to the elusive century and now i'm proud to be a member of the wine century club as evidence!
Whilst I may not frequent them as much as I should, I admire the stores and restaurants that stick to a specific region. Vintage New York in the West Village of Manahattan does exactly that.
- Reply by qipengart, Nov 18, 2009.
I'm a straight up New Yawker, outta Queens!
- Reply by schellbe, Nov 18, 2009.
I grew up In Rochester, so I know the Finger Lakes fairly well. I like Lamoreaux Landing, Red Newt, and Standing Stone, also Lafayette Reneau and Herman J Wiemer. Sheldrake Point and Hosmer are also very good. There are some good Keuka Lake wines, some better than Dr. Frank, which I think is overrated. The best wines are Riesling and Gewurz. Be sure to try the latter. Some good Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir are made in good years, definitely in a lighter style.
I can't speak for downstate or Hudson Valley wines. I think I've been to NYC or Long Island less than ten times in my life, and now live in the Rockies, so I don't get to any of these areas much any more. Last visit to Finger Lakes was in 07 on our honeymoon.
- Reply by TL NJ, Nov 19, 2009.
"why New Yorkers seem to be so enamored with famed French wines and classics from Napa, yet rarely enjoy our own state's products. Its a good point. Why don't we find more New York State wine on New York State wine lists and in New York State wine stores?"
Im a NY/NJ person, too and I try to get out to Long Island, Hudson valley and Cape May County (NJ) as often as I can. What I've been learning from visiting so often is that it comes down to simple supply and demand. It is so unfortunately that some of the most densely populated region in the country (metro NY), with some of the highest real estate value in the world is finally realizing that it also happens to have excellent wine growing climate and geography. LI and Hudson just does not, and probably never will be able to get the space it needs to produce the volume to sell outside of their direct customer base. Its unfortunate because I think LI is making some great Cab Franc, and Hudson Valley had some fantastic chardonnay, and Rieslings. There are some halfway decent wineries scattered throughout North NJ, but I have taken a few trips down to Cape May county - and they are doing some really interesting things down there. I hope they soon master get some recognition because they certainly have plenty of land to expand if it all works out.
- Reply by FLWinepourer, Nov 20, 2009.
I pour Finger Lakes wine as a volunteer - best "job" in the world, as you meet lots of people from all over the world and are usually making them happy! Our Rieslings are wonderful and it is hard to find a truly bad one (OK, there are a few that are not so hot...). One of my favorites is from Red Tail Ridge which is on Seneca Lake. I am a dry Riesling fan although some of the semi-drys I do enjoy....
- Reply by grandstick, Nov 20, 2009.
After working for Cayuga wineries for many years, I am still in love with what this region has to offer. I find myself missing everything about creating these wines - planting, tending, harvesting, tasting... - but mostly enjoying the end product as they mature over the years.
I always look forward to sampling the latest creations while visiting my family in Lodi.
- Reply by Terry M, Nov 20, 2009.
I have a wine store Upstate, and some of my most popular wines are Finger Lakes Rieslings.
I stand in concurrence with schellbe - Lamoreaux, Standing Stone, Wiemer, and Lafayette are some of the best (and Dr Frank, though highly touted, does do a great job too). Also give Anthony Road a shot - Wine Spectator thinks rather highly of what their doing. They have some very nice wines, and a German winemaker.
In addition to Riesling and Cab Franc, there are some very good Meritage blends being produced, as well as ice-style wines.
My knowledge of the Hudson Valley is limited to Brotherhood. I think they make some fine wines, and their Blanc de Blanc is decent for the price (a lot better than Andre's or Cook's). From what I've heard they have recently undergone a quality revolution with their wines, and they continue to improve year over year.
- Reply by hannij, Nov 21, 2009.
Just came back from my first NY wine experience - a friend's wedding at Wolffer Estates on LI. The location was beautiful and the wine...amazing. Hands down one of the best roses I have tasted (and we had just came back from 1 week in Provence, France where we tasted some wonderful roses). We were very impressed by the cab franc and the cab franc blends. We also enjoyed the sparkling! We liked it all so much, we crammed 5 bottles in our suitcases to bring back to Canada and we are ordering more for our wedding next year!
We have yet to try out the Finger Lakes - but I am definitely looking forward to some trips!