The Finger Lakes. After spending 4 years studying viticulture up here, the desire to come back at look at vines was dwindling in the back of my mind. But, after years away gaining exposure to the fine wines of the world, it was time to make the pilgrimage back… and my, things are changing! (and fast). Here’s a review of the map. The Finger Lakes are composed of 3 deep lakes: Keuka, Seneca, & Cayuga. The depth of the lakes moderates the climate on the shores, and creates a climate that has been equated to areas of Germany or Austria – fine wine growing areas.
Low and behold, a German gentleman, Dr. Konstantin Frank, thought just that, and was one of the pioneers planting vinifera vines. The region, which at the time was an epicenter for table & juice grape agriculture, then began the transition to quality winemaking.
The grape of choice: Riesling. Dry Riesling has become the face of quality Finger Lakes wine production. While Dr. Frank’s was one of the first, they are still making great riesling, but have moved to a newer focus on quality sparkling wine production.
One of the other highlights and eye openers for me was Keuka Lakes Vineyards. They are producing some great wines out of a small space, complete with a tasting room that more resembles a kitchen. It’s comfortable, the wines are good, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed – they’ve been picked up by many of the top restaurants in NYC. The Falling Man vineyard site is becoming one of the most recognized & valuable growing spots in the Finger Lakes. After having the opportunity to try it, I agree!
By car it takes about 5 hours to get from Manhattan to the vineyards, and don’t think it’s going to be a Napa-esque weekend. This is the country, beautiful country, but it is historically rural farm-country that is now changing. It is a RAPIDLY expanding region, and to take advantage of the youth & value now is an opportunity that should not be missed.