Finger Laking Good!

DSC_0429

I am embarrassed to say that I had never been to the Finger Lakes until recently even though I only live about 6 hours away from them by car.  And for those of you who may not know, the Finger Lakes are in upstate New York, a few hundred miles south of Lake Ontario and were carved out by glacier streams millions of years ago.  There are actually 11 lakes, in an area that was once the heart of the Iroquois nation.  The largest three are Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga, which are also home to hundreds of vineyards.  In fact, you might be surprised to learn that New York is the third largest wine producing state in the country after California and Washington.

Which brings me to the point of this post, Finger Lakes wine.  And my what wine.  The area really is a gem, even a national treasure for high-quality wines from grapes grown on estates of many of the vineyards along the lakes. I had the good fortune of visiting some of those vineyards with my wife this past week and sampling some of the delicious new releases.  Actually, we visited 7 vineyards, sampling wines at 6; buying several bottles at each, while wining and dining at another.  Nearly all of the vineyards/wineries were located on top of a hill overlooking a lake and the vineyards below. One of the reasons for the impressive wines can be found in the microclimates the lakes create which extend the growing seasons by moderating the temperatures – cooler in the summer; warmer in the fall.  The generally cooler climate of upstate NY makes the Finger Lakes perfect for grapes like Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir and a range of hybrid and native grapes perfect for blending.

DSC_0445

Bully Hill Vineyards, Hammondsport, NY

We stayed in the quaint town of Penn Yan, between Keuka and Seneca Lakes. If you plan on hitting the wine trails, Penn Yan is a good place to stay.  You’ll be within 20 minutes of dozens of wineries that are generally open for tastings year round. While we only visited a half dozen or so wineries, we did go to some of the better known ones including, Dr. Frank, Ravines, Bully Hill, Herron Hill, Anthony Road, Keuka Spring and Fox Run.  For recommendations on which wines to buy, I would urge you to sample wines in a wine flight first.  Most of the wineries offer 5 selections for 5 dollars.  Buy what you like.  If you don’t want to spend the money on tastings or prefer just to buy wine, definitely look for the many outstanding examples of dry Rieslings some of the best on the planet, and what the Finger Lakes are increasingly known for, but don’t discount the drier reds as well – you can find delightful Cabernet Francs, Merlots, Pinot Noirs and Lembergers at nearly every winery you visit. The late harvest Rieslings and Vignoles and Ice Wines, if not sold out, might also be good values if you like sweet wines. Fox Run has a tremendous Tawny Port for the fortified wine lover. The cheaper table wines, what the Finger Lakes were once known for in the early days of the industry, are mostly sweeter and from hybrid grapes or native grapes that while quaffable, may not be as complex as the vinifera variety you may be accustomed to drinking.

FLX Wine

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: