The Hudson River School, the Adirondack Mountains, Biggie Smalls: What do all of these things have in common? Well, they are all from the state of New York, along with; you guessed it, a rapidly growing wine industry. This month we are highlighting this exciting, up and coming region (don’t worry, Manischewitz didn’t make it onto the flight this month).
New York is definitely a young wine region when it comes to producing world class wine. If you’re thinking “I thought New York had an abundance of Concord grapes?”, you are correct. In fact, Welch’s grape juice is produced here and the majority of the grapes grown in New York are vitis-labrusca (concord) as opposed to vitis-vinifera (chardonnay, cabernet franc, riesling, etc). The main appellations in New York are the Finger Lakes, Hudson River Region and Long Island.
An approximate 5-hour drive North from Manhattan, the Finger Lakes AVA is home to the Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. While there are eleven lakes in total, these two play notably important roles in the climate as they help insulate the vineyards from harsh winter frosts and also keep things cooler in the hot summer months. The region owes a great deal to the Ukrainian-born professor of viticulture and plant sciences, Dr. Konstantin Frank. He was the first to grow vitis-vinifera grapes on the whole East Coast back in 1957. Since then, winemaking in the Finger Lakes has grown leaps and bounds and is especially well-known for top notch Riesling. Elegant Cabernet Francs, and a plethora of other varietals are grown here and the overall wine styles tend to be lighter, structured, and more moderate in alcohol. There are also some exceptional sparkling wines making their way to the forefront, as you will see in this month's flight with a fabulous brut nature from Red Tail Ridge. A crisp unoaked Chardonnay as well as a spicy Gewurtztraminer in the flight show off the range of wines from this appellation.
The Hudson River AVA is located immediately North of Manhattan with 500 acres of planted vineyards, and is known more for French/American hybrid grapes such as Vidal Blanc or Baco Noir but you can also find the cold-resistant varietals like Riesling, Chardonnay or Cabernet Franc. Sandwiched between the Shawangunk hills and Hudson River, vineyards can be insulated from the potentially harsh North Eastern winters, but the cold is definitely a problem here. Additionally, warm humid summers can cause challenges with vine diseases.
The first winery opened in Long Island in 1973. The summers here are warm but the cooling winds coming off of the Atlantic Ocean assist in maintaining ideal growing temperatures in the vineyards. Fun fact, no vineyard on Long Island is further than 11.5 miles from the ocean! With its maritime climate, Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc do very well here. They also successfully grow Syrah, Blaufrankisch, Friulano and Refosco grapes. This month's red blend from Long Island makes for an impressive yet easy to drink bottle great for warm summer evenings.
New York State is only continuing to blossom as a wine region. If you are a curious drinker don't sleep on these wines!
The Tasting Room Flight
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