New York State is the third-largest wine-producing region in America. It has over 400 wineries located predominantly in five official wine regions: Long Island, Finger Lakes, Hudson River, Lake Erie and Niagara Escarpment.
Similar to famous European vineyards of Burgundy, Champagne and Germany, New York is considered a cool climate region, although it is a little bit further south than those regions, as well as Washington State, and on a similar latitude to Oregon.
Each wine region of New York State has its own distinct climate, landscape, character and wine varieties.
About two hours from New York City lies the Long island region. With its sandy soil and maritime climate, it is best known for the reds – classic Bordeaux blends, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Separated by Great Peconic Bay, the Long island is split into two forks, with most of the wineries located on the north fork and only four on the south one.
Finger Lakes wine country is centered around four main lakes: Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga. The region specializes in Sparkling wines, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Ice Wine. Regional hybrids and Native American varietals include Catawba, Niagara, Cayuga.
Hudson River is one of the oldest wine making and grape-growing regions located no more than just an hour and a half from New York City. The French Hugenotes planted the first vines in New Paltz in 1677, 100 years before any vines were planted in what is now California. Leading grapes are Classic European varieties and regional hybrids, such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Seyval Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Baco Noir.
Lake Erie region, also known as Chautauqua, is the largest grape-growing region outside of California. Although about 95% of grapes are Concord, primarily used for grape juice, the region also grows French-American and Classic European wine grape varieties.
The Niagara Escarpment officially became an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 2005. The climate is the warmest in New York State due to proximity to the Great Lakes and escarpment itself, which keeps warm air currents from Lake Ontario. Wines range from traditional grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay to fruit wines, American Hybrids, Natives and ice Wine varietals.
Here are some of the best wines from New York State I had a chance to taste at New York Drinks Grand Tasting 2017. However, there are still many more to discover.
60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 10% Syrah
Fresh and mineral with a mint touch
100% Cabernet Franc
Vibrant and multi-layered with exceptional freshness and structure
100% Tocai Friulano
A wonderful balance of bubbles, acidity and a slight sweetness
91% Merlot, 6% Teroldego, 3% Blaufrankish
Seductive and complex, fruity with earthy minerality and spice
…and don’t forget to try their collection of vermouth, it’s mind-blowing
5. Paumanok Vineyards , Minimalist Chenin Blanc 2015 (Current Release)
Fresh and delicious, “summer in the bottle”
6. Paumanok Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Current Release)
Lush and rich, excellent structure
7. Palmer Vineyards, Albariño 2016, $26
The best NY State Albariño from a Spanish winemaker
Quite unique, fresh and fruity, elegant style cab
some bubbly goodness …
9. The Lenz Winery, Cuvee 2012, $40
100% Pinot Noir
Crisp, zesty and refreshingly dry; makes you crave for some meaty oysters
10. Lieb Cellars, Reserve Blanc de Blanc 2011, $30
100% Pinot Blanc
Fresh, crisp and delicate with tiny bubbles
Chardonnay at its essence – fresh, young and exotic
12. Benmarl Winery, Baco Noir 2015, $35
100% Baco Noir, 50+ years old vines
Smoky and spicy, some vegetal and herbaceous aromas in the nose, well structured, delicate mouthfeel with grippy tannins
13. Fjord Vineyards, Cabernet Franc 2015, $25
95%Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry, purple endive, framed by soft tannins and lovely acidity
14. Fjord Vineyards, Merlot 2014, $20
Dense and elegant with dusty tannins
Fresh and delicate, with notes of grapefruit, lemon and fresh-cut basil
Off-dry, floral with a nice mineral touch
Best Riesling in semi-dry style, more fruity and luscious than its counterparts
18. Atwater Vineyards, Chardonnay 2014, $17
Layered texture achieved by choosing to ferment 26% on its skins, 51% in stainless steel and 23% in oak
19. Atwater Vineyards, Skin-fermented Gewurztraminer 2015, $30
20. Hermann J.Wiemer, 2012 Cuvee Brut, $32
60%Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
Red fruit, ripe citrus and honeysuckle elevated by crispy bubbles
Of course, there are many more interesting wines in New York State, which I din’t have enough time to taste, but the good thing is that you can always order them online, directly from the producer, or visit any of these wineries on your own.
So, please look no further and support local wine producers, there are so many great wines New York Wine Country has to offer.