New York State Wine
New York State wine volume ranks third in grape production after California and Washington. Eighty-three percent of New York's grape acreage is Vitis labrusca varieties (mostly Concord). The rest is almost split equal between Vitis vinifera and French hybrids. During the past thirty years, the increased planting of Vitis vinifera varietals has led to a dramatic increase in the quality of New York wines.
New York State's wine production began in the 17th century with Dutch and Huguenot plantings in the Hudson Valley region. Commercial production did not begin until the 19th century. New York is home to the first bonded winery in the United States of America, Pleasant Valley Wine Company, located in Hammondsport, New York. It is also home to America's oldest continuously operating winery, Brotherhood Winery in the Hudson Valley which has been making wine for almost 350 years.
In 1951 Dr. Konstantin Frank immigrated from the Ukraine to New York, to work at Cornell University's Geneva Experiment Station. He spent his time at Cornell attempting to convince his colleagues that the failures of quality wine production in New York had to do with their choice of vines. He believed that choosing the correct Vitis vinifera vines would yield great wines in the Finger Lakes. With three-hundred years of failure preceding his theory, his colleagues were skeptical. Combined with a language barrier (although Dr. Frank spoke six languages fluently, English was not one of them) his vision would have to wait for an appropriate ear.
Dr. Frank continued to promote his beliefs on the potential of the Vitis vinifera in New York until Charles Fournier, a French champagne maker and president of nearby Gold Seal Vineyards took heed and hired him. The two shared the common language of French as well as a passion to plant the Vitis vinifera in the Finger Lakes region. A decade later Dr. Frank was producing quality wines from such Vitis vinifera vines as Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon. This set the stage for the evolution of the Vitis vinifera vines in New York and wineries have worked to properly choose the proper varietals that grow well in the terroir of New York. The Finger Lakes region would eventually become the central area of New York's wine industry in the 20th century.
The range of wines include Riesling, Seyval Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, sparkling wines and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Vitis Vinifera account for less than ten percent of the wines produced in New York with Catawba, Deleware, Niagara, Elvira, Ives and Isabella from the American hybrids. Other French hybrids include Aurora, Baco Noir, DeChaunac and Seyval Blanc, but Cayuga, Vidal and Vignoles are noted to make the best of the French hybrid varieties. Vignoles is used particularly well in late harvest wines and ice wines. Of the Vitis Vinifera the Rieslings are noted for the most consistent and best quality, while Chardonnay in the Finger Lakes region is noted to take on characteristics of leaner styled Burgundy whites.
The state has four wine-growing regions including Lake Erie on the western end of the state, the Finger Lakes in the west-central area, Hudson River Valley which is just north of New York City, and on the eastern end of Long Island. In 1976 when the Farm Winery Law was passed the Finger Lake and Long Island regions had nineteen wineries, in 1985 sixty-three wineries and now the regions hold approximately 212 wineries. The wine regions soils originated from the last glacial advance which left gravel and slate type soils with heavy clay deposits in the Finger Lake region and sandy soil in the Long Island region. The climate differs amongst the regions based on the Atlantic Gulf Stream and the numerous bodies of water and mountainous regions around the state. The annual precipitation ranges from thirty to fifty inches per year. The season in the Lake Erie and Finger Lake regions range from 180-200 days a year, while on Long Island the season is extended to 220 days where the humidity is higher and the fall precipitation is somewhat higher as well.
New York Wine & Culinary Center
Created in 2002 by Constellation Brands, Wegmans Food Market Inc., Rochester Institute of Technology, and The New York Wine and Grape Foundation; the New York Wine & Culinary Center is a center for bringing together the wines and culinary experiences of New York all in one location. The $47.5 Million facility is located on the north shore of Canandaigua Lake. The center was opened on June 17, 2006.
The 19,475 square-foot facility holds local events for the community as well as offers various educational classes including cooking demos, and wine tastings. Uyilizing 10,700 square/feet of space the facility feature an exhibit hall showing off New York State's agriculture. There is a retail shop on premise as well ans a hands-on-culinary kitchen, demonstration theater, wine tasting room, a private dining room and a full service restaurant the Taste of New York Lounge.