Paris, France — Paris made a great discovery when the wines of New York were displayed and tasted at the 18th century manor Hôtel de Talleyrand which is part of the U.S. embassy complex in Paris. The great diversity of the wines of New York state were on hand with wines from the Finger Lakes and Long Island all on the agenda. Both Old World and New World grape varieties are found in the vineyards and wineries of New York including Riesling, Cabernet franc, Frontenac, Chardonnay and Traminette grape varieties among others like the rare local Cayuga white. A highlight of the presentation included a Master Class from Christophe Macra who manages the Apogée wine cellar outside of Paris famed for its tastings. Meanwhile Bob Madill who co-founded the Sheldrake Point winery on Lake Cayuga in the Finger Lakes, presented the wine growing regions of New York.
New York is one of the oldest wine growing regions in America and the second largest producer after California. While the very first grapes were planted in Manhattan in the mid 1600s by Dutch settlers, the plantations didn’t exactly work out there so production spread to other parts of the state. Back in 1829 the Reverend William Bostwick planted a vineyard on the rectory green of the Episcopalian church at Hammondsport near Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes District and later distributed cuttings to neighbors and parishioners.
As European immigrants began flooding in, vineyards sprung up with people producing wine for their own consumption. The first winery, the Pleasant Valley Winery, opened in the Finger Lakes in 1860 and it is still in operation today. Several of the early Finger Lakes wineries around Lake Keuka specialized in sparkling wines which were soon winning medals at the Paris Exposition. There is even a hamlet in the region named Reims. And according to a number of wine experts, sparklings are not only part of the rich past of the Finger Lake vineyards, but also its future.
New York is the most geographically diverse wine-making state in America ranging from the varietals grown in the sea air and sandy soil of Long Island to the rich soils of the Finger Lakes where the famous ice wines, Rieslings, and some excellent sparklings are found. There are also the delicate wines of the Hudson Valley whose wineries use Native American, French-American and European grape varieties. Long island wines are relative newcomers to the New York wine producing scene with the first wines being brought out in the late 1970s.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette