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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Seneca winery wins Governor's Cup

  • A hometown favorite took home the Governor's Cup, the top prize in the New York Wine and Food Classic, a statewide wine competition being held this week at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.
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  • A hometown favorite took home the Governor’s Cup, the top prize in the New York Wine and Food Classic, a statewide wine competition being held this week at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.
    The award went to a 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling from Chateau Lafayette Reneau, a winery along the east side of Seneca Lake in Hector.
    Scott Welliver and Gene Pierce, co-owners of Chateau Lafayette Reneau, were presented with the Governor’s Cup by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy on Wednesday evening during a banquet at the Harbor Hotel.
    Duffy called the wine competition “the Super Bowl of the wine industry in New York State.”
    The event drew top state officials, tourism professionals, and wine and restaurant industry representatives from across upstate New York and the New York City area, who did a mini-wine tour on the east side of Seneca in tour buses on Wednesday afternoon before attending the awards banquet.
    They made stops at Finger Lakes Distilling, Damiani Wine Cellars and - coincidentally - Chateau Lafayette Reneau, which produced the Cup winner.
    “We’re here celebrating one of New York State’s greatest assests - its wine, beer, cidery and distillery industry,” Duffy said.
    He attended in place of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who toured the Seneca wine trail and presented the Governor’s Cup last summer but is currently on a trip to Israel.
    “I give Governor Cuomo tremendous credit. He has made a lot of changes over the last four years in the wine industry,” Duffy said. “He has made legislative changes, he has addressed some of the bureaucratic snags that these industries have faced, and it’s booming. I have a home in the Finger Lakes and I see this firsthand all the time. It’s teeming with tourists, it’s a great economic shot in the arm, it creates jobs.”
    This is the 29th year of the Wine and Food Classic, said Jim Trezise, director of the Canandaigua-based New York Wine and Grape Foundation, who organizes the wine competition.
    This year, 117 wineries from all of the state’s wine-producing regions - including Lake Erie, the Niagara Escarpment, Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley and Long Island - submitted a total of 835 wines in various categories.
    Beginning Tuesday and continuing into Wednesday morning, the wines were sampled by 22 professional judges from as far away as California’s Napa Valley and Paris, France, Trezise said.
    They whittled the field down to the top wines in five broad categories: red, white, rosé, sparkling and dessert - then chose the top overall wine for the Governor’s Cup.
    The winner, Chateau Lafayette Reneau’s 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling, is the third Riesling made by the winery to win the Governor’s Cup in the event’s 29-year-history.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It’s an estate wine, the grapes were all grown right here, so to me it says a lot about our winemaker Tim Miller and our vineyard team,” said Gene Pierce, who co-owns the winery along with Scott Welliver. “There’s lots of times they’re out in that vineyard in January or February, freezing their tails off.”
    Pierce and Welliver, who also own two other Seneca wineries - Glenora and Knapp - bought the winery from founders Dick and Betty Reno in March 2013.
    The Governor’s Cup is a big honor and great exposure for Chateau Lafayette Reneau, Pierce said.
    “We’re very happy and very proud of it,” he said. “A lot of the restaurateurs and retailers look at this.”
    The Best of Category awards:
    • Sparkling Wine: Sparkling Pointe Vineyards’ 2005 Brut Seduction, Methode Champenoise (Long Island).
    • White Wine: Chateau Lafayette Reneau’s 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes).
    • Rosé Wine: Anthony Road Wine Company’s 2013 Rosé of Cabernet Franc (Finger Lakes).
    • Red Wine: Macari Vineyards’ 2010 Cabernet Franc (Long Island).
    • Dessert Wine: Idol Ridge Winery’s 2014 Vidal Blanc (Finger Lakes).
    According to Cuomo’s press office, New York now has 291 wineries and ranks third in the nation in wine and grape production.

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