Harvest 2012: Small but Great
In most regions and for most grape varieties, the 2012 harvest is starting to wind down, with an overall assessment that the crop is smaller than expected but the fruit quality is superb. While some of the late ripening red wne varieties, as well as grapes left hanging for late harvest and ice wines, remain to be harvested, most of the whites are in the tanks happily bubbling away.
2012 will go down as one of the earliest harvests on record, with the fall weather generally cooperative but with some challenges caused by many grape varieties ripening simultaneously rather than in sequence, putting pressure both on press availability and tank space--not to mention the hard-working winemaking crews. But soon it will be over, with time to chill out and toast a successful year.
I've also been in touch with colleagues in other northern hemisphere states and countries, all of whom are also bullish on the prospects for the 2012 harvest. For their comments, visit www.drinkriesling.com.
Ironically, now that the harvest is almost over, our "Harvest House" crew is arriving tomorrow, starting with a welcome luncheon at the New York Wine & Culinary Center.
"Harvest House" is part of our New York City promotion program, which essentially involves an "exchange" between people from the Big Apple and winery representatives visiting it. Tomorrow a group of New York-based media, sommeliers, and wine store managers will arrive for a week of work at various wineries in the Finger Lakes--picking grapes, working the press, bottling, cleaning the cellars, and doing all the work that is part of harvest.
They will stay in three separate but adjacent houses on Seneca Lake, work at different wineries during the day, then cook their meals (using local foods) to enjoy with Finger Lakes wines in the evening. (We've even secured some fresh grape juice--Concord, Cabernet Franc, Riesling and Traminette)--from Fulkerson Winery so they can taste what it's like before fermentaton.) After a week of toil in the vineyards and cellars, the group will be treated on Friday evening to a special dinner created by Brud Holland of Red Newt Bistro, the mecca for truly local foods.
The idea of all this is to provide an experience for our New York City friends that they will not only remember but share with their colleagues and customers once they return to the City. The next chapter in our promotion, just a week away, is a visit by a different New York City group to Long Island wine country, like those which have already occurred in the Finger Lakes, Niagara and Hudson Valley regions. Then, in March, participating wineries from those regions will descend upon New York City for a week of orientation and tastings highlighted by another blowout tasting for media, trade representatives and consumers at Astor Center in lower Manhattan.
Our New York City program is orchestrated by Michael Gitter and Kayt Mathers of First Press Public Relations, with whom Jennifer Cooper and I communicate every day. This has been a hugely successful program as reflected most recently by a great tasting at Corkbuzz wine bar. It was limited to 100 consumers who could get into a lottery from Tasting Table, a social media platform. We were hoping that about 1,000 people might be interested, but more than 3,000 responded, so clearly there is great interest in New York wines. And, having been there, I can assure you that those who came were exactly the audience we want to reach.
New York Gold and Rave Reviews
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, birthplace of the "vinifera revolution" now celebrating its 50th year, continues raking in Gold medals and great rankings in various places. At the 2012 World Value Wine Challenge, the Dr. Frank 2011 Semi Dry Riesling--which won our Governor's Cup award this year--scored 92 with a Gold Medal & Best Buy designation; the 2011 Dry Riesling received 91 along with a Gold Medal & Best Buy; the 2011 Gewurztraminer got 92, Gold, Best Buy, and Best U.S. Gewurztraminer; the Salmon Run 2010 Chardonnay 91, Best Buy, and Best White Wine under $10; and the Chateau Frank Celebre Cremant 90, Gold, and Best Sparkling Wine under $20. The Gewurztraminer also got a Gold medal in the Sommelier Challenge competition. The fact that these wines are rated as such great values debunks the myth that New York wines are expensive.
Other recent New York Gold included Sherwood House 2009 Estate Chardonnay at the Sommelier Challenge, and a Double Gold/Best of Class for Coyote Moon 2011 Fire Boat White at the International Women's Wine Competition.
Separately, the current (November) edition of Wine Enthusiast has great ratings for a whole range of New York wines, but especially Rieslings. Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards 2011 Riesling ranked #34 in the Top 100 "Best Buys" of 2012, and its 2010 Vidal Ice Wine received a score of 90. Other 90 or above ratings wen to Glenora 2010 Late Harvest Riesling; Lamoreaux Landing 2011 Red Oak Vineyard Riesling; Ravines 2011 Dry Riesling; Red Newt Cellars 2011 Sawmill Creek Vineyards Riesling;Ravines 2010 Sauvignon Blanc; Red Newt Cellars 2010 Glacier Ridge Cabernet Franc, and 2010 Viridescens (red blend); and Sheldrake Point 2010 Riesling Ice Wine (91, and the "Best Dessert Wine" at our New York Wine & Food Classic). The Wine Enthusiastic reviews were done by Anna Lee Iijima, who has shown a great understanding and appreciation of New York wines.
Wine & Beer Summit
Governor Andrew Cuomo will hold a New York Wine & Beer Summit toward the end of this month which we are looking forward to.
The Governor's father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, did more for the New York grape and wine industry than any other Governor in history, essentially rescuing it from financial disaster with a series of legislative initiatives which tranformed our industry into the fastest growing part of the agricultural and tourism sectors. Bills involving winery deregulation, the sale of wine "coolers" in grocery stores, wine tastings in liquor stores, and creation of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation combined to turn our industry around.
The continuing public-private partnership has paid a huge dividend to the State of New York, which annually benefits from $3.76 billion in economic activity generated by our industry--not to mention enhancing the State's reputation for making quality products. A few years ago, then-Commissioner of Agriculture Patrick Hooker convened a Wine and Grape Task Force with industry representatives from throughout the state and chaired by Kareem Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards on Long Island. Happily, virtually all of the task force's recommendations have now been put into effect, enhancing New York's business climate for wine. Former Deputy Commissioner Jackie Moody-Czub, who organized the task force's work, is now Governor Cuomo's agriculture representative.
We don't yet know what will be on the agenda, but we are encouraged by the Governor's initiative. We also know that under his Administration there have already been major positive changes in the relationship between government agencies and our industry. And this week he signed into law legislation that allows New York micro-distilleries sell their products at farmers' markets and fairs throughout the State, just as farm wineries have been able to do since the 1984 "winery deregulation" act. Wine, beer, spirits, and hard cider all use New York farm products, so the more they can sell the better for the State as well as the indusry.
Does Wine Grow on Trees? (Continued) Not surprisingly, my blurb in the last Wine Press about free wine drew lots of responses from wineries, but also from a wine educator and someone who actually purchases wine and then promotes it at the charitable event (we need more people like that!). My friend Harriett Lembeck, the wine educator, said it's not just wine that people want for free, it's also tastings and lectures, with the pitch that it will help give the wine educator more "exposure". The response from a mutual friend, the late Bob Schoolsky: "If I had any more exposure I'd die of pneumonia." Anyway, the winery responses were very good, and we will probably try to assemble a set of general voluntary guidelines for wineries plagued by the free wine syndrome.
Hudson Valley Wine Country put together a nice brief video, Fall in Love with Hudson Valley Wines, that's available on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG66qm0Mz0Y&feature=channel&list=UL&noredirect-1.
Finger Lakes Region is featured in a nice article in Delta Sky magazine by Danielle Lebreck. http://deltaskymag.com/Destinations/Richester-NY/Destination-Posts/Wine-Country.aspx.
Federweisser--A Riesling Harvest Celebration is taking place this weekend and next at Johnson Estate Winery in Westfield (Lake Erie region), reflecting a German harvest-season tradition of serving partially fermented Riesling wine with onion tarts. Johnson Estate's Riesling (93) and Dry Riesling (92) were awarded Gold medals by the Beverage Testing Institute, and the winery has a renovated tasting room. For more information: www.johnsonwinery.com.
Viticulture 2013 conference agenda is now finalized and will include speakers from around the country and world, including award-winning winemaker Phillipe Coquard of Wollersheim Winery in Wisconsin and Stefano Poni of the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Piacenza, Italy. The three-day conference (February 6-8 in Rochester) features viticulture, enology, marketing, financial, and legal/regulatory seminars, as well as a great trade show.
New York's award winning wines, farm-fresh products, sensational seafood, and fine restaurants will soon travel to the nation's Capitol to tastefully remind Congress, the Administration and others that New York is a major agricultural state, and agriculture is a major part of the state's economy.
On Wednesday, Sept. 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will host "New York Farm Day" in the elegant Senate Kennedy Caucus Room at the crest of Capitol Hill. Attendees will include many other Senators, the New York Congressional delegation from the House of Representatives, members of the Committes on Agriculture, legislative chiefs of staff, agricultural specialists in Congress and the Administration, members of the Washington media, top area restaurants and fine wine shops.
"Senator Gillibrand has been a great advocate for New York agriculture, including the grape and wine industry," said Jim Trezise, President of the statewide New York Wine & Grape Foundation, which organizes the event. "New York has some of the best wines, farm products, seafood and restaurants in the world, and we are honored to partner with her in tastefully proving that to official Washington."
Since its inaugural launch in 2002, New York Farm Day has become the most popular event on Capitol Hill, with attendance normally exceeding 700 guests. A major part of the attraction is that the people presenting the wines and foods are the same people who produce them--it's not just another catered event.
"Farm Day is a unique and important opportunity for us to showcase the best of what New York's farmers and producers have to offer. Every year we bring New York to Washington, DC, and I am thrilled that this has become such an anticipated event on the Congressional calendar," Senator Gillibrand said. "New York's farmers and producers are some of the best in the world and this is a great opportunity to spread the word even further about the quality of our produce. I know we are all looking forward to sampling some of the incredible wine, food and produce that will be on display."
The event is generally organized according to the State's major wine-producing regions--Long Island, the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes, the Niagara and Erie areas, and North Country. Each region has a "Farm Table" showcasing local agricultural products, a "Restaurant Table" featuring special recipes created from local products, and a "Wine Table" offering award-winning wines to match the foods.
Farming is a $4.7 billion industry vital to New York's economy. About 23% of the State's land area, or 7 million acres, are covered by 36,000 family farms. New York ranks high among the major agricultural states in America--first in the number of yogurt producers; second in apples and maple syrup; third in grapes, grape juice and wine; and fourth in pears and dairy, which is by far the largest segment of the agricultural sector. The grape, juice and wine industry alone generates more than $3.7 billion in economic benefits annually to the State of New York.
New York Farm Day is made possible by the generosity of its sponsors including CoBank, Constellation Brands, Farm Credit East, Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation, Mastercraft Glassware, New York Apple Association, New York Farm Bureau, New York State Restaurant Association, New York Wine & Grape Foundation, and Yankee Farm Credit.
2012 Grape Harvest is right around the corner, and in fact will start this week for some growers with early varieties going to large wineries.
The Lake Erie region, which accounts for about 2/3rds of all New York vineyard acreage and tonnage (predominantly Concord for grape juice), will unfortunately have a very small crop this year due to a late spring frost which killed the buds. However, other regions are looking promising, and the previously feared drought is now just a memory, thanks to a series of timely, steady rains a couple weeks ago.
At this point, the harvest appears to be a couple weeks early, which decreases the fear of a killing frost toward the end. The hope now is that the weather remains warm and dry through the end of harvest. Fingers crossed.
Niagara Wine Trail is sponsoring the fourth annual Wine & Culinary Festival this weekend at Academy Park in the heart of Lewiston. Fourteen of the region's wineries will be joined by local restaurants and other vendors including arts and crafts, along with cooking demonstrations. Tickets are $20 in advance and may be purchased at http://www.NiagaraUSAWineFestival.com.
Finger Lakes Riesling Festival, also in its fourth year, takes place on the weekend of August 11 & 12 along the beautiful Canandaigua Lake waterfront where some 25,000 people of all ages enjoy great Finger Lakes Rieslings, local beers, local restaurant offerings, arts and crafts, live music on four bands, and so much more. This festival is free, though donations are accepted for the local YMCA's Caring for Kids Camp, which since the festival began has received more than $100,000 from festival proceeds. For more information, visit http://riesingfestival.com.
America's Grape Country Wine Festival in the Lake Erie region also takes place next weekend with fun, food, crafts, and of course wine. There's even a concernt on Saturday night featuring The Guess Who and Sean Patrick McGraw. More information is available at www.agcwinefestival.com or 800-965-4834.
21 Brix Winery Ellatawba, a Catawba-based wine from the Lake Erie region, won Best Rose wine and led a strong New York showing at this week's Indy International Wine Competition at Purdue University. The total haul of 141 medals included 12 "Concordance Gold" (similar to Double Gold), 23 Gold, 66 Silver and 40 Bronze medals, with several of New York's Concordance Golds included in the final "Sweepstakes" round.
Other Concordance Gold medals went to Belhurst Winery 2011 Pinot Grigio and 2011 Semi-Dry Riesling, Dr. Frank 2010 Rkatsiteli, Goose Watch 2011 Riesling-Gewurztraminer, Harvest Moon Cidery at Critz Farm 2011 Maple Moon Hard Cider, Hunt Country Dolce di Moscate (Valvin Muscat), Liberty Vineyards Diamond, Swedish Hill Niagara and 2010 Late Harvest Vignoles, Wagner Vineyards 2011 Riesling Ice Wine, and Winery of Ellicottville EVL White (a Diamond blend).
Gold medals were awarded to 21 Brix Cayuga White and Ella's White (Niagara); Chateau Frank 2007 Blanc de Blancs; Coyote Moon 2010 Pinot Noir, 2011 Island Mama, and 2011 Cherry Bomb; Dr. Frank 2011 Reserve Gewurztraminer; 2011 Semi Dry Riesling and 2011 Pinot Gris; Fox Run 2010 Reserve Chardonnay and 2011 Reserve Riesling; Goose Watch 2011 Melody; Lakewood Vineyards 2010 Lemberger and 2011 Dry Riesling; Long Point Winery 2010 Sangiovese; Seneca Shore Dry Riesling Old Vines; Swedish Hill Viking White, 2011 Vidal Blanc, and 2011 Cayuga White; Thirsty Owl 2011 Vidal Blanc; Torrey Ridge Diamond; Wagner Vineyards 2011 Semi-Dry Riesling and 2011 Vidal Blanc.
Orchestrated by Purdue's Dr. Christian Butzke and Jill Blume (one of our Classic judges), the Indy always provides a great example of the diversity and quality of wines from around the United States (and Canada) these days. The overall Best of Show wine was an Indiana Vignoles, Best Sparkling a California bubbly, Best White a Michigan Gewurztraminer, Best Rose a New York Catawba, Best Red a Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, and Best Dessert an Okanagan Riesling Ice Wine.
Purdue is also a great university with a good viticulture and enology program, beautiful grounds, a distinguished history, proud school spirit, and a renowned football program (Drew Brees QB'ed there).
It's also flanked by a very cool cluster of shops, restaurants and bars like "Harry's Chocolate Shop" and "Where Else?".
The former, a funky old speakeasy with dark wood, sinful munchies, plentiful noise, and a wide beer selection for "the great indoorsmen," lets students honestly tell their hovering long-distance parents that they're just at Harry's Chocolate Shop. Across the street is the other bar, which can stimulate this type of dialogue: "Wanna have a beer?" "Sure, where?" "Where Else?" "OK, see you there".
West Lafayette, Indiana may be a bit steamy (around 100 degrees) in early August, but at least there some good watering holes. .
The "business climate" is just as important to growing the wine industry as the weather climate is to growing good grapes to make good wine. And thanks to New York Farm Bureau and a few individuals, the business climate has just improved.
The main event: Farm wineries, farm distilleries, and farm breweries (a new category) no longer have to file onerous and time-consuming wholesale tax reports previously required by the Department of Taxation and Finance. On the private sector side, Julie Suarez of New York Farm Bureau and Larry Perrine of Channing Daughters Winery on Long Island deserve the credit for making the case — and every one else owes them a debt of gratitude. As in the case of direct interstate shipment in 2005, it is a tiny group of very dedicated, persevering individuals--in that case John Martini (Anthony Road), Pete Saltonstall (King Ferry), Julie Suarez (Farm Bureau), and Allison Lee (a private lobbyist)--who do all the heavy lifting that benefits everyone else.
On the public sector side, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine, Senators Patty Ritchie and Kenneth LaValle, and Assemblymen Denny Farrell and Fred Thiele deserve the credit for undertanding that the time of winery owners and staff can be much more productively spent on production and marketing than complying with a senseless and duplicative reporting requirement.
There were some other good laws passed this year--including the establishment of a "farm brewery" category with benefits mirroring those of farm wineries--and we thank Farm Bureau and the bill sponsors for improving New York's business climate so we can grow and contribute even more than the $3.76 billion annually to the state economy.
Every New York winery and grape grower should be a member of New York Farm Bureau (or Long Island Farm Bureau if located there). They are the best partners we can have.
Every three years, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation teams up with Cornell Cooperative Extension on a major "Viticulture" conference, which next year will be the 2013 version on Feb. 6 through 8 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.
The three-day conference and trade show includes dozens of seminars on viticulture, enology, wine marketing, legal and regulatory issues, and financial management, always starting with a "big bang" on the first morning.
Next year, that means the trio of John Gillespie (President of the Wine Market Council), Danny Brager (Vice President of the Nielsen Company) and Dr. Greg Carpenter (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) giving an overview of wine market trends in the United States.
Then California wine journalist Dan Berger will offer his perspective on where New York stands in the national scene, joined by officials from National Grape Cooperative/Welch Foods and Constellation Brands on what all this means to New York growers and vintners.
Another first-day feature of the conference is the Northern Grapes Project sessions of viticulture, enology, and marketing orchestrated by Dr. Tim Martinson of Cornell Cooperative Extension who secured a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study the emergence and potential of "cold climate varieties" along with colleagues in many other states.
And that's only the beginning. There are lots of other topics and great speakers over the three days, along with our Unity Banquet, a major trade show, and all kinds of industry networking opportunities. All of this will soon be posted on a special web site, but for now just mark your calendar for Feb. 6-8. It's not to be missed. .
Our annual wine competition, the New York Wine & Food Classic, will take place in a month, with over 700 wines already entered and more than 20 expert judges from around the world to evaluate them.
Representatives from the media include Jim Clarke, Caroline Helper, and Amy Zavatto from New York City; Fred LeBrun from Albany; Dan Berger from California; Bernard Burtschy from Paris; and Julie Arkell and Maggie Rosen from London. Enologists Jill Blume from Purdue and Todd Steiner of Ohio State join Chris Gerling and Anna Katharine Mansfield of Cornell; and the wine education field is covered by Lorraine Hems, Linda Lawry, and Dr. Bob Small. Retailers include Valerie Corbin of Astor Wine & Spirits in Manhattan and Bill Mahoney of Premier Wine & Spirits in Buffalo, with Rene Chazottes of the Pacific Club (CA) and Jerry Pellegrino of Corks (MD) bringing their restaurant expertise. The group is rounded out with wholesaler Phil Ward and regional wine specialists Ann Littlefield (California), Ann Miller (midwest) and Coke Roth (Pacific Northwest).
Organizing a wine competition is an awesome challenge, and fortunately we have Teresa Knapp to take it on, with a great group of volunteers and our other staff members helping out how she directs. Even in a competition with only 700 wines, that means 2,800 individual bottles (4 per entry) which have to be received, unpacked, coded, labeled with little stickers individually, repacked into boxes for individual flights, with the first bottles going onto a refrigerated truck and the others staying in the temperature-controlled warehouse.
At the actual competition, in the back room, teams of two work on opening, pouring, and serving the wines to their respective panels, as well as clearing the glasses when they're done tasting. Then there's the scoring, data entry, and so much else going on--organized chaos.
A major reason we have the Classic at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel (besides it being a great hotel and a great supporter of the local wine industry) is that it is only about five miles from Lakewood Vineyards (Teresa's family's winery) where the entries are received, sorted and stored. That proximity greatly saves time, hassles, and money.
While the Classic is a ton of work over several months, it's always worth the effort--a great way to showcase who is doing the best job these days in New York, and to reward them by generating huge and immediate sales.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli paid a visit this week to the New York Wine & Culinary Center, where a small group of industry representatives enjoyed a luncheon meeting with him and some of his staff members.
The Comptroller is an elected official who has wide-ranging responsibility for the State's finances, and we appreciated his wanting to know more about the grape and wine industry's growth and aspirations. He was clearly impressed with our economic impact ($3.76 billion annually) and the fact that 55 of 62 New York counties now have wineries, making wine a statewide industry.
I spent most of this week escorting people from New York City around the Niagara and Finger Lakes wine regions, which proved to be a real eye-opener (and palate pleaser) for our guests.
This "Vineyard Visit" is an important part of our overall New York City promotion program orchestrated by our colleagues Michael Gitter and Kayt Mathers of First Press Public Relations. The group of 10 flew into Buffalo Sunday morning and visited the five participating wineries in the Niagara region; went to the New York Wine & Culinary Center for a tasting of wines from Thousand Islands Winery and 21 Brix (Lake Erie region); and enjoyed a superb "New York" dinner by Executive Chef Mike Sokolski created around four Finger Lakes wines before retiring at the Inn on the Lake in Canandaigua. That long day was just the beginning!
For the next two and a half days, the four retailers, three sommeliers, and three wine writers visited over 20 Finger Lakes wineries, worked half a day in the vineyards and cellars to get a "hands-on" experience, and enjoyed more great "local" food at Veraisons (Glenora), Red Newt Bistro, and Knapp Restaurant--a great illustration of how the wineries have driven the locavore revolution in the Finger Lakes. The group also took a boat trip on Seneca Lake and was pampered at the fabulous Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.
This was an important and enjoyable group of young professionals in the wine world representing restaurants (Craft, Flatbush Farm, and Maslow6 wine bar), retailers (Flatiron Wines, Columbus Wines & Spirits, Union Square Wines, and Fermented Grapes), and media (Zagat.com/BlackBook, Metro--daily newspaper in NYC, Boston and Philadelphia--and Cravings). None had previously been to either the Niagara or Finger Lakes regions!
At the end of the visit while lunching at Knapp, I asked what their take-home impressions were in terms of the regions, the wines, the people, or anything else. One prominent retailer said the trip made him realize that he needs to immediately create a new section in his store, a restaurateur told me privately that he ordered several wines that he sampled, and virtually everyone commented on the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes and the spirit of cooperation in the industry.
A similar trip with a different group will take place in the Hudson River Region in late August, and another on Long Island in late October. And there are lots of other plans and activities all the way through March of next year. Getting attention in the world's most competitive wine market takes time, effort, and money, and we are grateful to the Department of Agriculture & Markets for securing the funding that makes it possible.
New York wines took 5 Double Gold, 9 Gold, 24 Silver and 20 Bronze medals at the recent San Francisco International Wine Competition, one of the nation's largest with about 4,500 entries.
Double Gold awards went to Coyote Moon 2011 Brianna, Goose Watch 2011 Riesling/Gewurztraminer and 2010 Traminette, Penguin Bay 2011 Riesling, and Swedish Hill 2007 Late Harvest Vignoles.
Gold medals were awarded to Belhurst 2011 Riesling, Coyote Moon 2011 LaCrescent, Dr. Frank 2011 Dry Riesling, Goose Watch 2011 Diamond, Hunt Country 2010 Seyval Blanc, Penguin Bay Tuxedo White, Prejean 2010 Riesling, Red Tail Ridge 2011 Semi-Sweet Riesling, and Swedish Hill Spumante Blush.
Next up, in three weeks, is the Long Beach Grand Cru competition run by Dan Berger, who also runs Riverside and judges at our New York Wine & Food Classic.
The Classic will again be held in mid-August at the fabulous Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, and among our stellar group of judges are wine writers from California, New York City, London, and Paris (representing Le Figaro, the largest circulation newspaper in France). We're looking forward to another great competition.
A large group of wine writers, trade representatives, government officials, and family members of the late Dr. Konstantin Frank gathered last weekend to toast the 50th anniversary of a man, a vineyard, and a winery that have transformed the wine industry in the Finger Lakes and well beyond.
Dr. Konstantin Frank was a visionary who spawned the "vinifera revolution" — believing and proving that classic European grape varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling could survive and thrive in the cool climate, and ultimately produce excellent wines. He often said, "We make only excellent wines."
As Dr. Frank grew more frail, his energetic son, Willy, took over the winery operation and also created the adjacent Chateau Frank sparkling wine facility in a historic cellar of the house he lived in until he passed away several years ago. An indefatigable missionary, Willy went beyond touting Dr. Frank wines to promoting the Finger Lakes as a great wine region.
That legacy is being carried on by his son Fred, President and CEO, who welcomed the guests and led them through vertical tastings of Chardonnays and Cabernets from the winery's private library, followed by a tasting of current releases and a luncheon featuring German Cuisine paired with Dr. Frank wines. Willy's daughter, Barbara, a trained winemaker, handles the marketing of Dr. Frank wines in the New York City area.
And now the fourth generation — Fred and Maryclaire's daughter Meaghan — is training to enter the business as well. After graduating from Cornell University this year, she is now pursuing an MBA in Wine Business at the University of Adelaide in Australia--but she came home for this event.
We had a great wine to toast the first 50 years: Chateau Frank 2006 Blanc de Noirs, which has won all kinds of awards in major competitions--most recently, just this week, as "Best Sparkling Wine" (and Double Gold) at the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. Cheers!
Grand Reopenings and Major Anniversaries are aplenty these days, with Villa Bellangelo on the west side of Seneca Lake hosting a great reopening party on Friday night, and Silver Thread Vineyard across the lake having its ceremony on Saturday. Both of these are good wineries in prime locations, and it's great to see the new owners committed to carrying on the traditions of quality in their wines and facilities. Elsewhere, a Liquor Town store in Brewerton, NY also had its grand reopening on Saturday, featuring a new 1,400 square foot New York State Tasting Room!
15, 35, and 50 are the anniversaries of leading wineries on three different lakes -- Sheldrake Point on Cayuga, Glenora on Seneca, and Dr. Konstantin Frank on Keuka. Glenora's celebration occurred two weeks ago, and it was truly a class act with great foods on the deck, live music, and lots of people just enjoying themselves while reminiscing. Sheldrake Point, which won our "Winery of the Year" award two consecutive years, will have its event on July 5, after Dr. Frank celebrates 50 next Sunday, toasting the man, winery, and legacy which transformed the Finger Lakes wine industry.
Tierce Dry Riesling--the collaborative creation of three wineries--just keeps racking up accolades, most recently as one of only four Gold medal winners in the Riesling category of the International Wine & Spirits Competition (there were also two from Germany and the Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica from our friends in Washington). Made by winemakers from Anthony Road, Fox Run, and Red Newt, the 2009 Tierce follows in the footsteps of the 2008, which Riesling aficianado and wine writer Dan Berger wrote "may be the best Dry Riesling ever made in America."
Meanwhile, Wine & Spirits magazine (August) just named "Year's Best Rieslings" based on blind-tastings of 145 U.S. Rieslings, and the Finger Lakes dominated with 11 (WA-8, OR-4, CA-2, ID-1), including five "Best Buys": Sheldrake Point 2010 Finger Lakes Riesling (93, $16) and 2011 Finger Lakes Dry Riesling (90, $16); Glenora 2010 Finger Lakes Riesling (91, $16); Atwater Estate Finger Lakes Bubble Riesling (89, $16); and Standing Stone Finger Lakes Riesling Ice (91, $14).
Other wines listed were Anthony Road 2009 Martini-Reinhardt Selection Riesling (93); Hermann J. Wiemer 2010 Finger Lakes Dry HJW Vineyard Riesling (92), 2010 Finger Lakes Magdalena Vineyard Riesling (91), and 2010 Finger Lakes Dry Riesling (91); Ravines 2011 Finger Lakes Dry Riesling (92); and Tierce 2009 Finger Lakes Dry Riesling (90).
Because of the foresight of publisher and editor Joshua Greene and the tasting expertise of senior correspondent Patrick Comiskey, Wine & Spirits was the first of the major consumer magazines to recognize the consistent and ever-increasing quality of Finger Lakes Rieslings, as well as other New York wines.
At the New York State Fair Wine Competition, Wagner 2011 Riesling Ice won Best of Show honors and Belhurst Estate Winery 2011 Semi-Dry was Best White. Other "Bests" in their respective categories were Keuka Spring Vnieyard 2010 Miller's Cove Red; Chateau Frank 2006 Blanc de Blanc; Earle Estate Meadery Apple Wine; Lucas Vineyards Cabernet Franc Rose; Beak & Skiff Apple Vodka; and Goose Watch Winery Classic Cream Sherry. There were 10 Double Gold and 38 Gold medals, and the full results are available at http://www.nysfair.org/uploads/files/results/2012_Commercial_Wine-results.pdf.
New York wines won three Gold/Best of Class awards, 16 additional Gold medals, 36 Silvers and 21 Bronze for a total of 76 awards at last month's Los Angeles Wine & Spirits Competition, one of the country's oldest and largest events. In addition to giving medals, this competition includes number scores for all Gold medal wines.
Gold/Best of Class winners included Chateau Frank 2006 Blanc de Noirs (90), Coyote Moon 2011 River Time (95), and Goose Watch Golden Spumante (92).
Additional Gold medals went to Chateau LaFayette Reneau 2010 Finger Lakes Estate Semi-Dry Riesling (95), and 2010 Finger Lakes Estate Dry Riesling (94); Coyote Moon 2011 Twisted Sister (92) and 2011 Fire Boat Red (90); Goose Watch 2011 Rose of Isabella (94), and 2010 Traminette (92); Penguin Bay 2011 Riesling (94) and Tuxedo Red (92); Sparkling Pointe 2006 Blanc de Blanc (90); Swedish Hill Spumante Blush (92), 2011 Riesling (95), 2011 Cayuga (94), and 2011 Vidal (90); Thirsty Owl 2011 Diamond (95) and 2011 Riesling (92), and Wagner Vineyards 2010 Estate Dry Riesling (93).
News Flash: We just finished the Sweepstakes round at the San Francisco International Wine Competition (4,450 wines), and while the complete results won't be available for a few days, I do know that three New York wines got Double Golds and were in the final round: Coyote Moon 2011 Brianna, Goose Watch 2011 Riesling-Gewurztraminer, and Swedish Hill 2007 Late Harvest Vignoles.
There may well be other New York Double Golds that didn't make the Sweeps, as well as Golds, Silvers and Bronzes, and we should know soon.
The incredibly successful Summer of Riesling celebration runs from June 21 (summer solstice) to September 22--a three-month toast to the world's most noble and versatile white wine. In 32 states and a few foreign countries, more than 335 hispster wine bars and top restaurants will be featuring Rieslings by the glass as well as bottle.
Created in 2008 by Manhattan restaurateur and Riesling afficianado Paul Grieco, who that year limited white wine selections in his Terroir Wine Bar to Riesling (30 by the glass and 100 by the bottle), the celebration has grown each year since then. In 2011, with financial support from the International Riesling Foundation, the promotion went national; this year, again with IRF support, it's even bigger--and international.
The 32 states range from Alaska to Florida and California to New York (with the most participants--66), and include some of the top wine bars restaurants in the country, along with several top retailers. Restaurants in Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom are also participating in the first international edition of the Riesling revolution. A listing of current participants, along with more information, is available at www.summerofriesling.com.
Summer of Riesling creator Paul Grieco will officially kick off the 2012 version at 12:01 am (midnight) Wednesday morning with a couple roasted pigs and struedel at Hearth Restaurant and wine dinners at all his restaurants, accompanied by a wide range of Rieslings and Riesling lovers on hand to share the festivities.
The International Riesling Foundation was created to promote Riesling as the world's most noble, versatile, and food-friendly white wine, and includes a prestigious Board of Directors from the world's top regions and producers. www.drinkriesling.com.
Long Island's new sustainability initiative got some major coverage this week in a lengthy article by Dana Nigro on Wine Spectator online. As reported previously in a couple editions of The Wine Press, a new Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing (LISW) organization is building on the work of a VineBalance program to make Long Island the first certified sustainable winegrowing region in the eastern United States. For the article, visit http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/46836. Congratulations to our colleagues on Long Island.
"Following the vines to upstate New York" was the title of a great and long piece on the BBC Travel blog, with profiles of several Finger Lakes wineries and a nice description of the regional geography that makes it so special and beautiful. And speaking of the BBC, former executive chef Carlo Peretti of the New York Wine & Culinary just left to be in a BBC TV series where he'll cook in every state. Congratulations and good luck to him.
Upstairs Bistro officially opened earlier this month at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, with a new name, a new look, a new menu, and a new wine list. Formerly the "Taste of New York" restaurant, the Upstairs Bistro includes a bar area, main dining room, and seating on a wrap-around deck overlooking Canandaigua Lake. The decor features brighter colors and a wine bottle with flowers at each table.
The new menu includes reasonably priced starters and salads, pizzas, light fare and sandwiches, entrees, side dishes and, of course, desserts. The selection of New York beers has been expanded while the number of New York wines has been greatly reduced to 10 choices from various regions, now joined by wines from California, Chile, France, Italy, and New Zealand. The wine list, menu and other information are at www.upstairsbistro.com, which includes a "Contact" option for comments or suggestions; or email email@example.com, phone 585-394-7070.
The recent Critics Challenge competition yielded 5 Platinum, 9 Gold, and 15 Silver medals for New York wineries.
Besides the Chateau Frank 2006 Blanc de Noirs mentioned above, the other Platinum awards went to Fox Run Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Franc/Lemberger; Goose Watch Winery 2011 Riesling-Gewurztraminer; and Wagner Vineyards 2011 Riesling Select and 2010 Semi-Dry Riesling.
Gold medals went to Fox Run Vineyards 2010 Riesling 12, Lake Dana; Goose Watch Classic Cream Sherry; Sherwood House Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Franc, Estate Grown; Sparkling Pointe 2006 Blanc de Blancs, 2009 Topaz Imperial, and 2002 Brut Seduction; Swedish Hill Riesling Cuvee and 2011 Vidal Blanc; and Wolffer Estate 2007 Fatalis Fatum.
At the International Wine & Spirits Competition, Fox Run 2009 Tierce Dry Riesling won a Gold medal, while the two Casa Larga ice wines mentioned above each won Silver awards, continuing their streak. The 2009 Tierce, which is actually a winemaker collaboration among Anthony Road Winery, Fox Run Vineyards, and Red Newt Cellars, was also the Wine Spectator Daily Pick on May 23, with a rating of 90.
Meanwhile, Wine & Spirits magazine's "100 Top Values of the Year" edition (June 2012) features Red Newt Cellars, Heron Hill Winery, and Sheldrake Point Winery among the top value producers in a "Cycling the Finger Lakes" section; and Red Newt 2009 Finger Lakes Circle Label Riesling ($12, 93 points) along with Palmer 2009 North Fork of Long Island Chardonnay ($14, 88 points) were among the top 100 value wines.
And...(it never stops), the New York International Wine Competition cited Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars as the New York State Winery of the Year Finger Lakes; and Sherwood House Vineyards as the New York North Fork Wine Region Winery of the Year.
The many wineries which enter wine competitions and submit their wines to major wine publications for reviews do all New York wineries a favor by elevating the reputation for quality of New York wines.
New York wines often win Double Gold and Gold medals at major competitions throughout the country and the world, but there are some that really stand out in terms of consistency of quality--and how expert judges rate them in blind-tastings.
Chateau Frank 2006 Blanc de Noirs is probably the best example, with a Platinum award at last week's Critics Challenge competition just the latest in an impressive string that almost certainly makes it the top award-winning methode champenoise sparkling wine from the Finger Lakes, ever.
The other awards for this wine: Chairman's Award (Double Gold) at Riverside International; Gold at Great Lakes; Double Gold at Tasters Guild International; 93 Points/Finalist at the Ultimate Wine Challenge; Double Gold at U.S. National; Best New World Sparkling Wine and Double Gold at New World International Wine Competition; Gold, 93 Points, and Best Northeastern Sparkling Wine at BTI World Wine Championships; Gold at Florida State Fair International; Double Gold & Best of Class at American Wine Society. And that's just so far this year! Coincidentally, in just about a month is the 50th anniversary celebration of Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars--and they sure have great bubbly to toast it.
Similarly impressive in the ice wine world is Casa Larga Vineyards, which over the years has consistently won numerous Golds, Double Golds, Best Dessert Wine, and even our Governor's Cup (for best wine of any type). Most recently, they had two different ice wines--2008 Fiori Vidal Ice Wine and 2009 Fiori Riesling Ice Wine--which were both awarded "Best of Class" at the Pacific Rim International because the judges loved them so much they wanted them both to win (and they did). What surprised them, and many others, is that these two ice wines, from different grapes in different years, were made by the same winery--a truly impressive feat.
Swedish Hill Winery is another consistent winner--in one recent year winning both the Governor's Cup and Winery of the Year awards at our New York Wine & Food Classic, along with the Governor's Cup in other years. Most recently, based on consistent quality across the board, it took the trophy for Winery of the Year at the Riverside International Wine Competition in California, with 1,950 entries. Swedish Hill's total medal count of 14, out of 17 entries, included six gold medals (one of them unanimous) and eight bronze medals.
We're in the middle of enhancing our web site, and one of the changes will be the ability to search the "New York Gold" section by winery (not just varietal and competition). I'm sure you'll see lots of medals for these wineries.
We're delighted that our "New York Drinks New York" program focused on New York City will continue, thanks to a new grant from the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority with support from the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Our three-month program earlier this year was immensely successful, but would have been just a flash in the pan without additional funding. We can now build on that success by bringing key New York City wine media and trade representatives to the various regions, taking winery representatives into New York City--sort of an exchange program--and supporting all of this with ongoing public relations and advertising, starting with the "Eat Drink Local" program in late June. First Press Public Relations of Manhattan is again orchestrating the program for us.
"This was a very successful program, and we are pleased that it can continue with additional funding," said New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine. "The grape and wine industry is an important part of our agricultural economy, tourism, and quality of life in New York State, so this is a sound investment for the State of New York that I fully support."
Senator Gillibrand, the first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years, also actively supported the grant request. "From Niagara to Long Island, the Finger Lakes to the North Country, New York is the third largest producer of wine in our country," she said. "This is an opportunity to showcase New York's renowned vineyards and their products across the globe. In addition, we encourage tourists to come visit our local vineyards and wineries. New York vineyards are a critical part of our local economies and agricultural sector, and I will continue to help bring New York wines to the New York City markets and beyond."
We will also be taking New York wines--along with many New York foods--to Washington on September 12, when Senator Gillibrand will again host New York Farm Day to remind official Washington that New York is a major farm state with some of the best foods, wines, and restaurants in the world.
Jim Trezise of Penn Yan has been the President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation since 1985 and President of the International Riesling Foundation since 2011.