Diversity In The Empire State
Wine Spectator|October 15 & 31, 2017

New York’s Finger Lakes, Long Island and Hudson Valley make wines in many styles

James Molesworth

For many years, the bulk of New York state’s large grape production went into jams, juices and sweet wines made from indigenous varieties, mostly Concord and related types. Recently, however, wineries have turned their focus to European grapes and drier wine styles, with quality rising steadily as a result.

Today, New York state has 37,000 acres of vineyards and more than 400 operating wineries, three-quarters of them opened since 2000. While vineyards thrive all across the state, from the East End of Long Island to the shores of the Great Lakes, three subregions have emerged as the top production areas: the Finger Lakes, Long Island and, to a lesser extent, the Hudson Valley.

New York state’s wine game is plenty strong these days. Here’s a primer on what you need to know to find the best.

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes wine region is a 4.5-hour drive northwest of New York City, located amid the towns of Ithaca, Watkins Glen, Geneva and Hammondsport. The industry comprises 130 wineries and approximately 9,400 acres of vines, according to the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. Native and hybrid grapes account for two-thirds of these plantings. The best wines are made from vinifera grapes, which cover more than 2,100 acres. Nearly half of these are Riesling, which has emerged as the Finger Lakes’ top varietal.

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