Historically, we have planted natives and hybrids, but, since the 60’s vinifera has become a much more important part of the future. Back in the heyday, sparkling and fortified wine were very important, both locally and afar.
More recently, Riesling and Cabernet Franc have both been very successful along a broad range of terroirs, and in the hands of many growers and winemakers. But, I would be hesitant to say that that makes them the best. They are the easiest, and the most consistent so far, largely having to do with the cold tolerance and disease resistance. You see, many assume the Finger Lakes region has a hard time ripening fruit, which we don’t. We have a challenge with getting fruit to survive the winter, and to ripen before disease sets in. So, these two varieties have been the most successful at that on a broad scale.
However, with a more developed understanding of our microclimates, many of these challenges that historically have limited other cultivars are able to be addressed through site selection and better vineyard management. I see a VERY strong future in the Finger Lakes for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Gewürztraminer and Merlot. Others are pushing Lemberger, Zweigelt, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
So, whats best? Right now, broadly speaking, in my opinion, the most consistent wines: Riesling and Syrah… followed by Cabernet Franc.
What 5 producers and what varietals do you recommend our readers try from the Finger Lakes?
- Element Winery – To be fair, I make the wines, so I am biased…But, check out our Syrah, Cab Franc and Pinot
- Hermann Wiemer – RIESLING!
- Bloomer Creek – Cabernet Franc/Bordeaux Varietals and Pinot
- Shaw – Cabernet Franc & Riesling are my Fav
- Bellweather – Riesling and Hipster stuff.
- N. Kendall – Pinot & Riesling, Though I hear his Chard is killing it.
- Domaine LeSeurre — Riesling & Gewürzt
- Ravines – Sparkling Wine! The 2007 Brut is amazing.
- Dr. Frank – Reserve Chard and Reserve Riesling!
What are some of the best food pairings for classic FLX varietals and blends?
How about some of our specialties? Fresh (3 hours max) Sweetcorn with Butter & Riesling! Cornell BBQ Chicken and Local Beer. Fresh caught Lake Trout and N Kendalls Chardonnay, Wild Duck and Pinot Noir or fall Venison and some Cabernet Franc!