Wine grapes have been cultivated in the Finger Lakes region of New York since the mid 17th century when Jesuit missionaries used native North American grapes to make sacramental wine. Wines weren’t made here commercially until the latter part of the 19th century. By 1890 New York was the largest wine producer in the United States. However, that success depended completely on the native North American varietals. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s that New York state began to produce wines made from the European species, vitis vinifera. As recently as the 1960’s very little Riesling was planted in the vineyards of the Finger Lakes region. But through the work of Dr. Konstantin Frank, founder of Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars and Hermann J. Wiemer, founder of Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, the vitis vinifera grape, Riesling has taken its place as the darling of the Finger Lakes region.
2013 Eugenia Dry Riesling, Keuka west, Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars; aromas of tart apple, herbs, lemon zest and cumin.
2014 Humphrey’s Vineyard Riesling, Seneca west, Keuka Spring Winery; aromas of sweet apple, white flower and meyer lemon
2012 Riesling, Tango Oaks Vineyard, Seneca East, Red Newt Wine Cellars; aromas of petrol, yellow apple and lemon pith
2014 dry Riesling, Seneca west, Knapp Winery; aromas of gingerbread, late fall apple and candied lime
2014 Dry Oak Vineyard Riesling, Seneca east, Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars; aromas of peach, Meyer lemon, and pith.
2014 Riesling, Cayuga west, Sheldrake Point Winery; aromas of honey, sweet, yellow apple, and honeydew melon.
2011 Reserve Riesling, Seneca west, Fox Run Vineyards; aromas of petrol, honey and dried apricots
2014 Full Monty Riesling, Seneca west, Lakewood Vineyards; aromas of sweet yellow apple, honey ginger and Meyer lemon.
2014 Semi-Dry Riesling, Chateau LaFayette Reneau; aromas of apricots, peaches and candied lemon peel.
2014 Riesling, Swedish Hill Winery; aromas of Granny Smith apple, lemon, petrol, good acidity.
2013 Riesling, Bellwether; aromas crisp apple, yeast, bright lemon zest.
FLX, as the Finger Lakes region is known, makes wines from many vitis vinifera grapes, including Cabernet Franc, Gruner Veltliner, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon and it makes them well. But there is a reason that New York is known for its Rieslings. In the terroir of the FLX, Riesling has flourished.
(Much of the information on the history of Riesling in the Finger Lakes region was found in the book, A Sense of Place; Discovering the Finger Lakes & Bellangelo Winery, by Christopher Missick)