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December 08, 2009


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Okay--I'll be "that guy" to get the debate going.

Winemaking skill aside, does a wine made up of fruit from outside a given region count as a representative of that region?

Couldn't I have, in theory, ordered some Finger Lakes fruit and made a wine in my basement in Syracuse?

While this Finger Lakes fruit was used in a legitimate wine region like the Niagara Escarpment, does it make the application any different from the example above?

I'd like to hear your perspective as to the sourcing of some of these wines. I think you've mentioned that vinifera from Niagara will be more available in the future--will this availability preclude outside sourcing?


I understand the question as to whether or not sourced fruit from as far as two hours away would go against the point of this nomination process and that does seem like a good debate.

As far as I understand this Wine of the Year event is to nominate the best wines made in NYS, not pit each region against each one another.

As a consumer I'd much prefer estate grown wines and wines sourced from specific ava's. I do realize though that most consumers don't care as much.

The only non estate wines in this list are from Arrowhead Spring Vineyards. They are just about to release wines from their first estate harvest of 2008. Both of their wines listed have definitely been crafted with specific wine making and cellar practices that are consistent with what I've tasted in all of their wines both estate and non.

For better or for worse (you'll have to ask Lenn) most every wine I've written about for the NYCR has been with estate grapes or fruit with Niagara County.

The growth in vinifera acreage here is probably the most rapid in the state and every year we are seeing more and more Niagara County grown wines.

Jason: Good question. The fact is that in any emerging region (the Niagara USA region is so young!) this happens.

When we conceived this project, we didn't put any stipulations on local fruit sourcing. Perhaps we should have, but we didn't.

I should mention that least one of the Hudson Valley wines that will be named as finalists tomorrow was made using Finger Lakes fruit as well.

I'm glad that Arrowhead is relying more on their own fruit for subsequent vintages.

It's not the end of the world to most people, of course, but in my opinion this issue does speak to the vitality and identity of a wine region. I've been very hard on a few Finger Lakes wineries that import fruit, although I think this practice has diminished considerably in the last few years.

As for the Hudson Valley, I am still diappointed that well-established wineries in that region import so much fruit from the Finger Lakes and Long Island. The Hudson Valley is not "new" by any definition.

I'm looking forward to Duncan's contribution as winemaker at Arrowhead Spring. It's worth noting, and I'm sure he'll expand on these points, that Arrowhead is one of the newest wineries in the region, and that they are pursuing a goal of becoming certified organic with future estate wines (quite ambitious for this region). The issue of the importance of purchased vs. estate fruit, especially when concerning regional character, is as Bryan mentioned part of a much larger debate; when we're dealing with wineries that range from 10 years old to just-opened-on-Saturday, the youth of the region needs to be kept in mind.

Jason --

As to the Hudson Valley using imported fruit, it is largely a matter of economics.

Of the main New York wine producing regions, the Hudson Valley is the least hospitable to growing grapes -- particularly the vinifera varieties. Factors such as land values and competing land uses, topography, geology, and climatology make operating a vineyard a difficult and expensive endeavor.

It is cheaper and more reliable to buy grapes from other regions. The trade off, obviously, is that you lose the quality control and management of the most important part of the winemaking process.

John, I would maintain that you also lose a sense of identity.

If you maintain that key elements like geology, topography, and climate are lacking (assertions I'm not qualified to make myself, mind you) than I would ask "Then what is the Hudson Valley about in terms of wine?"

emerging region is it a good idea for a cause?? make sense?

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