About New YorkThe Big Grape
Beyond the bustling, concrete jungle we call New York City, there lies an entire state that is primarily agricultural and rural. Viticulture has long been a practice in New York, with the production of high quality wine steadily growing over the past few decades. The New York State wine industry is diverse, with plantings that range from native American species to vitis vinifera, not to mention a number of hybrids and crossings. Native American varieties are very sturdy grapes, immune to phylloxera and genetically prone to withstand cold and snow. Unfortunately, wines made from these grapes, of the species vitus labrusca, have an unfortunate aroma and flavor critics refer to as "foxy." For this reason there are a number of hybrids that were created with the hopes of merging the non-foxy qualities of vitis vinifera with the lasting power of the native varieties. Some of these hybrids are still around today, the most widely used being Seyval Blanc. For vitis vinifera, you'll most likely find Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
Notable FactsThe top regions of New York State are the Finger Lakes, the Hudson Valley and more recently, Long Island.
The Finger Lakes, located along the border of New York State and Canada, have been the heart of the New York wine industry for the past century. It was the region that first experimented with hybrids (mixes between European varieties and American varieties) and produced successful wines with them. The pioneer behind many of the top quality wines in the Finger Lakes was Dr. Konstantin Frank, who began focusing on cool-climate, European white varieties like Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay. Manischewitz, the top producer of kosher wines, is also based here, making kosher wines from the plethora of Concord grapes. Also popular are ice wines, a product of the cold winters that move through the region.
The Hudson Valley, located just above New York City, is home to some of the oldest vines in the state. The small to medium sized vineyards focus on both hybrids and vinifera varieties.Long Island is the most recent wine industry boom, and most of the vineyards here are located on the North Fork, which happens to be the sunniest part of the island. The area has a maritime climate, which has led many wine growers to plant maritime style varieties - most notably, the Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Quality here is growing as winemakers gain knowledge of the land and become more experienced with winemaking techniques.
About Other USEvery state in the United States makes wine. That's not to say that every wine is good, nor is every wine made from grapes. Hawaii ferments pineapples, while Connecticut makes wines from their well-known berry farms. But almost every state has at least one vineyard trying to make wine from grapes. Those who are most successful, beyond California, Washington, Oregon and New York are:
VirginiaWine in Virginia has come a long way since Thomas Jefferson unsuccessfully planted vinifera grapes at his home in Monticello. Our third president, known as the first American wine connoisseur, spent a good amount of time touring vineyards in France, hoping he could replicate the vineyards in Virginia. May not have been successful 200 years ago, but today, the Commonwealth of Virginia is home to over 150 wineries.
Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the most widely planted white and red grapes. Other success stories include Cabernet Franc, which does very well on Virginia soil, producing wines that are ripe and round, snuffing out the vegetal tendencies of this varietal. Viognier may be the next big white, making some lovely aromatic, yet dry, white wines.
New MexicoChampagne region after all), Gruet is now a nationally recognized wine. The wines are delicious and one of the best deals in sparkling wine. The family makes a range of wines - from the ethereal and efferevesant blanc de blancs to the more full-bodied blanc-de-noir to the slightly sweet demi-sec.
New Mexico is now home to nineteen wineries. While none are as large as Gruet, more winemakers are realizing that the warm day and cool night combination in the state has great potential for great wine.Other states worth trying include North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Idaho and Michigan.