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Friday, August 14, 2015

Finger Lakes Wine Region: Wine Dog Preview and First Impressions

From left to right or right to left, Ecco agrees!
Corning, New York

Prosecco is making her debut at the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC15), held this year in the Finger Lakes region of New York. This is the third conference for the Wine Dogs.

And guess what Virignia fans? Corning, the Southern gateway to the Finger Lakes, is a reasonable five-hour drive from Northern Virginia - closer than some wine regions in the Old Dominion.

Brudder tells the Wine Dogs all about the Finger Lakes
Ecco and Pomeroy got a preview of the region when they met up with the region's famous chef , Brud "Brudder" Holland, while visiting Marterella Winery in November. Note to Wine Dog friend KK - Corning is known as a Foodie Town and Brudder is considered the "Mad Scientist" of the Finger Lakes culinary scene.

Brudder told the Wine Dogs that there are more wineries in the Finger Lakes than they will have time to see. Indeed, the region has over 300 wineries (compared to just over 250 spread across Virginia). He highlighted several stars - many of whom had their wines on display at the WBC15 opening reception.

Meghan makes it 4 generations at
the winery her great-grandfather started
Dr. Konstantin Frank, an immigrant from the Ukraine, is considered the godfather of the Finger Lakes wine region. Like Virginia's Gianni Zonin of Barboursville Vineyards, Frank was one of the first believers that vino vinifera (European wine grapes) could be grown successfully in the Eastern United States.

The old vines are producing excellent fruit today for the Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery. Dr. Frank's great-granddaughter, Meghan, proudly poured the storied wines for the bloggers. Ecco enjoyed the dry Riesling from 1957 vines and gave paws up to the Pinot Noir from 1958 vines - the second oldest planting of Pinot in the country. She also enjoyed a very soft Gruner Veltliner - an Austrian varietal also grown at North Mountain in Virginia.

Carolyn introduces Ecco to Ravines wines.
Riesling is the region's signature grape, and a variety were on display at the opening reception. The 2013 Dry Riesling from Ravines Wine Cellars is a standout, and earned a top 100 spot from Wine Enthusiast. 
Len Wiltberger of Keuka Spring.
Len Wiltberger and his wife, Judy, started Keuka Spring Vineyards in the 1980s, at the beginning of the region's renaissance. He poured a refreshingly crisp and dry Rose from a blend of Cabernet Franc and Lemberger grapes. Ecco also enjoyed the Gewurtztraminer - a Finger Lakes staple whose name, literally, means "spicey grape from the town of Traminer."

Another staple of the Finger Lakes wine scene is Heron Hill, which dates back 37 year. Tasting Room Manager Tambi Schweitzer gave Ecco her first taste of Blaufrankish as a varietal (Lemberger by another name). She also discovered that Cabernet Franc is the number one selling red in the Finger Lakes (and we thought it was a Virginia phenomenon).
Nikki &Adam Folts recently opened
Vineyard View.

A new kid on the block, Vineyard View Winery opened only a year and a half ago. But the Folts family has been growing grapes in their vineyard for more than 100 years. Only a small part of the 125 acres go into their own wines - and some of their grapes even make their way to Virginia, where demand for fruit is outstripping supply. Again, Ecco was impressed with the Blaufrankish and enjoyed the Pinot and dry Riesling.

Ecco was surprised to learn that our Northern neighbors can produce grapes that have difficulty ripening in Virginia. The deep lakes have a tempering effect on the climate.

Overall, Virginia's little Wine Dog is getting a great introduction to the Finger Lakes at WBC15. She loves discovering the region's varietals, which draw heavily from Germany and Russia, and looks forward to her first taste of Saperavi.

The Finger Lakes' stars were out for the opening reception at WBC15.

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