Upper New York State’s Finger Lakes, a pastoral world of 11 lakes shaped like fingers, has 120 wineries that produce this country’s finest Riesling. Yet, other than a few wineries along the larger lakes, it is barely known outside the state. Even less known is the area whose lakes are the size of little fingers and whose wineries are equally small.
In this small-lake setting, Eagle Crest Vineyards stands out as one of the area’s best and, at 141 years, one of the oldest. It began as O-Neh-Da, a sacramental wine producer, which it still is. I was highly impressed with its Unoaked Chardonnay, Dry and Semi-Dry Riesling and Cabernet Franc under its 8-year-old Eagle Crest label. It sells its wines through its website.
Diane and Timothy Moore named their 6-year-old winery Inspire Moore and give their wines inspiring names. I particularly recommend Gratitude, a Sauvignon Blanc-Chardonnay-Pinot Grigio blend; Peace (Pinot Grigio); Joy (Dry Riesling); and Truth, a Bordeaux grape blend. They are distributed nationally and online.
Among Casa Larga’s wines are three Chardonnays, the same wine aged 15 months — one in French oak, one in American oak, one in Hungarian oak. I found the French the silkiest and most elegant; the Hungarian well-integrated; the American, however, was overwhelmingly oaky. Casa Larga has national distribution.
But most wineries here do not. They are small, family operations tucked into a glorious setting of lakes, waterfalls, gorges and acres of state parks.
Thorpe Vineyard is owned by Fumie Thorpe, who came to the United States from Tokyo 30 years ago to study meteorology. She never returned. Instead, her father bought her this small winery, and Fumie learned to be a winemaker and vineyardist. Tasting with her recently, I liked her Unoaked Chardonnay and Semi-Dry Riesling.
At Young Sommer Winery, a husband and wife team produce an admirable Gewürztraminer and Semi-Dry Riesling and the red Lemberger.
John Brahm’s family has been involved in wine since the early 1900s. Today, he has Arbor Hill Grapery, where he sells his pleasant Semi-Dry Riesling and Traminette, from a French-American hybrid grape whose main parent is Gewürztraminer.
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