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Regions / United States / Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes Wine Regions, its Climate, and Popular Grape Varietals

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The Finger Lakes wine region, located in upstate New York south of Lake Ontario, is known primarily for producing high-quality Riesling wines that can grow in a colder climate. There are now more than 100 wineries in the region as well as a very active wine tourism industry focused on the region’s wine trails.


In terms of climate, the area is comparable to the German wine region located along the Rhine River. The nearby lakes help to moderate the climate, releasing heat in winter.


The Finger Lakes wine region is primarily concentrated around four lake areas – Cayuga, Keuka, Seneca and Canandaigua. Of these four lake areas, Seneca Lake has the highest number of wineries, with 35 total. The four lake areas now sponsor year-round wine and food weekend events.


The winemaking history of the Finger Lakes can be traced back to the late 1820s when the first winemaking activities took place in the region. By 1862, the first commercial wineries were starting to appear, and by 1867, the region was winning international recognition for its high-quality sparkling wines.


In addition to Riesling wines, the Finger Lakes region is known for ice wines, as well as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc wines. There are now a growing number of upstate New York wineries that are gaining international acclaim, such as Ravines Wine Cellars, which Wine Spectator recently recognized as one of the Top 100 wineries in the world for its Alsatian-style Rieslings. Other well-known wineries in the Finger Lakes include Vinifera Wine Cellars (founded by Dr. Konstantin Frank), Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars, Sheldrake Point Winery and Damiani Wine Cellars.

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