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Why Doesn't Eating Local Translate to Drinking Local?

The locavore movement has never been stronger, nor Finger Lakes wines ever better, so why don't New York restaurants offer more New York wines?
Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Jun 15, 2011 3:00pm ET

The locavore movement has had a huge impact on restaurant kitchens throughout the U.S. No matter what their cuisine, chefs chant the mantra of fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. In addition, today’s young food-conscious generation is only happy to oblige by patronizing farmers' markets, getting involved in changing the menus at public schools for the better and more. There’s an organic veggie garden on the White House front lawn now. Bravo.

But the “local” wave often runs dry when it comes to wine—in restaurant cellars, on retail shelves, on the dinner table. I’ve interviewed many sommeliers about how they view their wine lists, for example. Most will talk about wines that they feel are authentic, have soul or represent a tradition or place they’re in love with. Yet they almost never mention locality. The romance of France or Italy always seems to easily trump that of an upstate New York farm.

The result? Top restaurants that focus on American cuisine and local, fresh ingredients seem to offer ample lists of international wines, ignoring their local producers. In California, it’s probably a matter of style. Sommeliers will argue that the ripe, rich wine style prevalent in Napa Valley, for example, is too overbearing to match with food—too much fruit, too much wood, too much alcohol. OK, I can see that (though there is a growing cadre of producers aiming for elegance and finesse in California these days).

In New York by contrast, home state wines don’t share the same level of cachet as their cross-country and international rivals. And admittedly, on a whole they’re not up to the same qualitative level either. Consequently, even the most fervently locavore menus here are generally partnered with a wine list that offers only a token New York wine or two. There are scads of all-French or all-Italian lists in the city; I don’t know a single restaurant with an all-New York wine selection.

One wine retailer, Vintage New York, tried its hand at backing the New York wine scene with an all-New York selection, but it closed its doors a few years ago after consumers failed to support the endeavor. Vintage may have come and gone before its time. While the qualitative argument might have been a valid excuse in years past to avoid the wines, things have changed, and it’s time for folks—sommeliers, retailers and consumers—to take notice.

I’ve been reviewing Finger Lakes wines for Wine Spectator since 2000, with an increasing focus over the past couple of years. At the start, there were few Finger Lakes wines that I would have ordered in a restaurant or purchased in a shop. But today, things have changed, dramatically. Passionate owners and winemakers have more experience in their vineyards and more tools in their wineries. They’re looking at terroir, parceling out their vineyards and moving around the various shores of the Seneca, Keuka, Cayuga and Skaneateles lakes in search of the prime spots for Riesling and other vinifera grapes, as opposed to the scattershot of hybrid and native grapes that are the historical base of the Finger Lakes wine industry.

Fred Merwarth at Hermann J. Wiemer, Dave Whiting at Red Newt Cellars, Morten Hallgren at Ravines Wine Cellars and Johannes Rheinhardt at Anthony Road Wine Company are among those leading the qualitative charge. And as a group, they also represent a combination of outside expertise and homegrown know-how that is giving the Finger Lakes a fresh perspective on wine.

It’s time for sommeliers and retailers to show some support for the efforts of these growers, but they can't and won't do that until consumers are actively looking for and willing to buy them. The list of quality wineries in the Finger Lakes is a lot longer than it was 10 years ago: Atwater Estate, Billsboro, Bloomer Creek, Damiani, Fox Run, Heart & Hands, Heron Hill, Keuka Lake Vineyards, Lamoreaux Landing, Red Tail Ridge, Rooster Hill, Shaw, Sheldrake Point, Standing Stone, Tierce …. And with the region producing cool-climate wines that emphasize acidity and freshness as opposed to weight or power, they should slot right in with those clamoring for restraint in their wine (a group that often allies with the locavore movement).

Exploring the Finger Lakes is easy, too. It’s a 4.5-hour drive from New York City and it offers up some of the state’s most beautiful countryside. The wines routinely retail for $20 or less and when you buy at the winery tasting room, you’re directly supporting the growers themselves. In addition to the Finger Lakes, there’s also the east end of Long Island and the bucolic Hudson Valley, where wine and agriculture continue to develop side-by-side.

If the proponents of the locavore movement here in New York are honest with their food-based mantra, they should be beating their drum just as loudly for local wines.

What will it take for the Finger Lakes to get a seat at the table in New York?

You can now follow James Molesworth on Twitter, at http://twitter.com/jmolesworth1.

Andrew J Walter
Sacramento, CA —  June 15, 2011 3:49pm ET
While in theory, shipping wine does not affect its taste (unlike other food products), the principle of shipping wine across the country/world (with its costs and environmental impacts) should be motivation enough to drink local. Real "localvore" restaurants in New York, Virginia, Arizona (try FnB in Scottsdale..wow is all I can say), Washington, Oregon and California and maybe North Carolina / Missouri / Colorado / Idaho / Texas as well as the surrounding states should focus on the local wines as there is plenty of diversity and quality in these areas. And, Rajat Parr and his ilk not withstanding, there are PLENTY of amazing wines produced in California across the spectrums of varietals, price points and regions such that any sommelier would be able to find wines that match his/her food. Finally, I will be in NY City next week -- is there any restaurant in the Chelsea area you might reccomend that has a good New York wine list--I would love to taste and support the local wines out there
Richard Lee
Napa —  June 15, 2011 6:34pm ET
Nice try Jim! The reason NOBODY supports NY wines is because they don't measure up to the competition. If you are so sure that a restaurant would be successful w/your idea why not open your own restaurant and give it a go? CHEERS!
Steven Shaw
Himrod,NY —  June 15, 2011 7:49pm ET
Very well said James! I agree with your assessment of the challenges we are facing here in the Finger Lakes Region. The list of quality NYS producers is longer than ever.
I think those producers you mention will continue to offer balanced, complex, food friendly wines we can all enjoy. The bar on quality is being raised every year and I think we all want to do our best to help raise it.
You make a very good point about the shift in wine making philosophy taking place in Napa. Some great producers are moving toward dry farming, lower yields and less concentrated grapes. No need to add water.
The resulting wines are much more to my liking and maybe a bit more in the style of Napa wines from the 1970's.
As for those who say NY wines don't measure up, I wonder how they define what measure up means?
Bill Andreotti
Aurora, IL USA —  June 15, 2011 8:14pm ET
I'll be in the Finger Lakes region for a few days in July - can't wait!
James Silver
Cutchogue, NY —  June 15, 2011 8:52pm ET
Wow, I thought backward attitudes like Mr. Lee's (can I call you Dick?) were long gone- what with the stunning consistency and extremely fair pricing FLX wines have provided in recent years and the age-worthy, balanced reds Long Island has been displaying. It wasn't too long ago that people like you were poo-pooing Napa in the same way. Heck they made a movie about it. Not a good movie, but whatever...

There's more fine, balanced, food friendly wines coming out of New York than any state in the union save California right now. And nearly every drop a better value. How is that not a bigger story?
James Molesworth
Senior Editor, Wine Spectator —  June 16, 2011 7:05am ET
Andrew: You can use our free restaurant search (www.winespectator.com/restaurants/search) to locate restaurants with notable wine lists. You can also search by 'wine strength' Alas, a search for New York wine lists only nets a handful, with most of them concentrated in the Finger Lakes.

One restaurant I do like in Chelsea though, with an eclectic (European emphasis) and very modestly priced wine list, is Trestle On Tenth.

L'Ecole, at The French Culinary Institute, is downtown. The multi-course meal (prepared by cooking school students) and the wine list are excellent and modestly priced - they have a smattering of NY wines.

My favorite steakhouse, Rothmann's (midtown) serves Hermann J. Wiemer Riesling by-the-glass.
Andrew J Walter
Sacramento, CA —  June 16, 2011 9:47am ET
thanks! We are staying right by Trestle, which we will check out. Also, on the retail side, the Chelsea Wine Vault has a pretty good selection of New York wines...I'll pick up a few bottles to suprise my friends with in blind tastings. And, in response to Mr Scotts assertions...I've had a number of east coast wines over the past 15 years...and while the reds still have a bit of a way to go...the whites coming from the east...ranging from Virginia Viogners to Finger Lakes late harvest Vidal...are really interesting and exciting. Plus my friend Larry Nycum at Grassy Creek Winery is making a serious stab at Bordeaux style wines from North Carolina of all places. So...keep your mind and your palate open
James Molesworth
Senior Editor, Wine Spectator —  June 16, 2011 10:56am ET
Andrew: A reader just pointed out to me that Colicchio & Sons on West 15th street has a nice selection of Bloomer Creek, Ravines and Hermann J. Wiemer Rieslings on their wine list...
Jesse Salazar
New York, New York —  June 16, 2011 11:43am ET
Nice post James!

Interestingly, Kareem Massoud and I were having a similar conversation this past weekend. However, I get the sense that many of NY's better restaurants do make an effort to promote good bottlings from the Finger Lakes and the North Fork. Gramercy Tavern, Hearth, Prune, Momofuku, and Prime Meats are all places where I've seen wines from the likes of Ravines, Red Hook, Shinn, and Paumanok.

As for retailers, it's easy to get caught up with selling the latest old-vines Aligoté or skin-fermented Nosiola with all the amazing wines being brought into the country these days. Better retailers have approached the NY wine category much in the same way they did with Grüner Veltliner years ago - foisting food-friendly values on once wary consumers, building the brand bottle by bottle.

To say that we sell loads of NY wine would be an understatement, which makes one of the comments above laughable to say the least. There are very few sub-$20 Chardonnays from California that have the complexity of the best from Long Island, and I have yet to be convinced by a domestic Riesling that didn't come from the Finger Lakes. With regard to red wine, the 2007s at Paumanok and Shinn are some of the best I've ever tasted from the region. Do they compete with the top dawgs from Napa? Not really, but only in the sense that gymnasts don't compete with UFC brawlers either.
Heitor Almeida
NY —  June 16, 2011 2:10pm ET
It is too bad that Vintage NY closed! I moved out of NYC a few years ago but used to support them. I tried many wines from both FL and NF, and have found many worthy wines. Wine is all about originality and terroir, and both regions have a lot going for them. Also agree with James, NF and FL (specially) make for GREAT weekend trips from NYC. I miss them! For all NYC wine lovers, make this one of your summer trips - certainly beats going to the Hamptons!

James, a question for you: what is your experience with aging Riesling from Finger Lakes? I love old German Riesling but I have had a mixed experience with moderately aged FL Riesling. Specifically, I have kept some 2005 and 2006s from good producers in perfect cellaring conditions. None has gone bad, but I still have to find a wine that has truly improved. The fruit seems to become subdued, without much of the secondary characteristics of Germans or other places like Austria, Australia, etc. I would be curious to hear your views on this.







James Molesworth
Senior Editor, Wine Spectator —  June 16, 2011 4:08pm ET
Heitor: You hit the nail on the head. The next step for the Finger Lakes is to produce wines that can age, while also developing into something different and/or better as they do. Many wines age by simply enduring, but not truly changing or evolving. I think the Wiemer single vineyards and the Ravines Argetsinger bottling get a little better with time, but that is just a drop in the bucket...
Richard Lee
Napa —  June 16, 2011 5:09pm ET
Sorry Mr. Slivers if I upset you w/the truth. I have spent enough time in NY and FL to know that those wines aren't that good. If it makes you feel good to present yourself as a child please go ahead. BTW, your statement about other states wine quality shows your lack of experience. Washington and Oregon are LIGHT YEARS ahead of NY wines. Take a tip and realize that WA/OR make exceptional wines at prices superior to NY. Cheers!
Alexandra M Fox
Tampa, FL, USA —  June 16, 2011 6:02pm ET
Not all states are producing quality wines but some are producing at the very least interesting wines. Wines from OR/WA weren't even thought of 50 years ago. Good for the innovators who took a chance, suffered the laughs and naysayers and did what they believed it. That's the point! Who knows which varietals from which area may be an amazing wine. We're a young country with uptight views on wine/alcohol, it's taken us longer to embrace wine as something more than a simple alcoholic beverage. If there are producers out there trying something in a new area and it's at all reasonable I say give it a whirl. I tried a Po' bot sandwich because it was local...no other reason. Thanks Mom for teaching me, "Try it, you might like it." I'm not saying it's going to score high points or be an award winner but why not try it, you never know.
Arrowhead Spring Vineyards
Niagara, NY USA —  June 16, 2011 10:41pm ET
I enjoyed this article very much - Mr. Molesworth makes some terrific points about wine as a local food. I believe the future for NY wines is very bright. Here in Niagara USA, We benefit from 30 years of experience from the Canadians just across the river. They have gone through many growing pains, but have built up a strong industry based on quality. It wasn’t easy for them to overcome perception, but they did.

There are still many people who won't accept wine from a new region, be it the romance, personal preference, or just an unwillingness to try new things. At this point, across NY State I think we have a pretty good idea of what grows best in each region. Wine quality continues to improve (as it does around the world) and NY wines rival the best regions of the world. Communicating this has been the primary challenge.
Vince Liotta
Elmhurst Illinois —  June 16, 2011 10:58pm ET
New York wines in the Chicago area have been fairly insignificant. Being a retailer here, we have carried only Palmer wines some years ago which were distributed by a now defunct one man distributor who made up in passion what he lacked in sales prowess. All the wines were a good five years past vintage, including a Pinot Blanc which was arguably the most interesting, retaining (or developing?) a vanilla character to complement the maturing star fruit.

James, your post is motivating me to take a couple days in the area while visiting a cousin in Manhattan this August. Can you offer a couple of winery choices to visit which would provide a good over-view? Any you know of have significant distribution in the Chicago area, or would aspire to?

Tom
Lisa Hallgren
Finger Lakes —  June 16, 2011 11:31pm ET
I actually find it reassuring to read opinions such as the one expressed, somewhat simplistically, by Richard Lee. It serves as a reminder that there are still people out there that simply do not get it!
Luckily, I'm happy to report that we are making very significant progress placing our wines in NYC, Chicago and even right in San Francisco. So Dick; next time you are in San Francisco have a glass of Finger Lakes Riesling or Cabernet Franc!
Andrew J Walter
Sacramento, CA —  June 17, 2011 8:53am ET
Mr Scott...you are seriously missing the point here. I do not think anyone is saying that East COast Wines are consistently better than or even equal to West Coast wine. Of course not -- the wines from CA/OR/WA are arguably the best wines produced in the world. The point of JMs blogs is that as "Localvores" -- we eat locally and patronize restaurants that serve local food not only because it tastes better but because we understand that "January tomatos" and the "industrial food chain" are killing our environment, our bodies and even our souls. ANd why, if we are making this political statement with our food, should we not take the step further and make it with our wine as well (even though taste is not an issue wine is heavy thus shipping is costly and locally produced wines come from people with dirt and grape residue under their nails who spend the money you pay them locally)? Eespecially when, with a bit of time looking (like the chef would when trying to source poultry, etc), excellents locally produced wines and good values can be found. Maybe in only 10-30% of states is this possible, but certainly New York is one of them. In my case, I changed my reservation for 8 from Trestle to Coliccho so that I can try a few FL wines --and I will send Trestle an email letting them know why (there website says they specialize in "local" food).
David A Zajac
Akron, OH —  June 17, 2011 10:10am ET
The reality of it is in the last four years I have been going, the wines from the FLX have improved markedly and they DO deserve a place on the wine lists of local and, yes, national restauraunts. They offer tremendous variety and their rieslings can't be beat by anyone in the country. Personally, I am not at all happy with most California Cabernets - they have become what caused Australia's market to collapse, overbearing and over extracted, I will take a delicious 12% alcohol Cabernet Franc or pinot from the FLX almost every time - and if you haven't had them lately, you really shouldn't try to tell those of us that have how good or bad they are. Are they across the board outstanding, no, but the wines listed in Jim's post are a great way to start - although I would add McGregor on Keuka Lake to the list...but start with Ravines, Red Newt and Weimer and you won't go wrong. And I dare you to put Heart & Hands pinot in a blind tasting against California or Oregon...
David Rapoport
CA —  June 17, 2011 11:33am ET
Channing Daughters, in Bridgehampton, is producing some of the most interesting white (and orange) wines in the U. S. right now. Still, NYC has sort of jumped the shark
James Molesworth
Senior Editor, Wine Spectator —  June 17, 2011 11:38am ET
Vince: Basically all the wineries are open to the public, with tasting rooms of some sort (some more grand than others). The greatest concentration is around Seneca Lake, but if you have the time you should get to Keuka and other spots as well.

I don't like to play favorites by making specific suggestions on who to visit - but you can certainly work off the list of top producers I mentioned in the above blog.

I don't know who has good Chicago distribution; the wineries will certainly be able to answer that when and if you visit them.
Richard Lee
Napa —  June 17, 2011 1:02pm ET
To:Lisa Hallgren
I am very sure I haven't missed a thing! Even Mr. Molesworth reviews agree w/me. Check his ratings on NY wines over the 5 year period from 2005 thru 2009. WS reviewed 1117 wines and ONLY 48 received 90 pts or better. Sadly, there were about 145 wines that received 79 points or less. That means about 14% of the wine made in NY isn't worth drinking. About 50% of the wines received 85 pts or less. Obviously this is an emotional issue for you and I applaud your enthusiasm in trying to promote your area's wines. Sometimes though, emotions cloud clear thinking. If you enjoy NY wines please continue to do so. I prefer to drink and spend my money on something better. I will toast your enthusiam tonight w/a Cayuse Syrah (They are in Walla Walla Lisa) and a Harlan Cab (The Cab is from Napa Lisa). Cheers!
David A Zajac
Akron, OH —  June 17, 2011 2:19pm ET
Mr. Lee, and you will be spending north of $600 to do so, while we will drink a cab franc from Ravine's for $25 and a Weimer riesling for $20 and have over $550 left over. Your right, nuff said!
Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  June 17, 2011 3:56pm ET
/me shudders at a red from NY. The ones that are half way approachable are just ridiculously overpriced fwiw. It's not about alcohol or ripeness, it's about tasting good, and that's unfortunately subjective. NY reds just don't float my boat.

I think people are missing the point of what it means to be a localvore. You eat NY grown things because time traveled for fresh produce should be less then something shipped across the country. Freshness is equated to better quality and better tasting.
And part of it certainly rings true. My vine ripened tomatoes in my backyard is plump, firm and sweet as oppose to the mexican ones from my supermarket (bruised, watery and tasteless)

Wine has no such need to be "fresh". I'd rather have the best tasting wine to pair with this excellent fresh food than some wine that's only acceptable (especially the effort it took to source fresh ingredients).
Richard Lee
Napa —  June 17, 2011 4:02pm ET
Dave,
Business relationships and friends allow me to buy wine at 30- 50% off. The 2000 Harlan was purchased for less than $150.00 eight years ago and the Cause Chamberlain Syrah was about $35.00. That means you will only have $130.00 left. Thanks for playing! Remember, life is too short to drink bad wine! Cheers!
Andrew J Walter
Sacramento, CA —  June 17, 2011 4:11pm ET
Mr Lee...all that money you must have and yet you still can't buy any common sense. No one is saying that on a consistent basis the East Coast produces better wines than the west coast. If Ms Hallgren wanted to pay $600 (or $50 or whatever) to drink wine from the west coast or Europe, part of both the paid and unpaid costs are related to shipping (fossil fuels, air pollution, etc). Now, if you do not care about such things, then buy wine from whereever you want. But, if you profess to believe in the values of the Localvore movement (as many NYC restaurants do), then you need to seriously consider local wines (and SOME of the FL and LI wines do merit serious consideration and deserve further space on these wine lists)
James Molesworth
Senior Editor, Wine Spectator —  June 17, 2011 4:49pm ET
Richard: In addition to the locavore/locapour argument that you seem to be missing, since '10, of the 381 published reviews on NY wines, 32 have earned ratings of 90+ (and there are more reviews not yet published). That's an increasing trend line, powered mainly by a qualitative surge coming from the Finger Lakes. It may be growth from a small base to begin with and overall they may still not compare with the best from Napa - but the region is on the upswing and all good wine deserves to be appreciated...
Lisa Hallgren
Finger Lakes —  June 17, 2011 5:39pm ET
Mr. Lee,

Perhaps you should think about why many of the better restaurant in the Bay Area are moving away from heavy, alcoholic and jammy wines to wines with balance, regional character and distinction.
As a winemaker who grew up in Provence, I have had opportunities to drink wines from most wine regions. I have generally found it preferable to drink local wines whenever possible. Resorting to monolithic jammy unbalanced wines should be for people with no taste buds left.
Richard Lee
Napa —  June 17, 2011 6:25pm ET
Jim,
Congrats to Finger Lakes for having improved scores from your 2010 review. You/WS are the ones who reviewed/scored 1117 wines the previous 5 years. That said, I still ask; Why don't you spend your money and open a restaurant w/only New York wines? I think we know the answer.

Lisa,
Stop being so jealous of the rest of the wine world. It doesn't fit you well. My friends and I will toast your winery tonight and pray for continued improvement for Ravines Wine Cellar. Here's to you and your 2011 harvest! Stay thirsty my friend!
David Rapoport
CA —  June 17, 2011 7:14pm ET
So closed minded, Richard. You don't deserve to live in norcal. You should be living in some small minded "red"state with a bad climate.
David Rapoport
CA —  June 17, 2011 7:26pm ET
Jeffrey Ghi, eating local is not just about freshness. It's also about environmental and economic impact. People are not missing the point
Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  June 18, 2011 1:01am ET
Environmental and economic impact? Please, a shipping company handling daily shipments from mexico handles so much produce they are at least 100x more efficient at shipping large quantities of produce then ANY small local producer is capable of. With economies of scale, there are very few instances where a local grower's carbon foot print will be less then a large corporation on a pound by pound basis.

On an economic basis, mass produced food ensures affordability for everyone. "local" / "organic" food is a luxury. Our local farmers are in it for the money, plain and simple. Do I support my local tradesman? Yes, but it's not because I pity them. I can afford to pay for a better quality product, and i do.

But, if you wish to tell yourself that eating local helps your environment and economy, go right ahead.

Recall that Norcal has a drought problem caused by all this "local" growing, way to save fresh water for the rest of the world.
Arrowhead Spring Vineyards
Niagara, NY USA —  June 18, 2011 9:08am ET
Stir the Lees is a great title for this column!
Vince Liotta
Elmhurst Illinois —  June 18, 2011 6:30pm ET
James,

Appreciate the feedback as always. I'm familiar with your non-endorse policy, just thought that in addition to, or amongst the quality leaders, there may be one or two with a diverse but representative sampling of the regions as I probably won't have more than 2 days time. But sometimes less is more anyway, so no problem.

Richard, Gee, if New York wines are so insignificant, why are you spending so much time talking about them?

Tom
David A Zajac
Akron, OH —  June 19, 2011 8:41am ET
This is becoming very personal for all involved, but I am curious Mr's. Lee and Ghi, do you speak from experience or are you simply being closed minded. Please share with all, honestly, when was the last time you had a bottle of red wine from the Finger Lakes, specifically from one of the producers mentioned by Mr. Molesworth in his article? And I will say, I do speak from experience as I go there twice per year to drink their wines and I will also mention that I am on the mailing list of Cayuse and was on Harlan's from the beginning in 1990/1991 until I dropped off in or around the 2004 vintage due to their increasing cost, so I have had the very wines your referring to...
Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  June 19, 2011 12:59pm ET
Mr Zajac, please don't group me with any one else's post but mine.

I have stated all along that my tastes buds are subjective to me and that the reds I've tried have a component of greeness to them that I don't like. Have I hit all of the wineries in the finger lakes? No, but I have tried a bunch of them.

My reply was against Mr Rapoport and his generic statement that eating local is better for the economy and the environment, which in most cases it is not. That statement just really agitates me for some reason. Much like how the Prius is environmentally friendly, but only if you don't include the heavy metal battery that's sourced from the industrial mines of China.

From the finger lakes I do enjoy quite a number of white wines from the region. Dr. Frank's has a fantastic line up for instance. You're correct there are alot of others that do make some good juice, but in terms of reds, I have yet to find one. With other wines so readily available, I must admit my laziness with even trying to find one.

Syrahs from paso robles, like Hug Cellars, are only 20$ and much less then the Cayuse and Harlan's that you speak of and they pair well whenever I get locally raised lambs. 30$ pinots from St Innocent offers both the low alcohol, balance and none of the greeness that FLX or Long Island wines may have. Must you force someone to waste their time and effort trying to fit something in a meal when there are readily available alternatives?

Not everything has to be Harlan, Cayuse and Lafite just because I don't drink reds from NY and it'd be rather silly to get in a pissing match about who's on who's mailing list, don't you agree?
David A Zajac
Akron, OH —  June 19, 2011 1:44pm ET
Mr. Ghi, I wholeheartedly agree and its nice to say you have enjoyed their whites, in other words you have tried them...I just want to be sure that people respond based upon actual knowledge, which it sounds as if you have. I do believe, having drunk wines like Harlan and Cayuse, that I have some degree of knowledge and experience with these wines, so when I give my opinion, it is only that of course, my opinion. Everyone deserves their own opinion as long as its based upon experience and not just plain saying something when in fact they never even had the wines, or in the case of the Finger Lakes, having had them within the last 4-5 years as the progress has been amazing. I look forward to Mr. Lee's response and, again in my opinion only, if he is paying $150 for the 2000 Harlan, he is drinking a name only, as that wine wasn't even very good when it was released, much less 11 years later - for that kind of money you could do a lot better (yes, I have had it...)
Chad Dikun
NJ —  June 19, 2011 10:50pm ET
Great article James! I've never commented on any articles here before, but after reading some other comments I felt compelled to throw in my two cents.

I only made my first trip up to the Finger Lakes region last fall. I can certainly say I had mixed expectations, but I was definitely optimistic after having seen some of the recent reviews at the time from WS. While there were some wineries that were disappointing where I didn't care for any of their wines, there were also numerous wineries that I found extremely impressive. I found many excellent dry Rieslings, but I also found some quite good reds that I enjoyed very much such as the 07 Ravines Meritage and the 08 Ravines Pinot Noir. I also enjoyed a few reds from Ventosa, Lucas and several other wineries. A couple months after my visit I ended up drinking the 07 Ravines Meritage side by side with a Napa Cab that cost double the Ravines wine with dinner at home one night. After comparing both, I honestly think that in a blind tasting most people would be very surprised to find that one was from the Finger Lakes. To say good quality wines do not exist in the Finger Lakes is definitely being very narrow-minded. I believe the Finger Lakes region will only continue to improve as well (as is already being shown by the increasing number of higher scoring wines in reviews from WS).

I am heading back up to the Finger Lakes this coming weekend for three days. I look forward to checking out several "new" wineries that I did not have a chance to visit last time as well as to re-visit some of my favorites from my fall trip.

Lisa - Keep up the great work at Ravines! You and your husband should be very proud of the fantastic quality wines you are creating. I look forward to visiting your winery once again this weekend. You are at the top of our list of wineries we need to go back to on this upcoming trip.
David A Zajac
Akron, OH —  June 20, 2011 11:02am ET
Chad, the best new winery I would recommend to you is Zugibe, just south of Ventosa on the northeast side of Seneca, they have been around a few years but the quality is outstanding. Good luck.
Mary Jane Phillips
Farmington Hills, MI —  June 21, 2011 11:10am ET
Hi to all that are reading these comments with an increasing opinion on most. I find it interesting how the thread took on a life of its own. Those who support local food products and good wine, be it local or not, are really not in contradiction. How boring it would be if we all liked the same things. As the passion increased in the blogs, I found it rather off-putting how the old "wine snobbery, impress them with the trophy wines I have drunk...." mentality emerged. No, I have not had the good fortune to have drunk a Harlan, but my cellar is well stocked with many top Napas, Italians and French first growths. This has never stopped me from being excited to try wines that are from less "popular" places (eg: Michigan, FL, Virginia, AZ, etc.) It is a journey, and an exciting one at that. Palates evolve, as do tastes and preferences. That is what makes wine a most exciting subject. Open minds expand our horizons. Cheers to all
Neil Barham
Vail, co —  June 23, 2011 10:42am ET
The thing that bothers me, is not if the wine is local, but that its nature real wine, I am so tired of going to restaurants that brag about farm-fresh cuisine then offer only horrible over-production wines or second label wines that over power the dish, instead of finding 'vigneron' produced wines which are easy to find a very value priced and that usually always are wines that demand a plate along side of them.
Andrew J Walter
Sacramento, CA —  June 23, 2011 6:02pm ET
James....thanks for the advice. We went to Colicchio and sons and drank the 08 Ravines Artnesberger (sp?) Riesling. Both the wine and the food were excellent
Chris Moody
Saint Charles, MO —  June 24, 2011 11:25am ET
Greetings-
The State of Missouri has a long history of wine in the Augusta & Hermann areas and now across the entire state with nearly 100 wineries in operation (according to missouriwine.org). I feel that the situation here is similar to that of the Finger Lakes region - inexpensive wine that can pair nicely with food but has not been embraced by many of the higher end restaurants. I believe part of this is due to the perception that Missouri wines are overly sweet and fun to drink on a hillside but not for the dinner table. Many wineries have been working hard to produce wines that are more complex and age worthy wines, Norton & Chardonnel being the focus of most of these efforts. Most are quite reasonable in cost relative to West Coast and Old World offerings and the quality has increased greatly. But I think restaurants are in a quandary about putting them on their wine lists. If people don't know them, they won't buy them and it wastes cellar space - but buying local is the fashionable thing to do. Hopefully the Winemakers and restaurants can work together to spread the word about quality and how well these wines work with food. Thanks for your time and great post!
Chad Dikun
NJ —  June 27, 2011 11:11pm ET
David - Thanks for the suggestion on Zugibe! We added them to our itinerary and we thoroughly enjoyed all the wines we tasted there this weekend. Brendan even offered us a "teaser" tasting of their new Cab Franc release that will be out in the next week or so. That was probably one of the best Cab Francs I tasted all weekend and I would have surely bought a bottle if it had been ready for sale.

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