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New York's Finger Lakes wine region continues to improve. Time for another check-in
Forge Cellars is one of the newer additions to the ever-improving Finger Lakes wine scene.
Photo by: Chandra Russell
Forge Cellars is one of the newer additions to the ever-improving Finger Lakes wine scene.

Posted: Jul 11, 2016 4:00pm ET

Up and at 'em. Time for another quick little trip. Following up on my visits to a handful of Long Island wineries, I am staying local, but heading north, to the Finger Lakes.

Just a 4.5-hour drive from New York City (along a rather pretty stretch of Route 17 for a while) sits this rapidly improving wine region. I can easily say there are some serious wines being made up here now, though the caveat is that there is just a handful of wineries that have really broken through. There are the longtime stalwarts such as Hermann J. Wiemer, Red Newt, Standing Stone and a few others. And they're finally being joined by the likes of Ravines, Keuka Lake Vineyards, Forge Cellars and a couple more. It's promising , but there's still a ways to go …

I've been reviewing Finger Lakes wines and coming up here regularly for over a decade. You can reference my blog posts on previous runs through the area in 2008, 2009 (twice), 2010, 2011 and 2012.

In addition, you can reference my most recent annual tasting report, focusing primarily on the 2014 vintage, "Keeping Cool" in the March 31 issue of Wine Spectator, and our online guide to recent vintages.

And if you're thinking of coming up here—and why not? The food is locally sourced, the tasting rooms are open and the scenery is lovely—you can check out a few of my recommended restaurants.

As usual, I'll be kicking the dirt in the vineyards with the winemakers and owners, getting to see their efforts behind the scenes, as well as tasting a few things to see what's coming down the pipeline. I hope you'll follow along for the next few installments.

You can follow James Molesworth on Twitter, at twitter.com/jmolesworth1, and Instagram, at instagram.com/jmolesworth1.

Chad Dikun
Rutheford, NJ —  July 13, 2016 12:27pm ET
I can't recall whether you've ever mentioned it before in any of your Finger Lakes articles (it isn't in the most recent recommended restaurants article), but Stonecat Cafe on the eastern side of Seneca Lake is absolutely worth visiting for either lunch or dinner. They are one of the restaurants that focuses a lot on locally sourced ingredients. They also have an excellent selection of Finger Lakes wines to choose from on their list (and are a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner).
James Molesworth
New York —  July 13, 2016 12:33pm ET
Chad: thanks for recommendation - I know it well. Food there is always delicious and the wine lists supports the local industry. I ate there again on this trip and loved it for those reasons. Though execution does sometimes wane - service was very slow (2.5 hours for lunch) and there were a few gaffes. But that catfish sandwich is good...
David A Zajac
Akron, Ohio —  July 15, 2016 10:00am ET
Be sure to get to Ports Café up by Geneva as well, always a must go each time we are there. A couple wineries to check out if you are still there are Kemmeter and Heart & Hands - both worth the time and effort to get to and visit. As you probably know Johannes was the former winemaker at Anthony Road and a great guy, and Tom & Susan Higgins are also super people making wonderful wines.
James Molesworth
New York —  July 15, 2016 10:27am ET

Thanks...yes Ports Café is usually a solid little place.

Heart & Hands does a very good job though I won't be seeing them this time around. I have to spread it around as best I can.

Johannes has moved on from Anthony Road to his own project as you noted. He's using sourced fruit until his own vines come on line. He's not submitting samples though so I can't justify stopping by. I did buy a bottle of his Sonora Riesling and it was disappointing - very 'basic'. But I'll try and keep an eye on it going forward...
David A Zajac
Akron, Ohio —  July 15, 2016 11:25am ET
Agree, the Sonora is simply ok, its his base wine and also my least favorite of his wines.
Chad Dikun
Rutheford, NJ —  July 15, 2016 6:53pm ET
Love Kemmeter. While I haven't had the current vintage Sonero, I thought the previous 3 (2012-2014) were all quite good for an entry-level Riesling at that price. I loved tasting all of his single vineyard wines side by side as well. I think there is also something to perhaps be said for the tasting "experience" impacting perception of the wine. The experience at Kemmeter with the one on one attention from either Johannes himself or Imelda is un-matched in the Finger Lakes. Hearing his passion and stories perhaps make the wine that much better in the tasting room. Although I've never been disappointed with any of the bottles I've brought home. I can't wait to see what he does once his own vines start producing fruit.
David A Zajac
Akron, Ohio —  July 21, 2016 10:23am ET
Chad, I agree, plus he is getting good fruit now, my favorite of his single vineyard bottlings came from Sheldrake Point fruit, so the source is a pretty good one.

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