Sunday, January 10, 2010

Finger Lakes Wine Industry 2009 Recap

Wow. 2009 passed by in a flash. Welcome to 2010! Only a couple more years left (according to the Mayan calendar), so we better get busy enjoying all the Finger Lakes wine that we can. To recap 2009 for the Finger Lakes wine industry, I believe the operative word is “Relief”. Going into 2009, recession worries were rampant and many wineries were bracing for the worst. But happily, consumers shrugged off the bad economic news and continued to visit Finger Lakes wineries. Many wineries reported that even though the total visitor count was down a bit, sales held up fairly well. So that was very good news for the Finger Lakes wine industry.

The news about the wine was just as good, as award after award was earned by Finger Lakes wineries in 2009 with Sheldrake Point Vineyard (Cayuga Lake) and Hermann Wiemer Vineyard (Seneca Lake) being named in the Top 100 wineries of the world by Wine & Spirits magazine. The quality of Finger Lakes wine could be seen across the board with special note being given to the 2007 reds that were released in 2009, especially some of the 2007 Pinot Noirs.

The optimal weather in 2007, along with the increasing experience and knowledge of Finger Lakes vineyardists and winemakers in this relatively young winemaking region, combined to prove that yes, Pinot Noir can be grown here and can be made into outstanding wine. Red Tail Ridge, Billsboro, Fox Run, Belhurst, Heart & Hand, and Ravines all stood out with fine 2007 Pinot Noir’s.

Of course, Riesling continued to lead the way in the Finger Lakes with critics from around the world finally comprehending what I have been shouting to the world for many years now – that the Finger Lakes region can make first-class world renown wine! But two of my top favorite white wines of 2009 were not Rieslings, but Gewurztraminers. The complex and delicious Dr. Frank ’08 Reserve Gewurztraminer ($24.99) shows layers of tangerine, floral, and spice flavors and the Silver Springs Winery (Seneca Lake) ‘04 Gewurztraminer Ice Wine ($42) continues to develop year after year and is now revealing luscious honey and citrus flavors.

Expansion continues in the Finger Lakes with several more wineries opening in 2009, along with several distilleries making fine small-batch artisan spirits. I made visits to 88 of those wineries in 2009 and tasted over 700 Finger Lakes wines. 2009 harvest reports give a mixed view of the ’09 vintage with the weather not cooperating for much of the year. Rieslings and whites in general are looking good, but the verdict on ’09 reds is still up in the air.

I wish everyone a Great 2010 and I’ll see you on the Wine Trails!