New York is the third most productive wine-making state in the U.S. While California takes the number one spot at over eighty percent of the production, Washington sits second at five percent. New York sits between three and four percent. With over four hundred wineries operating in the state, they collectively produce over twenty-eight million gallons of wine annually. New York wineries also offer some of the nation’s best-rated wines. In addition to the impressive collection of vineyards, the state also has an interesting history in winemaking.
Vinland, New York
When “Vinland” was explored in 1000 by Leif Eriksson and his crew, they found native grape species on the Northeast coast of North America. This included the region that would eventually be called New York. An attempt was made to make wine from these grapes, but it failed. Going into the 1600s, Dutch and French settlers each attempted to plant European Vinifera vines to start a wine-making trade in the new land. However, the climate and environmental conditions in regions like New York were too much of a shock for the European Vinifera, so it failed to produce.
During the 1860s, the American grape species were sent to Europe for research. However, the American rootstock carried a root louse known as Phylloxera Vastatrix. This attacked and fed on the vine roots in Europe as the Vinifera vines didn’t share the thick bark that had protected the American species. As a result, the European vineyards were infested and experienced decades of decimation. To deal with the devastation, wine growers worked together by grafting European Vinifera vines onto American grape rootstocks. This produced more resilient grapevines, especially with the Vinifera varieties. This experiment worked in the favor of American wine growers, especially New Yorkers.
New York’s First Taste of Wine-Making Success
Over time, settlers in the American Northeast, including New York, learned how to adapt by working with locally grown grapes to produce quality wine products. Between 1829 and 1830, Reverend William Warner Bostwick planted his first set of grapevines in a garden at his rectory in Keuka Lake. Located in the Finger Lakes region, he discovered the environmental conditions around the lake were an ideal location to set up a winery. As it turned out, he was right. By 1852, the grapes taken from the vineyards were shipped to nearby Hammondsport. From there, they were transported to New York City. The demand for Bostwick’s grapes resulted in the first winery to be established in the United States of America.
The Pleasant Valley Wine Company was established on March 15, 1860, by an investment team headed by Charles Davenport Champlin. At the time, the wine primarily focused on making wines using Catawba and Isabella grapes. In 1865, it ventured into champagne and sparkling wine production that would earn “the Reims of America” as a nickname. This came about after it was noted the similarities it had with the Champagne region of France. Also known as the Great Western Winery, Pleasant Valley won its first award in Europe for American sparkling wine in 1867. In 1873, Pleasant Valley’s Great Western Champagne won a gold medal in Vienna, Austria. Over time, Pleasant Valley Champagnes and its winery continued to win acclaim and awards at national and international levels.
When the Prohibition began in 1919, Pleasant Valley survived by venturing into medicinal and sacramental wines. After the 1933 repeal, it was back to business as usual. In 1955, Champlin’s family sold control of the winery which would ultimately lead to the Taylor Wine Company to purchase Pleasant Valley Wine Company in 1962. This would be the same year the company would go public. In 1977, the Coca-Cola Company acquired the winery before selling it to Seagram in 1983. By this time, Pleasant Valley Wine Company was listed as a National Register of Historic Places.
Currently under private ownership by the Doyle Family, Pleasant Valley Wine Company continues its legacy as New York’s largest plantation of Chardonnay and Riesling grapes. Today, this winery holds its ground as the largest producer of bottle-fermented champagnes in the Eastern United States. As Great Western Champagnes, it has been the most honored American-based champagnes in European competitions and it continues to appear on the wine lists of some of the most prestigious American liquor establishments.
The New York Farm Winery Act
The New York Farm Winery Act laid out a business model for the state in 1976. Since then, the wine-making industry in New York has blossomed as its population of vineyards sprouted up from just a few to a few hundred. This was especially evident in Long Island as state laws made it easy for New York’s eastern region to get into the game as winemakers. Beforehand, wineries could only be started after a vineyard was planted. While the vines were maturing, it was expected the building designed to crush and produce the first batch would be ready in time for harvest. At the time, the wines that were made were restricted to local establishments and stores that were licensed to sell the product.
What the New York Farm Winery Act did was make it possible for wineries in the state to set up shop without needing a vineyard already in place. It was now allowed to purchase fruit, even from out of state, and have it brought to a crushing plant before it was bottled and ready for market. Nowadays, New York’s impact as winemakers has done more than just turn the heads of their fellow Americans. At an international level, the popularity of New York wines has earned the state global recognition as respectable winemakers who know how to make and sell a good product.
Currently, New York’s wineries bring in nearly fourteen billion dollars in annual revenue for the state. The vineyards operate among the regions of Finger Lakes, Hudson River, Lake Erie, and Long Island. Although they all belong to the state of New York, each region is different from the others when it comes to environmental conditions. These dictate the outcome of a wine’s taste and quality level from start to finish. Many of these vineyards also serve as a brand of agritourism for New York as wine enthusiasts will take the time to visit them.
New York’s Wine Legacy
The legacy of New York’s wine-making industry continues to make its impact locally, nationally, and internationally. Since the New York Farm Winery Act, New York has ventured into making hybrid wines made from grapes grown in the state. These grapes include Catawba, Delaware, Elvira, Isabella, Ives, and New York. The wineries have also planted French hybrid grapes such as Aurore, Baco noir, Cayuga, De Chaunac, Seyval Blanc, Vidal, and Vignoles. Vignoles are what New York wineries primarily use to make ice wines and late-harvest wines.
New York’s domestic Vitis vinifera grapes and its varieties supply less than ten percent of the wines produced in the state. Since 1976, New York has established eleven designated American Viticultural Areas (AVA). These are Cayuga Lake, Champlain Valley, Finger Lakes, Hudson River Region, Lake Erie, Long Island, Niagara Escarpment, North Folk of Long Island, Seneca Lake, The Hamptons, and Upper Hudson. Altogether, these AVA-designated regions have nearly five hundred wineries among them. As the popularity of New York wines continues to grow, so do the wineries that make it happen.
Cayuga Lake American Viticultural Areas
Situated as a subregion within Fingers Lakes AVA, the demographics of Cayuga Lake AVA are in Upstate New York, primarily around the Cayuga Lake region. This includes the counties of Cayuga, Seneca, and Tompkins. The majority of the vineyards planted here are in the hillside area west of the forty-mile-long lake. The shale soil, combined with the range of height elevations above the lake’s surface offers a micro-climate during the fall season. This allows an extended growing season as this region isn’t as affected by the cold air creeping in, along with the frost that comes with it. Cayuga Lake is the longest of the eleven Finger Lakes and has about four hundred and sixty acres of planted vines that produce the wine varieties of Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Riesling.
The first winery to sprout up in the Cayuga Lake region was Lucas Vineyards. This happened in 1980, six years after the family moved from the Bronx to a farm in the heart of the Fingers Lake Region in Upstate New York. Long before the Lucas Family arrived, the lake already had grapes grown in the area to accommodate the wineries in Hammondsport. Lucas Vineyards started off selling its Cayuga white grapes to Glenora Wine Cellars. When it made its debut in 1980, it won gold and silver medals at the New York State Fair Wine Competition. Since then, it has continued to earn accolades and awards as one of New York’s favorite wineries.
In 1981, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail became the first of its kind in New York after Lucas Vineyards and three other wineries banded together to make it happen. In 1988, Cayuga Lake was the first Finger Lake to be granted its own AVA status. The award-winning Lucas Vineyards still stands as the region’s oldest winery still in operation. As for the trail, it was the first of its kind in the United States and is currently the longest-running. Altogether, there are twelve wineries along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. Aside from Lucas Vineyards, there are also Americana Vineyards, Buttonwood Grove Winery, Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery, Hosmer Winery, Knapp Winery, Long Point Winery, Montezuma Winery, Six Eighty Cellars, Six Mile Creek Vineyards, Swedish Hill Winery, and Thirsty Owl Wine Co.
Champlain Valley American Viticultural Areas
When French explorer Jacques Cartier came to what later became the United States of America, New York’s Lake Champlain was where he discovered its native grape species, Vitis Riparia, in 1535. During the early 1600s, France’s Samuel de Champlain attempted to grow a vineyard in the Lake Champlain area by importing and growing Vitis Vinifera grapes from his home country. This met with failure as these grapes were unable to handle the region’s colder climate. Over time, New Yorkers in the region learned how to use Lake Champlain’s environmental condition to their advantage. This includes growing a variety of Vitis Vinifera grapes that can handle the region’s cooler climate.
The bicycle-friendly Adirondack Coast Wine Trail sits in northeastern New York and features a collection of wineries and their vineyards as the pride and joy agritourism destinations of upstate New York’s Hudson Valley region. The Adirondack Coast Wine Trail was first established in 2013 as a region that has Canada’s province, Quebec, as its neighbor to the north and the American state of Vermont to the east. East of the Champlain Valley AVA are the Green Mountains of Vermont. To the south, the Taconic Mountains.
Because of Champlain Valley’s demographics, it has a cooler climate and a shorter growing season. Within the basin of the Champlain Lowlands, Lake Champlain acts as a thermal reservoir. The soil composition features ancient bedrock and glacial deposits, making the ground fertile enough to grow grapes that can handle the cooler climate. Frontenac, La Crescent, La Crosse, and Marquette are the varieties that each play a role in the Champlain Valley AVA to produce wines with a unique regional flair.
The Adirondack Coast Wine Trail features Amazing Grace Vineyard and Winery, ELFS Farm Winery and Cidermill, Everett Orchards, Four Maples Vineyard, Hid-In-Pines Vineyard, Highlands Vineyard, Old Tyme Winery, Stonehouse Vineyard, The Champlain Wine Co., and Vesco Ridge Vineyards. These are situated among the communities of Champlain, Chazy, Ellenberg, Keeseville, Mooers, Morrisonville, Plattsburgh, and West Chazy. Together, they sum up the appeal of the Champlain Valley AVA as one of upstate New York’s highlights when it comes to agritourism.
Finger Lakes American Viticultural Areas
Ever since the vineyards in and around Hammondsport established New York as the pioneers of making wine in the United States, the Fingers Lake region continues to make history. In 1862, Hammondsport and Pleasant Valley were both founded as wine companies that officially began New York’s commercial viticulture industry. It wasn’t long after this that the Fingers Lake region became famous for its sparkling wines. However, between Prohibition and the surging popularity of Californian wines, New York’s influence as world-class winemakers waned.
This changed after the Fingers Lake AVA region began to work with French-American hybrids, thanks to Dr. Konstantin Frank. He was a Ukrainian immigrant whose Ph.D. in plant science came in handy when he worked at New York’s Cornell University in 1951. He was able to develop a formula that allowed Vitis Vinifera grapes to be grown in colder climates as he used his native country to do it. In 1962, he began Vinifera Wine Cellars in Hammondsport and was able to produce wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Riesling. His efforts played a key role in the resurgence of New York’s resurgence as world-class winemakers, especially in the Fingers Lake region.
In 1982, Finger Lakes AVA was established as an area covering all eleven lakes, including Canandaigua, Cayuga, Keuka, and Seneca. Altogether, there are about eleven thousand acres of vineyards, and is the largest wine-producing region in the state of New York. The environmental conditions of this region are often compared to the ones in Germany along the Rhine River. The mix of Vitis Vinifera grapes, native American grapes, as well as certain hybrids collectively sum up the wine varieties the Fingers Lake AVA has to offer.
The majority of the vineyards are planted on the steep hillsides that overlook the lakes. This allows favorable growing conditions that take advantage of the stored heat coming from the deep lakes during the winter. This helps reduce the risk of frost so the grapes grown in the area get the most out of the soil conditions they’re planted in. At one point in 2020, Fingers Lakes AVA met with a new threat when the spotted lanternfly invaded the region from New York’s neighboring states. Since then, the threat has been contained and the state remains vigilant to ensure these insects don’t pose as a problem again.
Hudson River Region American Viticultural Areas
The Hudson Valley region is home to the Brotherhood Winery, the oldest U.S.-based winery still in production. Located in Washingtonville, the first commercial vintage produced from its vineyards came in 1839. In 2000, it was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, along with its slogan, “America’s Oldest Winery.”
Brotherhood Winery was founded by John Jaques and named after him before he deeded it to his three sons in 1858. It would be at the time the winery was renamed Jacques Brothers Winery. In 1886, the winery was acquired by the father and son team James M. and Edward R. Emerson. This marked the beginning of Brotherhood Winery as a name. It also expanded operations but still kept the original building. The Story of the Vine was a book Edward R. Emerson wrote based on his experience as an owner of Brotherhood Winery.
When the Prohibition hit in 1919, Brotherhood Winery continued operations as it produced sacramental wine for the Catholic Church. In 1921, the winery’s ownership went to Louis Farrell and his son, Louis Jr. While Brotherhood Winery was owned by members of the Farrell Family, the business continued to expand. This expansion included allowing visitors to tour the facility. At the same time, the winery started to earn awards in regional wine competitions. The wines that stood out at the time were Vitis labrusca-based. The spiced holiday wine became a signature favorite for many years. Now under the ownership of Cesar Baeza and his estate, the Brotherhood Winery’s standout wines feature Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Baeza also owns vineyards in the Long Island region.
Lake Erie American Viticultural Areas
Along the south shore of Lake Erie from Harborcreek, Pennsylvania to Silver Creek, New York, there are over forty-two thousand acres featuring plantations of mostly Concord grapevines. As of 1983, it was established as an American Viticulture Area The states of Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania have over two million acres designated within the Lake Erie AVA region. The infamous Welch’s grapes come from here, as well as its collection of kosher wines. Before the 1919 Prohibition, the wineries and vineyards along the southern shores of Lake Erie thrived. Since the 1933 repeal, the wine industry in the area struggled to pick up the pieces. After the 1976 New York Farm Winery Act passed, the region’s wine productivity level finally began to pick up. However, approximately eighty percent of the grapes grown in the region are still dedicated to table grapes.
Today, Lake Erie AVA is the largest grape production region east of the American and Canadian Rockies. The cool climate is moderated by the waters of all five of the Great Lakes, allowing a healthy growing season for grapes. The majority of Lake Erie AVA rests on the south side of the lake within the state of New York. Also known as the Concord Belt, twenty percent of Lake Erie AVA’s grape production from New York and Pennsylvania contributes to the wine industry.
Lake Erie AVA was established in 1983 and as of 2022. Out of the twenty-three wineries in operation along the Lake Erie Wine Country Trail, seven of them are in New York. They are 21 Brix Estate Winery, Johnstone Estate Winery, Liberty Vineyards and Winery, Mazza Chautauqua Cellars, Ripepi Winery and Vineyard, Noble Winery, South Shore Wine Company, Sparkling Ponds Winery, and Willow Creek Winery.
Long Island American Viticultural Areas
The first cultivation of wine grapes in the Long Island AVA region took place over three hundred years ago when early settlers migrated to New York as their home. The environmental benefits of the Long Island region come from its connection to the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island Sound, and Peconic Bay. There’s a reason why this is a highly favored playground for New Yorkers and visitors alike. The climate is similar to France’s Bordeaux region as the surrounding waters help control the extreme temperatures the coldest winters and the hottest summers. Unlike the rest of the wine-growing regions inside the state of New York, Long Island wasn’t as prone to cold climate conditions. This allowed the region to grow Vitis Vinifera grapes without the need to bring in its hybrid varieties.
The first commercially grown vineyards in the Long Island region were planted in 1820. However, these all fell prey to disease pressure and could not bear fruit. It wasn’t until 1973 when Alex and Louisa Hargrave began a wine dynasty in Long Island, mainly in North Fork. This played a key role in Long Island’s growing tourism appeal. Like the Hargraves, many winemakers in Long Island prefer to situate their vineyards in the North Fork area as the Peconic Bay protects them. Because of its maritime climate, the Bordeaux blends and varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot are often considered the Long Island AVA’s flagship wines. However, the region is also critically acclaimed for its Chardonnay, Rose, and Sparkling Wine varieties.
Before the New York Farm Winery Act was established in 1976, Long Island was the only other region in New York besides Finger Lakes to have vineyards in place. The state’s eastern region, along with its offshore islands, has been making a name for itself for top quality wines that seem to sell faster than they’re able to make them. So far, the East End of the Long Island region has over fifty wineries in operation. Approximately half of them are estate-owned.
In 2001, Long Island AVA was established after reaching the eight-five percent mark of regionally grown grapes to produce commercially sellable wine products. The majority of these vineyards are planted in North Fork and have their own American Viticulture Area identity. North Fork received its AVA rating before Long Island did because of this. Also within the Long Island AVA region is The Hamptons AVA. What sets Long Island AVA apart from its two sub-regions is a lower alcohol content at eleven percent and wines that have a strong ripe flavor.
Niagara Escarpment American Viticultural Areas
The history of grapes grown in the Niagara Escarpment AVA region began not long before the eruption of the American Civil War. It received its name due to its landform. Just like the Canadian neighbors north of New York, grape varieties grown along the Niagara River are Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling. Thirty miles of the Niagara escarpment landscape is part of a free-draining limestone ridge that also stretches around Lake Ontario and the Canadian province it was named after. The limestone ridge also runs through the American states of Michigan and Wisconsin.
The Niagara Escarpment AVA receives the benefits of the warming effect given by the limestone ridge to allow different grape varieties to enjoy a healthy growing season. Lake Ontario stores the heat in the summer, making it possible for New York’s Niagara region to have a viticulture of its own as that heat moderates the local climate as the autumn season approaches. The escarpment’s soils limit the water and nutrient intake of the vines. While the vigor lessens, the concentration of flavor and pigments in the grapes increases. This leads to a better intensity of flavor and color in finished wine products.
Niagara Escarpment AVA also has a niche in the production of ice wines as it takes advantage of the cold winters the region experiences. It is one of the few regions in the world that can produce true ice wines. The eighteen-thousand-acre Niagara Escarpment AVA was established in Niagara County in 2005. The grapes grown in this region are Cabernet Franc, Concord, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Niagara, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vidal Blanc. There are twelve members of the Niagara Escarpment Wine Trail that wine enthusiasts can visit. They are A Gust of Sun Winery, Anthony Manor Winery, Bella Rose Vineyard and Winery, Black Willow Winery, Honeymoon Trail Winery, Long Cliff Vineyard and Winery, Mayer’s Lake Ontario Winery, Niagara Landing Wine Cellars, Schulze Vineyards and Winery, The Winery at Marjim Manor, Victorianbourg Wine Estate, and Vizcarra Vineyards at Becker Farms.
North Fork of Long Island American Viticultural Areas
The North Fork of Long Island AVA was established in 1986, nearly sixteen years before the Long Island AVA was established. That’s because the vast majority of the vineyards were planted in the North Fork area as it was safely protected from potential hazards coming from the Atlantic Ocean. Peconic Bay serves as a natural barrier, making it easy for grape growers to maintain a healthy production level as winemakers. There are over forty wineries situated on over three thousand acres of planted vineyards in the North Fork area. More than half of them face Peconic Bay while the rest face Long Island Sound.
North Fork of Long Island AVA’s home is in Suffolk County and it features the townships of Riverhead, Shelter Island, and Southold. The western boundary of North Fork is the six-mile line separating the Brookhaven and Riverhead townships. It starts at the mouth of Wading River and then becomes a straight line as it cuts through Peconic River Park to meet the beginning of the Peconic River. The boundary continues until it reaches Peconic Bay and the Atlantic Ocean at Orient Point. The full length of the North Folk AVA stretch from Riverhead to Orient Point covers about sixty-five thousand acres.
What makes this New York region so productive is the favorable climate that allows longer grape-growing seasons. The varieties grown here are mostly Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Merlot. The Hargrave Family began a legacy in 1973 by starting its winemaking empire within the North Folk stretch of Long Island. The first set of Vitis Vinifera vines was planted in Cutchogue in 1973, producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir as the first commercially produced wines from the family’s Hargrave Vineyard. In 1999, the family business changed hands to Philadelphians Marci and Ann Marie Borghese. The Borghese has a noble heritage that dates back to medieval Italy.
Since 1999, North Folk’s oldest winery in operation goes by the name of Castello di Borghese. The wine-loving couple from Philadelphia moved to this Long Island region and made this new venture of theirs their life’s work. It paid off as the legacy of vintages Borghese produced has earned favorable acclaim and several awards. As of 2014, the Borghese family business has been passed down to the next generation as it continues to put New York on the map as world-class winemakers.
Seneca Lake American Viticultural Areas
Established in 2003, Seneca Lake became the second subregion within the Fingers Lake AVA to have its own AVA status. As the deepest of the eleven Fingers Lakes in the region, this area has nearly four thousand acres worth of vines planted. Because Seneca Lake is so deep at over six hundred feet, plus a thirty-five-mile-long body of water, it rarely freezes. This allows the climate of the region to experience moderate summer and winter temperatures. It also makes ideal growing conditions for the grape varieties grown here. The predominant wine varieties that come from Seneca Lake AVA’s region are Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Riesling.
The first winery at Seneca Lake was set up on its western shores in 1866. The Seneca Lake Grape Winery Company planted a hundred acres of grapes and started as New York’s largest vineyard. Three years later, it reached a production level of fourteen thousand gallons as Seneca Lake’s first commercialized producer of wine. This led to New York’s opening of its Agricultural Experiment Station in 1882 at Geneva, New York. Situated at the north end of Seneca Lake, this station’s programs allowed the region to become a key player in the industry of growing grapes and making wine.
After Prohibition passed in 1919, Seneca Lake and the rest of the Fingers Lakes region felt its devastating impact where only the largest wineries were able to survive. Grape juice and sacramental wine were made until Prohibition was repealed in 1933. By the time this happened, the industry of growing grapes and making wine dwindled to just a few survivors. Seneca Lake Grape Winery Company was not one of them. With farmers and growers struggling to make ends meet, it wasn’t until the late 1950s did the wine-making industry in the Fingers Lakes region started flourishing again. Thanks to Charles Fournier and Konstantin Frank, these two European immigrants conducted enough research and experiments to revolutionize how the Vinifera variety of grapes was grown in the area.
Going into the early 1970s, the success of the vineyards planted by Fournier and Hermann Wiemer triggered a wine research program at the New York State Experiment Station in Geneva. The first winery to open on Seneca Lake since the New York Farm Winery Act was Glenora Wine Cellars in 1977. Businessman Howard Kimball was quick to seize the opportunity to open up the winery after working with a team of independent grape growers to make it happen. It didn’t take long shortly afterward for additional wineries to sprout up in and around the Seneca Lake region.
The Seneca Lake Wine Trail features twenty-eight wineries that grace this Fingers Lakes region from Geneva to Watkins Glen. On the west side of the lake, there are Anthony Road Wine Company, Belhurst Estate Winery, CK Torrey Ridge Winery and Meadery, Castel Grisch Winery, Fox Run Vineyards, Fruit Yard Winery, Fulkerson Winery, Glenora Wine Cellars, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Lakewood Vineyards, Miles Wine Cellars, Prejean Winery, Seneca Shore Wine Cellars, Tabora Farm and Winery, Toast Winery, and White Springs Farm Winery. On the east side of the lake, the wineries are Atwater Vineyards, Bagley’s Poplar Ridge Vineyards, Boundary Breaks, Caywood Vineyards, Idol Ridge Winery, J.R. Dill Winery, Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars, Leidenfrost Vineyards, Red Newt Cellars, Three Brothers Wineries and Estates, Ventosa Vineyards, and Wagner Vineyards.
The Hamptons, Long Island American Viticultural Areas
The Hamptons, Long Island AVA region is located inside eastern Suffolk County. It covers fifty miles of land along South Fork, including its beaches, islands, mainland, and shorelines. This includes Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Montauk, Saggaponack, and Southampton, as well as Gardiners Island. That’s over two hundred square miles. The boundaries start at the intersection of Brookhaven and Southampton Town at the Peconic River and travel south by about ten miles along the townships until it reaches the dunes near Cupsoque Beach in Eastport.
In 1985, The Hamptons, Long Island AVA became the first of the three Long Island AVA regions to be established. This popular region is better known as a summer beach playground for celebrities and affluent New Yorkers. However, it is also well known for its production of refreshing wines, especially Rose. The wines from this region tend to be more acidic with zest and a lighter body. This is due to the foggier and cooler climate it experiences compared to North Fork. Along the south and the east of Hamptons is the Atlantic Ocean and the temperature-moderating effects it sets that result in a longer growing season. Across the northern half of the Hamptons and its AVA region, its Peconic Bay. Because of its location, the Hamptons, Long Island AVA experiences the effects of unpredictable weather events the Atlantic Ocean has been known to dish out.
The Vinifera variety of grapes The Hamptons, Long Island AVA is known for are Chardonnay and Riesling for crisp white wines, as well as Cabernet Franc and Merlot for elegant red wines. The silty loam soils contribute to the wines having a more restrained finish compared to the wines produced by its Long Island AVA neighbors and North Fork AVA neighbors. The Hamptons, Long Island AVA is the oldest of the three to have its viticulture designation and has the least amount of vineyards and wineries. This is because the property prices are considerably higher due to the fact it is a vacation haven for the rich and famous.
When visiting The Hamptons Wine Trail, there’s Channing Daughters Winery, Duck Walk Vineyards, and Wolffer Estate Vineyard are the three standouts. Of the three, Channing Daughters Winery is the oldest. In 1982, Walter Channing experimented with planting Chardonnay grapes with a mixture of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This began a legacy that witnessed the business expand and become Channing Daughters Winery.
In 1988, Christian Wolffer began his legacy as a winemaker. Although Duck Walk Vineyards is the youngest of the three main wineries in The Hamptons, Dr. Herodotus “Dan” Damianos played a key role in the early 1980s that led to him and his son, Alexander, establishing Duck Walk. This is a true Hamptons landmark as it was set up in the Water Mill and has since become more than just a favorite hangout for New Yorker wine enthusiasts.
Upper Hudson American Viticultural Areas
Just west of Albany on nearly sixty-five acres of land, there are approximately nineteen vineyard plants, as well as a series of planted vines. The Upper Hudson AVA is situated in upstate New York with a connection to seven of its counties, Albany, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Washington. The vineyards feature a variety of grapes such as Frontenac and Marquette for the reds, along with La Crescent and La Crosse for the whites. These grapes can withstand the colder climates as hardy grapes, thanks to the progress made by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva and the University of Minnesota.
The Upper Hudson region features two major rivers that pass through it, Hudson and Mohawk. The region is bounded by the Adirondack Mountains to the North and West, the Catskills Mountains to the south, and the Taconic Mountains to the East. This mountainous region bustles with geologic and tectonic movement, thanks to the influence of its two rivers. Unlike the rest of New York, Upper Hudson doesn’t sit on an underlay such as limestone and shale. Most of the state’s geologic history started underwater before sedimentary rocks were brought in.
In 2017, the Upper Hudson Wine Trail was established, two years after the AVA petition by the region was accepted by New York legislation. There are twenty wineries located along this AVA trail. They are Altamont Vineyards, Capoccia Vineyards, Creek Haven Vineyard, Dusenberry Vineyards, Engle’s Vineyard, Fossil Stone Vineyards, Galway Rock Vineyard, Helderberg 1839 Vineyard, Helderberg Meadworks, Hummingbird Hills Vineyard, Ledge Rock Hill Winery, MaCauley Creek Vineyard, Clover Pond Vineyard, Northern Cross Vineyard, Pellegrino Vineyards, Redstone Ridge Vineyard, Schernau Estate’s Vineyard, South Dominion Vineyard and Victory View Vineyard.
New York’s Viticulture Influence
Not only have New Yorkers learned how to perfect the art of making world-class wine but have also carved a niche in agritourism. New York State serves as a key contributor to wine and viticulture, not just for Americans but at a global scale. Over eighty percent of the wines New York produces come from Vitis Labrusca varieties, mainly Concord. The rest come from Vitis Vinifera varieties and hybrids. As of 2020, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation estimated approximately eleven thousand acres in the state are being used to grow what has become over fifty-seven thousand wine grapes annually.
On average, less than forty percent of the wines produced in New York sell at wholesale. The rest remain in the state as they’re sold by local wineries and their tasting rooms, as well as restaurants and shops inside New York State. As popular as New York wines have become, the majority of the vineyards and wineries are still owned and operated as a family business. Together, they employ an average of eighty thousand workers. They have also welcomed nearly five million visitors who wanted to get a taste of New York’s unique wine culture.