New York State Wines and Wine Ratings

Karen Frazier
Vineyard in autumn

While many people don't necessarily think of New York when considering American wines, the state is the third largest producer of grapes by volume in the country, ranking behind California and Washington.

New York Wines

The state of New York has four main wine growing regions: the Finger Lakes in the Western Central portion of the state, Lake Erie in the West, Hudson River Region in the East and Long Island.

Finger Lakes AVA

The best known of the New York wine regions is the Finger Lakes AVA, which is similar in climate to Germany's Rhine region, where some of the world's best Riesling wines are produced. The Finger Lakes is New York's largest wine-growing region, with more than 100 wineries growing more than 11,000 acres of grapes.

Climate

Because it sits on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in Upstate New York with 11 deep glacial lakes throughout the region, the area remains cool. With cold winters and cooler summers, the grape growing season is short. The deep soil drains well, and the area receives more than 30 inches of rainfall annually.

Grape Varieties

Not surprisingly, the grape varieties grown in the Finger Lakes AVA are similar to those grown in the Rhine. Riesling and Gewurztraminer thrive here. Other varietals grow in the region, as well, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Vidal Blanc.

Highly Rated Wines

The region does make many well-received and highly rated wines. The most well-rated tend to be the region's dessert wines and Rhine varietals. Among the best:

  • Anthony Road Wine Company produces an array of red and white varietals with Riesling as its star. Wine styles range from dry to sweet. Try the 2008 Riesling Trockenbeeren Martini-Reinhardt, which earned a 93 point rating from Wine Spectator. The vintage should drink well through the year 2020.
  • Standing Stone Vineyards produces dry reds, dry whites, and dessert wines. One of the best from this winemaker is the Vidal Icewine. The 2008 version received a 92 point rating from Wine Spectator.
  • Bloomer Creek Vineyard produces reds, whites, blush wines, and dessert wines. Try the Tanzen Dame Auten Vineyard First Harvest. The 2009 vintage received a 90-point rating from Wine Spectator.

Good Vintages

Some of Finger Lakes best vintages have occurred in recent years. Try wines from the 2007 vintage, which is widely considered the region's best vintage ever. Other vintages to try include 2005 and 2010.

Long Island AVA

Located in Suffolk and Nassau Counties of New York, the AVA produces a number of varietals including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir. Some wines to try from the region include:

  • Macari Vineyards makes wonderful Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Merlot, and other varietals. Try the Sauvignon Blanc and the Viognier from the North Fork of Long Island Block E. The wines tend to be well-rated.
  • Bedell Cellars Winery produces highly-rated reds and whites.The 2007 Musée, a Bordeaux blend, earned a 91-point rating from Wine Spectator.

Lake Erie AVA

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, this AVA expands beyond New York, and wines from the region may also be produced in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Canada also has a Lake Erie North Shore appellation, and most of the highly rated wines come from Canada. Cool weather wine grapes do well here, including many Rhine varietals.

Hudson River Region AVA

The oldest continually running winery in the United States can be found in this region. Established in 1839, the Brotherhood Winery is on the National Register of Historic Places. The region has 500 acres of planted vineyards with varietals such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. Try the wines from Millbrook Vineyards and Winery, which makes consistently good wines that rate between 85 and 90 points in Wine Spectator magazine. Try the Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.

A Great Value

New York's wines are growing in quality, and remain a good value in American wines. With affordable prices and respectable ratings, many wines from New York are well worth a try.

New York State Wines and Wine Ratings