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New York's Finger LakesMany wine lovers tend to stick within their comfort zones, flocking to well-known vineyards in California, but the United States has many regions on the rise worth exploring.

Finger Lakes in west-central upstate New York is such a region. Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation wrote it best: “This is a 50-year overnight success.”

The region’s popularity got a jump-start when its wines were served at President Barack Obama’s 2013 inaugural luncheon, as well as receiving rave reviews in Wine Spectator. Early last year the magazine had a tasting and analysis of more than 325 Finger Lake wines.The results were a lot to brag about, with more than two thirds receiving 85 points or higher on the Wine Spectators 100-point scale and 28 wineries awarded the prestigious over-90-point rating.

The Finger Lakes wine industry built its foundation on native grapes like the Concord. These were ideal candidates for thriving in the region’s cold winters and cool summers. Most grapes were used for jelly and juice production and only a small amount made it into the wine bottle. The wines were generally sweet and were sold locally or in the tasting rooms. But over the last decade, vineyards have turned to growing varietals more consumers recognize and critics review. Many are the classic grape varietals like pinot noir and cabernet franc or whites that like cool weather like Riesling, gewurztraminer and chardonnay.

If you haven’t tasted a New York wine you’re in for a treat as more wines from this area become available in Arkansas.


  • 2011 Red Tail Ridge Winery Chardonnay, New York (about $10 retail)


  • 2011 Red Tail Ridge Winery Dry Riesling, New York (about $17 retail)