Finger Lakes Region Promotes Wine Tourism With Five Great Reasons To Visit

The Finger Lakes in New York isn’t just a great place to vacation—it’s an important and historic winemaking region.

The Seneca Lake and Keuka Lake American Viticultural Regions, as well as the Finger Lakes Wine Country tourism bureau, are inviting more wine enthusiasts to discover their regions and their wines. Here are five important facts about Finger Lake wines.

Finger Lakes is one of the country’s oldest wine regions. Before there were even American Viticultural Areas, Finger Lakes was growing wine. The very first wines were planted in 1829 in Hammondsport by William Werener Bostwick. Other European immigrants, particularly from Germany and Switzerland, settled in the area and began planting grapevines, drawn to the area because of its similarities to their home regions. New York’s similar cool climate and limestone-rich soils proved ideal for growing vinifera grape varieties. The early wineries on Keuka Lake were primarily focused on producing sweet, sparkling wines, but over time, winemakers began to experiment with drier styles and new grape varieties.

Also, the very first bonded winery in the United States was founded in 1860 on Keuka Lake. Pleasant Valley Wine Company, located in the village of Hammondsport, is the oldest and most historic winery in the region. The winery was founded in 1860 by William H. Bowers, and it was originally called the Hammondsport Wine Company. It was designated as Bonded Winery No. 1 in both New York and federal districts, and as such, it became the very first bonded winery in the United States. It was renamed Pleasant Valley Wine Company in the late 19th century, and though it was closed during Prohibition, local investors reopened and modernized it.

Another interesting reason to visit is Cornell University’s Grape Genetics Research Unit at the Agritech campus in Geneva. While you may not have heard of this wine research facility, much of the country’s grape research is being undertaken here, especially for cold-hardy grapes. This facility is home to more than 20,000 varieties of agricultural samples, and the USDA recently granted nearly $69 million of federal funding to continue its research.

The fourth reason to head to the Finger Lakes is to simply check out Seneca Lake. Seneca Lake, the deepest and largest of the eleven “Finger Lakes” boasts an average depth of 288 feet, but at its deepest, it is 651 feet deep – so deep that the U.S. Navy tests submarine equipment in its waters. Its deep waters also are the reason Seneca Lake has an AVA, as its deep waters allow nearby vineyards to survive the winter and thrive in the growing season.

The last reason to visit is for the wines. Today, Finger Lakes wineries wide variety of white and red cool-climate varietals, notably Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Cabernet Franc, Lemberger/ Blaufränkisch, Saperavi, sparkling wine and ice wines. A lot of these varietals boast low alcohol by volume amounts, making them easy sipping, and many of them sell for $30 or less. For more information visit Finger Lakes Wine Country.

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