New York’s grape and wine industry used to be regional in nature, with the Finger Lakes comprising the major location of wineries in the State. Today wineries are sprouting up in many regions, including many in central New York where few would have envisioned them just a decade ago.
The Olympic skiing at Lake Placid may be the best known attraction of the majestic Adirondack Mountains, but in recent years the region has seen the emergence of new wineries and satellite stores at other famous places like Old Forge, Lake George, and Saratoga Springs. Clearly the winters are cold, but the wineries are adapting by using cold hardy grape varieties, apples, and other fruits, and grapes grown in other regions.
The massive body of water known as Lake Ontario has a major effect on the regional climate not just along the lake itself but also as far away as the Finger Lakes region to the south. The lake’s moderating effects in the summer (cooling) and winter (warming) also provide for good grape-growing conditions along its shores, as the several wineries demonstrate.
Few people know that Manhattan was the first place in New York State to plant grapes for wine-making. Back in the mid 1600’s, Dutch settlers brought vinifera grape stock from Europe. The vines didn’t survive, but later plantings managed to flourish elsewhere in the state. Eventually it was discovered that vinifera canes could be grafted onto native rootstock, making it possible for New York’s wineries to produce unique varieties that mirror the city’s cultural diversity. While most of the wineries listed here are not open for tours, you should look for their products at your favorite retailer.
The majestic St. Lawrence River leading from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean also serves as the northern border between the United States and Canada. A popular summer destination for boaters, anglers, swimmers and others, in the winter the temperatures are often below zero. Still, a burgeoning wine industry has taken shape using cold-hardy grape varieties, importing grapes or juice from other regions, and building on the enthusiastic regional loyalty of local citizens.
There used to be a vast area between the Finger Lakes and Lake Erie regions with no grapes or wineries, but that has changed recently with the opening of some new operations.