Field Notes

News and Updates from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation

Winemaker Stories

New York Wineries Find Success Embracing Consumers Desire to Fit Wine Into A Healthy Lifestyle

By the end of January, many people lose their resolve to be healthier in the new year.  But recently, particularly in the alcohol space, people are choosing to be more mindful about what they consume throughout the entire year. Inherently, this is a good thing, but it leaves some confusion for those who make wine. How can winemakers navigate the intersection between wine and a healthy lifestyle? What many refer

Alethea Damianos Conroy

Family Behind Jason’s Vineyard Toasts to a Sparkling Legacy & Future

New York is justly celebrated for the incredible diversity of the wine that it produces, from grape varieties to styles. In sparkling form, everything from rustic Pet-Nat to meticulously crafted and aged traditional methode champenoise can be found. But the one that is really turning heads this year is a 2021 Bubbly Rosé from Jason’s Vineyard. The New York Wine Classic 2023, which celebrates the diversity of wine in New

Wölffer Estate’s Roman Roth Says New York Classic Awards Sweep Confirms Bullish Stance on New York Wine

“We didn’t just win awards in one or two vintages, we won awards across four vintages,” says Wölffer Estate Vineyard’s winemaker and partner Roman Roth. “To me, that says a lot about the quality of the wine being made in New York overall.” Roth was referring, of course, to the New York Wine Classic 2023, which celebrates the diversity of wine in New York State. This year, 749 wines were

Keuka Spring’s Dan Bissell Approaches Each Vintage Individually

“Blaufrankisch is a variety that we really believe in for the region,” says Dan Bissell, head winemaker for Keuka Spring Winery in the Finger Lakes. Also called Lemberger by some of the wineries in the region, there are an estimated 70 acres of Blaufrankisch planted throughout New York state. The majority of them are found in the Finger Lakes, and the low acreage does not indicate it’s a new grape.

New York Wines, Online! releases 4-part online seminar series

New Yorkers are bold in everything they put their minds to, and grape growing and winemaking are no exceptions. In the 2023 New York Wines, Online! 4-part online seminar series, host Elaine Chukan Brown spoke with producers from across the state’s diverse wine regions, alongside other important industry players, to explore the deep roots and fresh ground that define New York wines today. Accompanying tasting kits were distributed to twenty-five

For Boundary Breaks, An Unusual Wine Is the Standout White of the Year

Something surprising happened at the 2023 New York Wine Classic competition. The top white wine was a 2022 Gewurztraminer, not a grape that the state is particularly known for unless you’re really into New York wine. And, it was a medium-dry Gewurztraminer, adding to the surprise.  But Bruce Murray, who co-owns Boundary Breaks in Lodi on Seneca Lake with his wife Diana Lyttle, isn’t surprised this particular bottle from his

Silver Thread Vineyard’s Continued Commitment to Sustainability Earns Them the Sustainability Award

Located on Seneca Lake, Silver Thread Vineyard is one of the oldest grape-growing sites in the region. The winery’s previous owners were the first to obtain organic certification in the Finger Lakes, and its current owners Shannon and Paul Brock continue the winery’s legacy of sustainability by building upon its organic roots. In recognition of this continued work, Silver Thread is the recipient of the New York Wine & Grape

Paumanok Vineyards Winemaker Reflects on Winery of the Year and Governor’s Cup Win

“I was speechless,” says Kareem Massoud, a second-generation winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue, Long Island. Kareem was referring to the recent honors he received at the New York Wine Classic 2023, which celebrates the diversity of wine in New York State. This year, 749 wines were entered from 108 wineries across the state. Scores were awarded by the Beverage Testing Institute’s sensory panel, made up of sommeliers, retail buyers,

67 Wine & Spirits

Unity Retailer Award Winner Introduces New York’s Upper West Side to New York State Wines

In New York’s popular wine-producing regions, you may walk into a wine shop and find several bottles of New York wine on the shelves. Walk into a New York City wine shop, and you’re less likely to see a selection of local wines. That’s not so at 67 Wine & Spirits.  The shop on New York City’s Upper West Side is increasingly adding to its local wine offerings. For its

Matthew Spaccarelli Earns the John H. Brahm III Grower Award for Dedication and Contributions to the New York Grape Industry

When Matthew Spaccarelli and his partner Casey Erdmann opened Milton’s Fjord Vineyards in 2013, Spaccarelli was already steeped in the Hudson Valley wine industry. He’d taken the leap into all things winegrowing and winemaking in 2006, when his family purchased Benmarl Winery in Marlboro—believed to be America’s oldest vineyard—from the Miller family who started it in the 1960s.  Benmarl’s property has grown grapes for around 300 years. Matthew, who had

View of Hermann J Wiemer Vineyard

Winery of the Year Hermann J. Wiemer’s Ceaseless, Delicious Evolution

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard has consistently evolved since it was founded in 1979. “We are always pushing ourselves to move forward,” says Oskar Bynke, co-owner of Hermann J. Wiemer. This unflagging effort was recognized this year by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation with the Winery of the Year Award for contributions to the advancement of the image and reputation of the New York wine industry. “It felt like

kelby james russell standing in a vineyard. he is wearing a black graphic tshirt and jeans, and holding a glass of white wine.

Kelby Russell on Earning the New York Wine & Grape Foundation Phyllis Feder Unity Award

A few hours before Red Newt Cellars’ winemaker Kelby Russell left to board a flight to represent New York State wines at the 2023 Wine Paris/VinExpo event, he hopped on the phone to discuss why he loves his wine community. That’s not surprising for the very busy Kelby—he also has his own wine label, Kelby James Russell Wines—who received the 2023 Phyllis Feder Unity Award from the New York Wine

Phyllis Feder on Earning the New York Grape & Wine Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award

“This is the culmination of a very, very important time in my life,” says Phyllis Feder, of the Jim Trezise Lifetime Achievement Award she received this year from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. “I’m very touched and moved by it.” The fact that Feder can say that it’s the culmination of a certain time in her life speaks volumes about the length—she’s 87 years old—and breadth—she’s had two

interpreting wine logo and Boldly, NY logo on black background.

Interpreting Wine Kicks off 2023 With Comprehensive New York Series

Popular wine podcast Interpreting Wine covers New York Wines in a new series. The episodes feature eight prominent New York winemakers in 1:1 conversation with host, Lawrence Francis. Guests are drawn from the Finger Lakes and Long Island AVAs. Discover more about the people behind the wines, including their individual influences and journey into wine. Episodes also explore the vineyard sites where they source fruit, how they make wine and

A Love Letter to our Wine Industry

There is an old saying that “Life begins at forty.” I think the origin of that was in ancient Greece where the virgins guarding the temple were relieved of their duties at age forty and then permitted to take part in a fuller life.   Happily, I was raised in the Bronx and never subjected to these restrictions.  But I did have an opportunity to start a new life when at

A Taste of the Finger Lakes: Exploring the stories behind the bottles

In 1867, something unexpected happened: a New York wine received an honorable mention at the Exposition Universelle in Paris–a first for American sparkling. The wine? A Méthode Champenoise bottling of Catawba grapes by Pleasant Valley Wine Company, Bonded Winery No. 1 in the state. Founded in 1860 on land where the terroir is reminiscent of Champagne, France, the winery secured Gold in Vienna and quickly became known as Great Western,

Having Found Its Style, New York’s Winery of the Year Weis Vineyards Is Finding Its Stride

“Quality all starts with the grapes,” says Peter Weis, co-owner of Weis Vineyards in Keuka Lake. In 2017, Weis and his wife Ashlee bought a small existing winery in Hammondsport. In the span of five years, they have turned quality grapes from the Finger Lakes into quality wine from Weis Vineyards. They’ve quickly become a celebrated winery in the region, earning the “Winery of the Year” award in the 2022

Finger Lakes Sparkling Wine: The Next “Big Buzz”

The early history of vinifera grape growing in the colder climates on the East Coast goes something like this: Vinifera was planted. It died. Grape growers and winemakers gave up and chose to use native grapes for wine, eventually turning to hybrid grapes, too.  That’s an overly simplified version of how it unfolded, but for the most part, people believed growing vinifera in the cold and wet climate of the

Tenacious Three: Exploring the business of social with Three Brothers Wineries & Estates

For Dave Mansfield brand is sacred and evolution is key. “I cut my teeth in branding way back in the 90s,” says Dave. The former major league sports professional was a founding member of Branding America in 1994. Their efforts towards co-branding fast food chains with convenience stores gave Dave invaluable experience with consumer trends, and a vision for the future. In 2006, Dave and his co-partner and wife, Luanne,

Wölffer’s Wins (and Wines) Are Defined By Passion, Tradition and Innovation

Since 1988, Wölffer Estate Vineyards has been walking a fine line between innovation and elegance. It is rare indeed for a winery to coax former Long Island potato fields into producing wines that consistently earn 93+ point raves from Robert Parker while also cranking out fun, beach-worthy ciders infused with botanicals.  Roman Roth, Winemaker. (Photo by Rima Brindamour) From the outside, it may seem incomprehensible. But few in the industry

Erica Paolicelli named 2022 Woman of Distinction for the 54th Senate District

In an intimate ceremony at the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua, Senator Helming addressed the audience saying “across the 54th Senate District of New York State, there are amazing women doing extraordinary things for their communities, workplaces and families. Women of all ages, backgrounds and talents play an integral role in shaping the future of our communities and state, and inspiring the next generation of leaders.” This year,

Keuka Lake Vineyards’ Unconventional Success Story Continues With Best Red Trophy

Keuka Lake Vineyards snagged Best Red Wine at the 2022 New York Wine Classic for their 2020 Leon Millot, adding another accolade to an unconventional success story for the small, farmstead winery in the Finger Lakes.  The New York Wine Classic’s judging process is comprehensive and painstaking: between April 15 and June 15, 694 entries from 101 wineries across the Empire State are sipped, assessed and analyzed. A total of

Governor’s Cup Winner Hazlitt 1852 Shines Spotlight on Native Grapes

Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards has a long agricultural history that goes well beyond wine. The winery’s name itself reveals a bit of its story.  In 1852, the Hazlitt family purchased 153 acres in Hector, NY, already planted with fruit trees and vineyards. And while grapes thrived there for more than a century, the winery itself didn’t come along until 1985. In the 37 years since the family became winemakers, Hazlitt 1852

The Premier Group Thinks Local, Drinks Global

It’s easy to sell a great bottle of wine. But there are certain wine shops that become so much more than sellers of great wine. The Premier Group, with three independently owned and operated stores under its umbrella, is not only among the largest and most critically acclaimed wine and spirits retailers in the country, each store also draws in locals and visitors from afar eager to seek advice and

Maiah Johnson Dunn says it’s “the heart in the glass” that draws her to New York wines

“Accidentally, here I am.” That’s how Maiah Johnson Dunn says she started her journey into wine. To be fair, it’s the way many wine professionals get their start. Maiah was drawn into wine just about five years ago when she first started dating her husband. She was living in Boston. He whisked her away to Keuka Lake, where wine culture reigns supreme and serves as the backbone of many businesses. 

Three Brothers Transforms What Winemaking—and Drinking—Can Be

When Three Brothers Wineries & Estates opened their doors 15 years ago, the Finger Lakes wine region was going through an awkward phase in its evolution. Winemaking was largely still either a small-scale multi-generational family pursuit or a large-scale corporate project; the region had gained notoriety among the wine cognoscenti as an incredible source for cool climate wines, but the phrase “Finger Lakes” was not on the tip of anyone’s

How Cameron and Timothy Hosmer Helped the Finger Lakes (and the East Coast) Wine Industry Grow

Today, tourists flock to the Finger Lakes to visit the 140+ wineries along the shores of Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes. The region’s development has been steady over several decades, but it wasn’t so long ago that there were very few established vineyards associated with wineries that welcomed visitors clamoring for FLX wine. Those who were there when the region’s wine scene began to explode have stories to tell

Brittany Gibson is building community within the Finger Lakes Wine Industry

Brittany Gibson (Photo provided) We’ve all heard the one about the butterfly wing and the tornado. It’s an extreme, but instructive reminder of the fact that small actions can have outsize effects. Take Brittany Gibson.  Gibson is the executive director of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, responsible for the marketing and promotion of the trail’s 27 member wineries. She’s part of a “tiny but mighty team of two,” as she

John and Ann Martini

John Martini’s Distinct Brand of Personal and Professional Success

John and Ann Martini (Photo provided) Personal success is one thing. Professional success is another. But both? It’s rare that one person can manage to capture both, and with grace. John Martini’s achievements in both realms are extraordinary, and in recognition of his accomplishments, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation has honored him with the Jim Trezise Lifetime Achievement Award. We had to ask the husband of 1, father

julia hoyle, winemaker at hosmer winery

Great Wine(makers) Are Made in the Cellar

When you make great wine, several elements—many beyond any one person’s control—must come together in a particularly auspicious way. Weather, climate and terroir have an outsize impact on the quality of a wine. But so do decidedly uncelebrated links in the winemaking chain. And by that we mean: interns. In challenging winegrowing regions like the Finger Lakes, where the weather is more unpredictable and capricious than most other places, the

Keuka Lake Vineyards Is Pushing Their Luck

Mel Goldman believes in luck. Since college he’d always wanted to grow grapes and over the years he and his wife, Dorothee, would travel and explore their options. At one point, they almost moved to Oregon (where Dorothee’s family is from) but found it cost prohibitive. It was on a family camping trip to Ithaca that Mel and Dorothee stumbled upon the Finger Lakes. Unplanned tours of Cornell University and

How Small Changes in the Vineyard Can Yield Enormous Benefits

Farmers are more in tune with what’s happening to the climate than anyone else because they depend on the whims of the sun, sky, and earth for their bread and butter.   Winegrowers are perhaps even more watchful of subtle shifts and changes to the climate, simply because one bad hail storm, or a difference of a few degrees in temperature during the growing season, can doom a harvest. (Too cold,

Crushing New York

When it comes to the Finger Lakes, Christopher Bates doesn’t mince words. “If we want to progress as a wine region, we need to stop growing good fruit and start growing phenomenal wine,” he said on a New York Wines panel earlier this year. Christopher is one of only 269 Master Sommeliers worldwide, and runs F.L.X. Hospitality with his wife, Isabel. The executive chef and winemaker’s portfolio of businesses includes

Wagner Vineyards: Disrupting the Wine Industry with Care

This is not a story about wine. This is a story about humanity within our community. 2020 was rough. In the year we slowed down, we were forced to sit and watch our world be rocked by a global pandemic and a relentless stream of heartbreaking news. Related to those moments was June 2, 2020. Accounts across social media posted black squares in a movement called Black Tuesday. It was done in solidarity with the Black community reeling from the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. While some larger brands in the wine industry participated, most stayed quiet. In the past, it wasn’t unusual for companies to selectively care, but this time was different. This time, business-as-usual in the face of hatred was an insufficient response.

FLXcursion welcomes the wine world back to the Finger Lakes in a return to normalcy.

FLXcursion was held this week at The Smith Opera House in Geneva, NY. The three day symposium brought in wine professionals from around the world to celebrate both a love of Riesling, and a return to normalcy after what has been a hard year for the hospitality industry. The professional conference covered a range of topics pertinent to the industry. From serious conversations about inclusivity and climate change, to pointed questions about the relevancy of terroir, and even included discussions about the use of memes in wine education and marketing.

Macari Vineyards is doubling down on lifestyle

This summer, Macari finds themselves reinventing once again and the tasting experiences now include an option to enjoy a private tasting suite, or a cellar tour, tasting, and lunch between the vines. Gabriella and the team are especially excited about the return of the Macari Barrel Cellar Experience, which offers a flight of five newly released wines alongside cheese, charcuterie and locally made bread.

Four generations later, Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery isn’t slowing down anytime soon

When considering how COVID-19 has affected her family’s business, Meaghan Frank doesn’t wonder what would have been; she’s too focused on the future. She does take a moment to genuinely think about what Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery would be doing if there weren’t a global pandemic and seems stumped. “I feel like so much energy and time has been spent thinking outside the box that I don’t even know what we would have done inside the box.”

Living Roots Wine & Co. is turning obstacles into opportunities

Sebastian Hardy’s favorite book is titled The Obstacle is The Way. He often listens to audiobooks or podcasts for a mindful way to unwind after his busy days making wine. Colleen, his business partner and wife, smiles as he talks about it being good motivation. It’s clear she also buys into the concept of making the obstacle the path forward. And of course they do–in a pandemic their business depends on it.

Osmote Wine is finding balance at home

Ben Riccardi’s 31-acre family farm sits on the southeast side of Seneca Lake in the town of Burdett. Soon, it will be home to Osmote Wine, the brand he’s been steadily building since his first vintage in 2014. Currently, Osmote is created with grapes sourced from farmers mostly along Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, but Ben has big plans for the future.

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard brings the feeling of Sonoma to Upstate New York

In March 2020, one week before the Coronavirus pandemic shutdown, Jenny Menges was on a press trip in London. She was there with the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, representing Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, where she’s the Director of Operations. “No job is perfect,” she smiles, “but this one is pretty close.” For Jenny and the rest of the team, working at Wiemer is more than a job. It’s more like an extended family, and she was eager to get home to it.

Martini Family Raises a Glass to 30 Years of Fine Wine Making

Anthony Road Wine Company celebrates 30 years of exceptional winemaking on the west side of Seneca Lake in NY’s Finger Lakes region. Anthony Road Wine Company has been a leader in the Finger Lakes viticulture, research, and wine-making industries since its inception on September 15, 1990. To mark this milestone, the Martini family is releasing their limited production, methode champenoise 2016 Sparkling Riesling.  Anthony Road Wine Company (ARWC) was founded

Kelby James Russell & Julia Hoyle, New York’s Winemaking Supercouple

Though neither planned on a career in winemaking, Kelby James Russell and Julia Hoyle have come to be recognized winemakers in the Finger Lakes and beyond and are well-respected for the quality of their wines. Together the two have accumulated more than a hundred 90+ scores from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, and other well-known periodicals including distinctions for Top 100, Best Buy, Editor’s Choice, and Year’s Best

New York Winery Spotlight: Lakewood Vineyards

Nestled just off the southwestern shores of Seneca Lake in the heart of New York’s magnificent Finger Lakes wine country is where you’ll find Lakewood Vineyards. Once a run-down peach and apple orchard, this multi-generational, family-run winery celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2019. Today, Lakewood farms over 90 acres of vineyards and produces nearly 16,800 cases of wine from over 15 varieties of grapes. A highlight of the winery is its outdoor tasting bar which features a louvered roof and a spectacular view of Seneca Lake.  At Lakewood, the

The future of farming and great winemaking in New York: Sustainability at Wagner Vineyards

Five generations of the Wagner family have been growing grapes and making wine in the Finger Lakes for decades. The Wagner Vineyards philosophy is that great wines begin in the vineyard and their success can be attributed to the strict standards of excellence that they employ in their grape growing and winemaking processes. As stewards of the land, they believe that sustainable practices are responsible and respectful to the environment. As a business, they believe that their economic stability is tied directly to how they treat the environment. Although there is a genuine

bedell cellars aerial

The future of farming and great winemaking in New York: Sustainability at Bedell Cellars

At Bedell Cellars, sustainability is at the forefront of their vineyard management and winemaking programs. Their distinctive, terroir-driven wines are a direct result of their focus on biodiversity in the vineyard. Bedell Winemaker, Rich Olsen-Harbich has been a pioneer of winemaking in New York for over 30 years and co-founded Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing (LISW) in 2012.   LISW consists of a group vineyards and wineries who have joined together to be stewards of the Long Island region by adhering to core management criteria – it is the first of its kind on the East

Interview with Linda Pierro, Co-founder/Managing Editor, Hudson Valley Wine Magazine

NYWGF: When was the moment you fell in love with wine/wine industry? LP: It sounds cliché, but being from an Italian family there was always a love of wine. Dinner wasn’t complete without a large jug of homemade wine at the table-simple wines, usually served in a water glass. No label, no frills. I grew up on Long Island when the wine industry was in its infancy, and visiting those early vineyards piqued my interest in the agricultural aspects. Eventually

Meet Kelby James Russell, Red Newt Cellars

Raised on an Erie Canal town just north of the Finger Lakes, like so many teenagers before him, Kelby was certain he would never return after High School. To his surprise, after graduating from Harvard College in 2009 he found himself learning winemaking in the Finger Lakes rather than living and working in an East Coast city. To his delight, he couldn’t be happier. Kelby interned at Fox Run Vineyards