Editor’s note: Bushwick’s Roberta’s is a fan of wines from the Finger Lakes and recently produced this video while visiting Bellwether Winery, which our writer mentions below.
For even more on the local food and drink of this region, we encourage you to check out our sister publication Edible Finger Lakes.
Next to me right now is a window overlooking lovely Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes region’s 11 famed north-south running bodies of water. I arrived yesterday after a 5 hour trek, well worth it to be a judge in the 2014 New York Wine & Food Classic — our state’s biggest, home-grown wine and spirits competition. It’s something I’m really excited and proud to be part of (thank you, New York Wine & Grape Foundation for having me back!) and, for someone with a keen interest in New York wine and spirits, always an interesting gauge of what’s going on in our industry and an opportunity to taste through, wow, over 200 wines (blind — we find out what they are after all is said and awarded) and spirits.
This time, it was also a chance to check in with one of my favorite winemakers, Johannes Reinhardt, formerly of Anthony Road (check out this story on his former assistant winemaker, Peter Becraft here, who has taken the reigns from Reinhardt at AR Winery now), and his new, small-production project years in the making, Kemmeter Wines, as well as a quick stop into F.L.X. Wienery, the new artisinal hot dog joint that sources 98% of what’s on the menu (including the mustard and kraut) locally, and make much of it themselves. The them being chef Christoper Bates and his awesome wife and business partner, Isabel Bogadtke. For these two things alone, it was worth the drive and then some.
But there’s much, much more to love about this special, special spot. I made my first trek up here a few years back on assignment to participate in an ice wine harvest with Knapp winery in frigid 13 degree F weather. I’ve been back many times since, and while I loved the beauty of the area in the stark white of winter, there really is nothing quite like the summer and autumn here. So I wasn’t super surprised to get two requests in one week for friends traveling to the FLX and wanting some suggestions on where to go sip. One of those requests came from Edible Manhattan‘s Ed-in-Chief Gabrielle Langholtz who, after getting my quick list of must-visit spots, said, hey, this would make a blog post for other folks who might want to check out the area. Smart lady, that Langholtz. So, in no order of preference, and certainly in no way, shape, or form an exhaustive list (there are many missing; in part because I have yet to visit or taste; in part because I was typing fast to get this list to G-Lang), but it’s not a bad place to start if you’re heading this way. Or, to encourage you to head this way. Because you should!
670 New York 14
Penn Yan, NY
Definitely taste their Geology series of Rieslings — amazing and just such an interesting look at how, 20 feet away, something can taste totally different. Also, their basic Chardonnay is one of my favorites in NYS — and it’s ridiculously cheap. They also are experimenting with Port-style wines in a serious way, which is fun.
9224 New York 414
I’m an enormous fan of this winery. Can’t get enough of their Riesling.
5055 New York 414
Winemaker Vinny Aliperti is one of my favorite winemakers up here. He also has his own side project, Billsboro, which is definitely worth checking out (SMALL WORLD NOTE: Kris Matthewson used to be assistant winemaker here – dig it!)
3962 New York 14
Their semi-dry is my go-to take-along for Sri Lankan food in Staten Island. Perfect combo.
1020 Anthony Road
Penn Yan, NY
Where another fave winemaker of mine, Johannes Reinhardt was for years, (NOTE: His new spot mentioned above, Kemmeter, is appointment only), but the winery is in good hands with new head winemaker, Peter Becraft. They were doing a lot work with spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts that made for some really exciting, complex wines, and I dig Becraft’s way with Chard. Great stuff. And if you hear people discussing acid and don’t know what it means, drink these Rieslings and tell me your teeth don’t figure it out for you. Zing!
9749 Middle Road
The place that started it all. Amen.
400 Barracks Road
I love their single-vineyard Argetsinger series. The 2007 Argetsinger Riesling was the wine that made me sit up and take notice of FLX Riesling in a serious way.
7020 New York 89
Good Pinot! Delicate, floral. So lovely.
6799 Elm Beach Road
I heart their Gewurz, Pinot Gris, and work with hybrid grape varietals. Good folks.
9070 New York 89
My fave new discovery (also affiliated with Bellwether Cider in the HRV). Kris Matthewson is a young, super talented guy. Love what he’s doing. You will too! FLX PINOT!!! Also, super-naked pet-nat sparkling. Tingly!