Finger Lakes AVA

Finger Lakes AVA

Infobox Wine Region
name = Finger Lakes AVA

caption = Vineyards near Canandaigua Lake
official name =
other name =
type = American Viticultural Area
year = 1982, amended in 1987 [;sid=bff700d0bbb2a632948b70fe7e91d7d4;rgn=div5;view=text;node=27%3A1.;idno=27;cc=ecfr#27: Code of Federal Regulations. "§ 9.34 Finger Lakes."] Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Part 9 — American Viticultural Areas; Subpart C — Approved American Viticultural Areas. Retrieved Feb. 6, 2008.]
wine years =
country = USA
part of = New York
similar =
sub regions = Cayuga Lake AVA, Seneca Lake AVA
season =
climate region =
heat units =
precipitation =
soil =
total size = convert|2600000|acre|ha|0Wine Lover's Companion (2003). [ "Finger Lakes AVA"] . Barron's Educational Series, Inc. Retrieved Feb. 6, 2008.]
planted = convert|11000|acre|ha|0Appellation America (2007). [ "Finger Lakes (AVA): Appellation Description"] . Retrieved Feb. 6, 2008.]
vineyards =
grapes = Baco Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Catawba, Cayuga, Chambourcin, Chancellor, Chardonnay, Chelois, Colobel, Concord, Corot Noir, De Chaunac, Delaware, Diamond, Dornfelder, Gamay Noir, Geisenheim, Gewurztraminer, Himrod, Isabella, Ives Noir, Lakemont, Lemberger, Leon Millot, Malbec, Marechal Foch, Melody, Merlot, Muscat Canelli, Muscat Ottonel, Niagara, Noiret, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Rkatsiteli, Rougeon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sereksiya Charni, Severnyi, Seyval Blanc, Siegfried, St. Vincent, Syrah, Traminette, Verdelet, Vidal Blanc, Vignoles, Villard Blanc, Vincent, Viognier
varietals =
wineries = 60
wine produced =
designation =
comments =

The Finger Lakes AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in Upstate New York, south of Lake Ontario. The Finger Lakes encompass eleven glacial lakes, but the area around Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes contain the vast majority of vineyard plantings in the AVA. Cayuga and Seneca Lakes each have their own American Viticultural Areas completely contained within the Finger Lakes AVA. The Finger Lakes AVA includes convert|11000|acre|km2|0 of vineyards, making it New York State's largest wine growing region.


The Finger Lakes AVA wine region is often compared to the Rhine wine growing region of Germany. Riesling, one of the most important commercial grape varieties grown in Germany, is also one of the most successful grape varieties grown in the Finger Lakes AVA. Viticulturists in the Finger Lakes region grow a wide variety of grapes besides Riesling, including other European "Vitis vinifera" grapes, native American grapes, as well as French-American hybrid varieties.Fact|date=May 2008

The deep lakes in the region help to moderate the local microclimate. Stored heat is released from the deep lakes during the winter, keeping the local climate mild relative to surrounding areas and preventing early season frost. Reflection of the sun’s rays off the surfaces of the lakes during the summer extends the growing season. Most vineyards are planted on steep hillsides overlooking the lakes, which help provide the vines with good drainage, better sun exposure, and a reduced risk of frost.Fact|date=May 2008

The region averages between convert|35|in|cm|0 and convert|38|in|cm|0 of precipitation a year.Fact|date=May 2008 The soil in the region is generally deep, at least convert|30|in|cm|0, providing good drainage.Fact|date=May 2008 However, there are some areas, such as on the west side of Seneca Lake, where the bedrock is much closer to the surface.


The first record of wine making in the Finger Lakes is in 1829, when William Warner Bostwick, an Episcopal minister in Hammondsport, planted "Vitis labrusca" shoots in his rectory garden.Fact|date=May 2008 Commercial viticulture officially began in 1862, when the Hammondsport and Pleasant Valley Wine Companies were founded. Two more companies were formed three years later. The region became famous for its sparkling wines, with the Pleasant Valley Wine Company winning European awards in 1867 and 1873.Fact|date=May 2008 These successes spurred growth in commercial plantings in the area, and by the end of the century there was convert|25000|acre|km2|0 planted.Fact|date=May 2008

A number of factors, including phylloxera, competition from California, and prohibition, combined to cause a decline in commercial viticulture production in the early 20th century. Production resumed on a smaller scale after Prohibition was repealed. After World War II, soldiers returning from Europe had developed a taste for drier wines from "Vitis vinifera" varieties, as opposed to the sweeter wines produces from native American grape varieties. Unlike in California, winemakers in the Finger Lakes were unable to grow "Vitis vinifera" in the harsh winters. They experimented with French-American hybrid varieties with limited success. [Vines, Wines, and Regional Identity in the Finger Lakes Region,James L. NewmanGeographical Review, Vol. 76, No. 3 (Jul., 1986), pp. 301-316 ] A major change in Finger Lakes viticulture occurred when Dr. Konstantin Frank, a Ukrainian immigrant with a PhD in Plant Science, came to work for the Cornell University Geneva Experiment station in 1951. Commercial growers and researchers at the Geneva Experiment Station were convinced that European "Vitis vinifera" varietals could not grow in the cold Finger Lakes climate. After years of planting "Vitis vinifera" in the colder climate of the Ukraine, Dr. Frank was sure that it could be grown in the Finger Lakes if grafted onto the proper, cold-hardy native rootstock. He proved this in 1962 when he started Vinifera Wine Cellars, in Hammondsport. Dr. Frank successfully grew and produced wine from "Vitis vinifera" grapes such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, and Cabernet Sauvignon, grafted onto native rootstock. Plantings of "Vitis vinifera" varieties spread throughout the region, reinvigorating the Finger Lakes wine region’s growth and popularity.Fact|date=May 2008

As of 2008, there are nearly one hundred wineries are in operation in the Finger Lakes AVA.Fact|date=May 2008


External links

* [ Survey of Finger Lakes Rieslings]

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