On Seneca, who gets the best sun? And what the heck is a Banana Belt?

In an east side vineyard looking west on Seneca Lake PHOTO/Randall Tagg


Finger Lakes winemakers are a friendly group. Especially with each other. They’ve even created a mashup of two words to describe how they work together: Cooperatition. They know they’re competing for customers but they also know the industry does best when they cooperate as a unified winemaking region. So they share resources, create events together, they even post signs in their driveways telling you how far it is to their winemaking neighbors down the road. Nice, right?

But ask the winemakers on the east and west sides of Seneca Lake about which side of the lake has the best conditions for growing the best grapes and making the best wines, and you’ll see the pruning gloves come off. Westsiders say the morning sun gives them zingier, more green apple flavors in their Rieslings. Eastsiders, those claiming the Banana Belt as their turf, say the gentle evening sunsets give them those more fleshy tropical fruit flavors in their wines. It’s a fierce competition and we consumers are all the better for it, giving us plenty of options to find the exact wines that fit our flavor preferences.

In our current issue on newsstands now, Amy Zavatto (who was recently a judge in the NY Wine and Food Classic) gets in the ring with some of these winemakers and mediates the discussion for you. Check it out and and then check out the wines from both coasts. Whichever side you stick your flag in, we think joining the conversation makes for some delicious debating.

And while you’re at it, there are ample opportunities to explore. Atwater Vineyards (on the east side) hosts a fantastic Vine Dining event in the vineyard that gives you a great view of the west side as the sun sets. Check out our events calendar for more of these great culinary opportunities.




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  1. […] from the large wine media outlets. We hope there’s some serious celebrating over there on Seneca Lake […]

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