We’ve been receiving really good feedback from readers about the recent letter from the Editor in our current Wine issue, so we thought we’d share it with our online readers as well. Let us know if you’ve had similar experiences with familiarizing yourself with Finger Lakes food and wine.
Juice from the Press
Years ago during an interview a local reporter asked me how my life had changed since I started this magazine. My response came easy.
“I drink a lot more Finger Lakes wine,” I replied.
All that drinking was in the name of “research” of course. Knowing that the Finger Lakes wine industry was the fastest growing and most dynamic in the region, I wanted to familiarize myself with the products and the producers as much as possible. So for years I only drank wine from the Finger Lakes. If we were opening a bottle for dinner I made sure it was from one of the many wineries I visited. If I needed something to bring to a friend’s house for dinner I grabbed a local variety and insisted we all try it and share our thoughts. At restaurants I ordered local wines by the glass even though it would be cheaper to buy a whole bottle from a nearby tasting room. But since every meal was a chance to learn and appreciate, I was willing to spend the cash.
After a few years of this when I felt like I had a good handle on what was being made here and what distinguished Finger Lakes wines from others, I decided it was time to broaden my taste buds and start drinking a little wine from the rest of the world.
It was an interesting experience, to say the least. Yes, the wines from France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Germany, Austria, Oregon and California were delicious and went down easy. But I noticed that as quickly as the next day I couldn’t recall what I had drunk the night before. All those global wines, for the most part, were forgettable.
I worried that maybe it was early onset Alzheimer’s. But after giving it some thought I realized it was because I had no relationship to those wines. I didn’t know the winemaker, had never seen the vineyards that produced the fruit, and I had very little knowledge of the origins of the winery or the hopes and dreams of the people who owned it.
It was a completely different experience with Finger Lakes wines. What I tasted is forever implanted into my memory. I’ll never forget the first time Kim Engle at Bloomer Creek poured me one of his outstanding Block 97 Chardonnays, or the way Red Newt owner Dave Whiting smiled with pride when he poured me some of his delicious Sawmill Creek Riesling or when I first tasted a Ravines Gewurztraminer and knew there was something special about winemaker Morten Hallgren. The hours I spent listening to passionate and talented winemakers like Vinny Aliperti at Billsboro, Fred Merwarth at Hermann J. Wiemer, Aaron Roisen at Hosmer and Rick Rainey at Forge Wine Cellars made drinking their wines a special experience because I had made a personal connection to the producers.
It’s my hope in publishing this edition of Edible Finger Lakes: The Wine Issue that our readers will realize all the winemakers here have great stories to tell and great wines to offer. Since these hardworking people are dedicating their lives so that we something good to drink with dinner, it seems a fair trade to listen and to make space at the table for their wines. If you do, you won’t forget them. I promise.
Wishing you all the best,
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief