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Located in central New York, the Finger Lakes constitute the majority of wine production in New York state. Although the name encompasses eleven different glacial lakes, wine is mainly produced around four of the largest ones: Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga, with Cayuga and Seneca Lakes constituting their own American viticulture areas. Officially established as an AVA in 1982, wine has been produced in the area since as early as the mid-1800s with the establishment of the Pleasant Valley and Hammondsport wine companies.
The growing climate in the Finger Lakes is often compared to that of the Rhine growing region of Germany. Similarly, Riesling is an extremely successful varietal in the Finger Lakes, as in Germany. Vineyards are often planted on hillsides overlooking the lakes, allowing good drainage. In addition, the lakes help moderate the temperature of the surrounding vineyards, keeping them cooler in the summers and releasing stored heat in the winters.
Dr. Konstantin Frank was instrumental in the growth and development of the Finger Lakes as an established growing region. Other producers in the region include Herman J. Wiemer, Glenora, Chateau Lafayette Reneau, and Thirsty Owl. Popular varietals grown in addition to the riesling grape include Cayuga, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay (whites); Cab Franc, Pinot Noir, and Lemberger (reds). Recently spirits have begun to be produced in the Finger Lakes as well, produced by Finger Lakes Distilling.
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