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New York State - Top Producers of New York State

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Top Producers of New York State

Bedell Cellars - Long Island/North Fork

location: 36225 Main Rd., Cutchogue
telephone number: 631 734 7537
wine styles: red, white, rosé, dessert
best vintages: 2002 (r), 2001 (w), 2000, 1999 (r), 1998 (r), 1995 (r)
recommended wines: Merlot, Corey Creek Chardonnay, C-Block South Merlot

From small beginnings making wine in his basement, Kip Bedell founded this widely acclaimed winery in 1980. He realized that the North Fork’s cool climate and well-drained soils were ideal for Merlot. His wines are consistently delicious: mouth-filling and silky with hints of raspberry and black cherry. He has now ventured into plummy Bordeaux-style wine, complex Cabernet Sauvignon, and lightly oaked Chardonnay. When Michael Lynne, wine aficionado and Co-CEO of New Line Cinema, acquired Bedell Cellars in 2000, Kip agreed to stay on as winemaker for five years. Lynne has also bought the Corey Creek and Wells Road vineyards, signalling a new era of big business.

Palmer Vineyards - Long Island/North Fork

location: 108 Sound Ave., Aquebogue
telephone number: 631 722 9463
wine styles: red, white, rosé, sparkling
best vintages: 2002 (r), 2001 (w), 2000, 1998 (r), 1997 (r)
recommended wines: Cabernet Franc Reserve, Chardonnay Reserve

Palmer makes some of Long Island’s best-known wines. Owner Robert Palmer’s experience as an ad man helps, but the round-but-not-opulent Chardonnay and silky, smoky, black cherry Cabernet Franc live up to the hype. The tasting house, a restored 18th-century farmhouse, is worth a visit.

Paumanok Vineyards - Long Island/North Fork

location: 1074 Main Rd., Rte. 25, Aquebogue
telephone number: 631 722 8800
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: 2001, 2000, 1998 (w), 1995 (r)
recommended wines: Merlot, Chenin Blanc

Taking its name from the American Indian word for Long Island, Paumanok, founded by Ursula and Charles Massoud in 1983, is a real family affair. Ursula was born into a line of German winemakers, and the couple’s three sons are also passionately involved in the winery. Charles’ smooth Merlot and rich Cabernet Sauvignon are consistently good, as is his juicy, melony Chardonnay; the Cabernet Franc is supple with savory hints of tobacco. Charles is also one of the few in New York State to make Chenin Blanc, with crisp citrus and peach flavors.

The Lenz Winery - Long Island/North Fork

location: Main Rd., Rte. 25, Peconic
telephone number: 631 734 6010
wine styles: red, white, sparkling
best vintages: 2001, 2000, 1997 (r), 1996 (w), 1995 (r)
recommended wines: Old Vines Merlot, Gewürztraminer, White Label Chardonnay

Founded in 1978, Lenz has some of the most mature vineyards on Long Island. The amazing Old Vines Merlot, from some of the oldest Merlot vines in North America, is spicy and voluptuous with hints of charcoal. In 1996, owners Peter and Deborah Carroll were so confident that Lenz wines could compete with the world’s best, they instigated public blind tastings to prove it. Indeed, the Merlots and Chardonnays made news by standing up to higher-priced French and Californian rivals. Long Island wines had landed, and the Carrolls have never looked back.

Wölffer Estate - Long Island/The Hamptons

location: 139 Sagg Rd., Sagaponack
telephone number: 631 537 5106
wine styles: red, white, rosé, sparkling
best vintages: 2000, 1999, 1998 (w)
recommended wines: Estate Selection Merlot, Reserve Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc

International business magnate Christian Wölffer lavished millions on this Tuscan-style winery in the heart of the Hamptons. Weddings, social events, and a world-class equestrian center ensure popularity with the locals. German-born winemaker Roman Roth’s European-style, food-friendly wines are classically elegant. They range from well-structured $100 Premier Cru Merlot, with lush berry flavors that promise to age well, to a more modest rosé evoking roses and citrus, perfect for a picnic.

Château LaFayette Reneau - Finger Lakes

location: Rte. 414, Hector
telephone number: 607 546 2062
wine styles: red, white, rosé, sparkling, dessert
best vintages: 2001, 2000 (w), 1999, 1998, 1995 (r)
recommended wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Johannisberg Riesling

The terroir of south Seneca Lake enriches LaFayette Reneau’s structured, German-style Riesling, and full-bodied Merlot with mocha and black cherry undertones. The Pinot Noir has lively hints of raspberry and cherry, and the Cabernet Sauvignon is layered with plum, leather, and chocolate. Winemaker Tim Miller often wins medals, and owners Dick and Betty Reno run a small inn with panoramic lake views.

Dr. Konstantin Frank - Finger Lakes

location: 9749 Middle Rd, Hammondsport
telephone number: 607 868 4888
wine styles: red, white, sparkling
best vintages: 2001, 2000 (w), 1999, 1998
recommended wines: Château Frank Brut, Rkatsiteli, Cabernet Sauvignon

A professor of plant science, Dr. Frank, who founded this seminal winery in 1962, knew how to farm with minimal use of chemicals. So does his grandson Fred: he spreads hay across fields to restore soil nutrients and builds birdhouses to encourage birds, which control insects. The wines include full, earthy reds, crisp, ripe Rieslings, Rkatsiteli, a vibrant, appley grape of Georgian origin, and toasty sparkling wines that often outscore pricier French examples.

Standing Stone Vineyards - Finger Lakes

location: 9934 Rte. 414, Hector
telephone number: 800 803 7135
wine styles: red, white, dessert
best vintages: 2001, 2000 (w), 1999
recommended wines: Gewürztraminer, Pinnacle, Cabernet Franc

Standing Stone’s spicy, golden, pungent Gewürztraminer is arguably the best in the US. Tom and Marti Macinski’s wines are beautifully complex. The garnet-hued, red-currant-flavored Pinnacle (a Bordeaux-style blend), and cherry-chocolatey Cabernet Franc are of particular note. The couple wisely bought the pioneering Gold Seal winery land in 1991, inheriting New York State’s first vinifera plantings. Though the site is small—only 16 ha—it is bursting with potential.

Johnson Estate - Lake Erie

location: 8419 West Main Rd., Westfield
telephone number: 716 326 2191
wine styles: red, white, rosé, sparkling, dessert
best vintages: 2002 (r), 2001, 2000 (r), 1998 (w)
recommended wines: Vidal Blanc, Chancellor, Seyval Blanc

Aurore, Chambourcin, Ives Noir—the tradition of weird-sounding but well-made native American and French-American hybrids is proudly upheld at Johnson, the oldest family-owned estate winery in the state (1961). Semi-sweet, fruity wines such as the fun and lively Seyval Blanc are the specialty. The Freelings Creek Merlot evokes cherry pie, and the French-American hybrid Chancellor is a more austere red with good acidity. The Vidal Blanc ice wine is luscious.

Up-and-coming producers

Some of New York State’s finest producers remain obscure due to limited supplies or the newness of the establishment. Schneider Vineyards is a North Fork Cabernet Franc specialist of note with under 3 ha. In the Finger Lakes, Shalestone Vineyards and Silver Thread Vineyard have 4 ha or less each, and sell 90 percent of the wine they make on site. Shalestone produces five stirring, well-structured vinifera reds, and Silver Thread is the only winery to take a wholly organic approach, making delicious Riesling and Pinot Noir. Finger Lakes winemaker David Whiting is another one to watch: having done stints at Château LaFayette Reneau and Standing Stone Vineyards, he opened Red Newt Cellars in 1999 and makes compelling, diverse varietals. Fox Run Vineyards, also in the Finger Lakes, excels at floral, fruity Riesling, and is expanding its output with recently planted Gamay, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

Schneider Vineyards:; Shalestone Vineyards:; Silver Thread Vineyard:; Red Newt Cellars:; Fox Run Vineyards:

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