Posts Written ByEvan Dawson

Growing List of Finger Lakes Producers Making Sweeter, Richer — But Not Dessert! — Riesling

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The hottest winemaker you’ve never heard of is Kelby Russell, a soft-spoken, music-loving globe trotter with the work ethic of a stubborn ant. Russell, an assistant at Red Newt Cellars, learned under Peter Bell at Fox Run and spent several winters in the southern hemisphere, where it was harvest time. He’s gained a reputation as a fast-learning workhorse. So why is he back home in the Finger Lakes, instead of extending his overseas adventures? “Sweeter rieslings are really what have kept me, after my start in 2009,” he explains. He was smitten by the balanced, rich rieslings from Germany while…

What Do People Think of New York State Wines? (Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Edition)

Photo courtesy of @fabricutfabrics (https://twitter.com/FabricutFabrics)

I am always curious to know what people in wine country think of New York State wines. Not Finger Lakes wine country, mind you, or Long Island wine country. I mean just about any other state or country. My visit to Santa Barbara County, and then Los Angeles, has to be encouraging on the anecdotal, entirely unscientific level. “The Finger Lakes is doing some special things,” said Sashi Moorman, one of the finest winemakers on the west coast and a huge force in the Santa Barbara wine industry. “I’m not fully up to date with what they’re doing, but riesling,…

Book Review: An Ideal Wine, by David Darlington

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It’s easy to choose sides in wine. We get emotional about the process. That’s how we got saddled with such a silly word like “natural” describing a product that isn’t hardly natural. And before you think I’m pro-industrial wine — another silly construction — I’ll just say that I prefer to leave the fruit compote where it belongs. At Bob Evans. So here’s a wine book review that’s somewhat overdue, given that the book was released in 2011. But unlike most books I read, I didn’t read David Darlington’s An Ideal Wine cover-to-cover without picking up other books. This is…

A Change of Heart About Pinot, and Another Sign that the Finger Lakes is Rallying Around This Red

Photo courtesy of Sheldrake Point Vineyards

Bob Madill, general manager at Sheldrake Point Vineyards,  does not necessarily agree with the way I describe his feelings on pinot, but I’ll stand by it: I think he’s had a change of heart. The question is, why? Back in 2008, Madill and I had a discussion about pinot and how it grows in the Finger Lakes. I don’t have detailed notes of that conversation, but I can clearly remember Bob’s skepticism about pinot’s future here. He’s a Burgundy lover, and someone who appreciates the subtleties and complexities of pinot noir. Could you really expect to make complex, nuanced pinot,…

Getting Out of That Restaurant Rut

The Brown Hound Bistro in Naples, NY | Photo courtesy of VisitFingerLakes.org

You have probably found yourself in a restaurant rut at some point or another. You want to head out for dinner, and you cycle through the same short list of usual restaurant options. They’re your favorites for a reason, but you get to wondering: Is there anything new that we haven’t tried yet? Is there anything we’ve been meaning to try for a while, but haven’t? How do you break out of that rut? Sometimes it’s about abandoning comfort for a little risk. In the case of a recent Finger Lakes visit, it was simply about making time to visit…

What Bottles are We Really Laying Down? A Brief Look at My Cellar

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This is going to be a strange way to contact someone who owes you wine, but Kim Aliperti, Lenn and I would like to finally collect on our case. I was thinking about laying Finger Lakes wine down the other day and it occurred to me: Lenn and I went in together on a case of Billsboro Winery 2008 Riesling. That wine happened to be our first-ever Finger Lakes White Wine of the Year, and deservedly so. It’s wonderful. Lenn and I thought it was the right kind of wine to cellar. Here’s the odd part: I’m reasonably sure that we paid…

Mystery Man Behind the Finger Lakes’ Best Winery Website Reveals Plans for Boundary Breaks: Only Riesling

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Some time around the first of the year, word started to spread in Finger Lakes wine circles about a remarkable new website for a winery most people had never heard of. Within hours, questions were flying: Who did that amazing photography? What is Boundary Breaks? Who owns it? With a little digging I was able to uncover some answers, but only after the owner secured a promise from me not to reveal his identity. It’s not that he’s a celebrity — you’ve almost certainly never heard of him — but he has business reasons to keep his name out of…

Two Films that Finger Lakes Wine Lovers — and Finger Lakes Winemakers — Should See

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If you love wine — if you even like wine — there are two new movies coming out just in time for the holidays that you should see. Okay, that’s not entirely fair. I’ve only seen one, so I can’t give a full review of both, and neither will be in theaters. You have to make an effort to find these films, which are documentaries. And you should. I’ll take it a step further: It would be wonderful if Finger Lakes wine industry professionals took the time to watch both films. The reason is simple, and goes back to the…

The Strange Story of Syrah in the Finger Lakes

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It’s easy to get confused about red wine in the Finger Lakes these days. Is there a ‘flagship’ red variety? Is it pinot in the hands of the right people? Is it cabernet franc, that workhorse that occasionally finds profundity? How about lemberger/blaufrankish? When did that bandwagon hit a massive pothole? And now here comes syrah. If you grew up on west coast syrah or Australian shiraz, syrah seems an unlikely choice for the Finger Lakes. But that ignores its happiest home, which happens to be the much cooler Northern Rhone. No, Cote-Rotie is not Seneca Lake, but nor is…

The Finger Lakes 2012 Vintage in Their Own Words: Long Growing Season Leads to Ripe, Powerful Wines

Photo courtesy of Sheldrake Point Vineyards

When the wines of 2012 are finally released, consumers will find some of the most complex and deeply flavored wines ever to emerge from the region. Growing practices are better than ever and gradually improving, and the stellar overall weather allowed for more ripening than most varieties enjoy in the Finger Lakes. If there is one debate, it’s about riesling, which just happens to be the most important variety in the region. There is no question that the rieslings of 2012 will bring less acidity. However, there is reason to believe that this is a feature, not a bug. One…