By Jason Feulner, Finger Lakes Correspondent

Last Thursday night I was fortunate enough, to attend a dinner hosted by George Riedel at Suzanne’s Fine Regional Cuisine on the eastern side of Seneca Lake. The weather was fantastic, and the view of the lake was both breathtaking and (because it was looking due west) allowing for the sunset to complement the scenery and create a Finger Lakes panoramic that was truly beautiful.

George Riedel used only one of his famous decanters during the evening, but through this vessel flowed a great deal of wine from the Finger Lakes and all over the world. Representatives from Fox Run, Sheldrake Point, Lucas, Glenora, and Hunt Country were all in attendance, and these winemakers and owners brought samples of their wines to share. 

Riedel was kind enough to order from Suzanne’s list many exemplary wines from the Finger Lakes and Europe. There were far too many to keep track of.

The dinner consisted of three main courses of Maine scallop, free-range duck, and lamb, with a cheese dish for dessert. The food was excellent.  Mr. Riedel turned to me at one point and exclaimed that the food was "fantastic."

For an individual who must dine frequently at world-class restaurants, it certainly was a ringing endorsement.

The Finger Lakes wines that were offered by the owners in attendance included Glenora’s 2007 Pinot Blanc, Fox Run’s 2005 Cabernet Franc reserve, Lucas’ 2007 Riesling, Hunt Country’s 2007 Valvin Muscat, and Sheldrake Point’s 2007 Gewürtztraminer.

All of these wines showed very well, but the Fox Run Cabernet Franc and Sheldrake Point’s Gewürtztraminer were real stand-outs, the latter being one of most interesting Finger Lakes Gewürtztraminers I have had the pleasure to taste.

While George Riedel hosted this dinner as a prelude to the tasting exercise the next day, the result of which would highlight one of his glasses as the ideal Finger Lakes riesling glass, it became clear over the course of the evening that he sees the Finger Lakes as more than just another business opportunity. I found his conversation engaging and I believe he sees a great deal of potential in the Finger Lakes wine industry.

Riedel first visited the Finger Lakes earlier this year. It’s obvious that he wanted another look. At the end of the day it’s all about selling more glassware, yet there’s something to be said about Riedel’s confidence in the Finger Lakes as a good investment of his time and attention.

For Part II of the Riedel report, I will tell you about the tasting and selection of the Finger Lakes Riesling glass and offer my thoughts on the authenticity of such an experiment.