What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

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What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Bob Ross » Mon Sep 04, 2006 10:05 pm

I've noticed this phrase several times in the past several months, and the recent post about wine in the White House brought it to mind again:

And though Shanks admits that having a Texan in the White House hasn't hurt Texas, he insists he doesn't favor any particular AVA: "We serve wines from 12 to 16 states." He particularly notes the upcoming wines of Virginia and Long Island, and those of the revitalized Finger Lakes appellation of New York.

I've had the impression -- maybe I'm totally off base -- that the Finger Lakes have been coming up for several years -- that there isn't a "revitalized" wine industry there. Is that wrong?

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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Victorwine » Mon Sep 04, 2006 10:51 pm

Hi Bob,
In a way I agree with you. Maybe the term “revitalizing” was in reference to the opening of New York Culinary Center hopefully this will stimulate a greater interest in New York wines.

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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Paul B. » Mon Sep 04, 2006 10:56 pm

Bob, it could be that to some people it seems revitalized because they're only now discovering it ... :lol:

I find that the wine-producing areas of the heartland still receive far too little attention. The wine world has been almost hard-wired into focusing all its energy into the big areas. Same thing with Missouri - that is a state that has a very interesting wine scene because it uses uncommon varieties like Chardonel and Catawba, as well as the true American grape, Norton/Cynthiana.

I have a feeling that things will come around - it's happening already, though there's a lot of inertia still to overcome.
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Thomas » Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:49 am

It likely means that until the fall of Taylor, Pleasant Valley and Gold Seal to corporate nonsense, the FLakes wine region had been quite viable for nearly 150 years. Taylor alone employed hundreds of people and kept hundreds more (growers) alive.

The fall of the big ones came in the late 1980s during a slow growth in small wineries. In the late 90s that slow growth accelerated into quite an explosion of many new, small wineries. For instance, when I came here in 1984 to start my winery there were fewer than two-dozen small wineries. Today there are about 100 and still counting.

I believe that is what "revitalized" refers to, or it should...
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Bob Ross » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:33 am

Thanks, Thomas. Makes sense to me.
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby David Creighton » Tue Sep 05, 2006 11:23 am

i agree with paul b. if you ignored it before and only recently discovered it, then it can't have been good before and now is better.
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Howie Hart » Tue Sep 05, 2006 11:33 am

creightond wrote:i agree with paul b. if you ignored it before and only recently discovered it, then it can't have been good before and now is better.

I'm not sure what you are saying, or if PaulB even meant it that way, but in the spirit of Thomas's post, in the Taylor, Gold Seal and Pleasant Valley days, one could not really be blamed for ignoring the area. However, with the influx of many smaller wineries and planting of new varieties and clones, it is now better.
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Paul B. » Tue Sep 05, 2006 11:58 am

Actually, since I have no direct experience with the area and its wines back in the old days, it would be presumptuous of me to say that it was bad ... even though I can confidently say that the prior-to-VQA days in Ontario certainly were nothing to boast about. Those were the days of "Canadian Chablis" and other embarrassing such things. Thank heavens those days have passed and we now have a thriving, forward-looking, and most importantly, quality-focused wine industry here in Ontario. If the tide was the same state-side, then I suppose the revitalization is much the same there (though with the added bonus that native wines, which continue to be a feature on the American winescape, stand to benefit from improved winemaking in general).

Actually, my reply to Bob was a joke - I figured some people might never have paid any attention to the NY wine scene and only now are waking up to the reality of a world class wine region in that area.
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby David Creighton » Tue Sep 05, 2006 2:32 pm

that was 30 years ago! and even then there was konstantin frank; and honestly the old gold seal chardonnay from that period was pretty good. of course this happened in california too. after the paris tasting, california was 'now' making good wine. but NOT the Inglenook cask selections and BV private reserves from the 40's and 50's????
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Victorwine » Wed Sep 06, 2006 8:35 pm

In 1862, it was predicted in the French viticultural journal- “Revue Viticole” that California was the one American wine region, “capable of entering competition with the wines of Europe”. At the Paris Exposition of 1889, the most famous of the early California wines, from Inglenook, were given a special award for their “excellence and purity”.

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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Thomas » Wed Sep 06, 2006 9:26 pm

At the same Paris Exhibition, I believe that New York's Pleasant Valley sparkling wine (Great Western) also won an award.
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Victorwine » Wed Sep 06, 2006 9:44 pm

Hi Thomas,
Fully agree with you, and thanks for adding to my post.

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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Thomas » Thu Sep 07, 2006 8:52 am

Victor,

It seems a lot of American wine did well at that exhibition--I think some Ohio and Missouri wines gained recognition. Since all of the Midwest and East Coast wines had been produced from catawba, isabella and the like, it is a wonder what the French might have been thinking--or drinking ;)
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Howie Hart » Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:10 am

Thomas wrote:Victor,

It seems a lot of American wine did well at that exhibition--I think some Ohio and Missouri wines gained recognition. Since all of the Midwest and East Coast wines had been produced from catawba, isabella and the like, it is a wonder what the French might have been thinking--or drinking ;)


Actually, Great Western received an honorable mention in 1862 in Paris and a gold medal in Vienna in 1873.
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I'm not sure about 1862, but in 1873 I don't think they were drinking much, as France was in the midst of the phylloxera crisis.
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Thomas » Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:27 am

Howie, phylloxera arrived around 1864. Between 1860 and 1864, Europe recovered from oidium (powdery mildew). Maybe the fact that they had no wine explains why France was giving awards to everyone else!

As for the Paris Exhibiton dates--I always get them confused. So many wineries list so many awards and medals it has become a blur of mostly meaningless information.
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Bob Ross » Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:33 am

I think it would be very interesting to read a full report of the awards at the 1889 Paris Exhibition; I've wondered if the phylloxera louse weaken French entries. Certainly US wines did well:

The following is a "stop-press" bulletin published in the Pacific Rural Press:

"October 3, 1889

THE AWARDS AT PARIS. The Paris Exposition has advanced to the prize-awarding state, and the United States exhibitors seem to have received due recognition...The chief awards won for the State were in viticultural products...The successful exhibitors were Chas. A. Wetmore, President of the State Viticultural Commission, whose 'Cresta Blance' vineyard is at Livermore; A.G. Chauche of the 'Mont Rogue' vineyard of Livermore; G. Megliavecchi, a winemaker in Napa; and the State Viticultural Commission, which makes a small amount of wine each year for experimental purposes. The grand prize went to Mr. Wetmore and gold medals to the other three.

Their Grand Prize, thus should be noted, in judging this honor to California, is the highest award given at the Exposition...Naturally it is considered that an award for wines from a jury of French experts is a greater honor than any award for any other product could be."


http://www.woodguild.com/mcleod/crestablanca.htm

I've read that a wine from North Carolina was judged the best American wine, a wine made by Nathan Watson Craft from Yadkin County.

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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Paul B. » Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:19 am

Thomas wrote:Since all of the Midwest and East Coast wines had been produced from catawba, isabella and the like, it is a wonder what the French might have been thinking--or drinking ;)

You know, Thomas, that fact has always been wind beneath my wings.

I have long encountered people who haven't been "trained" into thinking of these varieties as bad actually enjoying said wines when given them to try, without any previous experience or prejudice. It's the established wine world, if you will, that has nurtured a sense of exclusivity around certain grape varieties, all the while consigning non-members of that exclusive club to a lesser status. Nevertheless, all grape varieties are capable of making wine that bespeaks purity when grown in an appropriate climate and well treated in the vineyard. Granted, their individual characteristics will differ - but so it is in every area of life with all things ... even with people. :)
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Thomas » Thu Sep 07, 2006 12:25 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Naturally it is considered that an award for wines from a jury of French experts is a greater honor than any award for any other product could be."[/i]

http://www.woodguild.com/mcleod/crestablanca.htm

Regards, Bob


And think of all that this statement implies...
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Re: What does this mean -- "revitalized Finger Lakes appellation"?

Postby Victorwine » Fri Sep 08, 2006 8:27 pm

Very true, one most consider what the French and wine drinking world was drinking. But nevertheless those wines which received “recognition” in those early competitions were a “step above” the rest.

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