Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Vinifera in the 1950s, Charles Fournier, winemaker at Gold Seal winery in the Finger Lakes and former winemaker at veuve clicquot in Champagne, hired Dr Konstantin Frank, a V. vinifera expert from ukraine, to make experimental plantings of rootstocks and V. vinifera varieties in a cold climate. By the early 1960s they had produced commercial V. vinifera wines. The most adaptable varieties were brought from Europe and, in descending order of total acreage in 2014, the state’s white V. vinifera varieties were Riesling, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer. They are grown successfully in all of New York’s regions, and while Sauvignon Blanc is not widely planted, it can make exceptional wines on Long Island, where the growing season is long enough to ripen it. Of the red V. vinifera varieties grown in New York—Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon—Merlot and Cabernet Franc show particular promise. They both ripen earlier and give greater yields than Cabernet Sauvignon, are adaptable to different soil types, and can make fine varietal wines as well as blending well with other red Bordeaux varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon does best on Long Island, needing its long growing season to ripen, while the maritime climate of Long Island has proved too moist and warm for Pinot Noir, which performs better in the warmer areas of the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes. V. vinifera plantings are increasing, as is vine density, sometimes as close as 3 ft × 5 ft. In the warmer Long Island region, the open lyre training system is gaining favour. In colder areas, especially the Finger Lakes, a multi-trunk FAN system is preferred to provide insurance against winter freeze of some canes.