By Barbara Kent

Fossil studies show that wine has been cultivated in Europe for at least 6000 years, until the disastrous effects of phylloxera, the dreaded Grape Blight, destroyed most of the French vines in the last half of the 19th century. FORTUNATELY the infant US wine industry had unaffected vines that originally came from the blighted areas. The hardier, disease-resistant American vines were grafted onto the surviving French vines resulting in new varieties, now considered among some of the best in the World.
The peculiar geography of New York State from the frigid Arctic gusts that blow directly toward the Lake Erie region, down to the protected, sandy shores of Long Island make the enitre state prime for wine grape growing.
The ìwine trailsî located throughout the state are an extraordinary yet cost-effective vacation treat. The areas are dotted with Bed and Breakfast Inns and many offer entertainment in addition to the vineyards. Pack a picnic lunch, or stop at one of the wonderful restaurants along the trail, and meander from vineyard to vineyard, sampling the finest wines the region has to offer--most of the time for free, or a small stipend at most.. Some of the vineyards host special events or have live music on summer weekends. Many of them cater large parties as well.

The Lake Erie and Chautauqua areas are the largest grape growing county outside of California, with some 20,000 acres under cultivation. The National Grape Cooperative Association, which owns Welchís Foods, is headquartered here and makes New York the largest grape juice producing State in the U.S. The actual grape growing (viticultural) area is centered around the four main lakes: Canandaigua (meaning The Chosen Place), Keuka (Crooked Lake), Seneca, and Cayuga. Cayuga Lake is distinguished as a separate viticultural area within the Finger Lakes region, due to its unique geographic conditions.

Family owned Barrington Cellars is a small winery alight 1000 feet above Crooked Lake (Keuka) in Barrington, N.Y. Among the fine hybrid and vinefera wines made from grapes grown at Buzzard Crest Vineyards or at neighboring vineyards are the flavorific 1997 Gold Medal winner, "Niagara,î an ìIce Wineî pressed from frozen Niagara grapes and ìBlissî introduced in Summer, 1999. The newly renovated farmhouse welcomes visitors on Spring weekends, daily Summer and weekdays in the Autumn.
2690 Gray Road
Penn Yan, New York 14527-9554
8 miles south of Penn Yan, 1/4 mile east of State Route 54
Phone: 315-531-8923 or 315-536-9686

Len and Judy Wiltberger are the owners of Keuka Spring's, what they like to describe as a small ìboutiqueî winery. Set in an historic 1840's gambrel homestead facing the Lake, the award winning wines include Seyval and Vignoles. Keuka Springs also makes a Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.
273 East Lake Rd. (Rt. 54)
Penn Yan, NY 14527
(315) 536-3147 or
(716) 621-4850

Nestled in the Hudson River Valley just North of New York City, lies one of America's most historic wine regions which hosts more than 20 wineries. The Hudson River Region is also favorable to the more delicate grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. Within the Region, a small cluster of wineries on the west side of the river have organized a "Shawangunk Wine Trail," which publishes a brochure and hosts special events during the year. On the East side of the river, the Dutchess Wine Trail welcomes visitors as well.
We would be remiss in our research, not to mention that the oldest winery in America, is New Yorkís own Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville, NY. Established by a European emigre, John Jacques, the first commercial vintage was produced in 1839. The variety of wines available at Brotherhood is staggering and include, among many others,
a light, fruity MAY WINE and the ever-popular ROSARIO - A moderately sweet, light red wine. An unusual GINSENG wine, blended with Ginseng root wine. Less than an hour from New York City, Brotherhood is an ideal day trip, even with young children. The grounds are host to special events all year round including a Jazz Festival, ethnic fairs, hayrides, magic shows and more.
35 North Street - Washingtonville

Somewhat less grandiose but a perfect little gem, the El Paso Winery is owned by vintner Filipe Betra of a wine-making family from Uruguay, South America. The traditional Spanish Wines are surprisingly successful as are the variety of New York State wines which are also produced . Located in a small reconstructed barn in Ulster Park, El Paso is open daily from April thru December. No charge for tastings or parking.,
742 Broadway - Ulster Park

About 100 miles east of New York City, Suffolk County, Long Island separates into the North and South Forks with the Atlantic Ocean on the south, the Great Peconic Bay between the two forks, and Long Island Sound to the north. These massive bodies of water moderate the temperature, which creates a long growing season and ideal conditions for robust reds and full-bodied whites.
Boasting itís own tasting room cat, Pindar Vineyards takes charm over the top. Located on Long Islandís North Fork, nearly 500 acres grow sixteen different wine grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah and others. Additionally, the blends, such as Summer Scarlet and the Gamay Beaujolais are immensely popular locally and afar. Wine tastings go on all year long, and there is a small fee for some of the higher priced wines.
Main Road, Rte. 25
Peconic, NY 11958

If you taste no other wine this year, make sure it is Bedell Cellars gold medal winner of the 1995 International Eastern Wine Competition, the 1993 Gewürztraminer. The tasting room is open year round, daily from 11AM to 5PM. Bedell is best known for their Merlots, but the entire wine list is very impressive.
Route 25 Main road
Cutchogue, New York 11935

The Lenz Winery, small with only 70 acres, maintains rigid control of wine quality by stressing the ìestate bottledî element of their wines. Tours and tastings are offered daily during Summer.
Rte 25 - Main Road
Peconic, NY 11958
phone: 800-974-9899

Dramatic in inception and execution, Ospreyís Dominion boasts a long list of Summer events including Jazz, Blues and Country Western music. Not to mention the ownerís stunt plane circling the vineyard on lazy summer days: Gold Medal winner, 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon and the very special Regina Maris Chardonnay are additional reasons to make the trip to Peconic, Long Island.
Osprey's Dominion Vineyards
44075 Main Road, Peconic NY 11958
(631) 765-6188

A Hamptons entry, Duckwalk Vineyards in Southampton has live music on the patio on weekends. Tastings are daily through summer and fall. The Boysenberry is not to be missed and the Red Aphrodite finds itís way to many a Southampton table.
162 Montauk Highway
Southampton, NY 11976
Phone: 631-726-7555

Who To Call
Cayuga Wine Trail
P.O. Box 123
Fayette, NY 13065 USA
Dutchess Wine Trail c/o Clinton Vineyards
Schultzville Rd.,
Clinton Corners, NY 12514 USA

Keuka Lake Wine Route
2375 Route 14A,
Penn Yan, NY 14527 USA

Long Island Wine Council
104 Edwards Ave.
Calverton, NY 11933 USA

Seneca Lake Winery Association
1 Keuka Business Park
Penn Yan, NY 14527 USA