After California, New York is the second-largest producer of wine in the U.S. It's home to 4 wine growing regions and 8 different appellations. Each of New York's wine regions has a distinct climate and is known for a particular style of New York wine.
The eastern end of Long Island is known for its North Fork appellation, which produces Bordeaux-style reds. Weather here is affected by the Peconic Bay, Long Island Sound, and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean. These Gulf Stream-influences moderate the temperature and create a maritime climate and long growing season.
New York's Finger Lakes region is sometimes (unfairly) compared to Germany's Rhine. This area experiences short growing seasons and downright frigid winters, but the deep, narrow lakes provide enough of a moderating effect to keep the industry intact. The region's steep hillsides provide good sun exposure and, almost as important, excellent drainage to help ward off frost. Needless to say, cool-climate varieties have fared best, particularly Riesling. The Finger Lakes also produce a number of sparkling and ice wines.
The Hudson River region is home to the country's oldest continually running winery, Brotherhood Winery, which was founded in the 1830s. The Hudson River's north-south direction helps draw moist ocean breezes into the river valley and thus moderate the potentially harsh growing conditions (which range from excessive heat to extreme cold). In recent years, New York wine producers and grape growers have begun finding success with hearty clones of Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.
Cabernet Franc Facts
Less weight and more aromatic intensity than Cabernet Sauvignon
Stews and braised meats
The Loire Valley's most renowned red wines, Bourgueil and Chinon, are made from Cabernet Franc, as are the mostly lighter, friendlier wines of Anjou and the somewhat more serious wines of Saumur-Champigny. Until recently, the aroma and flavor profile of Cabernet Franc had been decidedly out of step with the tastes of modern wine drinkers: herbal and peppery, with notes of tobacco leaf, menthol, and licorice, and often rather dry-edged tannins. But thanks to a recent string of favorable growing seasons , and to considerable work in the vineyards to reduce vine yields and promote greater ripeness of the grapes, today's Loire Valley Cabernet Francs possess more flesh and sweetness of fruit than ever before. These Cabernet Francs are also wonderfully flexible at the table. (Incidentally, when it was discovered that a compound called resveratrol, which is found in the skins of many red grapes, offers cardiovascular and anticarcinogenic benefits, the Cabernet Franc variety was found to be particularly high in this substance.)
There are also ample plantings of Cabernet Franc in the New World where the grape is used as it is in Bordeaux, in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In the Napa Valley, there are excellent examples, particularly in the cooler mountain settings where Cabernet Sauvignon struggles to reach optimum ripeness. Some worthwhile single varietal bottlings are being produced by Pride Mountain, Chappellet, and La Jota, among other producers.
Surprisingly, Cabernet Franc is also showing some success elsewhere in North America, including in Virginia, near Monticello, where Thomas Jefferson first attempted to produce fine wine. Pay attention to current efforts, as these are proving more successful than Jefferson's early endeavors.