Noteworthy New York State Wines Made with Italian Grapes #ItalianFWT

When I saw this month’s topic for the #ItalianFWT group I was excited. Rather than write about Italian grape varieties growing in California, Washington or Oregon, the three biggest wine producing states in the United States, I thought I would focus on my home state – New York. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be heading to the Finger Lakes for the Society of Wine Educators conference and going on my first visits to wineries there. I’ll be seeing some of the wineries on Cayuga lake. Seneca lake as this wonderful post from Jennifer at Vino Travels mentions a couple of wineries growing Italian grapes, specifically Ventosa Vineyards with their Pinot gris, Tocai Friulano and Sangiovese.

Thanks to Jen and Eric Asimov, I also discovered that Teroldego grows in the Finger Lakes and that Red Tail Ridge makes a still and a sparkling version. I’d love to try that sparkler.

I’ve tried many Finger Lake wines but can’t remember any specific ones from Italian grapes that stood out so I was glad to see Jen’s post. Of the three principal New York wine regions – the Finger Lakes, the Hudson Valley and Long Island, I have more experience with the last two.

My first experiences with Long Island wineries was in 2004 when I went to visit a number of them. The one that stood out then and now to me has always been Channing Daughters. The President of the company, Larry Perrine, visited the International Wine Center when I was a student getting my WSET diploma and Chris Tracy the winemaker I met at a number of Uncork New York tastings throughout the years. It always helps to know the people behind the wines but it was the wines that captivated me first. They had me at their Tocai Friulano, even more so with their Refosco Rosato and Lagrein. They also make Pinot Grigio and Ribolla Gialla. They have so many wines today and even make Vermouth. Back in 2004, it was a smaller concern but even then their love for Italy was evident.

The terrain on Long Island seems very different to me than that in Friuli where these grapes grow but they seemed to do well in the capable hands of this winery. The soil is called Bridgehampton Silt Loam and apparently the South Fork of Long Island is cooler than the North Fork, a fact I did not know despite having had a family home there for 18 years.

In 2008 I rented a home in the Hudson Valley for the summer and discovered the wine scene there. While many things have changed these last 10 years, Millbrook Vineyards which is celebrating its 30th year, is still the stand out. I wrote about their Tocai here. Their gravelly soil suits Tocai Friulano.

It’s interesting to see how many grapes from Italy have been planted in New York State. Many winery owners are of Italian origin and many are lovers of Italy and plant grapes from regions that they think are well suited to the local soils. The few that I mentioned today are standouts in my mind but many others are doing interesting things as well. I’m excited to try other wines from the Empire State made from Italian varieties and to read the articles by my fellow bloggers.

Join us this Saturday August 4th at 11am EST on Twitter at #ItalianFWT and chat about Italian grapes from around the world.

Camilla of The Culinary Adventures of Camilla features “Italian Grapes
in Paso Robles: Aglianico, Malvasia Bianca and Some Pairings”

Jeff from Food Wine Click shares “Eating Pizza / NotPizza with Italian / NotItalian Wines”

Lauren from The Swirling Dervish features “Ryme Cellars Ribolla Gialla: A Taste of Friuli in Napa Valley”

Lynn from Savor the Harvest shares “This Italian Wine Grape Fooled You” 

Jen from Vino Travels will be sharing “Italian Grapes in Lodi with Harney Lane’s Primitivo”

Gwendolyn from the Art Predator features “An Italian in AUS? Meet a 2006 Montepulciano from Tscharke”
and here at Avvinare I shared “Noteworthy New York State Wines Made with Italian Grapes”


  1. It seems over the last several years many wineries throughout the US are planting lesser known varieties. I’ve not been to any New York wineries and only had few wines from that state- Riesling and Pinot Noir. I’ll miss the SWE conference this year where I’ll bet you’ll taste wines made from all the grapes you mention above. Have a great conference Susannah!

  2. Sounds like you’ve put together a terrific tasting itinerary for your time at SWE. Wish I were going this year, but too much happening this summer to make it. I will look forward to reading your posts and enjoy a vicarious visit! Larry Perrine gave our last lecture for Unit 2 back in June. So great to have a real winemakers’s perspective on all the processes (i.e., which ones are actually employed vs. which ones are not). Great article!

  3. Thanks for the shout outs. I have visited the Finger Lakes many times so I’m pretty familiar with the region, but I have yet to do the Hudson Valley so that is on my list next. I did the North Fork many years ago for a weekend, but didn’t visit either of those wineries so I’m really interested in trying them next time I make it there.

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