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Look Out NY, Here Comes CA, (and Vice Versa)

OK. Now we can say that the May Supreme Court decision has actually changed something. Wildly misunderstood, this ruling simply set new rules for how individual states must legislate wine sales directly to consumers. Which meant that we had to wait around for states to get busy passing legislation. Well New York (and Connecticut, by the way) has quickly done just that, and changed the lives of its wine buying residents forever.

Governor Pataki is expected to sign a bill this week allowing out-of-state wineries to ship up to 36 cases of wine per year to each resident of New York state, as long as they are doing so from a state which allows New York wineries to do the same. Additionally, this bill allows New York wineries to ship directly to New York consumers, bypassing the draconian distribution laws and agents that have been in place for years.

It's a grand week for New York, so raise a glass to justice and democracy in action! And would someone tell me which Long Island wineries I should start buying from?

Read the full story here.

Comments (26)

06.28.05 at 9:02 AM

I'm from Upstate NY and the wine from NY is under rated, especially the whites from the Finger lakes region. I drink more whites from NY than CA.

Unlike CA though they tend to vary significantly from year to year.

Dr. Frank was the first to grow Vinifera in NY, and still think they are one of the best producers in the state. IMHO is is all about the Alscian style wines.

Dr. Frank

andy g wrote:
06.28.05 at 9:58 AM

I'm a friend of the winemaker at www.treleavenwines.com and, although biased, I would recommend the dry riesling, the gewurztraminer (sp?) and the blush as great wines that take advantage of upstate new york's cold climate.

Alan Krechman wrote:
06.28.05 at 10:56 AM

I'm happy that my state has finally come around. Anyone interested in New York wineries should go to www.nywine.com for a good listing of those in the state.

Terry Hughes wrote:
06.29.05 at 4:15 AM

I am partial to the Long Island wines, the whites especially. They are available at all price points and are a very good bargain for everyday drinking, especially those from Lenz, Palmer, Lieb and Paumanok (not that I can claim to have had wines from every winery out there). I single out Palmer for giving us an excellent price-value combination.

I love the varietal character of the Chardonnays--often Maconnais-like in their acidity and liveliness, excellent with seafood. They come in a spectrum of oaked and unoaked styles. (I am very fond of the unoaked or lightly oaked ones, which tend to be more food-friendly, particularly the kinds of food we have in NY.)

Gewurtzraminer is great on LI, too. With the exchange rates being what they are, I am going more for LI gewurtz and leaving off the Alsatian ones. We always take a bottle or two of Palmer's gewurtz when we head to Little India (around 6th street and First/Second aves.).

The NY Times keeping talking up the merlot from the North Fork, but I don't really get it. At tastings I always find the reds trying to be too big and hulked up with oak and so on. The wine press of LI often and often compares the climate with that of Bordeaux, but it seems they're trying to emulate California styles, and I feel they should try a different approach. Maybe they are still trying to feel their way to their terroir's best expressions in red.

Hope that helps a bit, Alder.

Lenn wrote:
06.29.05 at 8:52 AM

I can claim to have had wines from each of them! It's very hit and miss...some wineries really get it while other do not. Of course, that's true of any region. It's just magnified here because there are only 38 producers.

Terry...I'd love to know what wines you've tasted. There are a few wines that are obviously trying (and failing) to be CA in style...but it's far from the norm overall.

The best winemakers here will tell you that they aren't trying to emulate any other region...that they are trying to make wines true to Long Island's terroir. They tend to be Old World in style...but with more fruit forwardness. I've heard some compare them more to Loire wines. Bordeaux is something that gets thrown around to get attention. It's not something every winemaker buys into. Trust me.

Hell, there is even one winemaker who believes his vineyard conditions are closer to Friuli than anything else...so he's focusing on varietals that do well there...mainly white.

Don't buy into the Merlot push either. There are great Merlots here...and they are more consistent (always at least passable). The real stars are the well made Cab Francs from good years. But, the bad Cab Franc is awful here.

Sauv Blanc is really making some noise here too...have you tried any of those?

Other good Finger Lakes whites come from Atwater Estate, Fox Run and Red Newt...among others. They do a great job with Riesling and Gewurtz there.

My blog is also a good source for LI wine information. I write a weekly column for a paper out in wine country and cover the region for the Long Island Press as well: www.lenndevours.com.

Alder...now that I can order directly...give me the "one" Cali winery I need to call/visit on the Internet.

06.29.05 at 2:00 PM

There are also a lot hybrid wines (Seval et al) grown in NY, and I have to say I'm not a big fan.

There is enough decent Riesling and Gewurztraminer being produced that I don't bother with the hybrids at all.

Living close to so many great red wine producers here in California, that I don't bother with NY reds either. I've basically been exchanging reds for whites with my family back east.

Terry Hughes wrote:
06.29.05 at 2:59 PM

Lenn, I sure haven't done serious tastings, or anything systematic, in connection with LI wines. Some have been lousy, but most are a hell of a lot better than general LI wine experience of 5 years ago or so.

I checked your site--very informative, and I will follow up on some of the wines you've written about. Thanks for the tip.

It's impossible for me to go around to tasting rooms--no car and really no interest in that sort of thing. It's nice that someone else will do the leg work and report on it though!

Terry Hughes wrote:
06.29.05 at 3:01 PM

Yeah, I don't see the need for those hybrids anymore. (RIP Walter Taylor.) Pretty poor stuff.

What is great is that so many areas of the country are now producing creditable wines, like Virginia. It will be interesting to see how local wines and foods will affect one another over the years, as has happened in Europe for ever and California for a few generations now.

06.29.05 at 4:59 PM

It's good to hear NY is embracing forward-thinking in allowing out-of-state wineries to ship to NY if the states where those wineries are based practice reciprocity. Now I hope that FL, where I live, opens up their wine laws to out-of-staters.

Unfortunately what I've read, Michigan is going the other way, banning all wine shipments.

I recently watched a new edition of FoodNation with Bobby Flay on Food Network spotlighting the Hamptons, Wolffers winery was spotlighted. They make some mean chards and merlots.

Lenn wrote:
06.29.05 at 6:00 PM

Terry, maybe sometime later in the summer of fall I can get you to hop on a train and we'll got tasting together. In conjunction with my website, I plan to put together some blind tastings of LI wines as well...interested?

The only hybrid from the Finger Lakes that I've had recently that I have liked is a Vidal Blanc from Atwater Estate. Crisp, light and pleasant. Is it an award-winner or anything? No...but it's sure no Marchal Foch haha.

Terry Hughes wrote:
06.29.05 at 6:43 PM

cool...I can go for that...let me know...the only time I am totally out of the box is Aug 17-22, when I am at a bat mitzvah in AZ...

Alder wrote:
06.29.05 at 6:46 PM

You guys are totally cracking me up. Maybe you should do all your social scheduling through Vinography ! I love it.


Lenn wrote:
06.29.05 at 6:48 PM

Alder...maybe YOU should come join us. We'll have a wine blogging summit...Beau is coming sometim around harvest...as is Derrick...

Ben wrote:
06.29.05 at 6:56 PM

Wow. Lotsa comments. My favorites from New York are definitely the Finger Lakes wines. Dr. Frank and Weimer are a cut above all the other wines I've tasted from the state. They seem to understand the idea that you can't just try to do what's selling well in Cali. Both wineries do a great dry Riesling and Weimer has a good Gewurtz. Some of the Bordeaux and Burgundy varieties Dr. Frank is producing aren't quite as good.

As far as Long Island, I would agree there are a lot of Merlot's that are overworked and overpriced, but I've found that LI's second labels and everyday wines that tend to be stainless steel fermented are much better bang for the buck. Wolffer has a great unoaked Chard. I think some of the Long Island producers are thinking if they spend the money on oak and consultants, they can charge $40 bucks a bottle for theur reserve wines. The market'll teach 'em.

Now I have a question for Terry: What is you favorite stuff from Virginia? I grew up there and I want to try what they have to offer.


Terry Hughes wrote:
06.29.05 at 6:56 PM

I wrote to Alder:

Wait till we have the English-language version of Aristide going, buddy. We'll be doing it bi-continentally then!

That happy event should be taking place before summer's end. At least I won't have to spend hours poring over the Dictionary of Italian Slang.

To find out more, email me. Worthless premiums free to the first 10 respondents!

Ben wrote:
06.29.05 at 7:00 PM

Almost forgot. Dr. Frank has a second label called Salmon run. It has a fish on the label and some of the bottles are freaking ugly, BUT the Riesling is worth trying.

Terry Hughes wrote:
06.29.05 at 7:02 PM

Ben, I like Barbour and Kluge and the other Charlottesville-area wineries. I was sort of knocked out by them when I went back to VA and tried them a few years ago...the cab francs are justly praised...but the chards are good too, in general. I Will be in Richmond in a few weeks and will buy a selection to bring home, since they are hard to find here in NYC.

Lenn wrote:
06.30.05 at 6:50 AM

I've had a few bottlings from VA...and I was pleasantly surprised. I had a Cab Franc from Grey Ghost Winery that I remember liking...

As to LI winemakers selling wines for $40 and the "market showing them"...you might be surprised. A lot of the wines in that range are overpriced for sure, but there are some REALLY classic, rich wines in that range here as well. Wolffer's high end chardonnay (around $28) is spectacular (the 01). The La Ferme Martin (the one you referred to as unoaked) is partially done in oak...but predominantly stainless. I think it's 20% barrel fermented. It's our everyday, house white...

One thing you have to remember about LI wines and our little market here. There is A LOT of money out here...and people do buy into the "drink local" attitude. If they couldn't get 40+ for the wines, they wouldn't charge it...trust me.

I second the note on Salmon Run riesling...great value riesling. And the Salmon Run chard isn't bad as an everyday wine either.

Alder wrote:
06.30.05 at 8:46 AM


I can't believe you think that might even be an answerable question. The ONE winery that you need to call and order wine from?

Sheesh. It totally depends on what sort of wine you like. But I'll tell you what, I'll go out on a limb and recommend one winery which has a really nice portfolio of wines to get you started, and then we can build to specifics after that.

I recommend Tandem Winery in Sonoma. They make great Pinots, Chards, and a really nice red blend called Peloton which is sort of in a Rhone style, except it has Zinfandel and a few other things in it as well.

Lenn wrote:
06.30.05 at 10:37 AM

See...that wasn't SO hard was it? I'll check them out post-wedding.

Every winelover can give one "must try" for his or her favorite region...and who better to ask than you?

Ben wrote:
06.30.05 at 10:33 PM

Oh, yeah, you're right. The Wolffer chard is 15% new oak. Speaking of wines near New York: Has anyone tried one of those Canadian sparkling ice wines? I saw one at a store the other day, and I can't get rid of the image of a poor little bubble struggling to escape from the overwhelming viscosity that those things can have.

Lenn wrote:
07.01.05 at 7:25 AM


I've heard about the sparkling ice wines...but never bought one. I do love ice wines from north of the border though...add some bubbles and I'm sure I'd still like em.

Have you tried Lieb Cellars' Bridge Lane Chardonnay? It's their second label chard...I think you might like it.

Ben wrote:
07.01.05 at 7:47 AM


I have had that Chardonnay, and I did like it. They have a couple wines I thought were good. There's another Long Island second label that I can't remember the name. It's some weirdo blend of gewurtz, riesling, and chardonnay that was really grapefruity, but at around $10 it was decent. Also I've heard the Schenider wines are pretty good, but I haven't had much exposure to them.

Lenn wrote:
07.03.05 at 1:39 PM

There are all kinds of weirdo blends...a new one released this weekend by Bedell is very good.

Schneider does make some nice wines...and Bruce has decided to focused solely on cab franc (no longer making any whites or his syrah). He doesn't have his own tasting room however...so you need to go to one of "The Tasting Room" locations...it's a co-op tasting room for smaller producers. If you go, make sure you try any and all Sherwood House vineyards wines they might be pouring. The 01 Chard is one of the best this side of Wolffers.

Ben wrote:
07.06.05 at 9:23 PM

Yes, I believe it was Bedell. With an old truck on it or something?

brigette bordeaux wrote:
10.15.07 at 3:37 PM

I'm a fellow wine blogger who works at a Hudson Valley winery called Benmarl. Try our Frontenac! It rocks!

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