Friday, July 10, 2009

Cayuga Wine Trail - An Overview

We visited Caitlin’s parents who live on Owasco Lake over the Fourth of July holiday. As one of Finger Lakes, Owasco Lake, and Caitlin's parents' house, is conveniently located a quick drive to both the Seneca and Cayuga Lake Wine Trails. We stuck to the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, where some of our favorite wineries in the region are situated. The Finger Lakes has two main clusters of wineries concentrated around Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake. Both lake clusters do a good job promoting their wineries and their wine.

The Finger Lakes are riesling country. No other grape is as advertised and highlighted. Nor is any other wine varietal as consistently enjoyable as rieslings are in this region. Be warned, though - most wineries tend to have sweet, semi-sweet and dry rieslings. Look for the residual sugar (RS) percentages posted on winery's tasting cards, and stick to the lower RS dry or semisweet rieslings. Some of the sweet rieslings - above 5% RS or so - will make you crave salt and water for the rest of your trip, which is not an enviable position to be in when wine tasting is in order.

Although riesling reigns supreme in the Finger Lakes, Honorable Mention should go to cabernet franc. While most Finger Lakes reds are a bit on the light side for me - in terms of color, body and taste, the cabernet franc grape does well in cooler climates and thus thrives in this part of the country. To give you an idea of “cooler climate,” it was just into the 70’s when we were there... In July. Cab francs tend to be lighter and sweeter than their bigger, more powerful progeny, cabernet sauvignon, though they still have some of the same, albeit more subtle, characteristics. Cabernet Sauvignon put Napa on the map. Riesling is working to do the same for New York. If New York needs a red to aide in riesling's mission, cab franc makes for a solid candidate.

We visited four different wineries in the Cayuga Lake cluster. I noticed only one painted barrel. I plan to review the wines and the atmosphere of the each wineries we visited in more detail in their own posts in the coming days. Until then, grab a glass of Finger Lakes riesling or cabernet franc and enjoy the unseasonably cool, unhumid, and pleasant DC summer days we have been experiencing. After all, both rieslings and cab francs thrive in cooler climates.

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