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In the 40-plus years since Alex and Louisa Hargrave planted and founded Long Island’s first commercial vineyard and winery in 1973, the region has fought hard, vintage by vintage, to earn its reputation for producing some of the best wine in the East, almost exclusively from classic French varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Pioneering winemakers from all over the worlds helped to shape the Finger Lakes into a modern region. These founding winemakers began growing vinifera and raised the quality of wine, and that in turn attracted a new generation of talented individuals, who continue to push the boundaries and carry on the pursuit of excellence in the Finger Lakes.
It is impossible to begin to talk about the current winemaking scene in the Finger Lakes without covering its immensely important influence on the national winemaking scene. The Finger Lakes is not the oldest winegrowing region in the state, that distinction belongs to the Hudson Valley, but it is the largest, and arguably the best-known region in New York state. There are more than 100 wineries between the five major lakes. The Finger Lakes are five large lakes carved out by the withdrawal of the Wisconsin ice sheet. They formed deep gouges creating Scandinavian fjord-like lakes, with deep bottoms. This kind of depth offers an important temperature moderating influence that acts as a buffer from the cold northern winds and weather flowing down from Canada. This is commonly called Lake Effect.