Region in upper New York State in the U.S., so called because the lakes spread out, looking on the map rather like the fingers of an open hand.The area has produced a variety of wines since the 1830s. Manyare made from the American native vines, of which the best known is probably Vitis labrusca Concord. Some people find a curious taste and smell about these which is generally described as ‘foxy’ – it has a pronounced scent – and many accustomed to wines made only from Vitis vinifera cannot appreciate the different character. It is something that should be approached with an unbiased mind if possible: well-made wines from wineries where skill and care have built the reputation of their products can be enjoyed by most unprejudiced people. Use of the more usual types of Vitis vinifera is under experiment – formerly it was considered that the region is too far north, with too severe a climate to allow this vine to thrive, but modern viticulture may change this view.
Possibly the best-known type of wine from the Finger Lakes is the sparkling wine, which U.S. Legislation allows to be called ‘Champagne’, although this would be contrary to British and French law. Critics affirm that the sparkling process subdues the ‘foxiness’ but this is something to be decided by the individual drinker. It is worth bearing in mind that the Great Western sparkling wine of the Finger Lakes is not connected with the Great Western vineyard in Australia. Great Western in this American context is made by the Pleasant Valley Wine Co. founded in 1860. Other important wineries are: Taylor Wine Co., Urbana Wine Co., Bully Hill, Gold Seal, Vinifera, Boordy, Widmer’s Wine Cellars. In the Hudson River Valley, there are the Hudson Valley Wine Co. and the High Tor estate.