Wine Exploration Wednesday – Finger Lakes Riesling

I’ve got two off the beaten path things here: the grape and the region. Riesling, best known from Germany and perhaps the Alsace region of France, is not the average wine drinker’s go to grape. This Riesling comes from the Finger Lakes Region of New York, and while New York is home to the oldest continuously operating winery in the United States, and is a well established wine region, it is not that common to find wines from this region on the retail shelf. At least in my area.

Riesling is a cool climate grape, making the Finger Lakes a place where this varietal can feel right at home. Like all great wine regions, it has mountains and water influence, creating a myriad of micro-climates that wine grapes love. You may think of Riesling as a sweet wine, and it certainly can be produced that way, but there are bone dry versions, as well as wines that fall everywhere in between.

This wine is produced by Wagner Vineyards, no, not that Wagner family. This Wagner family has been growing wine grapes on the eastern slopes of Seneca Lake for five generations. Wagner Vineyards grows some 20 grape varieties on 250 acres, with more than 60 acres devoted to Riesling. It wasn’t until the late 1970’s that the Wagner family began making wine from their grapes, and Riesling has been a part of that story from the beginning with the first vines planted in 1977.

If you think you don’t like Riesling, or if you’ve never tried Riesling, this is a great one to make you reconsider. I have to thank the Pink Society for introducing me to this producer.

Wagner Vineyards|Riesling|Dry|Finger Lakes|2020|12.8% ABV|$14.99

The grapes are harvested at different times, depending on the vineyard lot they are in, resulting in about 12-15 different tanks being fermented separately. Once fermented, the wines are then blind tasted and it is determined where each tank wine will go – some to sweet versions of Riesling, some to dry, and some in between.

Delightfully light and crisp on the palate with notes of lime, stone fruit, and minerality, this is one of those wines that everyone will love. I have conducted many tastings and if I had a dime for every time someone said “oh I don’t like white” or “oh I don’t like ___________” (fill in anything here), and then tasted whatever was on the table, and said “oh but this isn’t bad,” I’d be a millionaire. This is that wine.

This wine could also be a Thrifty Thursday buy at $14.99, but don’t let the affordable price fool you, it is a lovely addition to any wine gathering, especially with the off the beaten path grape and region. This is a fantastic find that will restore your faith that quality wines can be had at an affordable price.

I decided to pair it with some German food and it was really excellent with pretzels and mustard – both honey and horseradish versions, and also excellent with bratwurst and sauerkraut. A definite hit across the board, this wine is also a perfect wine for just sipping. So versatile!

Sadly, I have never visited the Finger Lakes region, but you can bet Wagner Vineyards will be one of my first stops when I do.

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