Lauren Friel on September 5, 2016 1 Comment For many, a mention of the Finger Lakes brings up memories of summer vacations, kitschy tasting rooms and wines that make good souvenirs. Even when the region put its full efforts behind a branding overhaul in recent years, claims that the New York AVA had the potential to match up with bulwarks like Napa and the Willamette were met with skepticism from professionals and consumers alike. Go to the region, though, and it’s clear that something is happening. If you know where to look, the Finger Lakes offers some of the most exciting wine in America today. Read on, and taste the beginning of the revolution. 1. Eminence Road Vineyards If you’re seeking the ultimate charming Catskills vineyard photo-op, look no further. Eminence Road’s winery is housed in a rustic old cow barn on a hill in the most picturesque pastoral valley around. Make way for Instagrams. It all makes sense when you learn that the proprietors, Andrew Scott and Jennifer Clark, hail from the art direction and advertising industries in Manhattan. Being at Eminence Road feels like being on-set at a photo shoot, and it’s glorious. All of that is well and good, but we’re here for the wine. Thankfully, it’s amazing. One of the few producers in the region working totally naturally and utilizing minimum fining, filtration and sulfites, they are a hopeful glimpse to the potential future of wildly expressive Finger Lakes wines. They’re also among a small handful of estates producing a delightfully ripe and well-balanced Pinot Noir, a tricky feat in the region’s frigid climate. Well worth a visit for pleasures all-around. Keuka Lake Vineyards 2. Keuka Lake Vineyards In 2015, change came to the small farm that houses Keuka Lake Vineyards, and it took the form of a young, California native named Katey Larwood. Displeased as she was by the bitter cold of the Finger Lakes winter, Katey was excited to see what she could do in the novel terroir –- her winemaking experience had thus far been focused around West Coast American and Australian locales, with some time in cooler New Zealand and Alsatian regions. It’s clear that Larwood enjoys a challenge, and she might have met her match at Keuka Lake, a vineyard that’s known for its non-interventionist, experimental but studious approach to winemaking in the region. The estate’s reputation means its wines grace the cellars of some of New York City’s most respected wine programs, including Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park and Blanca, to name just a few. Keuka Lake distinguishes its wines -– Rieslings, Vignoles, Cabernet Francs -– as “dry, European” styles, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t innovative. Their “Dry Amber” Vignoles from Silvernail Vineyard –- an orange wine with rustic spice and citrus notes –- is a coveted cuvee that, at $25 per bottle, is a remarkable value in the trendy orange wine market. Lamoreaux Landing 3. Lamoreaux Landing Sparkling wines are easy enough to find in the Finger Lakes, as the cool climate makes it easier to retain the levels of acidity necessary for a refined expression, but none are quite as fine as Lamoreaux Landing’s. One of the largest estates in the region, it might be easy to brush their project off as just another pretty tasting room (and it is indeed pretty, awash in natural light with pristine white pine floors), but the award-winning vineyard continues to make strides in the quality of their production, leading the pack year after year. If there is one “not to miss” wine from their exceptional lineup, it’s their Blanc de Blancs from 100% Chardonnay. Razor-sharp, mineral and elegant, it has a distinct citrus snap that rivals the greatest Côte des Blancs Champagne. Truly a benchmark for Finger Lakes wines. Red Newt Cellars 4. Red Newt Cellars, Seneca Lake In addition to being home to one of the best farm-to-table bistros on the Finger Lakes wine trail, Red Newt earns affection for its incredible single-vineyard selections, including a complex and elegant Cabernet Franc from the Nutt Road Vineyard on the West Side of Seneca Lake. Much of the estate’s recent successes are thanks to Kelby James Russell, the young winemaker who shelved a Harvard degree in favor of the vineyards of his home region. Of course, the vineyard produces some stunning single-vineyard Rieslings, but their Cabernet Franc deserves a second look, as does a powerful-yet-finessed Cabernet Franc rosé that’s the perfect pairing with seasonal farm fare. Standing Stone Vineyards 5. Standing Stone Vineyards Tom and Marti Macinski are infectiously warm people. Their estate’s views of Seneca Lake are stunning, and their dry Rieslings and Gewurztraminers are delicious. All of these facts are reasons alone to visit their rustic tasting room for a sip and a laugh, but there’s one thing that makes a stop at Standing Stone imperative to the inquiring imbiber: Saperavi. Never heard of it? All the more reason to pay the Macinskis a visit. Saperavi is a rare native Georgian grape variety, and one that’s enjoying an uptick in interest as industry powerhouses like Alice Feiring and Pascaline Lepeltier get behind the ancient region. Marti Macinski is ahead of the curve stateside, and planted the unique, bold grape in 2006. Today, Standing Stone has the largest planting of Saperavi in the world –- outside of Georgia, of course. Gimmick this is not; the wines are deep and complex, with a finessed balance of earth and ripe fruit. It seems the Macinskis are on to something. Don’t miss your chance to join them. Boundary Breaks 6. Boundary Breaks “Do one thing well.” That’s the motto at this Riesling-only estate, where the focus on community and quality “without compromise” drives their practice. While other estates stray from Riesling in attempts to hone in on varieties with more appeal in the Western Market, Boundary Breaks is going deep, instead choosing to focus on four specific clones of Riesling, obsessively tracking their results and adapting along the way. It’s working. The wines are beautiful, and the industry is taking note: Wine Enthusiast named their Dry Riesling #239 one of the “Top 100 Wines In the World” in 2014, an achievement that broke them out of the limitations of domestic attention and let them loose on the rest of the world.