New York Wine History, Local Wineries and More
February 15, 2023

New York wine has come a long way since its early beginnings. Today, it is a rapidly growing industry that is gaining recognition both nationally and internationally. The state’s unique climate and diverse terroir have made it a hotbed for innovative winemaking, with a growing number of vineyards and wineries producing high-quality wines that are winning awards and accolades.

The New York Wine Industry Today

New York wine is known for its diversity, with over 400 wineries located throughout the state. Each region has its own distinct characteristics, from the cool climate vineyards of the Finger Lakes to the mineral-rich soils of the Hudson Valley, to the warm, sunny slopes of Long Island. This diversity allows for a wide range of grape varietals to be grown and produced, resulting in a vast array of wines that cater to all tastes and preferences.

The state’s wine industry has also been fueled by a growing interest in local, sustainable, and organic agriculture. Many wineries in New York practice sustainable and organic farming methods, which not only benefit the environment but also result in healthier grapes and higher-quality wines.

Furthermore, the New York wine industry has been boosted by the increasing popularity of wine tourism. Wine trails and tours have become a popular attraction for both locals and visitors, offering a chance to explore the state’s stunning landscapes, taste its wines, and learn about the history and culture of the region. Many wineries also offer events and activities such as wine tastings, food pairings, and live music, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a day trip.

History of Wine in New York
Winemaking has a long and storied history in New York State, dating back to the early days of European colonization. The first vines were planted in the Hudson Valley in the 1670s, and by the 19th century, New York was one of the largest producers of wine in the country.

The mid-19th century was a golden age for New York wineries, with the establishment of major vineyards in the Finger Lakes region, the Hudson River Valley, and Long Island. The Finger Lakes, in particular, emerged as a major wine-producing region, thanks to the unique microclimate created by the deep, narrow lakes that run through the region. By the late 1800s, the Finger Lakes had become a hub of wine production, with dozens of wineries operating in the area.

Notable New York Wine Makers Still Open Today:

  • Brotherhood Winery
    • Produces it’s first commercial vintage in 1839. Visit the tasting room today and admire the wine racks from!
  • Benmarl Winery
    • Boasting the oldest vineyard in the United States, Benmarl holds farm winery license number 1. Originally owned by a pioneering viticuluralist in the mid 1700’s. 
  • Dr. Konstantin Frank
    • In 1957, Dr. Frank planted the first European vinifera vines in the Eastern United States, changing the course of wine making in New York.

Prohibition Halted the New York Wine Industry

However, the industry suffered a major setback in the early 20th century, when Prohibition was enacted in 1920. The ban on alcohol production and sales lasted until 1933, and many of the state’s wineries were forced to close during this period. (Some wineries however, like Taylor Wine Co in Hammondsport New York, didn’t just survive, they thrived during Prohibition by switching from bottling wine to grape juice.) When Prohibition was repealed, New York wineries struggled to regain their footing, as the industry had been severely weakened by the long period of enforced inactivity.

In 1970s the wine industry in New York State began to make a comeback. A new generation of winemakers emerged, experimenting with different grape varieties and techniques, and the industry began to grow once again. Today, New York State is home to more than 450 wineries, producing a wide variety of wines, from Rieslings and Chardonnays to Cabernets and Merlots.

Some of the most well-known wine regions in New York State include:

  • The Finger Lakes: This region is home to more than 100 wineries, producing a wide variety of wines, but particularly known for its Rieslings and other cool-climate white wines.
  • The Hudson River Valley: Located just north of New York City, this region has a long history of wine production, dating back to the 17th century. Today, the region is home to more than 40 wineries, producing a wide variety of wines, from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to Cabernet Franc and Baco Noir.
  • Long Island: This wine region is located on the eastern end of Long Island, and is known for its Bordeaux-style red blends, as well as its Chardonnays and Merlots. The first wineries on Long Island were established in the 1970s, and today there are more than 60 wineries operating in the region.

Overall, the wine industry in New York State continues to thrive and grow, as winemakers experiment with new techniques and grape varieties, and as consumers around the world continue to discover the unique and diverse wines produced in this region.

Support New York Wine at The Hudson Vally Wine Fest

Join us in celebrating the wine and bounty of NY at the 23rd annual Hudson Valley Wine & Food Festival, September 9th and 10th at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck. The New York Wine & Food Festival features hundreds of wines from New York Wineries, more than 100 gourmet specialty Festival Foods, fine art, & lifestyle vendors, food sampling from some of the region’s best restaurants, and live entertainment.  Visitors can learn about wine and food from our many cooking demonstrations and Food & Wine seminars throughout the weekend and enjoy the rare opportunity to meet and speak to the wine makers from some of New York’s best wineries.

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