These reviews are based on samples provided by the winery or organization acting on their behalf.



New York’s Finger Lakes

North America’s premier cool-climate winegrowing region




2012 Red Newt Cellars Riesling Semi-Dry

2011 Heron Hill Vineyards Cabernet Franc




It was my good fortune to be able to participate in an online tasting of wines from the Finger Lakes region of New York.  The event was called the “Finger Lakes Wine Hour” but actually lasted 4 hours.  Unfortunately for me, we got a late start returning from a vacation in South Carolina and arrived home just after the event ended.  That didn’t stop me from kicking back after the long drive and sampling the wines.  Thanks to the “Save as a Stream” feature in HootSuite, I was able to bring up the entire chat session and read along as I sampled my wines.


To follow ongoing conversations on the wines from the Finger Lakes region, check out the hashtag #FLXWine or follow @FLXwine on Twitter or give a “Like” to Finger Lakes Wine on Facebook.



I want to thank the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance and the wineries for providing these wines for me to sample.



About the region

The Finger Lakes became an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1982 but its history goes back much further.  The first vineyard in the region was planted by Reverend William Bostwick in his rectory garden in Hammondsport, NY in 1829.


The region is now home to over 115 wineries with about 9,200 acres of vineyards.  The region produces about 220,000 cases of Riesling wine from the 848 acres of Riesling grapes.


In 1998 the region was brought to the forefront in the wine world when Semi-Dry Rieslings from Dr. Konstantin Frank’s and Fox Run Vineyards each won a Gold medal in Strasbourg’s Rieslings of the World Competition in Alsace.


The major varieties of grapes planted in the region are Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer.  Each of these has over 100 acres of vines in the AVA.


Much more information about the region is available on the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance website.



My Line Up

This event revolved around the red wines of the Finger Lakes.  There were many different and varied wines opened for the event.  Here is my line up for the event:

Finger Lakes Line up



2012 Red Newt Cellars Riesling Semi-Dry – SRP $15

Red Newt Cellars was founded in 1998 by David and the late Debra Whiting in the hamlet of Hector on the east side of Seneca Lake.


Wine production started with the 1998 vintage.  The total production was only 1,200 cases of Chardonnay, Riesling, Vidal, Cayuga, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  The first white wines were released at the grand opening of the winery and restaurant in July of 1999.  Two years later, Red Newt Cellars was celebrated and honored with the Governor’s Cup for Riesling.  In 2011 the winery was a recipient of Wine & Spirits Magazine’s 2011 Winery of the Year.


Much more information on the winery and their bistro is available by clicking here.


The Wine

Riesling production at Red Newt Cellars is straightforward and elegant. Fermentation is in stainless steel, mostly with Epernay II yeast at moderate temperatures. Fermentation is stopped with some residual sweetness. The wine is then fine-tuned and finished using the traditional method of adding back small amounts of unfermented Riesling juice reserve to the wine after fermentation.

This wine has 10.3% alcohol by volume and 2.1% residual sugar.  The bottle is sealed with an agglomerated cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright golden yellow color.  The enticing nose has apples, honey, minerals, petrol and lime zest.  This barely has medium body with good acidity and nice lingering sweetness.  On the palate ripe apples, honey and minerals coat the palate with nice citrusy acidity coming in on the back end.  The finish has good length with nice balance between the sweetness and acidity.  This isn’t the most complex Riesling out there but that doesn’t detract from the overall “yum” factor.  (87 pts)

2012 Red Newt Cellars Riesling Semi-Dry

2012 Red Newt Cellars Riesling Semi-Dry




2011 Heron Hill Vineyards Cabernet Franc – SRP $15      

Heron Hill has grown from a 5,000 case, white wine only winery in 1977 to now producing 17,000 cases.  The days of white wines only is now in the distant past.  The winery now produces almost 20 different wine varieties.  The winery greets more than 50,000 visitors a year at its location on scenic Keuka Lake.


Heron Hill uses only careful processes and state of the art equipment in order to produce the best quality wines possible.  The vineyard is built into the side of a hill allowing Heron Hill’s team to gravity feed the juice instead of pumping, whenever possible.


Much more information about the winery and their wines is available by clicking here.  You can also buy wine and gifts on their website.


The Wine

This 100% Cabernet Franc uses grapes that were harvested over a week in late October.  After fermentation, the wine was aged for 13 months in French, Eastern European and American oak barrels.


The wine has 12.5% alcohol and .03% residual sugar. The bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a light to medium ruby red color.  The appealing nose has cassis, minerals, white pepper, dried herbs, cherries, tobacco, candied violets and a touch of dark chocolate.  This is barely medium body with soft to moderate tannins and good acidity.  On the palate cassis and white pepper jump out first with dried herbs and candied violets coming in later.  The finish has good length with the fruit leaning more towards cherries and some nice minerality entering the picture.  (89 pts)

2011 Heron Hill Vineyards Cabernet Franc

2011 Heron Hill Vineyards Cabernet Franc





Once again New York’s Finger Lakes region showed that it produces world class wines that are sold for very consumer friendly prices.  Riesling is the star of the region but their red wines can also shine brightly.  I highly encourage readers to check out wines from this region.




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.