"The discovery of a wine," claimed Benjamin Franklin, "is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars."
Despite his passion for wine and his renowned ingenuity, however, even Franklin didn't know how to make quality European-style wines here, which was true of everyone else in America for hundreds of years, primarily because they couldn't figure out how to get the vinifera grapes to grow here without dying.
Lucky for us, another brilliant visionary came along and settled along with his family in the small town of Hammondsport, NY.
That's right, I'm talking about Dr. Konstantin Frank, the man who ignited "the 'Vinifera Revolution,' a movement that forever changed the course of wine growing in the Finger Lakes and the United States."
In many ways, Hammondsport was the appropriate place for the sparking of such a movement, since it's also the location where the first grapes were planted in the Finger Lakes by Reverend William Bostwick back in 1829.
It's also where the 1st Bonded Winery in the US was founded, Pleasant Valley Wine Company, which was also the first winery in the Finger Lakes, and the first US winery to win an award in Europe for American sparkling wine way back in 1867.
In addition to its breathtaking beauty, though, the landscape in wine country also plays an important role in the quality of wine produced here, from the way the lakes help moderate the temperatures here to the minerals and soil in the vineyards.
In an article originally written for National Geographic Traveler, William Scheller writes that "Hammondsport, with a lovely town green and a public beach on Keuka, harbors two of the Finger Lakes' finest wineries." Scheller singles out Dr. Konstanin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars and Château Renaissance Wine Cellars and proceeds to quote winemaker, Patrice DeMay's explaination that terroir, a French word, is " hard to translate. It's not just the land, but the air, the vegetation, the water, the wild local yeasts."
And the terroir in Hammondsport, either in the valley where DeMay's winery sits or along the scenic hillsides surrounding Keuka Lake, is ideal for making some of the finest wines, not just in the Finger Lakes, but the world.
According to Scheller, the "vintners of New York's Finger Lakes region make wines that stand alongside California's best. And the scenery is likewise first-rate: Road-trippers can taste their way from vineyard to vineyard amid rolling hills, tidy Amish farms, and long vistas of blue water."
Of course, if not for Dr. Frank, whose knowledge and experience growing vinifera grapes in cold climates and expertise in grafting methods which allowed for those world-class grapes to not just grow here, but to thrive, it's difficult to imagine what winemaking would be like throughout the Finger Lakes and beyond.
This August, wine lovers and bloggers from around the globe will find their way to Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes for the annual Wine Bloggers Conference (#WBC15). We can't wait for them to experience the remarkable scenery to be found here. But, mostly, we're excited to share with them the exceptional wines being made right here, in our backyard.