WHAT: Early in the last century, wines from the Finger Lakes region of New York were considered as prestigious as those from California. But tastes changed, and a laundry list of factors pushed California to the top of wine drinkers’ minds.
Even though out of the spotlight, New York growers continued to produce great wines, especially white wines. I love California wines, but I don’t want to ignore other regions. There are many great wines from New York, especially in the Finger Lakes region.
What winemakers and an increasing number of wine drinkers have discovered is that the soil and weather conditions in New York produce outstanding Rieslings, often on a par with the great Rieslings of Germany.
The Montezuma Riesling is a great example of that. It is a beautiful wine, dry, refreshing and full of citrus and stone fruit flavors. There’s a hint of ginger and pleasant minerality on the finish.
I could drink this wine over and over. It has a bright, lively flavor and is low in alcohol (11.8 percent). It reminded me how great a grape Riesling is in the right hands. This particular Riesling is dry, but the Finger Lakes region also produces other styles of Riesling, including some slightly sweeter wines that are a match for a good German spatlase.
WINERY: The Montezuma Winery grew out of a bee keeper’s passion for his work. Located on the north end of Cayuga Lake, Montezuma today produces more than 30 fruit, grape and honey wines ranging from sweet to dry in taste.
George Martin had been a bee keeper for 30 years, building a honey production and pollination business that had 2,000 hives in Maine, New York, Florida and South Carolina. His wife, Virginia, and son Ed also were in the business.
Dropping honey prices in 1998 led the family and another son Bill to find new ways to market their honey. Bill had tried making a little mead and the family got a winery license in 1999 to make honey wine.
The business in Sterling, N.Y., was in the middle of the state’s fruit belt, so the family decided to make fruit wines as well. Montezuma Winery (named after a nearby wildlife refuge) was the result, beginning in 2001. The wines were so popular the family moved to a bigger facility in Seneca Falls.
The Hidden Marsh Distillery was added in 2008 to make brandy, vodka and liqueurs from local fruit.
GOES WITH: We had this wine as an aperitif with our friends Steve and Sandy, and it was delightful. We sipped on this while munching nuts and cheese. The wine also would pair well with lighter food such as salads, fish and roast pork.