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Summer, Finger Lakes, Wine: Oakville Sommelier

This past week of summer found me traveling through the Finger Lakes of New York State visiting friends and the winery of Dr. Konstantin Frank. Located on the west side of Keuka Lake, this winery which began in 1962 celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

Dr. Konstantin Frank vines at Keuka Lake Dr. Konstantin Frank vines at Keuka Lake

Dr. Konstantin Frank vines at Keuka Lake

Photo credit: © C. Silversides

Responsible for planting the first Riesling vines in the region, Dr. Frank, also known as "The Good Doctor," planted the way for Vitis vinifera grapes to grow well in the Finger Lakes American Viticultural Area (AVA), the largest AVA in New York state. His son Willy Frank took over in the 1980s and was the first in the area to produce sparkling wines in the Méthode Champenoise. The winery is now run by Fred Frank, Willy's son, who created their value brand, Salmon Run. He hopes to have the fourth generation of Franks run the winery one day.

Dr. Frank moved his family from Europe to the U.S. in 1951. With a Ph.D. in viticulture and experience in the old world developing techniques for cool climate grape growing (his doctoral dissertation was on techniques for growing Vitis vinifera in a cold climate), he was determined to prove that European vinifera grapes could survive the harsh Finger Lakes winters with temperatures that can reach -32 degrees Celsius. Before this time the area only produced wine made with French-American hybrids and the native Vitis labrusca grapes of which its largest cultivar is the Concord grape.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery

Photo credit: © C. Silversides

The Finger Lakes AVA is similar to that of the Niagara Peninsula wine appellation in Ontario, being that both areas benefit by the warming effects of their respective lakes and contain microclimates suitable for growing a variety of cool climate grapes, in particular Riesling.

Aside from the wonderful Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry and Semi Dry (Off-dry) Riesling wines, they produce many exceptional cool climate wines including Chateau Frank sparkling wines, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, Grüner Veltliner, and Rkatsiteli - one of the oldest vinifera grapes which originated in the Republic of Georgia, it is described as a fruity wine with an herbaceous aroma which goes well with Chinese food and fish dishes.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery Tasting Room Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery Tasting Room

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery Tasting Room

Photo credit: © C. Silversides

Dr. Konstantin Frank Wines is "New York's Most Award-Winning Winery" recently winning 79 gold medals in wine competitions throughout the world. They also received the "Winery Award" from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation earlier this year. They are one of  7 wineries located throughout the hilly and picturesque Keuka Lake Wine Trail.

Thinking about wine, what's happening in Oakville? The next Oakville Wine Enthusiasts Club tasting is on Friday, September 27th with guest presenter Reif Estate Winery from the Niagara River wine appellation in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Reif, from Germany, has 12 generations of winemaking experience in the old world and produces many award-winning wines here in the new world including Riesling.

So there you have it: Summer, Finger Lakes, Wine