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Greetings from Brooklyn. Taking some time to reflect on the past month as we enter May. April was a busy and exciting time for all of us at the Foundation. Mid-month, my NYWGF colleague Julie Purpura Hosbach and I were invited to judge in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester. The competition is a fundraiser for Camp Good Days, a summer camp on Keuka Lake that provides the classic American camp experience for children diagnosed with cancer and other similar illnesses, as well as their families. There were many friends and familiar faces judging for the good cause from all over the world and we were able to meet one of the families who has benefited from the camp’s summer offerings. It was a moving weekend indeed.
That weekend also included a master class for the judges on wines from Quebec. This is a region receiving more and more attention, and there were some stand-out wines in the line-up made from both hybrid and vinifera grapes. It will be worth following the future of these wines from our northern French Canadian neighbors, and I’m starting to see them show up on restaurant lists in New York City, so if any Field Notes readers find themselves here and would like to try a Quebec wine,email me for a recommendation. Thanks need go to Head-Judge Bob Madill for arranging the master class and to the whole staff of the competition.
And following the competition came even more master classes. I was able to participate as a taster for a further three opportunities organized by the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance: the first, a comprehensive look at the 2017 vintage of dry Rieslings, followed by a Grüner Veltliner tasting that also included international Grüners from other benchmark regions. These tastings were in part overseen by two guest presenters, Michigan Winemaker Sean O’Keefe, of Mari Vineyards; and wine writer and critic, David Schildknecht. Sean is a regular presence at Riesling conferences across the world and has long been respected as a winemaker by the New York Riesling community. His fluency with the entire universe of Riesling is impressive, and he was an excellent counterpoint to David, well known for having covered Austria, Germany, Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne, and the Loire for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. The third master class featured Sean and David together speaking on over a dozen Rieslings from Oregon, California, Michigan, Ontario, British Columbia, Australia, and of course Germany.
It was 2003 when David had last visited the Finger Lakes, and 1996 for Sean. David did cover both the Finger Lakes and Long Island for the Wine Advocate for a time and if you’ve ever read his writing, it may not surprise you that he has an encyclopedic memory for details from those early reviews. And Sean’s family -- who established the famous Chateau Grand Traverse in Michigan -- goes back decades with the Franks, Taylors and other legacy wine families in New York. Both promise never to stay away for that long again, because it’s collaborations and opportunities arranged by and with sister organizations that will keep the conversation going with important peers from other parts of the country and trade. Thanks to those at the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance who did the work to bring these two experts out to share their knowledge with us.
Paul Brady, New York Wines Brand Ambassador
New York Wine & Grape Foundation