New York State

New York may not be particularly famous for its wines, but the state is home to a significant number of vineyards and wineries. It ranks third among the U.S. wine-producing states in terms of volume produced, surpassed only by Washington and of course California.

Most top New York State wines are made from Riesling, most often in crisp, dry styles but also as lusciously sweet ice wine. The finest of these come from the vineyards around the Finger Lakes. Other successful varieties here include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and hybrid varieties such as Vidal and the all-American Concord.

A vineyard in upstate New York
(© David L. Hansen)

Although a great deal of New York wine is consumed locally, the state's inhabitants maintain a keen interest in wines from elsewhere in the world. The shelves of the best New York wine stores are better stocked than those anywhere else on Earth.

New York State is located in the north-eastern United States, between the Atlantic coast and the U.S. border with Canada. Because of this zone's cool, frost-prone climate, most New York vineyards are located near the coast, next to rivers, or huddled around the state's various lakes. Because of their vast thermal mass, large bodies of water such as these reduce the severity of winter frosts – a service without which vines would not be able to survive here (see lake effect).

Water is abundant in New York. As well as being sandwiched between the Atlantic coast and the Great Lakes, the state is also peppered with smaller lakes and criss-crossed by numerous rivers. In the context of quality wine, the most important water bodies here are the lakes which dominate the state's north-western corner – particularly the Finger Lakes Seneca and Cayuga, but also Lakes Ontario and Erie, around whose shores are the Lake Erie and Niagara Escarpment AVAs.

Far east of the Great Lakes, right on the Atlantic coast beyond Manhattan, is another of the key New York wine regions, Long Island. Surrounded by the shallow waters of the Atlantic coast, Long Island enjoys a significantly milder climate than the rest of the state. It sits right at the northern edge of the Gulf Stream (the warm ocean current which flows up the U.S. east coast), whose warmth lengthens the growing season and enables the growth of red-wine grapes – notably the Cabernets and particularly Merlot. Unlikely as it might seem, there is such as thing as a New York Bordeaux Blend.

The first New York vineyards were planted in the 17th Century by Dutch and Huguenot settlers along the Hudson River. After a few centuries of trial and error, in the 1950s and 60s it became clear that Riesling was the variety of choice here, particularly in upstate locations. There are now more than 200 New York wineries producing around 35 million gallons (1.3 million h/l) of wine each vintage.

New York's contribution to world wine culture goes far beyond Finger Lakes Riesling; it also extends into the halls of Cornell University in Ithaca, an upstate town right at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake. The university's Viticulture and Enology department has carried out a great deal of viticultural work over the years, including the creation of Chardonel, Traminette and Cayuga.

New York State whiskey and other spirits

The state also boasts at least 80 disilleries, some urban, some in much more rural settings such as the Catskills. New York City provides the demand base which enables a wind range of specialists making diverse products such as Shochu, Rum or Vermouth. 

Whiskey is the highest profile spirit here. For users of our website, the state's Bourbons rival the top estates of Long Island and Finger Lakes in terms of being the most sought after products from the state.

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Most Popular New York State

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Avg Price
Knapp Estate Kat Knapp Pink Catawba, New York, USA Catawba 96th $12
Wolffer Estate 'Summer in a Bottle' Rose, Long Island, USA Merlot 2,538th 88 $26
Knapp Barrel Reserve Chardonnay, Finger Lakes, USA Chardonnay 2,952nd 85 $16
Knapp Vignoles, Finger Lakes, USA Ravat Vignoles 2,980th 86 $12
Southern Tier 'Concord Grape Gose' Imperial Sour Ale Beer, New York, USA Beer 3,991st $8
Wolffer Estate Rose, Long Island, USA Rare Rose Blend 6,016th 87 $18
Forge Cellars Classique Dry Riesling, Seneca Lake, USA Riesling 6,562nd 90 $19
Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, USA Riesling 6,869th 89 $21
Widow Jane The Vaults 15 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 7,798th 94 $268
Widow Jane Lucky Thirteen 13 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 8,922nd $111
Recipe 21 White Rum, New York, USA Rum 9,781st $7
Widow Jane 10 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 10,662nd 92 $74
Hillrock Estate Distillery Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 11,078th 91 $94
Hermann J. Wiemer HJW Vineyard Riesling, Finger Lakes, USA Riesling 11,436th 92 $40
Seagram's 1776 Premium American Whiskey with Tiffany Decanter, New York, USA Whisky - Whiskey Blended 12,062nd $950
Widow Jane Decadence Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 12,121st 91 $120
Widow Jane 12 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 12,670th $97
Buffalo Distilling Co. One Foot Cock Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey - Bourbon 13,615th $51
Ravines Wine Cellars Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, USA Riesling 15,482nd 89 $18
Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, USA Riesling 15,671st 88 $16
Saranac Jed's 'Mule Kicker' Moscow Mule Ginger Beer Lime, New York, USA Premixed Drinks 18,062nd $4
Cruz Vintage Black Vodka, New York, USA Vodka 18,553rd $15
Sorel Artisanal Liqueur, New York, USA Liqueur - Herb - Spice 19,502nd 91 $30
Knapp Pasta Red, Finger Lakes, USA Rare Red Blend 21,782nd $10
Knapp Riesling, Finger Lakes, USA Riesling 21,782nd 87 $14
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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