Regions and Appellations USA New York

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
Grape
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Widow Jane The Vaults 14 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 5,341st $145
Widow Jane Decadence Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 5,471st $96
Hillrock Estate Distillery Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 5,996th 90 $93
Forge Cellars Classique Dry Riesling, Seneca Lake, USA Riesling 6,044th 90 $19
Wolffer Estate 'Summer in a Bottle' Rose, Long Island, USA Merlot 8,058th 88 $26
Buffalo Distilling Co. One Foot Cock Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 8,152nd $46
Widow Jane Lucky Thirteen 13 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 8,624th $100
Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, USA Riesling 11,531st 90 $20
Widow Jane 10 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 11,939th $74
Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, USA Riesling 13,126th 89 $16
Wolffer Estate Rose, Long Island, USA Rare Rose Blend 14,048th 88 $18
Mogen David Concord, New York, USA Concord 14,218th $4
Brotherhood Winery Holiday Spiced Wine, New York, USA Flavored - Spiced - Fruit Wine 14,218th $8
Widow Jane The Vaults 15 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 14,847th $220
Widow Jane 12 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 15,885th $105
Ravines Wine Cellars Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, USA Riesling 20,151st 89 $18
Wolffer Estate 'Noblesse Oblige' Sparkling Rose, Long Island, USA Rare Rose Blend 20,643rd 89 $37
Hillrock Estate Distillery Double Cask Rye Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey - Rye 21,644th 89 $100
Finger Lakes Distilling Mckenzie 'Bottled in Bond' Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 21,914th $48
Hillrock Estate Distillery Single Malt Whiskey, New York, USA Whisky - Whiskey Malt 22,576th 90 $102
Tuthilltown Spirits Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 23,459th $70
Hermann J. Wiemer Semi Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, USA Riesling 24,409th 89 $19
Kings County Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey, New York, USA Whiskey Bourbon 26,259th $83
Sheldrake Point Dry Rose, Finger Lakes, USA Cabernet Franc 26,443rd 89 $15
Great Western Extra Dry Champagne, Finger Lakes, USA Rare White Blend 29,764th 85 $11
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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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