Conference Highlights 2017: Focus on New York State

Kathy Falbo

Kathy Falbo

We had a wonderful time at the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, held August 10-12, 2016 at the lovely Red Lion Hotel on the River, located on the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. Below you will find some pictures, presentations, and handouts provided by our wonderful speakers – the next best thing to being there!

You had me at Merlot—presented by Kathy Falbo, CSW: This session began with an overview of both the Merlot grape variety (its name is French for “little black bird” and it is the most widely planted grape in Bordeaux) and the Long Island Wine Region. Key facts about Long Island include its maritime climate, impressive size (118 miles long by 23 miles wide), diverse soils, and prime location at 43°N latitude.

All of this information was interspersed with comparative tastings the placed Merlot-based wines from Long Island against wines from of the world’s most impressive Merlot, including wines from Saint-Émilion, Columbia Valley, Sonoma County, and Green Valley (Solano County).  For more information, see Kathy’s presentation: You had me at Merlot – presented by Kathy Falbo

Bob Madill

Bob Madill, CS

The Finger Lakes on the Wild Side—presented by Lorraine Hems, CS, CWE, and Bob Madill, CS: On Friday morning, Lorraine and Bob began their session by describing the location, history, and terroir of the Finger Lakes wine region of New York. Many attendees were interested to learn that there are actually 11 Finger Lakes and that they vary quite a bit in depth, topography, and the soils that surround them.

One interesting factor in the climate—particularly around the deeper lakes such as Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake—is the influence of the “lake effect.” The lake effect (which can be “calculated” based on the distance from a Great Lake [Lake Ontario], the distance from a Finger Lake and the rise in elevation) helps moderate the potential extremes of the area’s mostly continent climate.

The Finger Lakes AVA currently has 9,500 acres of vines and more than 130 wineries. Only about 23% of the vines are planted to vinifera grapes—but of those, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir are among the leaders.  The session concluded with a tasting of some of the Finger Lakes finest wines, including a dry rosé from Billsboro Winery, a sparkling wine from Dr. Konstantin Frank, Bellangelo barrel-fermented Bench Riesling, and Red Newt Cellars “Limited Engagement” Gewürztraminer, among others. For more information, see Lorraine and Bob’s presentation: The Finger Lakes on the Wild Side—presented by Lorraine Hems and Bob Madill

We will be posting many more conference recaps in the days to come, and will create a permanent record of them here.



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