APPELLATION AMERICA, a unique and comprehensive approach to describing and covering the wine industry, is now focusing on an ambitious project involving Finger Lakes Riesling, and how specific vineyards locations affect the taste characteristics of the wines. Leading the project is the ebullient Clark Smith, who already has had over 125 wines evaluated by a tasting panel and is now working on detailed analyses of the precise locations where the grapes were grown. All of this detective work will eventually lead to several major articles on the regional diversity of Finger Lakes Rieslings, and their "terroir" driven causes. The New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Cornell University, and Cornell Cooperative Extension have all been involved in this ambitious project, which will be discussed in more detail on April 2 at the Wine Industry Workshop in Ithaca. One of the most helpful resources, developed by Dr. Alan Lakso and his colleagues under a grant from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, has been a space-based, color-coded mapping of New York State based on decades of temperature data as well as soil composition indicating the most promising areas for growing grapes. Dr. Tim Martinson of Cornell Cooperative Extension also provided a lot of information during the tasting panel's evaluations in late January. Appellation America's evaluation process is very different from other wine critiquing systems by focusing on the unique regional characteristics consumers can expect from an area based on both natural and human factors. The "Best of Appellation" status goes to wines which best embody the regional signature, rather than being based on a 100-point scale. Results of their tastings will be discussed in a future Wine Press.
Released in the New York Wine & Grape Foundation's, February 28, 2009 Wine Press.