Posts Tagged ‘Finger Lakes Visionaries’

Interview Series: Finger Lakes Visionaries #2-Bob Madill, Winegrower at Sheldrake Point

Our Finger Lakes Visionaries interview series continues with insights from Bob Madill, Winegrower and General Manager at Sheldrake Point on Cayuga Lake, Vice Chairman of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail and Chair of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance.

MD: Tell me about how you selected the Finger Lakes region to pursue your passion for wine.

BM: I began to visit the Finger Lakes in the early 90’s to attend the Geneva Wine Workshops. In 1996 Thomas Henick-Kling (Cornell Station) introduced me to Greg Sandor who was putting a group together to purchase the farm on Cayuga Lake that became Sheldrake Point Vineyard. I had been working in the wine industry in Canada and was looking for a suitable opportunity. After several visits and spending time looking over the property I joined the founding group and was able to secure our start up capital. Having traveled looked at opportunities elsewhere in the US and Canada I was struck by the beauty of the area and the opportunities to produce fine vinifera grapes and thereby fine wines in an area that had such wonderful tourism values. We secured the farm in Jan 2007 and planted our first five acres that year.

MD: If you could deliver a “State of the Finger Lakes Wine Region” speech today, which main points would you include?

BM: 1. Superb growing circumstances with Lake Ontario to the north, deep lake microclimates and well drained slopes facing east and west.

2. Consistent regional wine profiles that exhibit fresh fruits, liveliness, moderate alcohols, with world-class aromatic white wines – most particularly Riesling.

3. Terrific hospitality and very consumer friendly pricing.

MD: Are you satisfied with the visibility and progress of the region? If yes, please explain why. If not, what are the strategies that you favor to raise awareness?

BM: The Finger Lakes is gaining visibility on the strength of Riesling and aromatic white wines. As Chair of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance and President of the Cayuga Wine Trail – we have been developing and offering media visitation and tasting programs, coordinated participation in national wine media evaluations and the expansion and enhancement of visitor facilities.

A comprehensive program of traveling tasting programs for consumers and media in major markets, modeled after the FLWA Riesling Summit in New York City would further energize interest and support for the Finger Lakes.

MD: What are your greatest challenges in promoting your wine, both to consumers and to the trade?

Consistent and stable funding for outreach programs such as those provided by national agencies in Germany, various French export groups, Italy and others.

MD: What hopes and dreams do you have for the future of the Finger Lakes Wine Region?

Continued growth in our visibility and recognition as a world-class region for wine growing and visitation leading to wider distribution of our wines directly to enthusiasts.

MD: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

An invitation to taste, visit and enjoy Finger Lakes wines and wineries!

Interview Series: Finger Lakes Visionaries #1-Scott Osborn, Owner of Fox Run Vineyards

Scott Osborn, Owner of Fox Run Vineyards

Scott Osborn, Owner of Fox Run Vineyards

To kick off my series of interviews of the thought leaders and visionaries driving the wine and culinary industries here in the Finger Lakes region, I’m happy to present you with my interview with Scott Osborn, Owner of Fox Run Vineyards on Seneca Lake.

MD: Tell me about how you selected the Finger Lakes region to pursue your passion for wine.

SO: I was originally from Rochester and after I began working in the wine business out in California I came back to visit family. I decided to go wine tasting and knew if I went I would be welcomed and would get to visit with the people who were making the wines. It was also my introduction into Cool Climate Wines which I was unfamiliar with coming from the California industry. I was told Santa Barbara where I worked was a cool climate. My last stop was Wagner and I tasted their 82 Chardonnay. I was blown away. It was an epiphany, one of many I have had while pursuing my wine career. I now understood what a real cool climate wine was all about. Over the next few days I decided I wanted to make Chardonnay like that and the only place I could do that was here in the Finger Lakes. So I went back to California and made plans to move back here and take my chances on finding work in a relatively unknown wine region. The reason I say unknown is that making wine from Vinifera in the Finger Lakes was unheard of outside of the Finger Lakes.

MD: If you could deliver a “State of the Finger Lakes Wine Region” speech today, which main points would you include?

SO: This is the place to grow and make Riesling!

This is the place for large outside investors who are interested in the wine business and investing, to invest in vineyards and wineries.

We need investment in larger hotels so more people can visit and stay over night.

The future is very bright and we are excited about it.

MD: Are you satisfied with the visibility and progress of the region? If yes, please explain why. If not, what are the strategies that you favor to raise awareness?

SO: I have mixed feelings. On one hand the progress of wine making and increased quality of our wines is going very well. The Rieslings of the Finger Lakes are some of the best in the world and we have the potential to make the best in the world.

On the other hand, our wines are not recognized for being as good as they are. This can be evidenced by reading the description of Finger Lake wines in the major wine magazines then compare those descriptions and scores to other descriptions of California or French wines with higher scores.

We need to keep pounding on the glass ceiling by sending our wines to be reviewed and eventually the tasters will start giving us the scores we deserve.

MD: What are your greatest challenges in promoting your wine, both to consumers and to the trade?

SO: Mostly getting Liquor stores and restaurants to give our wines the same chance they give wines from France, California, Italy, and Australia. Most of them still remember the old days of New York wines and can’t get out of the past. Our wines are better then most wines made in the world yet they won’t put our wines on their wine lists. The other is for our local consumers to order the wines when they see them on the wine lists. I always suggest that people order a Finger Lakes wine then one from another region but always order a Finger Lakes wine if it is on the wine list.

MD: What hopes and dreams do you have for the future of the Finger Lakes Wine Region?

SO: My dream is to be totally sustainable, having enough Riesling and other varieties so I can have the wines for sale all year round. I also want to see more vineyards and less development so we can keep the landscape the way it is so people always have a place to go to relax and enjoy this wonderful wine growing area.