Watkins Glen and Chateau Ste Michelle Party in the Summer Heat

Eroica Riesling

It’s HOT! In fact, climatologists predict that 2010 will be the hottest year on record worldwide, due in large part to El Nino, the tropical climate pattern that warms the Pacific every five to seven years. But, that didn’t stop the folks at the Finger Lakes Wine Festival this weekend in Watkins Glen, NY. In fact the Finger Lakes are doing very well in the heat. Winemakers in the region are enjoying advanced ripening in the vineyards this year, compared to the wet, challenging season of 2009. More time on the vine in hot, dry weather may give winemakers a chance to quiet a few more critics of Finger Lakes red wine. But, it’s doing great things for Riesling.

Global warming has been a boon for Riesling, according to last week’s Riesling Rendezvous conference in Seattle. The conference, hosted by Ernie Loosen, Decanter’s Man of the Year 2005, and Ted Baseler, the president of Chateau Ste Michelle, was attended by well over 350 professionals from all  over the world.

Speakers suggested that warmer temperatures worldwide were opening up new regions for Riesling and guaranteeing consistency in more traditional regions, although in time growers will be forced to adapt, or move.

Temperatures in classical growing regions such as the Rheingau, Wachau and Alsace have risen by just over 1 degree in the past 30 years, producing a welcome consistency in quality there.  At the same time temperature increases have stimulated a rise in production in areas less well known for Riesling, such as the Finger Lakes in New York, Niagara in Ontario and the Old Mission Peninsula in Michigan. And the folks in the Finger Lakes are celebrating appropriately.

Once a year, Watkins Glen International transforms from The Soul of American Road Racing into the Finger Lake’s largest wine tasting room, where over 600 New York wines are sampled. The celebration kicked-off Friday, July 16th, with fireworks, wine, and togas at “Yancey’s Fancy Cheese Launch of the Lakes.”  Saturday and Sunday the Festival featured a variety of wine, food, arts and crafts from across the state, culinary classes, cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, the Brewer’s Garden, pace car rides, comedy, and live musical entertainment. Of special significance was the Riedel Experience which included a private Sensory Exploration class with Georg Riedel, 10th generation and former CEO of the legendary wine-glass-making company. And a special 5 pc Riedel Vinum XL Tasting Set featuring the Finger Lakes exclusive Riesling glass as a souvenir.

Not to be outdone, Chateau Ste Michelle’s Summer Concert Series continues until the end of September and will include musical artists like Martina McBride, Ringo Starr, the B-52’s and Harry Connick Jr. Enjoy the fresh air, delicious wine and perhaps a picnic dinner while listening to live music from your favorite band.


  1. as long as we’re drinking reisling you could literally give me any excuse and I’m down.

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