The Finger Lakes wine industry may be growing, becoming more sophisticated, but information on the area’s wines and wineries hasn’t kept pace.   Journalists tell some of the wineries’ stories.  A few of the region’s wines are rated, by reputable (and less reputable) publications.  Medals from competitions abound.  Yet, with nearly 125 wineries in the region, this hodge podge of information doesn’t add up for consumers.  

Which wineries are making the best wine?  How good are these wines?  Should I buy Finger Lakes wine, or is my money best spent elsewhere?  If I love dry rosé or Cabernet Franc which bottles should I seek out?  These are some of the questions FingerLakesWineInfo.com intends to answer.

No web site or publication is any better than its founder or its writers, who must possess both experience and integrity.  Douglas Hillstrom has been tasting and drinking wine since the late 1970’s.  He was one of the earliest subscribers to the Wine Advocate, joined New York City’s International Wine Center tasting group in its formative years, and earned a Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Advanced Diploma, with distinction.  He has no financial or other ties to the Finger Lakes wine industry.

Many wine critics “taste” dozens of wines a day and publish extensive notes based on their cursory evaluations.  They have no time to actually drink the wine.  Nor is there time to revisit the wine after it has been open a day or to try it with food.  On FingerLakesWineInfo.com an entire bottle of each wine is purchased and consumed.  No free “sample bottles" from wineries are accepted.  The characteristics and quality of each wine is noted, as is its food-worthiness and ability to survive in refrigerator and cellar.

The “ratings” for wines on this site are based on ordinary language rather than numbers or “points.”  How often do you hear someone say: “Wow, what a nice 88 point wine that was!”  Real wine drinkers appreciate all good wine, and if they put a label on a wine this label is apt to be “fair,” “good,” “very good,” “excellent” and so on.  On this site, these commonsense terms have the following meanings:

Outstanding - A wine that is special and memorable, with the complexity, balance, and depth of flavor that very few wines achieve.

Excellent - A wine with substantial depth of flavor, balance, harmony, and complexity.  These wines have the depth, character, or sense of place that very good wines may lack.

Very Good - A well-made wine that is better than average, with no fatal flaws and characteristics (e.g. depth of fruit, liveliness, complexity of bouquet) that prompt the wine drinker to reach for another glass.

Good - A sound average wine that provides some pleasure in itself and/or with food.

Fair to Poor - A wine with fundamental flaws, such as a lack of flavor, a surfeit of tannin, or an unpleasant nose, but which is still drinkable.

Undrinkable - An very unpleasant wine.

Not Rated - Some wines, such as natural and organic wines, can be too individualistic to rate.  Other wines, excessively manipulated in the winery or over-oaked, are not to my taste and also will not be rated.

+ - Wines with a plus may improve with age, or may be close to the next highest category in quality.  For instance, a "very good+" wine is approaching excellence.

Email: DouglasHillstrom@Fingerlakeswine.info

© Douglas Hillstrom 2014