One of the “common knowledge” tropes about New York State wines that industry figures continually battle is that of price. It is not unusual to hear that New York wines are too pricey compared to imports and many other domestic products.
That may have been true at one time, but the marked increase in the number of wineries in the state, now at 409, has increased competition and provided improved quality, thereby driving down many price points. That appears to be borne out by a snapshot of the recent New York State Wine & Food Classic competition that drew 909 entries, according to a statistical analysis released today by the sponsoring New York Wine & Grape Foundation (NYWGF).
The average price of all entries was $20.90, ranging from a low of $14.88 in the Lake Erie region to a high of $30.71 from the North Fork of Long Island, largely reflecting both the cost of production and disposable income of the respective consumer bases. The average cost from any region by medal won varied little, from $23 for Double Gold (unanimous evaluation by the tasting panel) to $22 each for Gold (majority evaluation) and Silver, and $19 for Bronze.
“Bear in mind that this is only a sampling, but I think it provides some interesting perspectives that do reflect the broader industry,” said NYWGF President Jim Trezise. “The nice thing about having the annual Classic database is that it gives us information we otherwise could not get, and allows us to track the industry’s evolution over time. … Of the 409 eligible wineries, 123 (30%) entered a total of 909 wines (7.4 average wines per winery). The 30% winery figure is very high compared with most competitions.”
A few other statistical findings:
• The Finger Lakes represented 57% of entries, and 58% of total medals; Long Island 18 and 17%, respectively; Hudson Valley 5 and 4.7%; Lake Erie 4.5 and 4.1%; Thousand Islands 4 and 4%.
• Regional (AVA) Labeling: The Finger Lakes American Viticultural Area (AVA) also has two sub-appellations (Cayuga Lake, and Seneca Lake), as does Long Island (North Fork and The Hamptons). Yet how vintners choose to market their wines varies greatly. In the former, 92% are labeled “Finger Lakes” instead of Cayuga or Seneca, while on Long Island 94% are labeled “North Fork” instead of just Long Island. The vast majority of wineries on Long Island are on the North Fork, but the choice of using that appellation still provides an interesting contract with the Finger Lake wineries, most of which clearly believe that while most consumers now recognize “Finger Lakes” they are less familiar with the individual lakes.
• Top Awards: A Finger Lakes wine (Ventosa Vineyards of Geneva’s 2011 Lemberger) won the Governor’s Cup for “Best of Show,” and a Long Island winery (Paumanok Vineyards of Aquebogue on the North Fork.) won “Winery of the Year,” splitting the two ultimate awards by those regions for the third consecutive year. Of the five “Best of Category” awards (Sparkling, White, Rose, Red, and Dessert), Finger Lakes wineries won four and Long Island one.
• Top Wines: Riesling was by far the largest single variety in terms of entries (112, including 58 dry, 54 medium dry, 34 medium sweet, and 20 sweet). Next were Cabernet Franc (51), Vinifera Red (43), Vinifera Blush/Rose (37), and oaked Chardonnay (34). White wines accounted for 48% of total entries, with 28% red, 6% blush/rose, 5% dessert, and 4% sparkling, with others (fruit, mead, cider, etc.) making up the rest.