Chateau Frank, the sparkling wine affiliate of Dr. Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars started by Willy Frank, son of Dr. Konstantin Frank in 1985, celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year. The Frank family hosted an elegant afternoon party on the grounds of the historic Chateau overlooking Keuka Lake.
Chateau Frank has been an important part of the New York wine revolution. While Dr. Konstantin Frank pioneered growing the noble European grape varieties in New York, Willy Frank spearheaded New York’s sparkling wine revolution using traditional methods and classic grapes. Willy’s dream was to make méthode champenoise sparkling wine from locally grown vinifera grapes, unheard of here in the early 1980s. In 1982,
Willy purchased a beautiful stone house, complete with a cellar ideal for sparkling wine production, and set out to make methode champenoise sparkling wine using the three traditional champagne grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In 1985, Willy released his first vintage and since then, Chateau Frank has become one of the most prestigious sparkling brands in the nation.
The property has a long history of winemaking in the Finger Lakes, and Chateau Frank was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places this year. The house was built in 1886 by Philip Argus, a German immigrant and was at one time the Western New York Wine Company until prohibition. A sign commemorating its historical status was unveiled at the anniversary party, and will be placed on the road in front of Chateau Frank.
Guests enjoyed flutes of all of the sparkling wines and hors-d’oeuvres as a string quartet played under the pavilion tent while family members and friends toasted 30 years of Chateau Frank. An excellent luncheon buffet was catered by the Keuka Restaurant, and VIP tours and wine library tastings were offered at the Chateau all afternoon, including exclusive anniversary sparkling wines created for the celebration.
Guests were also presented with complimentary copies of author Tom Russ’ new biography, “Finger Lakes Wine and the Legacy of Dr. Konstantin Frank.” Russ was present to sign these first edition copies of the first full biography written about “the father of Finger Lakes wine.” Russ spares no details. The book takes readers on a thrilling journey through Konstantin’s life in Ukraine, through two world wars, his immigration to the U.S.A., and his rise to fame as a wine pioneer in the Finger Lakes region.
Russ spent years interviewing those closest in Konstantin’s life, including his daughter, Lena Schelling, a variety of Frank family members, and numerous people in the wine industry who had firsthand experience with Konstantin Frank. The book also includes captivating stories about Willy, Fred, and Barbara Frank, as well as Walter and Eric Volz.
“I’m really proud that people can finally hear my grandfather’s story the way our family has heard the story firsthand over the years. His life story is as fascinating as his legacy in the Finger Lakes, and I think readers will gain a whole new appreciation of Dr. Konstantin Frank,” said winery president, Frederick Frank.
Russ will be doing several book signings at the winery in the coming months in conjunction with the 30th Anniversary of Chateau Frank.