KEUKA LAKE — Two wineries of Keuka Lake have made a clean sweep of the top awards of the 33rd New York Wine Classic awards.The Governor’s Cup, the most esteemed award given at the Classic, was presented to Keuka Spring Vineyards, of Penn Yan, for their 2017 Gewürztraminer. And Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, of Pulteney, was named Winery of the Year. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the winners last week. 

“New York’s world-renowned wineries and cideries are second to none and help drive tourism, strengthen local economies, and create jobs across the state,” Cuomo said. “The annual New York Wine Classic celebrates and recognizes the best of the best of our craft beverage industry, and I congratulate the winners and encourage those interested to try these world-class products for themselves.”

Keuka Spring

Keuka Spring Vineyards owner Len Wiltberger says of their third Governor’s Cup win, “It’s nice being two feet off the ground.” The Governor’s Cup followed the Best White Wine award for Keuka Spring’s 2017 Gewürztraminer. Along with Winemaker August Deimel, Len, his wife Judy, and daughter Jeanne belive this is the first Gewürztraminer to win the cup. “We are absolutely thrilled and honored to receive this award,” stated Len. 

In the last six years, Keuka Spring has won the Governor’s Cup twice and Best White Wine twice. Deimel’s skill as a winemaker cannot be doubted. His first vintage at Keuka Spring garnered the 2013 Governor’s Cup with his 2012 Riesling. His 2008 Gewürztraminer won Best White Wine at the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle competition.

“At Keuka Spring, we have always believed in Gewürztraminer as a premier grape for this region,” says Len. While it can be a difficult grape to cultivate in the regional climate variations, Deimel and the Wiltbergers believe it can make a style of wine that is truly exceptional in the Finger Lakes. Keuka Spring makes three different Gewürztraminers; one is a regional blend (the winner, a dry wine blended from five separate vineyards), and two from single vineyard sites with distinct differences: Dynamite, presented bone dry, and Wiltberger Vineyards, presented medium dry. “Gewürztraminer is a big part of what we do and who we are, and we hope this award shines a light on the fact that it needs to be central to the discussion of what New York does best,” says Len.

Dr. Konstantin Frank’s

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery President Fred Frank stated, “We’re very excited to receive the Winery of the Year award from the New York Wine Classic. We feel it’s a testament to the team here at Dr. Konstantin Frank and the great range of quality wines we produce. It’s a wonderful honor!” Dr. Frank’s  also won Best Red Wine for their 2016 Blaüfrankisch.

This is the third time Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery was awarded as “Winery of the Year.” In 2012, its 50th anniversary year, Dr. Konstantin Frank won both the Governor’s Cup and the Winery of the Year award. It also won Winery of the Year in 2006 and the Governor’s Cup in 1997.

General Manager Meaghan Frank stated, “Our founder, Dr. Konstantin Frank, constantly said, ‘Americans deserve only excellent.’ For 56 years we have expanded upon Konstantin’s legacy with an incredible group who has worked tirelessly to produce the best quality wine from our old vine vineyards. My father Fred and I are delighted about this achievement and are so proud of our talented and hardworking team — some of whom have been with the Franks for almost 40 years.”

Earlier this year, Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery was named one of Wine & Spirits All-Stars of 2018, an international list of only 50 wineries and the only New York winery listed.

A large part of the success at Dr Frank’s has been their expansion beyond their complimentary tasting experience, still offered in the Tudor Tasting Room as a reward to visitors for going off the beaten path to visit the rural winery. Meaghan Frank has spearheaded several new premier  tasting experiences at the winery. The newest is The Terrace at 1886 where guests can enjoy flights of wine paired with local cheeses on the newly constructed rooftop terrace at the historic Chateau Frank, with sweeping views of the vineyards, Keuka Lake, and Bluff Point. The 1886 Food and Wine Experience offers guests a thorough educational tour and tasting, paired with creative small bites. And Konstantin’s original home was remodeled to offer guests a 1962 Reserve Tasting where they may choose selections from the entire list of wines. 

Known as “The Oscars” of New York wine competitions, the Classic is organized by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation and is open to the more than 440 New York wineries across the state. This year’s competition included 924 individual entries: 853 New York wines and 71 hard ciders from across the state. A total of 40 Double Gold, 49 Gold, 324 Silver, and 334 Bronze medals were awarded.

Local award-winners:

Best Gewürztraminer - Keuka Spring Vineyards, 2017 Gewürztraminer

Best Dry Riesling - Heron Hill Winery, 2016 Riesling Reserve

Best Sweet Riesling - Fox Run Vineyards, 2016 Lot 11 Lake Dana Riesling

Best Pinot Gris - Lakewood Vineyards, 2017 Pinot Gris

Best Cabernet Franc - Heron Hill Winery, 2016 Classic Cabernet Franc

Best Lemberger/Blaufrankisch - Dr. Konstantin Frank, 2016 Blaufrankisch

Best Hybrid Red Varietal - Vineyard View Winery, 2016 Marquette

Best Ice Wine - Hunt Country Vineyards, 2016 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

New this year, in addition to the highest award presented, the Governor’s Cider Cup, there were three categories for cider judging this year: Best Heritage Cider, Best Specialty Cider, and Best Modern Cider. Kite & String, of the Finger Lakes Cider House  in Interlaken, was awarded Best Heritage Cider and ultimately the 2018 Governor’s Cider Cup with their Pioneer Pippin. Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, of Geneva, won Best Specialty Cider with their Cane Mutiny Red Apple Bombshell; and Angry Orchard, of Walden, won Best Modern Cider with their Baldwin SVC 2015.