Chateau Lafayette Reneau wins Governor's Cup

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
From left: New York Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy presented the 2014 Governor's Cup to Scott Welliver, Gene Pierce, and Tim Miller of Chateau Lafayette Reneau as New York Wine & Grape Foundation President Jim Trezise looks on.

New York's Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, describing his own pride in the Finger Lakes Region and the entire wine and grape industry, presented the 2014 Governor’s Cup to Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling Wednesday evening in Watkins Glen after the 2014 Governor’s Cup Finger Lakes Wine and Craft Beverage Tour.

Chateau Lafayette Reneau, located on the east side of Seneca Lake in Schuyler County, is owned by Gene Pierce and Scott Welliver, who also own Glenora Wine Cellars on Seneca Lake's west side and Knapp Vineyards on Cayuga Lake.

Winemaker Tim Miller said, "It doesn't get much better than this. This is my fifth time winning, but you appreciate it more as you get older. I worked 18 years with Dick Reno, so this one is pretty special. It's an honor, this one."

Pierce commented, "It's an honor to be selected as one of the best wines in New York State, both personally and for Chateau Lafayette Reneau and the Finger Lakes."

The partners purchased the winery from Dick and Betty Reno in October 2013. The Renos started Chateau LaFayette Reneau in 1985 on 140 acres of land with a spectacular view of Seneca Lake. Dick Reno died earlier this year.

Commenting on the partner's recent purchase of the Schuyler County winery, Pierce said, "We've really endeavored to keep them independent. We didn't purchase it to make major changes. We want to keep the character of each winery its own."

Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation told those gathered for the award presentation, "We're not just here to celebrate wines, we're here to celebrate living in New York. You need a good climate to grow grapes and make wine, and you need a good business climate too. Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy has been a great champion of the industry."

Duffy stood in for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was scheduled to attend the tour and presentation, but he left the state yesterday for a trip to Israel. Cuomo had presented the award last year to Penn Yan's Keuka Springs Vineyards after taking a group of local leaders, wine industry professionals, restaurateurs and tourism officials on a tour of area wineries along Seneca Lake's west side.

Trezise said, “The New York Wine & Food Classic is known as 'The Oscars' of New York wine, and the Governor's Cup Wine Tour just enhances the prestige. Governor Cuomo has transformed the business climate for our industry, and this is just one example. We join him and Lt. Gov. Duffy in congratulating the winners.”

The Governor's Cup is a large silver chalice, recognizing the “Best of Show” or top prize from 863 entries in the annual New York Wine & Food Classic wine competition, organized by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.

In addition, Macari Vineyards & Winery from Long Island won the “Winery of the Year”

This year's tour included stops at Finger Lakes Distilling, Damiani Wine Cellars and Chateau Lafayette Reneau.

This year's competition included 835 wines, 20 hard ciders and eight spirits from across the State. The awards were based on blind tastings by 22 expert judges—four from California, 10 from New York, seven from other states and one from France. Judges included prominent wine writers, restaurateurs, retailers and wine educators. Judging panels determined the initial awards, with top-scoring wines evaluated by all 22 judges for the Best of Category and Governor's Cup awards.

Winners from the 2014 New York Wine & Food Classic competition are:

Specialty Wine Champion (wines made from fruits other than grapes or honey)

King Ferry Winery 2013 Apple Mystique

Best Limited Production Wine (wines produced with fewer than 100 cases)

Sheldrake Point Winery 2013 Late Harvest Riesling

Best Spirit

Hidden Marsh Distillery Judd’s Wreckin Ball Corn Whiskey

Best Cider

Kaneb Orchards 2014 St. Lawrence Cider

The "Best of Category" awards, all eligible for the Governor's Cup, went to:

Best Sparkling Wine

Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery 2005 Brut Seduction, Methode Champenoise

Best White Wine

Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling, Estate Bottled

Best Rose Wine

Anthony Road Wine Company 2013 Rosé of Cabernet Franc

Best Red Wine

Macari Vineyards & Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc

Best Dessert Wine

Idol Ridge Winery 2014 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

The "Best of Class" awards, which are given to Double Gold or Gold medal wines in classes of at least seven wines, went to:

Best Oaked Chardonnay

Coffee Pot Cellars 2013 Chardonnay

Best Unoaked Chardonnay

Martha Clara Vineyards 2012 Chardonnay

Best Overall Chardonnay

Martha Clara Vineyards 2012 Chardonnay

Best Gewürztraminer

Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2013 Gewürztraminer, Estate Bottled

Best Dry Riesling

Wagner Vineyards 2012 Riesling Dry, Caywood East Vineyards Estate Grown

Best Medium Dry Riesling

Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling, Estate Bottled

Best Medium Sweet Riesling

Barnstormer Winery 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling

Best Sweet Riesling

Wagner Vineyards 2012 Riesling Select, Estate Grown & Bottled

Best Overall Riesling

Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling, Estate Bottled

Best Sauvignon Blanc

Hosmer Winery 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

Best Pinot Grigio

Swedish Hill Winery 2013 Pinot Grigio

Best Grüner Veltliner

Three Brothers Wineries & Estates 2013 Grüner Veltliner, Estate Reserve

Best Vinifera White

Seneca Hayes Wine Cellars 2012 Riesling-Gewürztraminer

Best Other White Vinifera Varietal

Millbrook Vineyards & Winery 2013 Tocai Friulano, Proprietor’s Special Reserve

Best Cayuga

Lucas Vineyards 2013 Cayuga White

Best Traminette

Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2013 Traminette

Best Vidal

Swedish Hill Winery 2013 Vidal Blanc

Best Vignoles

Anthony Road Wine Company 2013 Vignoles

Best Cold Climate White Varietal

Tug Hill Vineyards 2013 LaCrescent, Estate Grown

Best Hybrid White

Lucas Vineyards 2013 Harbor Moon

Best Niagara

Lucas Vineyards Miss Behavin

Best Vinifera Rose

Anthony Road Wine Company 2013 Rosé of Cabernet Franc

Best Catawba

Woodbury Vineyards Foxy Blush Renard

Best Native Blush

21 Brix Winery Thirsty Elephant

Best Cabernet Sauvignon

Brotherhood, America’s Oldest Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

Best Merlot

Osprey’s Dominion Vineyard 2010 Reserve Merlot

Best Pinot Noir

Ventosa Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir

Best Cabernet Franc

Macari Vineyards & Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc

Best Lemberger

Inspire Moore Winery & Vineyard 2012 Change

Best Syrah

Billsboro Winery 2012 Syrah

Best Other Red Vinifera Varietal

Fulkerson Winery 2013 William Vigne Dry Zwiegelt

Best Vinifera Red

Harbes Vineyard 2012 Red Blend

Best Vinifera/Hybrid Red

Buttonwood Grove Winery Redbud

Best Other Red French-American Varietal

Johnson Estate Winery 2012 Chambourcin, Estate Grown

Best Cold Climate Red Varietal

Thousand Islands Winery 2012 Frontenac

Best Hybrid Red

Lakewood Vineyards 2013 Long Stem Red

Best Concord

21 Brix Winery Ella’s Red

Best Fruit

King Ferry Winery 2013 Apple Mystique

Best Cider

Kaneb Orchards 2014 St. Lawrence Cider

Best Spirit

Hidden Marsh Distillery Judd's Wreckin Ball Corn Whiskey

Best Ice Wine

Idol Ridge Winery 2014 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

Best Vinifera Sparkling White

Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery 2005 Brut Seduction, Methode Champenoise

Cuomo released a statement about the tour and competition: “New York is home to some of the world’s finest wines, beers, spirits and ciders, an industry that supports thousands of jobs in all corners of this state and is an important partner to our agricultural and tourism sectors. I’m proud of this state’s efforts to promote and support New York’s beverage industry, which has only grown stronger, creating new jobs and stimulating the economy. Also, I congratulate today’s Governor’s Cup winner, as the other awardees for their victories in this increasingly competitive contest.”

“The wine and craft beverages produced in New York State are some of the best in the world, and this industry has seen unparalleled growth over the past several years with Governor Cuomo’s support,” Duffy said. “Beverage producers are creating jobs, stimulating the economy and expanding tourism as New York’s wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries continue to become world-renowned destinations. I applaud all of today’s winners, who have created outstanding wines and craft beverages, all of which the Finger Lakes should be incredibly proud of.”

New York is home to more than 600 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries. The State ranks third in the nation in wine and grape production, second in apple production, has the second most distilleries and is home to three of the 20 top-producing breweries in the United States.

New York’s beer, wine, spirits and cider industry continues to have a tremendous impact on the State’s economy. Between manufacturing, agriculture, distribution and retail, in 2012 the industry had a combined economic impact of more than $27 billion and employs more than 85,000 people. (National Beer Wholesalers Association; New York Wine & Grape Foundation) According to a recent study commissioned by the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, the full economic impact of New York grapes, grape juice and wine in 2012 was $4.8 billion for New York State.