Virginia whites are worth investigating: quality can be outstanding, though they are rarely bargains. I don’t know if you can find the kind of bargains Casemates needs, but it would be worth some effort.
New York finger lakes: mostly whites (not only Riesling, but also Chardonnay, increasingly), but some interesting reds. Mostly Blaufrankish and Pinot Noir. Much underripe, mediocre to undrinkable wine, decent amount of decent, some really outstanding wines. Especially botrytis-induced late harvest wines which rival the Mosel (but not quite up to the heart of the Rheingau yet…). Same problem as Virginia, though: bargains may be hard to come by. Stay away from hybrids at all costs.
I have never been that impressed by Long Island wines, going back to the Hargraves, whom I knew in the ‘80s. Never had a good value from Long Island, though some decent wine. I think there’s more interesting wine made in both Virginia and the NY Finger Lakes regions.
@winecaseaholic other than on the question of that particular hybrid, with what do you disagree? I know there are many who like on or more of the hybrids; in many cases they formed an important role in the palate development of Northeastern wine drinkers. But to me, and almost everyone I know who grew up on vinifera, they have a distinctive and unpleasant flavor I cannot get beyond. Are thy less unpleasant than labrusca wines? Sure, but that is a low bar.
So I didn’t “grow up” on wine at all, but the first several years I drank wine I think it was 100% Vinifera from the Old World, plus some Australia and California. But I love a few hybrids; I’d be stoked to see some Chambourcin or dry Vidal Blanc. At least here in the Midwest some places will make some pretty good wines (or perhaps I just have no respectable palate). I’m sure they would not be big sellers in general, maybe especially out in the West.
My wife and I love wine tourism, including destinations not always thought of for wine. While we have visited wineries in Napa, Sonoma, WA and OR, we have also visited wineries in VA, NY, MI, MO, IN and dozens of wineries in our home state of OH.
Before discussing East Coast (and other) wines, I will just mention that I have heard ID is an up and coming wine region, especially Western ID, just East of highly regarded WA and OR wine regions. I would be very interested to try some of the wines being produced there.
Moving on, I agree with RPM that VA offers up some great whites (especially Viognier) but also some tasty reds and roses. I also agree that VA wines are unfortunately, not a very good value play. It would be difficult to get the kind of bargains that Casematers are used to but it would be worth the effort to try. VA reds that we have enjoyed include Meritage blends, Merlot, Norton and Petit Verdot. Their single variety PVs are not the tannic beasts that one might expect based on West Coast versions. Also, Trump winery makes some surprisingly good sparkling wines.
When it comes to the Finger Lakes, I think that (like OH) their best red is Cab Franc. I don’t remember seeing much Blaufrankish there and the only Pinot Noir that stood out for us was Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Old Vine PN. They do make some excellent Rieslings. Like others above, we enjoy some of the hybrids including Traminette (my wife’s favorite although I find most of them to be a little too sweet), Vignoles (my own favorite with the same caveat about sweetness), Cayuga, Vidal Blanc, Chardonel. I don’t care much for Chambourcin as a red wine but it makes some killer Rose.
Ohio and Michigan actually have very similar growing conditions to the Finger Lakes so the same types of grapes do well there. Cab Franc is easily the best red, while Riesling is the best white. A red hybrid that appeals to me that we found mostly in MI is Marquette. I am hoping to see more of that locally in the coming years. We have some very good Rieslings and sometimes Chardonnay in OH, when in the right hands. Speaking of which, in Clark Smith’s book Postmodern Winemaking he mentions the World Class Chardonnay produced on the Southern shores of Lake Erie by Arnie Esterer at Markko Vineyards in Conneaut, OH.
Backtracking a bit, RPM talks about being raised on vinifera wines. Dr. Konstantin Frank brought vinifera wines to the Finger Lakes and IMO the late Dr. Frank’s winery stands out as the best winery in the Finger Lakes.
Arnie Esterer and his partner were Dr. Frank disciples and brought vinifera to OH. Arnie is still kicking it at the spry old age of 86. We were just at his Christmas show a few months back where he walked around pouring his Excelsior wine - a sparkling Rose made by combining Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. A book was just written about Arnie, with a forward by Dr. Frank’s son Frederick. It’s called Magic in a Bottle: The Untold Story of Arnie Esterer and Markko Vineyard. It is currently the #1 new release in the Wine & Collecting category on Amazon.
When Clark Smith visited Ohio on his Postmodern Winemaking book tour, we were fortunate enough to tag along with him to Markko Vineyards and then onto the new torchbearer for vinifera wines on OH, M Cellars, where owner/winemaker Matt Meineke is making quite a name for himself, thanks in no small part to the tutelage of Arnie Esterer.
Great wines (and wine stories) can be found in surprising places when one looks around a bit. Here’s hoping that Casemates is able to find some gems from around the country for future offers!