Californians Head to this New York Wine Region to ‘Stay Creative’ | Wine Enthusiast
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Californians Head to this New York Wine Region to ‘Stay Creative’

Paul Hobbs, who has spent the past four decades hopscotching hemispheres to consult with winegrowers, owns and makes wine at his own label in Sebastopol, California, and in 2011, he set his eyes on the Finger Lakes.

“I grew up in Niagara County,” Hobbs says of his New York State upbringing. “I carried it with me, even to where I settled in Sebastopol, where you get fog and a much cooler climate than the rest of region. I loved the idea of returning to my roots, but also making wine grown in an ultracold climate.”

In 2014, Hobbs planted on Seneca Lake after a long search for the ideal plot.

“I wanted to plant it like the Romans did in the Mosel,” Hobbs explains. “Up and down the slope. In the Finger Lakes, it’s usually planted across the slope, and you lose airflow that way.”

And that’s how Hillick & Hobbs was born, it’s inaugural bottling a 2019 bone-dry estate Riesling.

Nova Cadamatre, MW, head of winemaking at Napa’s Robert Mondavi, was also drawn to the Finger Lakes for the frisson of creative energy sparked by working in such a different climate.

In 2015, she and her husband, Brian Cadamatre, launched Trestle 31. They work with a network of growers she knows from her days at Cornell to make a Riesling and a Chardonnay modeled after grand cru Chablis.

“Working with such different climates helps me make better wine in both places, because I’m always on my toes,” she says. “It really helps me stay creative.”

Ashley Palm, like Hobbs and Cadamatre, wouldn’t dream of decamping from her Anderson Valley estate, Brashley Vineyards. And yet.

“I grew up in Upstate New York, and there’s something about those perfectly crisp Finger Lakes whites, especially the Rieslings,” she says. “This year, we decided to just go for it.”

Palm and her winemaker, Ashley Holland, high-tailed it to the Finger Lakes after harvest was completed in California, to oversee the harvest of a mix of old and new vine Rieslings at Wagner Vineyards.

“This year will be an experiment,” says Palm. “But I can’t wait to introduce a New York-made wine to our line.”

This article originally appeared in the December 31, 2021 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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