The Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling was one of the more popular, non-Californian wines on the list at Smith & Wollensky, Boston. While I was Beverage Manager there, I would often describe Riesling as the “Rodney Dangerfield” of grapes: it didn’t get the respect it deserved, at least not from the majority of consumers. I try to cover a wide variety of places in this blog, so writing about the Finger Lakes region of New York makes sense. Taking the Rodney Dangerfield metaphor one step further, it is fair to say that many consumers don’t take wines form outside of France or Napa seriously. That’s a shame. They are missing out.
Dr. Konstantin Frank arrived in the United States in 1951 and, “after a few years washing dishes in New York City, he had saved enough bus fare for Geneva, where he eventually set up work at the agricultural experiment station.” (The Good Life, Central New York Aug. 2008). Dr. Frank was a professor of plant sciences and he held a Ph.D. in viticulture. In 1962 he founded Vinifera Wine Cellars, and worked there until 1985 when he died at the age of 86. He passed on the wine making tradition to his son Willy, who in turn, passed on the tradition to his son Frederick. The winery is located in Hammondsport, by Keuka Lake. The steep sloping hills, and moderate temperature of the region ensures proper conditions for wine making. The lake is deep, which keeps it from freezing, and generally helps temper winter’s chill.
What does this mean for you? That if you are in the Finger Lakes area you should stop by Dr. Konstantin Frank winery and sample the vino for yourself. Robert Parker gave the 2005 Riesling Dry a glowing review, and the majority of people who have tried their wines at my suggestion have loved them. Parker’s tasting notes include sage, tangerine, apricot, floral, spice and soft tones. There are many wines made here, not enough space here to write about them.
I am grateful to Katie Cornelius who handles PR for Dr. Konstantin Frank. She sent a generous amount of information. In a month or so I will revisit this winery with more notes for you, the reader and consumer. Below are some pictures. One of them is of Dr. Frank with Andre Tchelistcheff, the “Maestro” who radically changed how vineyard maintenance and philosophy was put to use in Napa Valley. Andre Tchelistcheff worked at Beaulieu Vineyards in Napa and played a critical role in the evolution of wine making. As consumers, we reap the benefit of decades of sweat and experiment done in the past. Dr. Constantin Frank was one of the creators of the great, rich, varied culture of wine we enjoy today.
If you travel in the Finger Lakes Region of New York in the coming years, you owe it to yourself to explore what this historic, great winery has to offer.
Here is a link to their website:
Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars
9749 Middle Road
Hammondsport, NY 14840