Leonard Oakes wins state award for ice wine

Staff Reports Posted 9 August 2017 at 4:01 pm

File photos by Tom Rivers: Frozen Vidal grapes are pictured on Jan. 7, 2015 at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery. The winery harvests grapes in a deep freeze, and uses those grapes to produce award-winning ice wine.

MEDINA – Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the award-winning wines today in the 32nd New York Wine & Food Classic. An Orleans County winery won the award for the top ice wine.

The competition is a nationally recognized event highlighting the best of New York’s wine, spirits and ciders. This year, the coveted Governor’s Cup trophy, the most esteemed award given at the Classic, was presented to Buttonwood Grove Winery from the Finger Lakes Region for their 2016 Riesling wine.

The Leonard Oakes Estate Winery won for best ice wine. The winery grows its grapes in Lyndonville and has its wine-tasting room and retail business on Ridge Road in Medina.

Leonard Oakes has won numerous awards in the past for its ice wine. The grapes have to be harvested during a deep freeze, typically with temperatures in the single digits.

Ice wine is a popular dessert wine. The frozen fruit will be pressed several times and a drop from those grapes has a high concentration of acid, giving it double the sweetness of regular wine.

Not too many regions work for producing ice wine. It can’t get too cold where the vines won’t survive, and it needs to get to at least 18 degrees for four hours at a harvest.

Chris Oakes, the orchard manager, drives a tractor with a load of frozen Vidal grapes on Jan. 7, 2015.

“Across the state, New York’s wineries, distilleries and cideries are driving tourism, creating jobs and strengthening our economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “The annual New York Wine & Food Classic celebrates and recognizes the best of the best of this booming industry. I congratulate the winners and encourage New Yorkers to try these world-class products for themselves.”

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 420 New York wineries across the state. This year’s competition included 958 individual entries: 915 New York wines, 27 hard ciders and 16 craft spirits from Long Island, Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes, and Western New York and other regions.

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