Guests enjoy wine and the Seneca Lake view at Villa Bellangelo Winery in Dundee, Yates County.

GENEVA — Being named Best Wine Region in 2018 was a big deal for Finger Lakes wineries, considering it was up against some of the most renowned wine regions in the nation, many from California.

Getting the award for a second consecutive year is just as sweet, they say.

On Friday, the region learned it was once again named Best Wine Region in the 2019 USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Poll. Regions were selected by a panel of wine industry experts, and then it was up to readers to vote for their favorite wine region over a two-week period. They could vote once a day on different devices.

“As John Martini at Anthony Road Winery likes to say, the Finger Lakes is a 30-year overnight success story,” said Christopher Missick, owner/winemaker at Villa Bellangelo, which has sites in Yates County and Geneva. “The entire region has worked tirelessly both individually and collaboratively, to produce world-class wines and offer a compelling and authentic hospitality experience. Earning the title last year was exciting, but two years in a row proves something even more powerful. The Finger Lakes is resonating with local consumers and tourists alike as one of America’s great treasures.”

Carmela Barbagallo, executive director of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, said it’s about more than just great wine.

“This recognition speaks to the dedication of the owners, tasting room teams, winemakers and vineyard managers,” she said. “We share this award with of our hospitality partners who create memorable experiences for guests visiting the Finger Lakes region. We have witnessed our region evolve for decades and feel grateful that travelers from all over the world are enchanted when they visit.”

Barbagallo said the “collaboration between the wineries is a unique aspect of the Finger Lakes culture. From our pioneers who have farmed this land for decades to our up-and-coming winemakers, there is a contagious energy that excites guests. As we strive for continued quality and world class hospitality, we are so glad to know our customers are having memorable experiences.”

She said the region is “perfect for producing cool climate wines such as riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet franc,” but it’s also the beauty of the area that makes the Finger Lakes a destination for wine lovers — from the region’s gorges and waterfalls to spectacular fall foliage.

Kim Aliperti, who owns Geneva’s Billsboro Winery with her husband, Vinny, agreed with Barbagallo’s assessment, saying customers express their love for the Finger Lakes during visits to their winery.

“They love the natural beauty of our lakes and the state park lands that surround them,” she said. “They love the farm-to-table restaurants that serve the wonderful, delicious produce that is grown here. But most of all, they tell me they love the people in the Finger Lakes, how friendly they are and how well we all work together. Guests to the Finger Lakes feel welcome and appreciated and the industry supports one another. It is something that Vinny and I noticed right away when we moved here almost 20 years ago. I am so happy we did.”

Aliperti said the award is “further validation that the Finger Lakes are producing world-class wines. We are seeing more Finger Lakes wines scoring 90 points and above in the major wine magazines, Finger Lakes wines placing in international competitions and Finger Lakes wines being distributed not only around the country, but even overseas.”

State Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-58 Big Flats, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-132, Corning, issued a statement Friday thanking voters for participating.

“We are thrilled once again to have the chance to thank all of the voters who took the time, day after day, to let America know that the beauty and the quality of the Finger Lakes wine region is unmatched,” they said in a joint statement. “It’s a truly satisfying victory that keeps the Finger Lakes region on the national map and helps show our local pride in Finger Lakes wine country as a leading destination for visitors from around the globe, an absolute foundation of our leading tourism industry and a cornerstone of our local culture and economy.”

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