CANANDAIGUA — Finger Lakes Rieslings are considered some of the best wines to come out of the Finger Lakes, and their stature has been celebrated at the annual Riesling Festival in Canandaigua.
But this year, the celebration scope broadens from a Finger Lakes focus to a celebration of the rising stature of New York state wines as a whole.
The former Finger Lakes Riesling & Craft Beer Festival has been renamed the New York State Wine Festival, highlighting all wines — and not just those of the Finger Lakes.
New York’s wine producers are invited to attend the two-day event on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 12 and 13, at the New York Wine and Culinary Center, 800 S. Main St.
“This event has gotten better each year since we started it in 2008, and that’s going to continue now as the New York State Wine Festival,” said Lauren Dixon, CEO of Dixon Schwabl, which produces the event. “Wine is so tightly woven into the fabric of the state and the people who live here, so this event will do more to recognize that incredible depth of passion.”
With the Finger Lakes region driving much of the growth, wine production represents a $4.8 billion industry in New York. The number of wineries and wine producers in the state has grown from 19 some four decades ago to more than 400 today.
The New York State Wine Festival seeks to reflect that growth, said Dixon.
“Sometimes people forget just how impressive wine production in New York truly is,” Dixon said. “This event gives them a chance to see it all in one place in a beautiful setting with great food to pair with it. It doesn’t matter what your favorite style of wine is, because you’ll find it here. And don’t be surprised if you have a new favorite by the time you leave.”
Dixon Schwabl spokesman Paul Gangarossa said craft beer will no longer be a part of the festival.
“We’ve removed the craft beer element in order to focus more specifically on the wine industry,” he said. “Honestly, both industries are getting so big that we felt it was necessary to give the spotlight to one at a time.”
He said the Wine and Culinary Center held a craft beer fest this past fall and that “they’re hoping to grow that.”
Gangarossa noted that the Canandaigua City Pier, which is adjacent to the Wine & Culinary Center, is no longer part of the festival location.
“The thought there is to create a more intimate experience centered around wine and encouraging more attention on the Culinary Center with things like cooking demos, and a few select vendors that are natural fits for wine,” he said.
Culinary Center chefs will perform interactive cooking demonstrations as part of this year’s event.
While the festival scope and name have changed, the fundraising commitment has not. Event proceeds will go to the Canandaigua Family YMCA and the New York Wine and Culinary Center. The event has raised nearly $250,000 for the organizations over the festival’s eight years.