It was a pretty big deal when the Finger Lakes was named the Best Wine Region in an online competition sponsored by USA Today in 2018.
Well, it looks like the region has a chance to make it two in a row — and you can help.
Online voting continues through Monday, Aug. 12.
As of Friday, the Finger Lakes is in the lead over wine regions from a number of states, including several in California, the nation’s largest producer.
The No. 2 spot, as of Friday, was held by Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan.
The region’s wineries and industry promoters say they’re not being greedy. However, they think the region deserves to retain its title.
“We are so thrilled to be in the running for a second year in a row,” said Carmela Barbagallo, executive director of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance. “It’s true that the Finger Lakes region offers exceptional hospitality, gorgeous vistas and top quality wines. Our visitors provide wonderful feedback and are often planning their next trip before they depart. The Finger Lakes region is truly a magical place.”
Erica Paolicelli, co-owner of Three Brothers Wineries & Estates and War Horse Brewing Co., agreed.
“The Finger Lakes is very much deserving of this honor,” she said. “We’re making world-class wines and have developed a destination for tourists from near and far. Designating the region as the best wine region means that more people who may not have heard of the FLX experience will learn about it and make plans to visit.”
Scott Osborn, owner of Fox Run Vineyards, said the title is about more than wine — it’s about the whole experience.
“It is exciting to be part of a region that is being recognized for what it is,” he said. “It is a wine region that is accessible to the everyday wine drinker because people can actually afford to visit. It is a testament to our region’s high quality of wine and also to the level of hospitality of the wineries, restaurants, hotels and B&Bs. We truly do a great job of welcoming people to our region.”
Valerie Knoblauch, president of the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, Ontario County’s official tourism agency, said she’s not surprised to see the region in the running for a second straight year.
She said the recognition enhances the region’s national reputation as a go-to spot for visitors.
“The consumer has changed in that he or she is much more empowered and knowledgeable, better traveled and has more experience,” Knoblauch said. “And so that causes their expectations and their experiences to change. Being up for this award means that visitors will better recognize our region as a place to have an unforgettable wine experience. That leads to economic vitality for Ontario County and the Finger Lakes.”
She noted that a win by Geneva’s FLX Table as Best New Restaurant in a 2017 USA Today poll boosted their business. Her office helped get the restaurant nominated.
“The wine industry bolsters tourism throughout the state, but especially in the Finger Lakes Region, so when we’re recognized in a competition like this, it shows how much visitors and locals alike value the area and understand that ours is a top-tier wine region,” she said.
Kristine Fiorilla, Wine & Gift Shop manager at Belhurst, said the recognition is a “testament to the region as a whole and it’s truly an exciting time. The region has grown tremendously — there’s more wineries, breweries, hotels, restaurants and businesses than ever before that have made the Finger Lakes region so attractive for visitors all over the world. This is just the beginning, and we’re excited to be part of this ever-growing region.”