Think of New York and you may think of Times Square and the Statue of Liberty – Donald Trump, even.
One thing you probably will not associate with the Big Apple is wine.
But the “city that never sleeps” has embarked on a “charm offensive” to promote the merits of one of its less well known products – wine.
The state of New York is, in fact, the third most productive wine producer in the United States.
Of course, the first is California whose often delicious wines are now commonplace on the shelves of supermarkets all over Europe (and the world).
The second biggest wine producer is Washington state. But New York comes in third, albeit accounting for only about three per cent of the country’s wine production.
In fact, the city’s wine tradition goes back further than you might think as Dutch settlers were the first to plant vines some 400 years ago.
Today, this sprawling state actually boasts no less than 471 vineyards, although nine out of ten of these were created less than ten years ago. These vineyards produce a good variety of wines and some are selling in certain parts of the world, notably South America and Japan and also in some Scandinavian countries and the UK.
But your chances of finding a New York wine in your local supermarket in most European countries, including Belgium, is very remote.
That is why wine producers from New York state have launched a campaign to promote what is still very much a niche product.
They are keen to showcase their wines, both red and white, to a market that is far more used to plonk from other countries.
“It is a kind of modern-day prospecting, with producers looking for new markets,” says Paris-based Michele Piron, of “Think Drink Global Paris” who is involved in the promotion.
The fact that New York wine growers are trying to get a foot in the door of the European wine market demonstrates, she believes, a “new-found self confidence” in their product.
“These wines are often ideal for pairing with the new style of cuisine that is fast growing in popularity here in Europe.”
It is a little known fact that New York is the most geographically diverse wine-making state in the United States.
You can enjoy varietals grown in the maritime air of Long Island, the rich soil of the Finger Lakes – about 300km from New York city – and countless regions in between.
“In New York wines you will find subtlety, depth and nuance,” says Michele, adding, “so it’s no surprise that this region is finding its rightful place on the global stage alongside other great wine growing regions of the world.”
It is estimated that some $6.65 bn is generated by the wine and grape industries of New York and its 11 American viticultural areas.
There are, in fact, seven wine regions in the state and the 471 wineries include Brotherhood Winery, the oldest continuously operating winery in America, dating from 1839.
The winery began as a small, family-run operation producing wines mostly for medicinal purposes. It survived the Civil War, two world wards and post-Prohibition laws that changed the alcohol industry following the repeal.
This is one of the largest wine producers in the state of New York while another producer is Four Maples, established far more recently, in 2010.
Surrounded by the Adirondacks mountains, it benefits from a micro-climate that is favourable to growing grapes.
As a northern region vineyard it grows mostly Nordic grapes that can withstand the often bitter winter temperature.
Compared to European wine regions, New York wine country is huge, spanning some 800km from eastern Long Island to the state’s western border with Pennsylvania.
There is an approximate 50-50 split when it comes to reds and whites though some of the state’s regions such as Finger Lakes, produce more white while it is more reds in other regions like Long Island.
So, what is the best?
Well, that really does depend on personal taste but, when it comes to New York wines, there’s a lot to like.
The New York wine industry makes more varieties of wines that almost any other wine region in the world. Many New York wines of all types have achieved world-class status, winning gold and medals in international competitions.
You will not find any New York wines in Belgium right now but don’t be surprised if the Big Apple soon starts to take a bite out of the European wine market.
Further info: www.newyorkwines.org