Circle of Vines

The Story of New York Wine

By Richard Figiel

Subjects: New York/regional, Food
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438453804, 208 pages, October 2014

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. Prehistory
2. Beginnings in the Hudson Valley
3. Settling in the Finger Lakes
4. Western New York
5. Collision of Cultures
6. Restart
7. Revolutionaries
8. Transformation
9. Long Island
10. Diaspora
Appendix A: Timeline
Appendix B: Surviving Nineteenth-Century Winery Structures

Traces the history of the New York wine industry as it evolved across the state.


Winegrower and journalist Richard Figiel offers the first comprehensive history of New York wine, following its turbulent evolution across the state and emerging as a dynamic player in the world of fine wine. He begins by examining New York's distinctive viticultural roots and the geologic forces that shaped the state's terrain for winegrowing. Starting with early efforts to grow grapes for wine in the Hudson Valley, the story moves west to the Finger Lakes and Lake Erie, circles around the state from Long Island to the North Country, and, finally, to contemporary New York City. Through industry booms and busts, he explores the New York wine industry's continuing process of reinvention by resourceful immigrants, family dynasties, giant corporations, and back-to-the-land dreamers. Moving across centuries of winemaking, Figiel unfolds an extraordinary array of grape species, varieties, and wines.

In 1982, Richard Figiel established Silver Thread Vineyard on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region and was the proprietor until 2011. He has edited three wine magazines and written or contributed to several books on American wine. He lives in Trumansburg, New York.


"[Figiel's] prose is clear and efficient. He tells the story well … You will not find a better short history of New York wine. " — FingerLakesWine. info

"In his quiet prose, Figiel chronicles the battles between growers and the storms that descend upon them, the arctic chill racing down from the north, or the temperance movement that erupted out of Chautauqua and led to Prohibition. It's compelling reading, whether you're a wine drinker in New York or an American history buff. " — Wine & Spirits

"This is a clear and coherent theme—the evolution of an important modern wine industry in New York. It is the most complete history of this topic. " — Ian A. Merwin, viticulturalist at Cornell University, coauthor of A Grower's Guide to Organic Apples

"What works is when the book weaves between providing basic history and then anecdotes that illuminate that history. I had difficulty putting the book down because it was entertaining. This should make a very fine contribution to the literature of wine-making in New York. " — John C. Hartsock, author of Seasons of a Finger Lakes Winery