Located between Rochester and Syracuse, New York, the Finger Lakes AVA is the most popular wine area east of the Mississippi River. There are 11 lakes that are long and narrow, shaped like fingers, between which many vineyards can be found on the lakesides' steep slopes. The winters are cold, receiving a multitude of snow, and the growing season is short, which is a major reason the region is known for its dessert and ice wines.
Many of the region's founders imported grapes from Europe, but it wasn't until the 1960s that Dr. Konstantin Frank, a Ukrainian immigrant, discovered that early ripening grapes such as Riesling and Chardonnay could thrive in this environment. Native American varieties seem to grow the best here, while cold-tolerant vinifera have recently been planted in abundance. Winemakers have also recently had success with hybrids such as Seyval Blanc and Vignoles.