2006 Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli - IntoWineTV Episode 53

Is California the only American region producing great wine? In this episode of IntoWineTV, host Lisa Kolenda and wine experts Bartholomew Broadbent and Pamela Busch convene at San Francisco's CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen for the tasting and discussion of 25 different American wines NOT from California. On what was one of the hottest San Francisco days in recent memory (for those of you unfamiliar with the city, few places have air conditioning in San Francisco), Lisa, Bartholomew, and Pamela weathered the elements and tasted a variety of wines -sparklers, whites, reds, unique varietals, and sweet dessert wines- from Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Oregon.

Theme: Underdog Wines. In this tasting IntoWine is featuring wines from American producers found outside the state of California.

Wine: 2006 Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli ($19.99)
Buy Dr. Konstantin Frank Wines Now

Region: Finger Lakes Region, New York

Alcohol %: 12%

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About Dr. Frank: Dr. Konstantin Frank ignited the “Vinifera Revolution” a movement that forever changed the course of winegrowing in the Finger Lakes and the United States.  Dr. Frank’s vision, knowledge and determination are credited with elevating the New York wine industry from a state of happy mediocrity to a level that today commands world attention.

A European immigrant, Dr. Frank and his family arrived in the United States in 1951.  After a brief stay in New York City, Dr. Frank – a professor of plant sciences who held a Ph.D. in viticulture moved upstate to take a position at Cornell University’s Geneva Experiment Station.  At Geneva Frank attempted to share with his colleagues his vision of growing Vitis Vinifera (European) grapes in the Finger Lakes.  His efforts were met by skepticism fueled by a 300-year history of failure growing European varieties in the East, and hampered by a language barrier (Dr. Frank spoke six languages fluently, yet, not English).

Dr. Frank believed from his years in the Ukraine that the lack of proper rootstock, not the cold climate, was the reason for the failure of Vitis Vinifera vines in the Finger Lakes region.  He continued to promote his beliefs and to seek a sympathetic ear, which he found in Charles Fournier, a French champagne maker and president of nearby Gold Seal Vineyards.  The two innovators shared not only a common vision for Finger Lakes wine, but also a common language, French.

Communicating in French, Dr. Frank revealed his research for growing the delicate European vinifera grape varieties in cold climates.  For the first time the Northeastern United States could produce European varieties of wines.  The revolution was underway!

In 1962, merely a decade after arriving in America, Dr. Frank founded Vinifera Wine Cellars.  The winery quickly earned a reputation for spectacular Rieslings and its original planting of vines – Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon and other European varieties – formed the backbone of New York’s world-class wines and champagnes.

Dr. Frank died in 1985 at the age of 86.  His son, Willy continued the tradition until he passed away in March 2006.  The legacy continues as Willy’s son Frederick manages the winery and continues the tradition of turning Dr. Frank wines into Gold Medal winners, not only in New York, but nationally and internationally.

Their secret?  Enthusiasm, focus on quality and continuation of Dr. Frank’s vision.  For his achievement in revolutionizing the New York wine industry.  Dr. Konstantin Frank was inducted into the Wine Spectator’s “Hall of Fame.”


Bartholomew Broadbent, CEO of Broadbent Selections. Bartholomew was named as one of the "fifty most influential people in the wine world" by Decanter Magazine. He is also widely considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on Port and Madeira. Learn more about Bartholomew Broadbent.

Pamela Busch, Co-Owner and Wine Director at CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco. Learn more about Pamela Busch.