Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery in Hammondsport produces more than 40 different wines and helped put the Finger Lakes Region on the map as a wine-making region. Vice President Meaghan Frank shares her story and what makes the winery stand apart.
Being the great-granddaughter of Dr. Konstantin Frank, you are part of the Frank family wine-making dynasty. What does it mean to you to be carrying on that legacy?
It means a great deal to be a part of something bigger than myself. I take it very seriously and appreciate the opportunity to contribute to my family’s business. One of my favorite lines from Hamilton the musical” is “‘Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” The most special part of this work is knowing that you are honoring the past and laying the groundwork for the next generation to take the baton and run with it.
What kind of education and experience prepared you for the wine business?
I became interested in the wine industry when I was a student at Cornell University. I was in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and therefore was able to take a variety of viticulture, enology and wine appreciation classes. After I decided that the wine industry was my calling, my dad suggested that I get a graduate degree and move away for a bit to decide if this was really for me.
I attended the University of Adelaide in Australia for a master’s degree in wine business. After two years, I moved back and returned to Cornell for a graduate degree in enology (winemaking). I also began taking classes with the Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET) through the NY Kitchen and eventually earned the diploma level in 2015. I became a certified WSET educator and now teach classes at Cultivate FLX.
One of the most fun things about this industry is that your learning is never finished! I am always signing up for new courses and classes.
What kinds of wines is the winery known for?
We are known for a variety of styles! We are 100 percent vinifera (European) in terms of varieties. We produce more than 40 different wines and work with 17 different cultivars. We are especially known for our traditional method sparkling wines, Rieslings, aromatic whites and red wines.
Some special wines include ancient Georgian varieties: Rkatsiteli and Saperavi. These varieties have more than 5,000 years of history in the Republic of Georgia. Since Konstantin was Ukrainian and these varieties were widely planted throughout the Soviet Union, he was familiar with them and pioneered them to the United States more than 50 years ago.
Dr. Konstantin Frank was a part of the “Vinifera Revolution” movement. Could you describe what
Konstantin was enthusiastic about vinifera varieties, particularly Riesling. His first plantings in the Finger Lakes were in 1954 starting with Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. When he started his own winery in 1958, he grew to plant 66 different vinifera varieties. The key to his success was utilizing a grafting technique to avoid the pest phylloxera. Not only was Konstantin experimenting with lots of varieties, but he was also investigating different clones and rootstocks. This really laid the groundwork for the quality revolution in Finger Lakes winemaking. Konstantin was very giving with his knowledge and invited area winemakers and viticulturalists from all over America to come and learn the grafting technique that he was using to plant the European varieties. He also had a nursery on-site and sold vines and rootstocks.
How does Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery stand out from other wineries in the Finger Lakes Region?
I hope we stand out in our quality of wines and service. We are also one of the oldest family-owned wineries and the pioneering winery for vinifera varieties in the eastern United States.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love the people that I work with and the people that I get to meet in the industry. The wine industry attracts many colorful characters and there is never a boring day!
My other favorite thing is getting to see the whole cycle of a harvest and then sell that bottle of wine. To feel so proud of something you are sharing with another person is a joy.
What do you enjoy most about the Finger Lakes Region?
I love our food and wine culture here. There is a strong farm-to-table food movement utilizing all local ingredients; it really highlights our sense of place here in the region.
Do you have any favorite local activities you enjoy?
I absolutely love to be in the water when I can! Nothing beats swimming or boating on Keuka Lake.