On the Spot

Radio host and staunch locavore Michael Warren Thomas aims to put more Finger Lakes wines in Rochester restaurants. He’s calling the buy local movement “NY Wine Spotting,” and urges the local wine- and food-loving community to encourage restaurants to add more Finger Lakes wines to their wine lists.

“I’ve been searching and asking for Finger Lakes wines in Rochester’s restaurants for years,” explains Thomas, host of WYSL 1040’s “Savor Life” radio program. “I finally decided that instead of being frustrated, I could take a stand and ask others to stand with me. That’s how NY Wine Spotting was born.”

A quick scan of restaurant menus in Rochester shows the scarcity of local wines, despite being in the Finger Lakes wine region. Even restaurants that boast organic produce and locally sourced foods draw on large and well-known California and European wineries for their wine list, overlooking the award-winning wines right in their backyard.

“Our wines are cool climate wines,” explains Thomas. “And as such, pair beautifully with food because of their higher acidity. When you pair one of these wines with the right meal, the pairing completely enhances the flavors of the food and the wines alike.”

Rise to the challenge

NY Wine Spotting is both a challenge and a rallying point. It’s a challenge to Rochester restaurants to make local wines one-third of their wine list through education and tastings. It’s also a test to the local wineries – to reach out to neighboring restaurants to introduce their wines, teaching them about the flavors and pairing potential. And it’s a rallying cry to local wine lovers to ask for local wines at restaurants, to stand with Thomas and support the challenge.

It’s already caught the attention of members within the restaurant community. Eric Mueller, general manager of Warfield’s restaurant and certified sommelier, announced last week that Thomas’ challenge motivated him to add more New York wines to the restaurant’s list.

“When I heard Michael’s challenge, I immediately knew it was something we could do at Warfield’s,” remarks Mueller. “We have great wineries in the Finger Lakes, and not only do I want to support them, but I want to educate our staff and show our diners how good their wines are and how lucky we are to have them.”

For more information, visit NYWineSpotting.com.

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TOP 10

1. Warfield’s High Point
2. Simply Crepes in Pittsford
3. Joey B’s in Fairport
4. Sticky Lips in Rochester
5. Sticky Lips in Henrietta
6. Rohrbach’s in Gates
7. Bad Apples Bistro in Spencerport
8. India House in Rochester
9. Chakara Bistro in Fairport
10. Crab Shack in Henrietta (not Joe’s Crab Shack)


by Nicole Mahoney