Dr. Konstantin Frank immigrated to America at the age of fifty-two years old with empty pockets and no knowledge of English, with the hope of creating a brighter future for his family. He proved to the world that high-quality wines could be made in New York. His techniques and innovations began a revolution in the Finger Lakes that would forever influence the region.
The opening lines to the newly released mini-documentary “Celebrating 60 Years of Excellence” sets the stage to tell the intriguing story of Dr. Konstantin Frank’s successes, challenges, and determination of a family humbly beginning a new life in America.
“When Konstantin came to America, he had to completely start over. This was a very big distant jump from his previous life in Ukraine, where he was a well-respected professor with a lot of credibility, to overnight having literally nothing,” explains Meaghan Frank, 4th Generation and Winery Vice President.
“Konstantin arrived in Geneva so enthused. He brought his Ph.D. to the researchers at the Geneva Experiment Station and told them he could grow vinifera in the Finger Lakes. And the researchers just kind of dismissed him and didn’t believe his theories,” continues Frederick Frank, 3rd Generation and Winery President.
In 1957, Dr. Konstantin Frank became a proud and patriotic U.S. citizen and purchased 116 acres on the Western Shore of Keuka Lake for the sum of $6,000. With the success of his first plantings in 1958 and the 60 different experimental varieties he planted in the early sixties, this would lay the groundwork for the next century of grape growing in the Finger Lakes.
“When Dr. Konstantin Frank began the winery in 1962, there were 12 wineries in New York. Today there are over 400,” states Frederick Frank.
The video explores the beginnings of traditional method sparkling wines made from classic Champagne grapes from second generation Willy Frank.
“Here was all this potential. We had the perfect grapes, the perfect climate, the perfect soil to produce world-class sparkling wines and it’s something that hadn’t been done with vinifera grapes,” adds Barbara Frank, 3rd Generation and daughter of Willy Frank.
The story continues through the generations highlighting notable achievements over the following 40 years including the purchase and planting of a new Seneca Lake vineyard by Frederick Frank and the joining of his daughter Meaghan Frank into the family business.
“The goal of this project was to encapsulate the entire story throughout the four generations of the Frank family into one mini-documentary, and I believe we were successful in that,” adds Brandon Thomas, Brand Manager for the winery who wrote the production. “We worked with Matthew Ziegler from 11C Films who filmed, edited and produced the mini-documentary.”
In correlation with the release of Celebrating 60 Years of Excellence, the winery released five special wines – Ethos 2021, Ramato Pinot Gris 2021, Cellar Reserve Riesling 2016, Cellar Reserve Riesling 2017, and Cellar Reserve Pinot Noir 2016.
In the early days of the winery, Dr. Konstantin Frank combined Rkatsiteli and Riesling grapes together, highlighting the best characteristics of each. 40 years later, we brought back the original blue-hued wine label designed by Konstantin and blended these two grapes together again.
“Ethos is blending Konstantin’s old and new world philosophies into one wine,” explains Meaghan Frank. “He knew Riesling would become iconic in the Finger Lakes and knew Rkatsiteli would thrive in our cool climate. He was known to interplant these two varieties to enhance the floral and citric tones of both varieties.”
The Ramato Pinot Gris is a collaboration between local artist Allen C. Smith who created the artwork for the label and winemaker Katherine Hynes who conceptualized the idea of the wine. “Ramato” is a term that originates in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region of Italy where the wines that exhibited color were derived from contact with the Pinot Grigio’s pigmented skins. This innovative style has become trendy in Australia and New York.
All five of these new releases are available now and can only be tasted and purchased at the winery.
To cap off the 60th anniversary celebrations, this year was full of great accolades for the winery. In the USA Today 10 Best Awards, they ranked #1 Best Winery Tour and #3 Best Wine Tasting Room in America. Their 2017 Blanc de Blanc won Best Sparkling Wine in New York in the 2022 New York Wine Classic. And the winery raised over $41,000 early this Spring to support World Central Kitchen with their efforts in Ukraine.
“This video is the first of its kind, laying out the complete history of our winery. You can sense the sacrifice, heartbreak, grit, and perseverance that our family faced in starting the first vinifera winery in the Eastern United States,” adds Meaghan Frank. “This inspires me to remember what Konstantin had always said, ‘You Americans deserve only excellent.’ This is a sentiment we will continue to push forth in our winemaking, vineyard management, and customer experiences for generations to come.”
Comments are closed for this article!