- Few rituals say ‘summer’ as well as popping open a chilled bottle of one of the season’s best beverages: white wine.
- White wine can vary widely in flavour, sweetness, and acidity. Common notes range from warm oak, ginger, and spice, to light citrus, creamy pear, and juicy peach and melon.
- Try pairing a dry Riesling with a summer salad, or opt for a bubbly Prosecco-style white if you’re hosting a seafood-based dinner.
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Whether you’re spending summer in a humid or dry area of the world, it’s the perfect season to pour a glass of crisp white wine to sip outside by a bonfire or enjoy with the fresh fish dinner hot off the grill.
As a food and wine journalist for 7 years, writing for publications like Wine Enthusiast, Eater, and Kitchn, I’ve curated a list of favourites over the years of white wines that offer a little something different for anyone’s taste preferences.
1. Kaiser Vineyard Chardonnay from Fox Run Vineyards
Living by the motto, “Drink wine, be happy,” Fox Run provides a welcoming environment that makes it easy to explore a variety of delicious wines, including their chardonnay.
“Our Kaiser Vineyard Chardonnay is our flagship wine here at Fox Run,” said Samantha Dreverman, part of the marketing and events team. “We start all of our tastings with it because it’s 100% estate grown – the vines are just outside our tasting room. It’s medium bodied, lightly oaked, and appeals to a wide variety of wine drinkers for its creamy texture and light fruit flavours that are enjoyable without being overwhelming.”
The Kaiser Vineyard Chardonnay is distributed in Florida, Massachussets, Northern Virginia, Vermont, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and throughout New York state; they ship throughout the country through their website.
2. Stratus White from Stratus Vineyards
Being from Western New York, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Stratus just over the border in beautiful Niagara on the Lake. That destination itself has a wide variety of wineries – but nothing impressed me quite like stratus. The most unique feature about the vineyard is that it is a gravity flow winery, leading to a more natural, higher quality product.
With the essence of peach and pineapple, the Stratus white is a wonderful selection.
“A truly unique white comprised of an eclectic collection of varietals – [there’s] nothing quite like it from around the globe,” said Suzanne Janke, estate director.
You can purchase their wines through Insidethecellar.com and in Canada through the website.
3. Semi Dry Riesling from Belhurst Castle and Winery
“Our rieslings typically win multiple awards year over year,” said Kristine Fiorilla, wine shop manager and employee of the Belhurst for 15 years. “Our semi dry riesling is slightly acidic with essence of pear, white peach, and spice. It’s a great wine to have while grilling any kind of fish or foods that have a little bit of sweetness to them. The acidity in this wine with the sweetness helps really balance out the flavour. It also goes great with some very nice summer salads!”
You can buy bottles at the winery, or, if you can’t make your way to New York anytime soon, look for Wagner Vineyards Semi Dry Riesling in stores or on wine.com.
4. Florencia Muscat from Palmaz Vineyards
Dubbed the “winery of the future” by Grapevine Magazine, Palmaz takes winemaking to another level with their winery located inside a cave spanning across 18 stories. Their layout is truly a unique one to see – but their wines are even more impressive.
“We are especially proud of our Florencia Muscat, because it was just awarded best of the best by the Robb Report,” said Jessica Louise Palmaz, president of Palmaz Vineyards. “At the winery when we host tastings we pair it with our rosemary shortbread and Meyer lemon cookie to bring out the lovely flavours of sweet pomelo and mango, balanced with the acidity of fresh shaved ginger and chamomile.”
The vineyard distributes to a selection of stores and restaurants, but ships nationally through their website.
5. Du Monde from Chateau Niagara
Chateau Niagara does an outstanding job with everything from their dry ciders to their loganberry wine, and their Du Monde is one of their many impressive bottles.
“Du Monde is a French term meaning ‘of the world,’ as items and techniques from around the world are used in making the wine. It is a skin fermented white wine, based on the methods used in the country of Georgia, where winemaking began,” said Jim Baker, owner of Chateau Niagara. “It’s a 50/50 blend of Riesling and Chardonnay, fermented and aged in stainless steel and is very gently oaked. The result is a spicy, complex white with enhanced mouthfeel and a perfect pairing with Mexican food.”
They ship nationally through vinoshipper.com.
6. Wellesley Island White from Thousand Island Winery
“Thousand Islands Winery white wines are approachable, smooth, and very drinkable. They are high quality wines that have quickly become popular within New York and have recently begun expanding into other states in just the past three years,” said Stephen Conaway, president of Thousand Islands Winery.
“James Radcliffe, the winery’s Winemaker, is from Australia and holds a BA in Viticulture and Enology from the University of Adelaide. The Wellesley Island White is a blend of Catawba, Cayuga White, and Diamond grapes. It is clean and refreshing and has received Double Gold, Best in Class from the New York Food and Wine Classic, in addition to many other gold, silver, and bronze medals over the years.”
The winery is working towards expanding distribution. They are presently distributed by Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) in South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Florida, and Washington, DC.
They also expect RNDC distribution in Maryland and Georgia soon. International Wine and Spirits distributes their wines in Louisiana and the winery self distributes within New York. Additionally, Thousand Islands Winery directly ships to its online customers throughout more than a dozen other states.
If they don’t ship to your state, look for Magnificent Chardonnay from Blue Ridge Estate & Winery in stores or on their website with similar notes of melon, pineapple, lemon, and other fruits.
7. Bubbly Candeo from Lakewood Vineyards
Lakewood has a variety of tasty whites, reds, and sparkling wines including their award winning Candeo that won a silver medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
“The Candeo is a Prosecco style wine made from 100% Cayuga white grapes. It’s wonderfully bubbly with a crisp apple tone to it,” said Teresa Knapp, partner. She added: “The quote on the packaging is ‘when champagne is too much and beer is not enough, like today.’ It pairs well with shellfish, and just about everything!”
8. Cayuga Sparkling from J.R. Dill Winery
J.R. Dill won my heart over with one sip of their sparkling wine and the line “we always say bubbles make everything better.” I couldn’t agree more!
“The Cayuga Sparkling is our number one seller at the winery,” said Jeffrey Dill, owner. “It’s a fun and lively wine to have with anything and many buyers love using it to make the perfect mimosas for brunch. It’s a really nice dry, fruity sparkling wine, very citrus forward with a little bit of melon, but mostly a nice lemon and lime flavour to it with a nice acidity. It’s really sharp and lively on the tongue and really comes alive on the pallet.”
9. San Simeon Chardonnay from San Antonio Winery
Winner of 2018’s American Winery of the Year award by Wine Enthusiast, the San Antonio Winery also happens to be LA’s oldest winery.
“Born on the coast of California, our San Simeon Chardonnay is grown in our certified sustainable estate vineyards in Monterey County, and crafted in our solar-powered certified sustainable winery,” said Anthony Riboli, fourth generation winemaker. “Featuring a perfect balance of cool climate grapes and oak barrels, the San Simeon Chardonnay is a rich, mouth-filling wine with ripe, tropical fruit flavours with complements of citrus and pear. Incredibly food-friendly, this wine pairs well with everything from seafood and creamy pastas, to poultry and pork.”
10. Eroica Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle
“To me, white wine is more fun! It sounds silly, and don’t get me wrong, I love red wine, but white wine is refreshing and unabashedly pleasant,” said David Rosenthal, the head white winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle. “I think the pleasantness of wine gets lost sometimes and it is so important. Honestly, I do love Riesling more than any grape variety because, not only is it inviting, but it is the most transparent of all grapes.
Riesling is the loud person at the party telling you their whole life story (where it was grown, how cool or hot it was that year, etc.) whether you asked or not. Eroica is my favourite wine to make because it is the most focused, intriguing storyteller in the cellar. One sip and all you want to do is continue listening.”
Jessica Kelly is a freelance food and travel writer and photographer from Buffalo, New York. Her work has been published in Thrillist, The Huffington Post, Dame Traveller, AAA World Magazine, and more. Follow her on Instagram @Adventures.Are.Waiting.