Updated guide to Finger Lakes wineries released

Alex Bauer

Once wasn’t enough. Here was Emerson Klees, an Eastman Kodak Co. retiree since 1991, with time on his hands. His two great loves: wine and driving around the Finger Lakes. His new vocation: compiling information for regional tour books.

First, in 2000, came the original “Wineries of the Finger Lakes Region: The Heart of New York State,” providing an overview of 65 or so wineries with some winemaking history and background on grape varieties thrown in, plus a glossary describing all the grape and wine terms one could imagine. 

Klees re-released the book in 2003, adding six wineries he had explored in the interim. Then, a couple of weeks ago, the third edition was released, with 30 additional wineries. The guide is illustrated with black-and-white photographs.

The work was fun to research and re-research, Klees said. But he focused on nuts-and-bolts facts, not on atmospherics or natural descriptions.  Don’t expect the 223-page softcover book to flow with enticing passages, like “Under the Tuscan Sun.” Instead, it’s a just-the-facts reference guide aimed at being useful rather than entertaining.

Klees is nothing if not methodical. Take, for example, his pile of reference books.

“In the early ’60s, I started gathering reference material about the region with no real thought of writing a book,” he said. In 1993, he released “Persons, Places, and Things in the Finger Lakes Region.” Since then, he has written several books about different aspects of the area, ranging from the women’s rights movement to the Iroquois.

Next up: fiction. Klees plans on writing a story about three generations of a winemaking family from Hammondsport.

“Wineries of the Finger Lakes Region: The Heart of New York State” is available online and at many local bookstores and gift shops.

Contact Alex Bauer at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 255, or at