Many fates could befall a grape left on the vine past harvest in the Finger Lakes: It might grow a beard of gray mold, get cracked skin, or be devoured by a wild turkey.
So letting fruit hang on the vine through half the winter may seem either risky or downright foolish.
But winemakers who can stomach the hazards reap special rewards, especially if the right set of natural factors converge to yield ice wine, long considered liquid gold in the world of premium beverages.
Casa Larga's Fiori ice wine won the Governor's Cup at the 2005 New York Wine and Food Classic and "World's Best Dessert Wine" at the 2008 International Wine & Spirits Competition in London.
The tributes point to a business that has matured. Established in 1974 by the late Andrew Colaruotolo, the winery opened with just two acres of native American grapes. Acquaintances soon began asking Colaruotolo when he would plant European varietals, which prompted him to modernize and expand.
Colaruotolo was an Italian immigrant, and the winery still bears the stamp of his heritage: A bell tower, a miniature piazza and a gurgling fountain give the winery its European flair, while staff members say they treat each other like family.
Tasting-room visitors will find a pleasing selection of wines, ranging from Vinifera to hybrid varieties and blends.
Sheila Livadas, for FingerLakesWine.com
Hours: Open daily, year-round. Noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Wheelchair-accessible.