Willy Frank dies at 80

Willy Frank, the outspoken New York winemaker who built on his immigrant father's belief that the Finger Lakes could become a major wine producer, is dead at the age of 80.

Frank died in his sleep during a business trip to Naples, FL., according to his son, Frederick.

Dr. Konstantin Frank, who fled Ukraine during World War II to come to the U.S., was one of the prime movers in planting delicate vinifera grapes. Willy took over in 1984 and moved the project well beyond those humble beginnings to create a successful, highly regarded company,Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, based on the shores of Keuka Lake.

More than half of New York's 212 wineries grow viniferas, which are rapidly replacing native labrusca and French-American hybrids that long gave the Finger Lakes a reputation for inexpensive, simple wines. Rieslings and gewurtztraminers have emerged as the most successful of the high-end grapes.

In addition to son Frederick, Frank is survived by his wife of 49 years, Margrit, his daughter, Barbara Guior of Summit, N.J., five grandchildren and two sisters.

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