The Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York (FLX) is only a 5 hour drive from my home in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Having a World-Class wine-producing region so close provides my wife and me the luxury of making a trip to the area when the mood strikes us. During our trip last week we visited old favorites Herman J. Herman Winery and Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery while adding a new favorite Standing Stone Winery. All three of these wineries produce excellent Riesling along with other notable wines. Cool-climate white wines have always been this region’s claim to fame but on this visit I was curious to see first-hand how the development of the Saperavi grape was progressing. In the following series of posts I will give you my personal take on the wine, grapevines, trends and scenic views I encountered around these glacial lakes. Come along with me and see what’s new in the FLX.
Hobbs & Selbach Partner in FLX
World-famous vintners Paul Hobbs of California and Johannes Selbach of the Mosel valley in Germany have recently announced their partnership in the acquisition of a 65-acre property in the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York. The new vineyards will be on the southeastern slopes of Seneca Lake overlooking Watkins Glen and will be producing Riesling, the signature grape and wine of the region. The first vines are not expected to be planted until next year, which means that we will have to wait patiently to compare these winemakers style and quality to that of the established FLX producers. I envision this venture providing only positive benefits for the region by drawing curious visitors to the lakes. Once in the area the tourists will soon discover the abundance of world-class wineries that populate the shores of the Finger Lakes. Just like the music fan that goes to a festival to see a star headliner only to find that they like the lesser-known artists even more, I believe this will shine a bright spotlight on these talented winemakers and showcase their exceptional wines.
Martha Macinski: Winemaker, Standing Stone Winery
I would like to congratulate the entire Standing Stone Winery family for being chosen to have their 2012 Riesling served at the 2014 Super Bowl Media Party. Standing Stone Winery was also mentioned by James Molesworth in Wine Spectator Magazine this month as a Finger Lakes winery that should be sought out for their excellent Riesling. Martha (Marti) Macinski has again provided me with a candid glimpse inside the winery from her unique perspective as both owner and winemaker.
The winery is relatively calm this time of year but some structural work is being done in the vineyards on the posts and wires so there will be no delay when the time comes to prune and tie the vines. Jess, the assistant winemaker, is planning the upcoming bottling runs along with monitoring the fermentation of the dessert wines. The pressing of the frozen grapes is close to completion with only a small amount left unfinished. Marti is excited about the 2013 vintage calling it “Truly spectacular with lovely ripe and rich flavors, near perfect fruit chemistry to make the winemaking work go smoothly.” Her only problem was figuring out where to put this very abundant crop. Assessment of the vines will be made next week when they will prune as needed to balance out any damage caused by the severe weather. She isn’t expecting to find much of an issue because when the temperature dropped below zero the wind blew hard off the unfrozen lake circulating the “warm” air around the vineyards buffering them from the extreme cold.
I would like to thank Marti for taking the time and effort to keep me informed of the activities at Standing Stone Winery. When you are in the Finger Lakes Region plan a stop at Standing Stone to taste their superb wines and say “Hello” to Marti. www.standingstonewines.com
Standing Stone Vineyards Riesling Release
I received a press release from the Standing Stone Winery that proudly announced the release of their Old West Block Riesling. This is a single yeast Riesling named after the oldest vineyard on their property that was planted in 1972 by Gold Seal Vineyards. Marti Macinski and her husband Tom take great pride in making the best Riesling and Gewürztraminer possible from the ground up in the Finger Lakes Region. In 2012 due to the increased production from the Old West Block vineyard they were able to harvest enough grapes to produce a truly artisanal single vineyard bottling. The grapes were picked at 22.5 Brix and the wine was bottled with a R.S. of 1.4%, 3.00pH and a total of 7.4 g/l. After reading the tasting notes I was left the with the impression that this Riesling has aromas of apricots and pears with a flavor palate of ripe fruit complemented by a hint of white peach, smoked tea and white pepper in the background. The finish is long and lingering but bright due to its lively acidity. Standing Stone Winery made only 129 cases of Riesling with the grapes harvested from the Old West Block and of the first 129 cases only 50 remain, that means it is in short supply and with single bottles priced at $18.99 it won’t last long.
- #Winechat featuring 2012 Finger Lakes Riesling (winecompass.blogspot.com)
- Finger Lakes 2012 Vintage Stands Tall In Riesling Challenge (toledowinesandvines.blogspot.com)
- When someone asks me what I think is the best “All Purpose Wine” I laugh and give them my best answer “Riesling”. It may sound too simple but when you consider the range of styles, producers, regions, and choices from very dry through sweet culminating in excellent dessert wine, the answer is actually a very complex one. This wine is extremely food friendly and you can easily find a Riesling that will pair well with any cuisine. You probably heard the saying “There’s an app for that” and when it comes to food pairings it can be said “There’s a Riesling for that”. Riesling is produced globally by a host of very fine wineries but the frontrunners in quality have always been from the French Alsace Region, Germany and Austria. Australia also markets some nice Riesling but anyone that has followed this blog knows I favor the Finger Lakes Region of New York and their world-class Riesling. I have listed below a few favorites that should give you a good start on your search but there are plenty of others waiting to be discovered .
- Keuka Lake Seneca Lake Cayuga Lake
- Ravines Herman R. Wiemer Swedish Hill
- Dr. Frank’s Three Brothers Knapp
- Heron Hill Belhurst Castle
- Standing Stone
- Lamoreaux Landing
- Heron Hill Winery: Finger Lakes Winery Visit (toledowinesandvines.blogspot.com)
- The Sweet Side of Riesling (themodernsomm.wordpress.com)
- Dr. Frank hauls in gold at LA International test (timesunion.com)
- A Celebration of New York Wines (red-wine-diva.com)
Winter at Standing Stone Winery
I have just heard from Martha Macinski or Marti as she is known to everyone in the Finger Lakes. She updated me on the happenings around the Standing Stone Winery that she and her husband Tom have owned since 1991. They have just finished pressing frozen grapes to make Riesling Ice and Vidal Ice. The grapes are not picked frozen but are picked as late harvest and then frozen commercially so that they may be pressed to make Ice wine. The Riesling Ice 2012, Vidal Ice 2011 and the Riesling 2012 are all ready and will be bottled in early March. One of the nice things about stopping by the tasting room during the winter is that there are fewer people visiting so Marti and her staff will have more time to talk and share details about the wine. The vineyard crew is busy fixing any trellis components that have broken over the previous growing season. Pruning will start in February and after that task is completed the vines will be tied up before bud break in the spring. There was some concern that the recent spike in temperatures would reduce the snow cover that protects the vineyard during the winter but the cold nights and the return of normal winter weather prevented any damage to the vines. Marti made me laugh when she told me that ” You would be surprised how much work it is to taste 10 barrels of Standing Stone Saperavi.” I know it is a tough job but I guess someone has to do it :-). They will be bottling some 2010 and 2012 wines in April and May with the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot being of reserve status and reportedly delicious! Thanks to Marti for keeping me informed on the latest news from Standing Stone Winery which is on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake in Hector, NY. If you want more info you can visit the website www.Standingstonewines.com or go to their Facebook page.
- Standing Stone Vineyards: Ice Wine in the Banana Belt (lennthompson.typepad.com)
- Saperavi, the Great Red Grape of the Finger Lakes? Open Minds at Standing Stone Vineyards (lenndevours.com)
- A wine prescription for cold and flu (o.canada.com)
Thanksgiving is only a week away and the menu is set but the wine list will remain fluid until the last-minute. White wines are the traditional choices because they pair wonderfully with Thanksgiving fare. A dry Chardonnay with a light oak aging is always a sure bet but a fruity unoaked offering might be a more interesting choice. Sauvignon Blanc is also a good pick with its lively acidity or if you want to spur some dinner table wine talk try a Gewürztraminer, White Burgundy or even a Viognier. If your guests like a little sweeter wine try a White Zinfandel to satisfy their tastes. Reds are hard to blend with the flavor palate of this holiday meal but if you must uncork a bottle of red I suggest trying a light bodied wine with fine tannins and the best choice for that is Pinot Noir. We will be pouring three New York white wines from the 3 Brothers Winery in the Finger Lakes Region, a 2010 1st Degree Medium Dry Riesling and a 2010 2nd Degree Medium Sweet Riesling along with a 2011 Stoney Lonesome Estates Grüner Veltliner. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
- How to Buy the Perfect Thanksgiving Wine (thekissters.com)
- 2012 Thanksgiving Day White Wine Recommendations (sports-glutton.com)
- Thanksgiving Wine: Top Picks from Sommeliers (drinks.seriouseats.com)
- Be Thankful for Thanksgiving Wine! (adirondackwinery.wordpress.com)
Standing Stone Vineyards
I recently received an e-mail from Marti Macinski to keep me up to date on activities at Standing Stone Vineyards. Marti and Tom Macinski have owned and operated Standing Stone Vineyards since 1991. They have steadily increased the yearly production from 800 cases in that first vintage of 1993 to about 8000 cases last year. They are officially done picking grapes with great results and have some of their wine fermenting while sitting on the lees. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is starting to ferment and needs punched down four times a day. Tom is looking for volunteers that want to learn some winemaking skills while helping to basket press the Cab. Even if you are not up for a hands- on winery experience you can always stop by the tasting room that is open every day and while you are there don’t miss the chance to sample the bread and the many dips.
Standing Stone Vineyards 9934 Route 414 Hector, NY 14841 (607) 582-6051 www.standingstonewines.com Blog http://www.standingstonewines.wordpress.com
- Standing Stone Vineyards Vertical Gewurztraminer Tasting: As Unique as the Grape (lennthompson.typepad.com)
- Saperavi, the Great Red Grape of the Finger Lakes? Open Minds at Standing Stone Vineyards (lenndevours.com)
Free Finger Lakes Travel App!!!
Anyone that is contemplating a trip to the Finger Lakes Region of New York should get moving and make plans now. I say this from personal experience that the next several weeks are the perfect time to visit wine country. When you visit in the fall you will get to enjoy the excitement of the harvest while being surrounded by a landscape that is alive with the vibrant colors of autumn. A free travel app is available to help visitors enjoy many of the local attractions. The app can be found at http://FLWC.MOBI./ Driving around the area is easy because the roads are well-marked especially with signs that direct you along the wine trails. Tourists using a GPS can find numerous wineries preloaded in the “Points Of Interest” or “Attractions” setting of the unit. You can find just about anything you need to know for your trip online so why wait because winter will be here before you know it.
- At Last, My Summer Wines (whywineblog.com)
- Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling 2011 (whywineblog.com)
- From the Finger Lakes, a Concentration of Good Wine Value (dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com)
Three Brothers Wineries and Estates
The Three Brothers Wineries and Estates are located at 623 Lerch Rd Geneva, NY. It is just a short distance off of NY Rte 96A South at the north end of Seneca Lake. This winery is a collection of three distinctly different wineries (Passion Feet, Stony Lonesome and Bagg Dare) and a brewery (War Horse). We arrived at the property just a day after the conclusion of Winestock, a wine and music festival that had run through the weekend. Three Brothers was the only winery that we visited twice and is a perfect example of the saying “What a difference a day makes”. The first day we visited we were served in the tasting room of the Stony Lonesome Winery by a very well versed young man named Alex. Alex poured our selections and recited the characteristics of each flawlessly and with a friendly ease. That day we would purchase two Riesling: Degree 1 Medium Dry 2010 and Degree 2 Medium Sweet 2010 along with a wine that I was unfamiliar with Estate Reserve Grüner Veltliner 2011. I could have easily have picked up their Barbera, the first to be produced in the Finger Lakes but the promise of the wines in my near future caused me to pass on it. The next afternoon we decided to return to Three Brothers to pick up a bottle of their Pinot Noir and that Barbera that I had passed on the day before. We entered the Stony Lonesome tasting room and stood around until we were finally approached by a small young woman. We asked her several questions about their Pinot Noir and other red wines which she struggled to answer with her limited knowledge of the products. Since the Pinot was to be a gift I asked if she could do me a favor and photo copy the wine list and its tasting notes. She went into the other room only to return and say no and that it could be found on the website (I looked but couldn’t find it there). I bought the 2009 Pinot Noir and forgot about the Barbera.
The wines at Three Brothers Wineries and Estates were probably the best I tasted on this trip but the tasting room experience was surly the most sub-standard that I encountered. The management of this business has to remember that making good wine is important but there is much more to a brand than just that.