Blend: 65% Chardonnay, 20% Riesling, 8% Gewürztraminer, 7% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Gruner Veltliner
Hermann Wiemer was born in Bernkastel, Germany into a family with 300 years experience in making the distinguished vinifera wines of the Mosel Valley. He arrived in the United States in 1968 already well versed in the European tradition of fine winemaking. To this heritage he added the skill of grafting fragile vinifera vines onto sturdy American rootstock.
In 1973 he bought 140 acres on the west side of Seneca Lake, which he planted with a variety of European vinifera grapevines. Visitors who wish to see these vines, along with ponds and the six acre nursery, can take the popular Vineyard Walk through the property.
The Winery, which produces 12,000 cases each year, was designed in 1982 by an award winning team of Cornell architects. Enclosed within the shell of a seventy-year-old scissor-trussed barn, it accommodates a laboratory, tasting and retail sales, a wine production area and a private tasting room. Its unique white cathedral-like interior counterpoints the bare wooden walls and sleek Italian stainless steel tanks.
Increasingly garnering widespread and well-deserved attention, New York ranks third in wine production in the United States (after California and Washington). Divided into six AVAs—the Finger Lakes, Lake Erie, Hudson River, Long Island, Champlain Valley of New York and the Niagara Escarpment, which crosses over into Michigan as well as Ontario, Canada—the state experiences varied climates, but in general summers are warm and humid while winters are very cold and can carry the risk of frost well into the growing season.
The Finger Lakes region has long been responsible for some of the country’s finest Riesling, and is gaining traction with elegant, light-bodied Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Experimentation with cold-hardy European varieties is common, and recent years have seen the successful planting of grapes like Grüner Veltliner and Saperavi (from the Eastern European country of Georgia). Long Island, on the other hand, has a more maritime climate influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, and shares some viticultural characteristics with Bordeaux. Accordingly, the best wines here are made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The Niagara Escarpment is responsible for excellent ice wines, usually made from the hybrid variety, Vidal.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended white wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used in white wine blends, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied white wine blend, like Chardonnay, would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.