Last month we left the city for the weekend to gorge ourselves on the best wines made in New York State. My girlfriend Amanda and I had been invited to spend some time in the Finger Lakes, starting with a vertical tasting of Hermann J Wiemer Rieslings from ’99-’08 hosted by the winemaker, Fred Merwarth and Oskar Bynke the estate manager. Fred has been at the winery for nine years gradually taking over full winemaking responsibilities and Oskar worked there as an intern for two years after working in the wine industry in NYC. Hermann was looking to retire and lacking any natural heirs struck a favorable deal a few years ago to have the winery sold/passed down to his vigneron protege and his impish former intern. These are not the most well known wines of the region necessarily (that is changing) but they are far and away the benchmark and are almost solely responsible for the legitimacy of the Finger Lakes AVA.
The winery was established in 1979 on the west side of Seneca Lake. There are seven lakes in region which are long, narrow and incredibly deep. This is the reason the vines can survive the harsh NY winters in that the depth of the lake actually prevents it from freezing and protects the the area up to just over a mile from it’s shore.