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a sip of seneca Print
Written by Nikitas Magel   

Ravines Wine Cellars. Although the tasting room adjacent to the Keuka Lake has been around for much longer, the newer facility at the northern end of Seneca Lake is home to the Ravines production facility. Located at White Springs Farms, the historic slate barn features a tasting room and seating area with a contemporary rustic charm. There, with the option of having a paired selection of cheeses, visitors can taste and purchase Ravines wines. Across the portfolio,  I found these wines to have a cohesive and consistent house style while beautifully expressing the unique character of their vineyard sources. Noteworthy were the 2013 Gewurtztraminer with its varietally typical profile of citrus and lychee, and the 2013 Dry Riesling with its pronounced white flower aromas and long, mineral finish.

Silver Thread Vineyard. Curiously nestled into the side of a steep hill, the visitor center of Silver Thread appears somewhat modest on first approach. But once inside, customers are greeted with a dramatic view of Seneca Lake through a high wall of windows that bathes the tasting room in natural light—a perfect compliment to the simple, contemporary interior. As I tasted through several wines of the Silver Thread portfolio, the outgoing and engaging winery owner and general manager, Shannon Brock, provided great context in the way of a lively discussion about the region. The wines over all I found to be solid. The 2013 Dry Riesling and 2013 Semi-dry Riesling, both estate grown, were both beautifully balanced with prominent stone fruit profiles and subtle minerality. Also noteworthy was the 2012 Blackbird, a proprietary red blend of classic Bordeaux varieties that—typical of the reds from this region—had a pronounced dark berry fruit character balanced with some savory, almost meaty aromas.

Fox Run Vineyards. Thanks to the warm hospitality of owner Scott Osborn, marketing coordinator Marisa Indelicato, and winemaker Peter Bell, I had the honor of tasting a number of wines from the Fox Run portfolio. And a compelling roundup it was. Especially noteworthy was the Geology Series, showcasing the terroir of a single site, the Hanging Delta Vineyard. Fruit from that vineyard had been harvested and then divided into three lots, each of which was vinified differently, varying in the strain of yeast, extent of fermentation, and winemaking intervention. The result is a series of three wines, each of a distinct character and style: Riesling 10, Riesling 11, and Riesling 12. Comparing these wines side by side was not only an immense pleasure, but also an intriguing exercise that highlighted the value of experimenting with different yeast strains on the same grapes. It also served to illustrate the significance of balancing residual sugar with acidity to allow the full depth and complexity of a fine Riesling to come through.

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard. Winery operations manager, Oskar Bynke generously hosted an extensive tasting through the Wiemer portfolio. Starting with dry and semi-dry varietal wines and moving into the single-vineyard Rieslings, the entire collection demonstrated highly skillful winemaking that emphasized the fullest expression of the vineyards’ terroir. The result: rich and highly polished wines showcasing the exuberant flavor profiles of their estate-grown fruit, all framed with the firm acidity that we’ve come to expect of these cool weather varieties. From the ripe lemon and green apple qualities of the HJW Vineyard Dry Riesling to the fuller lemon meringue of the Magdalena Vineyard Dry Riesling, the exquisite wines were a testament to the Wiemer team’s extraordinary talent in coaxing the very best from the vines under their care.

A Region to Watch

Given the current state of the winemaking in the Finger Lakes, it is without a doubt a region to watch. There are strong signs of an increasingly sophisticated, mature, and successful industry that has come a long way in carving out a niche in the wine world. What’s more, the region is arguably filling a gap in domestic wine production long dominated by warmer climate varieties. I suspect there will be even more interesting developments over the next few years. And it’s a great destination for wine enthusiasts from outside of the area who are looking for an authentic, family-oriented, and inviting wine region to visit.

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