Hermann Wiemer was convinced that great wines can be made at Finger Lakes and started a life-long experiment. To learn about the Lakes and the vines. He succeeded. Today, his legacy continues with a fantastic team of talented people. And Fred Merwarth and Oskar Bynke – the nicest winemakers on earth. Our visit at Hermann J. Wiemer.
Since 1839, wine is made at Finger Lakes. A long time before Hermann Wiemer came to Dundee at Seneca Lake in the 1960s. But when Hermann came to the region there was not much to work with. Only small wineries produced rather low quality wines. There was almost no information available about the soil texture and the layers of rock in the region. Still, Hermann was deeply convinced that it is possible to make fantastic wines in this region. So he started to learn.
The ingredients of this recipe were three: The strong believe that the climate at the Finger Lakes is comparable to the Moselle area in Germany where Hermann’s family has been making wines for centuries. The strong believe that the vinifera grape is the perfect fit for this climate. And finally, the strong believe that if you are willing to try as many things as you can by combining different grape style with different soils – you will be able to make unbelievable wines.
Today, the vision has become reality
Fred Merwarth is definitely someone to fall in love with. Just because he is such a nice person. We came as friends of the winery and felt like friends when we left. His contagious passion for winemaking is hard to explain. It’s his life. When Oskar Bynke comes into the room there is energy. There is also fun, joking and laughing. A wine lover, a networker – the perfect sales guy. Together they prove that the vision of making great wines at Finger Lakes is becoming reality – year after year even more.
We learned fast that this winery has to deal with a very high complexity. The Finger Lakes are special. The soil is very different one area to the next. From one row of vines to the next it might be smarter to grow another grape style. You have to understand many details to get the picture together.
In love with Magdalena
Oskar and Fred invited us to try a lineup from another planet. From the newest to aged Riesling from the old days. Our personal highlight was a dry Johannisberg from 1999 – another proof of how fantastically Riesling ages. But also the youngest vintage was true fun in the glass. This is high quality Riesling.
And then there is Magdalena – which is not just a beautiful name but even more so a beautiful vineyard. Planted in 1999, the vines are old enough to show the full potential of this terroir. We fell in love with it – the dry Riesling from this vineyard from a cooler year like 2014 has so much potential for fantastic aging. If you have the chance: Buy it, put it in your cellar, give it five to ten years and you will be very happy.
We tried other vintages: In warmer years it has more ripeness, it becomes bigger. But cooler vintages unleash the full elegance of this vineyard. Both styles have massive aging potential, but the cool ones even more so. So we opened the Magdalena 2009 (another cool year at the Finger Lakes) – and here it was: depth, complexity, minerality, bundled to a perfectly elegant Riesling. Outstanding quality. Like the big and famous GG Rieslings from Germany.
Take the time to read our tasting notes on the Wiemer Riesling collection here.
3962 Route 14, PO Box 38
Dundee, NY 14837
Visit website of winemaker Wiemer.