Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard is located in Starkey, NY in the Finger Lakes. Hermann J. Wiemer emigrated from Bernkastel, Germany, in the 1960s bringing with him over 300 years of family winemaking tradition. He believed that Riesling and Chardonnay could grow nicely on the western side of Seneca Lake and first planted the vineyard in 1976. The winery opened in 1979.
In 2003, Wiemer’s long-term apprentice Fred Merwarth took charge of winemaking and vineyard management. Merwarth’s talent and ambition brought fresh energy and vision to the winery. In 2007, Wiemer officially retired leaving the winery to Merwarth, who partnered with his university friend, Swedish agronomist Oskar Bynke to carry on Hermann J. Wiemer’s legacy.
We arrived at the winery which is in a barn-like structure. You first enter the gift shop and are led to the tasting room which is located in the production area. The winery is one of the few on Seneca Lake where you do a tasting in the production facility.
Tastings are done while standing at the tasting bar and there is a tasting fee for your selection of five wines. There is also Reserve wine tasting available for a fee per wine in addition to a higher priced wine. The wines are poured from the uncorked bottles.
The wines are all estate grown wines. Hermann J. Wiemer has three vineyard sites comprised of 76 acres of vines. The three vineyard locations are the vineyard next to the winery, the Magdalena Vineyard located 10 miles north of the winery, and the Josef Vineyard also located 10 miles north of the winery. The Josef Vineyard features 30 year old plantings of Riesling and Chardonnay, as well as a one acre block of Gewürztraminer which was planted in 1967. This is the oldest planting of all New York vineyards.
Hermann J. Wiemer has a grafting business for grafting on rootstock. They graft around 250,000 vines per year for distribution throughout the country, and they do this mostly in the winter.
Of all of Hermann J. Wiemer’s wines, 60% made are Rieslings. They produced 15,000 cases of wine in 2012 but have the capability to do 17,000 cases.
Some of the wines available for tasting are:
- Chardonnay 2012
- Dry Riesling 2012
- Semi-Dry Riesling 2012
- Gewürztraminer 2012
- Late Harvest Riesling 2012
- Field Cuvée 2009 (Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Lemberger, Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Cabernet Franc 2011
- Reserve Dry Riesling 2012
- Cabernet Franc Reserve 2010
- Bunch Select Late Harvest Riesling 2008 (higher tasting fee)
There is also a selection of Reserve wines which are not available for tasting but can be bought by the bottle. As mentioned previously, there is a nice gift shop and Hermann J. Wiemer has a wine club called the Capsule Club.
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