Standing Stone Vineyards Go Vertical

Saperavi Grapes Photo Courtesy Wikipedia
Saperavi Grapes Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

     Standing Stone Vineyards to host a vertical tasting of their popular Saperavi on Sunday November 16, 2014.  Tom & Marti Macinski become the first vintners in the nation to bottle the Saperavi grape under its newly recognized and rightful name.  The N.Y. Wine & Food Classic double gold medal-winning 2012 vintage will be part of the November 16th tasting.  This vintage is featured in the November 30th issue of Wine Spectator Magazine where it was awarded a 88 point rating.  Owner and winemaker Marti Macinski will be leading the two Saperavi vertical tasting sessions Sunday afternoon at 1:00 and again at 3:00.  This is a great opportunity for guests to learn from the leading expert on this up and coming wine grape.  Tickets are $20 and include food pairings from Dano’s. Reservations can be made by calling 607-582-6051 or by e-mail at ssny@standingstonewines.com.

Standing Stone Vineyards Releases 2012 Saperavi

 

Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Winery
Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Winery

Standing Stone Vineyards “Officially” releases 2012 Saperavi.  Standing Stone becomes the first winery in the U.S. to bottle and release the newly classified Saperavi grape under its newly recognized and rightful name.  In conjunction with the iconic Dr. Konstantin Frank Cellars, Standing Stone Winery filed a petition with the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in late December 2013 to have the Saperavi grape recognized as an approved wine grape variety.  The Saperavi grape is a cold weather grape that originated in Georgia, Russia.  Owner and winemaker Marti Macinski has always had a fondness for this grape said “We’ve been growing Saperavi for 20 years and we’ve been using it in blends and bottling it under different names.  But now that Saperavi is again an officially recognized grape, we are thrilled to be able to put it on our label.  And I’ve got to tell you this 2012 vintage is unbelievable.  The vines have really grown to maturity and we have 20 years experience of working with the grape and understanding how to bring out its characteristic in the bottle”.  This grape has grown well in the Finger Lakes “Banana Belt” and is believed to be able to grow anywhere Riesling thrives.  Saperavi grapes produce a deep red wine with good structure and texture that is rich but not overly tannic.  This could be the grape that elevates the reds of the Finger Lakes to a level that would provide a nice complement to the world-class whites of this region.  

Winter Damage

 

 

Much of my childhood was spent growing up on my mother’s family farm just across the road from our house. Many of my relatives live nearby in houses built on land that was carved out of the original tract of land that my Grandfather began farming in the very early 1900’s.  The number one lesson I learned about the agriculture business was that no

Winter in The Vineyard
Winter in The Vineyard

matter how well prepared and thought out your plans were you are always at the mercy of Mother Nature.  Whether it is corn, wheat or grapes you will always have to be able to cope with constant change and overwhelming problems or you will not succeed.  The vintners in Southwestern and Northwestern Pennsylvania along with their counterparts in the Finger Lakes Region of New York are dealing with the effects of one of the coldest winters in recent memory.  The real damage in Pennsylvania occurred in the Northwest , especially the area around Lake Erie, while the Southwest corner of the state received above average but manageable damage.  I have talked with several winemakers about how this winter effected their vineyards and the following is a summary of what they told me. 

Rich Ripepi of Ripepi Winery in Monongahela, Pa said that they were leaving on extra buds when they pruned to be safe but should have gotten through in “relatively” good shape.   Ray Matthews, the vineyard manager at Christian W. Klay Winery in Chalk Hill, Pa is still accessing his vines but signs are good that the damage isn’t too severe.  Ray told me of a study that he read that noted statistically a vineyard in the Northeast will be devastated on average once every ten years but he has been lucky to have been spared so far.  Tod Manspeaker of Briar Valley Vineyard & Winery in Bedford, Pa grows only vinifera vines in his vineyard.  Tod has observed that certain varieties have suffered more than others with the average bud loss in the 50% range.  To compensate for the loss Tod is leaving secondary and tertiary buds by pruning less and leaving four canes instead of two.  This makes more work this year and much more work next year to clean up but by doing this Tod is expecting a normal crop.  Paul Vezzetti from The Vineyard at Hershey in Middletown, Pa tells me that South Central Pennsylvania was on the border of the coldest weather this winter.  He attributes the many cultural practices implemented before their initial planting in 2009 for mitigating much of this years temperature issues.  By postponing pruning until after the worst winter weather had passed Paul was able to adjust his pruning plan to compensate for any winter damage found in the vineyard.  Paul also predicts that anyone that hasn’t been as fortunate as he was to experience only small losses can expect to face a substantial rise in cost when they have to buy grapes from another vineyard with whom they don’t already have an established relationship. 

Marti Macinski of Standing Stone Winery & Vineyard in Hector, NY tells me the Finger Lakes Region was hit very hard with many vineyards losing 100% of this years crop.  She is fortunate that her vineyard is on the southeastern shore of Seneca Lake and benefits from a temperature moderating effect that has led to the area being nicknamed the “Banana Belt”.  The Standing Stone Vineyard has received some damage but the damage can be offset by leaving extra buds to produce a nearly normal crop.  Marti has to wait until the growing season gets underway before she can tell if there is any vine damage. 

     Marti and all winemakers know that maintaining a vineyard can be a brutal and unforgiving undertaking but one that does come with great satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when everything goes right.  I wish all the producers my very best and want them to know that I have the utmost respect for their perseverance and passion with which they pursue their craft.  

 

 

Martha Macinski: Winemaker, Standing Stone Winery

Tom and Marti Macinski   Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Vineyards
Tom and Marti Macinski Photo Courtesy: Standing Stone Vineyards

     I would like to congratulate the entire Standing Stone Winery family for being chosen to have their 2012 Riesling served at the 2014 Super Bowl Media Party.  Standing Stone Winery was also mentioned by James Molesworth in Wine Spectator Magazine this month as a Finger Lakes winery that should be sought out for their excellent Riesling.  Martha (Marti) Macinski has again provided me with a candid glimpse inside the winery from her unique perspective as both owner and winemaker.

     The winery is relatively calm this time of year but some structural work is being done in the vineyards on the posts and wires so there will be no delay when the time comes to prune and tie the vines.  Jess, the assistant winemaker, is planning the upcoming bottling runs along with monitoring the fermentation of the dessert wines.  The pressing of the frozen grapes is close to completion with only a small amount left unfinished.  Marti is excited about the 2013 vintage calling it “Truly spectacular with lovely ripe and rich flavors, near perfect fruit chemistry to make the winemaking work go smoothly.”  Her only problem was figuring out where to put this very abundant crop.  Assessment of the vines will be made next week when they will prune as needed to balance out any damage caused by the severe weather.  She isn’t expecting to find much of an issue because when the temperature dropped below zero the wind blew hard off the unfrozen lake circulating the “warm” air around the vineyards buffering them from the extreme cold. 

     I would like to thank Marti for taking the time and effort to keep me informed of the activities at Standing Stone Winery.  When you are in the Finger Lakes Region plan a stop at Standing Stone to taste their superb wines and say “Hello” to Marti.  www.standingstonewines.com

Riesling Paradise

  •       When someone asks me what I think is the best “All Purpose Wine” I laugh and give them my best answer “Riesling”.  It may sound too simple but when you consider the range of styles, producers, regions, and choices from very dry through sweet culminating in excellent dessert wine, the answer is actually a very complex one.  This wine is extremely food friendly and you can easily find a Riesling that will pair well with any cuisine.  You probably heard the saying “There’s an app for that” and when it comes to food pairings it can be said “There’s a Riesling for that”.  Riesling is produced globally by a host of very fine wineries but the frontrunners in quality have always been from the French Alsace Region, Germany and Austria.  Australia also markets some nice Riesling but anyone that has followed this blog knows I favor the Finger Lakes Region of New York and their world-class Riesling.  I have listed below a few favorites that should give you a good start on your search but there are plenty of others waiting to be discovered . 
  • Keuka Lake                      Seneca Lake                                Cayuga Lake
  • Ravines                             Herman R. Wiemer                   Swedish Hill
  • Dr. Frank’s                       Three Brothers                           Knapp
  • Heron Hill                        Belhurst Castle
  •                                             Standing Stone
  •                                             Lamoreaux Landing