Fine Wines, Few Frills: Wiemer Remains a Finger Lakes Leader

Oct 16, 1998 | Wiemer Archives

By Jerry Shriver USA TODAY FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 1998


Keeping focused: Unlike some other winemakers is his region, Hermann Wiemer keeps his operation simple. 'I don't need to attract crowds who don't know what they're drinking,' he says.

Hermann J. Wiemer makes some of the most clitically acclaimed wines if the East, yet one could spend sev­ eral days here in the Finger Lakes region and easily overlook his unpretentious spread on Seneca Lake’s western shore.

Man of the few dozen winery owners in this tourism-rich area hedge their bets by producing an ar’ay of wines for every palate and by adding fancy tasting rooms, boutiques and even restaurants. But Wiemer, who has been pro­ ducing wines under his own name since 1979, prefers a tighter focus. He concentrates pri­marily on four wines (ries­ling, chardonnay, pinot noir and a sparkling variety) and spends relatively little on promotions and advertising and maintains a modest tasting room in a restored barn on his 140-acre former soybean farm. Though his wines have brought attention to the region, his winery isn’t listed with the others in the Seneca Lake Wine Trail brochure.

“I’m not against promoting the area’s wines, but I don’t need to attract crowds who don’t know what they’re drinking,” says Wiemer, 57. “There are a lot of people who come to wine country for the romance, which is fine – as long as you have some good wines.”

And Wiemer’s wines deliver, especially his award-winning dry and semi-dry riesling ($9-$16) and an astonishingly decadent dessert wine ($80).

“When we spend money, we do it on maintaining good vineyards, good cooperage (bar’els) and land­scaping to help preserve the small-farm image,” he says.

His winery’s production has grown to about 16,000 cases a year (a medium mnount for the ar’ea), and his wines can be found in six Eastern states and on the lists of top New York restaurants, including Lutece, Union Pacific and Oceana.

Wiemer, whose mother’s family has made wine for 300 year’s in Germany, left tlhat country for America in 1968 to work at tlhe offbeat Bully Hill win­ ery in nearby Harnmondsport.

By 1979, he had struck out on his own, and along with fellow winemaker Konstanin Frank becarne a pioneer in introducing riesling, char’donnay and pinot noir vines to the region. Most expelts had believed those varieties would never thrive in the ar’ea’s coldclimate. Now they’re the linchpins of the region, and Wiemer lUllS a profitable nursery that supplies the vines to top producers around the world.

“We have learned to make nature work for us here,” Wiemer says.

Easily found on the net at, or Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, 3962 Rte. 14, PO Box 38, Dundee, New York, or phone 607-243-7971

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