FOOD & WINE – Pioneering a Great New York State Rielsing

Oct 2, 1998 | Reviews, Wiemer Archives

Written by ANDREW ESSEX Researched by DAN PHILIPS Photography by EDWARD GAIDEL

In 1979, his Finger Lakes-based Wiemer label produced a single barrel; today, it’s a 17,OOO-case winery.

And they said it couldn’t be done. Twenty-five years ago, Herman J. Wiemer, a soft spoken German emigre, planted vinifera grapes in the unforgiving soil of western New York State. Those grapes are now the source of a world-class Riesling. To understand Wiemer’s accomplish­ ment, it’s important to know that New York grapes were once exclusively hybrids. “Noble grapes like vinifera were discouraged by the ex pelts at Cornell University,” Wiemer explains. “They said it was too cold.” There was only one problem with hybrids: “They made awful wine,” he recalls with a laugh. “And if I can’t enjoy it, then what’s the point?”

In 1979, his Finger Lakes-based Wiemer label produced a single barrel; today, it’s a 17,OOO-case winery. “But it’s never been easy,” Wiemer laments. “these grapes are difficult to grow; we’ve had many setbacks.” Still, he out­ lasted the harsh northern winters, and his bone­ dry Riesling. “I was the first grower to make dry a positive for Riesling. “Back then, everyone thought of Riesling as Blue Nun.” Wiemer’s converts include such diverse customers as Amelican Airlines (for its first-class cabins) and Eberhard Muller of Manhattan’s Lutece. Not bad clientele for a New York State grower.

FOOD & WINE salutes the visionaries in America who are not only changing the way we think about wine but also determining what we’ll be drinking in the 21st century.

Recent News

Washington Post Recommends out Extra Brut Riesling

Washington Post Food & Wine Columnist Dave McIntyre highlights our Extra Brut Riesling in "3 Exceptional sparkling wines to toast your love this Valentine's Day." He writes of the wine, "“Hermann J. Wiemer was a Finger Lakes pioneer in riesling and sparkling wine....

Featured Library Flight: Riesling Style & Grace

Experience the incredible aging potential of Riesling and learn about the winery’s history with the variety as part of our ongoing “Featured Library Flight” series. We will have a selection of library Rieslings available to taste as a pre-set flight on select days in...

Featured Library Flight – “Home for the Holidays”

This time of year is often marked by celebration and family. Nothing is better than sharing some wine with the ones closest, and this flight captures that spirit of joy and conviviality. This flight includes: 2013 Blanc de Blanc with notes of brioche and warm citrus...

Thanksgiving Pairing Guide

We are lucky to have a plethora of wines that pair remarkably well with the chaos of "The Thanksgiving Plate!" This year we enlisted the help of our resident sommeliers at Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard and Standing Stone Vineyards to work up some pairing suggestions and...