This iconic old barn greets visitors to Hermann J. Wiemer's Magdalena Vineyard

By Evan Dawson, Finger Lakes Editor

In a challenging vintage such as this one, Hermann J. Wiemer has two advantages over many other producers: low yields and a thoughtful picking strategy that brings grapes in on multiple days.

First, the picking strategy, which has been carefully developed over many years — first by Hermann and then by current owner and winemaker Fred Merwarth. Instead of picking riesling and gewurztraminer in one sweep, Wiemer brings the grapes in during numerous waves. The last of the three waves of gewurztraminer came in yesterday.

"Different parts of our three vineyards supply different qualities for the finished wines," Merwarth says. "Our first pick of gewurztraminer came in at 21.5 brix with higher acids, and the final two picks came in at 23.5 brix and 24.5 brix." That diversity of sugars and acids, along with varying stages of aromatic development, weaves a more complex wine when blended together. The same goes for Wiemer's highly regarded rieslings. Merwarth explains that the first pick of riesling is complete, but the final pick will happen "as late as possible into November."

The gewurztraminer settled at 1.9 tons per acre, Merwarth says, while the pinot noir is in at 2.0 tons per acre. "To be honest, we're thrilled to have 23 brix and full ripeness for the pinot," he says. 

While the riesling is "looking absolutely beautiful," Merwarth admits that the cabernet franc could be in some trouble. "If we don't get above 45 degrees, we could have issues with it. This isn't a great forecast, but there's still time. We're several weeks away, ideally."