John’s dad Bill founded the first winery on the east side of Seneca Lake in 1979. The Wagners are in their fifth generation of growing grapes and all of their wines come from their own grapes grown on their farms. That is what is known as estate grown.
As you saw or will see in this episode of Wine About the Weather, I spent my time with John in the vineyard; he and his sister Laura now co-own Wagner Vineyards.
John is what I’d call a farming scientist. He is fascinating to talk with, as he knows every little faction of farming the family vines. He’s loyal and appreciative to & of his family, the land and the lake. And oh by the way, his Caywood East Dry Riesling was just named the best dry Riesling in the whole, big, beautiful United States. Related to that, I had an experience that drove home how much I love this show and this project.
I was standing in the vineyard that supplied the “raw materials” that delivered said award-winning Riesling, drinking it with the man who farmed said grapes and who owns the family business. It just doesn’t get any cooler than that. And since dry Riesling is my favorite white wine, it made it all the better.
Katie was so cool and helpful. First, she was kind enough to stand in a chilly northwest breeze coming off of Seneca Lake, while recovering from a cold and holding a bottle of that Riesling with some glasses for John and me.
She then came up with her own tasting/pairing menu for us and set it all up to be a part of the show.
Lastly, I was struck by one other thing out there. I’m not much of a businessman, but I know that competition is part of the deal. With 60+ wineries on Seneca Lake, one might think that there is a “gentle tolerance” at best and hostility at worst amongst the wineries and vineyards. That is simply not the case. In fact, it seemed like a lot of the wine folks know each other and they all realize that they have a common goal in producing and sharing some great wines. It was refreshing to see and makes for a good vibe anywhere along the lake.
I hope you’ll get a chance to go out and visit. You won’t be disappointed.
Wine About the Weather. Then Drink It!