Red Newt Cellars is a top producer of life-changing Finger Lakes Riesling. Founded in 1998, Red Newt wines have garnered national and international acclaim for decades.
Founding winemaker David Whiting and winemaker Kelby Russell share their perspectives…
I’ve been making wines in the Finger Lakes since the 80’s. Back then, we worked really hard. We helped each other out, we collaborated, we pulled each other up by our bootstraps to make the best wine that we could.
When I think of what makes Riesling producers special, it’s that. Maybe it’s because we feel like we’re underdogs whereas Riesling, whether its Germany, whether its the Finger Lakes, people who make Riesling love the grape and love wherever it comes from and don’t really prejudge what’s the best and what’s the worst.
Red Newt’s been around for about 18 years. We started very small and made the best wines that we possibly could. And our focus now is primarily on Riesling… 75% of what we produce is Riesling.
I love Riesling. And I love it for more than just what is in the glass. I love it because to me it represents a place. Each vineyard has its own personality. Each vineyard has its own soul. And when I can taste the wine and make the connection between that place, it’s truly magical.
Tango oaks is a really remarkable vineyard site for us. The soil type is driven by stones… more grave, more stones than we would expect to see anywhere else in the Finger Lakes.
From a winemaking standpoint it is rewarding to work with.
I think of Lahoma and I think a site that, even though it is due across the lake from us,
I think of as our home site. It kind of exemplifies why you need to be so patient in the vineyard and pay attention to the vineyard. Every year the nuances of the vineyards we work with totally changes.
And we have an idea from being out in the vineyard a lot of what to expect, but the joy of winemaking is the surprise.
I think of Red Newt as one of the great Riesling estates in the world. And I think we’re on that stage: One, because we want to be, because we value that sort of achievement of excellence. And two, because we really actively compare ourselves and talk to the other producers that we look up to around the world.
Our commitment is unwavering. The Finger Lakes has a story around Riesling that is yet to written, and this is a story for us to write.