Wine Enthusiast – Best Finger Lakes Riesling!

“Nine Finger Lakes Rieslings Under $35”

Tango Oaks Vineyard

The geological diversity of the Finger Lakes Region’s vineyards are clearly expressed in the variety of Rieslings produced. The glaciers of the last ice age scraped and combined the soil types carving out the topography of the area creating a uniquely varied and rich landscape. 

Wine Enthusiast released an article last week examining the diversity of Finger Lakes Rieslings and the success of several single block/single vineyard Rieslings. In naming nine Finger Lakes Rieslings they recommend under $35, we were delighted to see our 2015 Tango Oaks Vineyard Riesling in the mix.  Read the article here!

The Tango Oaks Vineyard is located less than one half mile downslope from the Red Newt Cellars Winery, on Seneca Lake’s Southeast side.   A truly unique vineyard site, Tango Oaks represents how seamlessly ‘old’ and ‘new’ terroir can come together in the Finger Lakes.  Historically, the site where Tango Oaks sits has been known as ‘Peach Orchard Point’ since the 1600s; first to the native Iroquois who maintained it, later to the Wickham family, who took over the site in the 1790s after receiving it for their service in the Revolutionary War.  At Tango Oaks, the soil itself is ‘new’, as the twenty-foot deep layer of gravel was deposited there by the epic flood of 1935.  With Riesling vines erupting out of these stones, and not much topsoil to speak of, Tango Oaks always results in the most elegant, mineral, and filigreed style of Riesling from Red Newt.


Tango Oaks Riesling – 90+ points!

2013 Riesling Tango Oaks Vineyard

  • Canberra International Riesling Challenge: 96 points & Best North American Riesling
  • Wine Advocate: 91 points

2014 Riesling Tango Oaks Vineyard

  • Wine Enthusiast: 93 points
  • Wine Advocate: 92 points
  • Vinous: 94 pointsVinous: 94 points

2015 Riesling – Tango Oaks Vineyard

  • Wine Enthusiast: 92 points
  • Vinous: 94 points
  • James Suckling: 94 points

Wine for St. Patrick’s Day

Gewurztraminer or Riesling …

The Irish Love Wine Too!

Just because it is St. Patrick’s Day does not mean wine doesn’t have a place at your celebration. Too many in this world assume the Irish chug Guinness, carry flasks of whiskey in their back pockets, eat fish and potatoes while singing drunken lullabies. The American interpretation of St. Patty’s day has evolved into a day of partying, ‘being Irish for a day,’ or demanding extra attention because they are of Irish descent. There are pints and yards of green beer, milky shots dropped into pints of stout, and some pretty scary sing-a-longs. 

My family just celebrated the day differently. The focus was spending time with family, celebrating family stories and naturally a bit of song and dance. As an Irish descendent and FLX girl born and bred, beer was for gatherings and wine was for meals. A tradition I found reinforced when I lived in Ireland. In fact, the Irish are in the top 20 consumers of wine in the world and we Americans come in only in the top 50. 

I lived and worked in Dublin while attending grad school and low and behold, St. Patrick’s Day is not a day of drunken debauchery, but a festival week that celebrates Irish music, arts, culture, food and families. People attend concerts throughout the week, but the day itself is a holy family day. Families attend mass, head to the pub for a bit, then all the pubs close early. Everyone heads home for family time, meaning loads of food, wine, stories and music.  

So enjoy your corned beef, colcannon and roasted cabbage and carrots. But, before you reach for that Guinness, head to the wine rack and look for a Riesling or a Gewurztraminer. I’ll be pouring the 2018 Gewurztraminer for tonight’s meal. The style of this wine will stand up beautifully to the corned beef and add a dimension of additional flavor to veggies.  Eire Go Brach and Slainte!

Irish Meal with Glass of Gewurztraminer
Corned Beef, Colcannon and Roasted Cabbage and Carrots. Paired with 2018 Gewurztraminer, Slainte!

Anosmia – the Loss of Smell

A COVID-19 Reality

The Wine Industry’s worst nightmare

We all have smells that ground us and bring us home. For me, it was the smell of walking into my grandparents house right after Pops made the bread for the week. Or, knowing that fall has arrived because you come home to the smell of mom’s apple pie about to come out of the oven. Specific aromas that elicit cherished memories of the past. Our brains hold an entire database of smells associated with our experiences and memories. 

In the wine industry, we know that our sense of smell is as unique as our fingerprint. We know the entire world around us is a compilation of aromas and our exposure to, experiences and memories are all associated with some variety of these aromas. Wine industry professionals not only draw upon their experiences but will also train their sense of smell using a variety of methods to better understand the wines they taste and experience. 

Now imagine waking up one day to realize that your entire ability to smell has disappeared. This is a wine industry professional’s worst nightmare. Follow the link below to read Kelby’s story of how he lost his sense of smell and got it back.

Article from Beverage Industry Enthusiast

Cool Climate, Cold Stabilization

Winter Cellar Activity

Mother Nature Helps Us Out

You have probably heard of cold stabilization in wine. You also may have heard that it is a way to clarify the wine, prior to bottling to prevent precipitated tartrates. However, the methodology of cold stabilization can vary and here at Red Newt Cellars, we take full advantage of Mother Nature. Customers will frequently ask if we leave tanks outside year round, and for many of them the answer is an emphatic, “yes!”

Many of you have probably had a bottle of white wine that appeared to have glass crystals settled at the bottom of the bottle. These crystals are not glass, but a natural salt that forms during chilling from excess potassium tartrate in wine.  Cold stabilization is the process of accomplishing this in the winery, rather than letting it happen in your bottle. This process takes place post fermentation and prior to bottling. Naturally, this is done mostly to the whites, to obtain that clean, clear look they have when poured into a glass.

Many wineries use cooling jackets around the tanks to stabilize their wine. Here at Red Newt Cellars, we’re not opposed to that, but we also let Mother Nature do some of the heavy lifting. We just allow the tanks to remain where they are, sometimes moving our mobile tanks outside, and let the winter temperatures do their thing. Temperatures the past few weeks have been cold, quite cold. Yes, this does mean the wines frequently freeze right inside the tanks. Fear not, no harm is done to the wine. In fact, our cellar crew makes sure to leave a 10% headspace (open space) in each tank to allow for freezing. Tanks which freeze will be stirred prior to filtering and bottling. Weird tidbit, the three pigs just off the wine shop deck, frequently have ice in them until May!  

Freshly Painted Tanks
The infamous 3 pigs!



A ‘Whey-ward’ Assistant Winemaker

Meagz Goodwin learns about cheese!!

Curiosity and the desire for adventure are often associated with the young at heart. Assistant winemaker Meagz Goodwin is naturally curious, loves new adventures and learning about new things. 

What started out as just a fun experience turned into a lovely article. Follow the link below to ready Meagz’s article, recently published in Edible Finger Lakes. I think you’ll agree she thoroughly enjoyed herself and is curious to learn more!

Edible Finger Lakes Article

Winter 2021

A look at the Beginning of a New Year

We at Red Newt have spent a significant amount of time trying to decide what our customers’ needs are right now and how best to meet those needs. After much discussion we realized the message was actually quite simple. We understand and we are here

We understand that many do not feel comfortable going out or traveling right now. Winter is here, the world is out of sorts and we respect your desire to remain home, minimize travel and stay safe. We understand and will continue to ship wine and offer curbside pick up. 

For those who want a relaxing time out, however, we are here and will remain open 7 days a week from 12pm until 5pm. The stove is lit, the seated area is warm and cozy, and we’re pleased to continue offering light fare and our wines by the Tadpole. Stop by to enjoy a quiet afternoon at our socially distanced tables; we’ll be here to greet you with a warm smile and bring you our world class wines and service.

Tadpoles in the snow
We are offering Tadpoles of all of our wine during the winter.

The Slow Wine Guide

A different way of evaluating wine.


Anyone who drinks wine has most likely heard of wine scores. Each year tens of thousands of bottles of wine are blind tasted and rated. These scores offer an assessment of the wine itself, but do have some shortcomings.  The amount produced, production style and source of the fruit used to make the wine are not considered. Furthermore, the only wines rated are those who submit their wine for review.

For decades, the wine industry has relied on this 100 point scale system as seen  in Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits and Wine Enthusiast Magazine to rate their wines. Wineries have long sought good scores in order gain recognition in the market and persuade consumers of the quality of their wines. From a consumer’s perspective, scores provided a gauge of wine to taste and consider in a world with thousands of producers, making wines in different countries, with different varieties and a myriad of styles. 

Italy’s Slow Wine Guide emerged in 2010. The approach they used in evaluating wine turned away from the conventional score based evaluation of wine. Instead, the group not only considered the quality of the wine, but the practices of its producers. Rather than just blind taste the wines, Slow Wine takes the time to get to know the producers and the sustainable approaches they use from the vineyard to the bottle. 

Beginning in 2017, Slow Wine began exploring American wines. First, they started building relationships with California producers, followed by Oregon and now New York. The philosophy they ascribe to is that wine is more than just what we taste in a bottle. Wine provides us with a sense of place and time, and they want to tell the wineries’ stories. 

We are excited to announce our 2018 Cabernet Franc was named a Top Wine for the 2021 Slow Wine Guide. This wine is perfect for winter! So order yours today online or swing by the wine shop daily from 12pm until 5pm!

Top Wine Award Slow Wine Guide 2021
Slow Wine Guide Top Wine Award

So, about that Vintage …

How was the 2020 Harvest?

How was the vintage? Will it be a good one? Frequently, winery staff hear this question beginning in June, just as the fruit set has occurred for the vines. People become even more curious during harvest. Will the wines be any good? Truth is, we often can only comment on the growing season, the quality of the fruit at harvest and perhaps list a few challenges the vintage faced. More times than not, what the vintage will look like in the bottle and how it will taste remains a few years down the road. 

We have learned the hard way in this industry to never write a vintage off as being unworthy. More often than not,  several years later that same vintage comes into its own with additional cellaring time and evolves into a fantastic vintage. 

The article we are sharing with you here should answer as succinctly as possible any questions you may have regarding vintage 2020. The majority of the wines from the vintage are still in process. Many will not be bottled until late spring or summer – then we wait and see.

FLX Times Article – the 2020 Harvest opens in a new window

Notes from the Winemaker

A Sneak Peek in the Wine club

by Kelby James Russell

We sent out our inaugural Wine Club Holiday Packs one week ago. So, we thought you might like a little peak into what we offer. Every Wine Club shipment comes with a newsletter and recipes from members of our team to go along with each wine. Below, you will find what Kelby submitted for his recipe. 

“In this unique holiday season in a rather difficult year, I find myself thinking back to holidays past.  These memories are warm and wonderful, but also a reminder that every year has its ups and downs, challenges and rewards.  The first year a loved one isn’t at the table, or that a new face is.  A holiday when gifts are an afterthought, but the laughter is not.  The holidays are our collective and individual prism on the year, and it is worth cherishing them past and present.

This year, I am thinking about the 2012 holidays.  Newly appointed the winemaker here at Red Newt, I was also in the midst of closing on my first home.  At the same time, Julia was living and working in Avignon in Southern France for a seven month stint.  While it was difficult being apart, we had secretly made plans to elope in Paris when I came to visit that holiday season.  And on a shoestring budget, we did just that.  

But where do you go for a honeymoon when you can barely afford to elope?  We settled on the Alsatian city of Strasbourg, the self proclaimed capital of Christmas, and found an impossibly inexpensive (and small) AirBnB to rent for a few nights.  And when I think back on that trip, I no longer remember those financial worries about making everything work out.  Instead, I remember the Christmas markets.  Snowflakes on our tongues and a skip in our hearts as we dashed about town.  The flash of Julia’s smile as she joked with a vendor in French, the sparkle of the Christmas lights in her eyes. 

And we both remember the dish below, even though it took us years to sort out what it was called.  A Christmas market staple of potatoes cooked with bacon, onions, and a ridiculous amount of cream and mountain cheese; easy enough to cook over an open fire, even easier in an oven.  A steal for a couple of euros, enough to fill both of us without worrying about the cost.  And the perfect companion for a rich and elegant Riesling to counterbalance the winter-hardiness of the dish: tartiflette.”


  •             Sea salt
  •             2 pounds waxy potatoes, like fingerlings, peeled
  •             1 tablespoon olive oil
  •             1 small onion, thinly sliced
  •             ½ cup diced bacon or pancetta
  •             1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  •             ¾ cup white wine
  •             Butter, for buttering gratin dish
  •             ¼ cup crème fraîche or heavy cream  
  •             ½ pound fragrant semi soft cow’s milk cheese (raclette, gruyere, limburger, or camembert)



  1.           Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Fill a large pan with water, season with a generous amount of salt. Add potatoes, and bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are almost tender but still slightly firm in center, about 10 minutes. Drain and slice thickly.
  2.           Return pan to medium heat. Add oil and bacon or pancetta, cook until the pork begins to brown.  Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, then mix in potatoes and thyme.  Cook for 5 minutes, then pour in white wine and reduce until almost gone. Season potatoes with salt, if needed. (If potatoes are not yet cooked through, place a lid on the pan and cook over low heat until tender.)
  3.           Butter a medium gratin dish. Pour in potato mixture and spoon over crème fraîche or heavy cream. Cut rind from cheese, and slice into large, thin wedges. Lay cheese over potatoes. Bake until the cheese is melted, bubbling and golden brown.

Happy Holidays to all of you. Be well, stay safe and we hope to see all of you again soon. You can follow the link below to join the Wine Club. 

Join the Red Newt Wine Club opens in a new window


A FLX Story Part V

A Harvest Reflection

By Jamie Rubin (Harvest Intern 2020)

Today we present the last installment of Jamie Rubin’s harvest reflection. We hope you have enjoyed reading about his harvest experience. This story first appeared as a post for Sommation_live, an IG channel offering a venue for wine education through shared experiences. 

Part V: November 22

Harvest has come to a close. Our final bit of fruit was something less than a ton of botrytized Riesling, which we hand harvested on a stunningly warm November day. It was foot trodden and basket pressed into old puncheons for fermentation. It smelled incredible! 

Much of this last week has been focused on clean-up. We’ve shut the press pad down for the winter, made sure that all the barreled wine is safely set aside to age, and done a  lot of cleaning and organizing. As they say, winemaking is mostly moving heavy things around and cleaning things. 

I can’t express my love and gratitude for the team at Red Newt Cellars. I feel incredibly privileged to have come here and turned what could have been a meaningful downshift in my career into a powerful learning experience. I can’t wait to see what happens next!