Sekt – Do you know it?

A Sparkling Wine!

Sekt is a German or Austrian sparkling wine. In fact, Germans consume more Sekt per person per year than the French do Champagne!

Production of this style of wine began 200 years ago after German winemakers returned from studying mèthode champenoise in Champagne, France. Winemakers used only the highest quality grapes (Pinot Noir, Champagne, Riesling, Traminer) to produce small batches of Sekt. After the devastation of the world wars producers turned to newer, high volume production methods to kick start the Sekt industry. They succeeded! Today, three Sekt houses in Germany produce more Sekt than all the producers of Champagne France. Unfortunately, this meant a reduction in quality for the sake of quantity produced. 

Today, several Sekt producers are returning to the more traditional methods of production focused on high quality small batch production. It is with this in mind that Red Newt Cellars began producing this  style of wine in 2015.


The 2020 Sekt grapes just arrived to begin their journey into wine. Stay tuned for more on Sekt!

The Three Pigs!!!

Given new life!

For all those of you who have spent time on Red Newt’s beautiful deck enjoying our gorgeous view, you might remember three not so attractive tanks just below you. Well, we’re happy to say they have finally gotten a face lift. What we use to loving refer to as the three little pigs have shed their skin and have become something new. Like many tanks in our cellar we will have to come up some new names for these three. Any ideas? We are open to suggestions. 


Catwalks!!!!!!! Meeeeoww…

They may seem like commonplace things in wineries but here at Red Newt we are still getting used to the convenience. For only two harvests have we had the luxury of these feline named walkways, and boy do we like them. It certainly beats moving ten foot ladders around from tank to tank. Sadly only humans have had the honor of strutting their stuff on the catwalk … On the catwalk … Do a little dance on the catwalk.
– James (cellar rat afraid of cats)

Lees …

What are they?

You hear the winemaking team talk about lees, but what are they?! Lees are the remains of yeast cells post fermentation. They settle on the bottom of the tank or barrel and often have a mud-like consistency.
At Red Newt, we leave our Rieslings (and other varietals) in contact with the full lees post-fermentation for a few very choice reasons. First, they help build the complexity of wine flavors and aromas, palate weight, and texture in the wine. Second, lees are excellent at protecting the wine from oxidation.
There are a few other factors involved, but we don’t need to get overly technical here! Enjoy the glamour shot of lees at the bottom of a recently emptied tank.


Getting to Know Tony Damiani

  • Harvest at Glacier Ridge

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Anthony moved to Hector as an infant in 1963. Raised in a farm house on Rte 414, he helped his older brother, Paul, plant the first vineyard on family land in the mid 70’s. Later, he and his brother Lou began Damiani Vineyards in 1998. A graduate of Cornell’s Agricultural and Life Sciences College, Anthony holds a full-time position at Cornell while managing his vineyard with his wife, Anne.

  Anthony’s 8 acre vineyard is located on his 30 acre farm and produces Glacier Ridge wines through Red Newt. It is a perfect example of the extraordinary variation in soil types within one vineyard which is so common in the Finger Lakes. His vineyard consists of three blocks of grapes, each of which has very different soil. He and his wife have been active in area environmental causes and have  made strides towards eliminating the use of herbicides in the vineyard for the health of the grapes as well as the environment. Anthony has focused on producing mostly red varietals including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. 

 Everyone loves Harvest and Anthony is no exception but he also notes that early Spring is another really exciting time when you can experience the unfolding of the new growth and the challenge of trimming  and training the vines to produce the best grapes possible.

 In addition to the vineyard, Anthony & Anne Damiani also run an Airbnb from the family homestead where Anthony grew up. In the summer months, when his college age son, Bryce is home to help out, Anthony can sneak away for a few hours to sail his Hobe Cat on beautiful  Seneca Lake

About the Barrels in the Cellar

Size Matters!

Barrel Puncheons
Greetings from the cellar once again!  After talking about large format bottles last week, we thought we would keep the theme going this week.  But rather than talking about bottles, now we’re talking about barrels.
As the name implies, large format barrels are barrels that are larger than the normal 225L/60gal standard wine barrel.  But how much larger is where things get interesting.  Unlike with bottles, it isn’t as straightforward as being multiples of a ‘standard’ size, larger barrels come in all sorts of very-specific sizes.  In this instance, we are looking at a 450L puncheon that is holding our Glacier Ridge Syrah (the 2019 is shown here, compared to the 2017 that we’ve been posting about this week.)
So what is the point of this double-sized barrel?  Generally speaking, it is a way of getting a more moderate oak impact on the wine than in regular barrels; while the volume is twice that of a normal barrel in a puncheon, the oak surface area is nowhere near double.  The result is a lovely texture and structure for the wine, but with less of the oaky flavors and aromas that can get in the way of the fruit.

Getting to Know Peter Martini

Vineyard Manager of the Nutt Road Vineyard

This week both Wine Stories and Aged Wines examine rosé. What better way to prepare for rosé than to learn a bit about the man who manages all the Cabernet Franc grapes that make the wine!

Peter Martini may not be FLX born, but he was raised  in the Finger Lakes and lived all but 10 years post college here. His parents, Ann and John, planted grapes for Taylor Wine Co. in 1972. After the demise of that market in the 1980s they decided to start Anthony Road Winery, in 1989. They began planting some vinifera at that time and maintained some of the hybrids that were already established. 

Peter graduated from Clarkson University in the spring of 1990 with a B.S. in Business Management (he says he failed at his attempt at an engineering degree). He then moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming after college, not willing to become an equities trader right away, fell in love with the place and spent the next 10 years there as an automotive technician at a small repair shop. Peter comments,  “towards the end of my stay in Jackson Hole, I met and got engaged to my wife, Margot, who was from Long Island. We decided to move back East and I would help my parents with the vineyards/winery. I have been the vineyard manager since 2000. This despite hating the vineyards in my youth, now I cannot think of anything I would rather do.”

Peter says, “I currently manage a total of close to 100 acres of primarily vinifera grapes. Our home farm has 35 acres and the Nutt Road Farm is 65 acres. Both are on the north west side of Seneca Lake. We manage the Nutt Road farm for its outside owners. While each season in the vineyard has its bright spots, my favorite time is post-harvest. The crop is in, the work is done, and I can take a break from the vineyards and not worry too much.” Peter approaches each day and harvest with the same work ethic his parents instilled in him. He  constantly and consistently works hard to grow the best possible grapes he can grow and believes in balance in the vineyards.

Peter Martini

Peter lives on Seneca Lake and loves looking at the water, seeing how it changes daily. Peter says, “What I like most about the wine industry here is the great sense of cooperation versus competition. It says so much about the type of community we are.  I enjoy golfing, but it looks like I may have to wait a bit as golf courses are not open just yet.” 

A Rewarding Albeit Arduous Task

Inventory ….

Here at Red Newt we can’t help ourselves – we bottle a bunch of unique wines every vintage.  The downside?  The arduous, quarterly-task of inventory day.  From ceiling to cellar, we search the entire building and count every last case and bottle of wine.  This task serves as a great reminder of the beautiful wines we have in stock.

Today in particular we reminisce over the magnums of Riesling: the hand-filling, the hand-leveling, the hand-corking, the hand-labeling, and the hand-waxing. All in all, a lot of extra labor worth every minute of the cellar team’s effort. Plus, magnums hold two bottles, so they make an impressive display. 

We are pleased to be able to present these age-worthy bottles that always end up being the center of attention when they are opened. Let’s be honest, we are pleased we get to enjoy them ourselves as well!

So, the next time you drop by Red Newt Cellars Winery and Bistro, have a look at the magnums. They are stunning, a conversation starter and a celebration in a bottle. We look forward to showing off these wines to you!Line up of magnums

Getting to Know Eric from Sawmill Creek

Eric Hazlitt is Finger Lakes born and bred. He was born into a family of farmers that started working the Hector land in 1852. Eric is a 6th generation farmer, who grew up right on the farm learning the ins and outs of grape farming.  He graduated from Cobleskill College and returned to Hector to work the family farm. Eric Hazlitt with Jason and Erin

Eric and his team work hybrid and vinifera grape blocks. Their grapes have produced many quality bottles of wine for nearly two dozen different wineries through the years and decades. As a dedicated grape growing farm, their blocks of grapes have also produced numerous award winning Single Vineyard wines for the most prominent Finger Lakes Wineries. 

After years of working alongside his father Jim, Eric and his wife Tina now run the farm. Sawmill Creek Vineyards is still a family affair as both of Eric’s children also work full time on the farm. The next generation works hard every day learning to mesh tried and true practices with the new techniques of the industry. Eric Hazlitt

Do not worry though, it is not business all the time. Eric and his family are also Seneca Lake lovers. As much as they love the land they work with, they also revere the beauty of the lake. Eric and Tina seize every opportunity to be down by the lake or on the lake.  If it’s a nice day, get the work done, head to the lake, take a deep breath and exhale.  The best way to relax in Hector? Take a boat ride! Make it a family affair!