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
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!

A Cellar Story

Sekt!

This week in the Cellar, we’re all thrilled to be able to take a deep breath this Friday!  It has been a busy (but successful!) week and, believe it or not, this plywood box is the end result.
Sekt in Crates
Crated and ready for storage!
 
What are we so excited about?  Sekt!  Or, to be more precise, the bottling of our 2019 Sekt.  Sekt is a term in the Germanic wine world for sparkling wine, and in our case it describes the traditional method sparkling Riesling that we make each year from Tango Oaks Vineyard.  And what does traditional method mean?  It means that the second fermentation, the one that will give the wine its sparkle, is very carefully done in the bottles themselves.
 
Some of our more ardent fans may be wondering, if we make this every year, why haven’t they seen any yet?  This wooden crate holds the answer – we’re still aging every version we’ve made since 2015 on the yeast lees inside the bottles.  This process, while time consuming, will deepen and broaden the wine considerably before we clean it up for release.  Due to the pressure in the bottles – six times pressure at sea level! – we store them in a container where any weak bottles that shatter won’t cause any harm.

 
Bottles in Crates
Packed carefully and neatly!

Getting to Know Ken Fulkerson

Lahoma Grower – Ken Fulkerson

Tied Vines at Lahoma Vineyard

Many of you have heard of Lahoma Vineyards. This vineyard produces the grapes that become Riesling ‘The Knoll,’ Riesling Lahoma and Riesling ‘The Big H.’ But, the majority of you probably know little to nothing about Lahoma Vineyard’s owner Ken Fulkerson. Ken, a Finger Lakes native, is the son of Harlan Fulkerson, a 6th generation farmer. He was raised in and around Dundee, NY and at one point lived in the farmhouse that is now Fulkerson’s Winery. Ken was born into a grape growing family and grew up in the business and on the farm. 

This didn’t stop him from doing other things. In 199, Ken entered the Air Force in telecommunications and remained in that field until he retired in 2017. Ken’s work in telecommunications did not stop him from establishing foundations at home. Ken has a 70 acre farm, with 40 acres currently in grape production and will expand that to 45 acres over the next two years. 

Ken says he is blessed on the Lahoma farm. The Lahoma Vineyard is not just unique because of well drained soils and its rolling knolls.  Every day, we put generations of experience and attention to detail into how we guide it.  The result is a pristine vineyard that delivers the highest quality fruit for the production of world class wines.

When asked when his favorite time of year is, he speaks of a time between the seasons. Once pruning is completed the vines must be tied. This can start as early as February and is completed no later than the end of April. Ken says, “Right after the grapes have been tied. They just have a clean look and you can give a little smile knowing you’re ready for spring to kick off.” 

The Finger Lakes is home for Ken. He loves the beauty of our region, the stunning state parks and all the outdoor activities available at each of them. More importantly, he loves the nature of the people of the Finger Lakes, they are generally kindhearted and friendly folks. 

A Cellar View – Bravo James!

Bravo James!

James with bucket tree

Welcome back to the cellar on – what we hope is – the last chilly week of the spring!

Not that we have anything against working in the cold, or being wet, as anyone who saw Meagz in the snow last week would realize.  But it is nice to be able to plan outdoor tasks without worrying about water freezing under your feet!

So for this last week fully indoors, we’re checking in with our Cellar Master James.  While he clearly is dealing with cabin fever – we promise he doesn’t always look this way! – he also has spent this week building a much needed item for us: a PVC bucket tree.  This may be a sign of how mundane cellar life actually is, but being able to dry our buckets in one, compact space?  Definitely the most exciting thing that has happened to us this month.

Our Memories

Your Memories

  • the Knoll in Vineyard
  • Grilled Cheese Sanwich
  • Sunset at Red Newt
  • travis knapp

Often we equate memories with milestones of success or celebration. Yet, the thing about memories is that sometimes they are fickle. Sudden changes in circumstances generate even greater fickleness. Memories that seemingly carry the greatest weight, suddenly seem to pale in comparison to other memories.  Sadly, and more frequently, we never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory. So today we could reminisce about being named Winery of the Year in 2011, or being named to the top 100 wineries of North America. Yet, under the current circumstances, different memories suddenly carry greater significance and importance. 

Moments and memories of all of you, our customers, keep coming to mind. For instance, the couple that got engaged in the bistro or tasting room. The couple that bought a bottle of wine on their honeymoon, kept it in the cellar, kept in a box during their separation, then decided to share the bottle together. That bottle became part of a reconciliation. A couple that comes in every Sunday just to enjoy music and a glass of wine.  Friends who come to enjoy a glass of wine on the deck with their pups. So many moments and so many memories of all of you continue to flood our minds daily. Your memories, they are the special moments that tell our story.

So, today, we ask you to share your special moments and memories of Red Newt Cellars Winery and Bistro with us. Share a photo or share a memory so your moments and memories become part of our story. We thank you for being a part of our story, and helping us remember the importance of moments and memories. We hope to see all of you soon!

Getting to Know Fred from Tango Oaks

Our Farmers – Fred Wickham

Fred Wickham headshot

Fred Wickham is Finger Lakes born and bred. Raised on the family farm in Hector, NY, Fred is a sixth generation farmer. His family is among some of the first families that settled along the Hector corridor at the turn of the 19th centuries. They began as fruit growers (mostly peaches and cherries) and expanded into grapes later into the 19th century. At its peak, the farm was over 800 acres dedicated to fruit and grape production.

Fred never wanted to be a grape grower. Like so many in the Finger Lakes, Fred’s dreams and aspirations looked far beyond the town of Hector. At Syracuse University he studied art and design and  pursued a career in marketing and design. When the time came to begin raising a family Fred returned to home to Hector and the farm. 

The current Wickham’s Tango Oaks Farm is round 80 acres of which 40 are farmed. Over the past 20 years the passion for farming has grown, and Fred’s children also now help on the farm, making them 7th generation farmers. Tango Oaks is a site “with incredible soil,” says Fred. “We have mostly Lansing and Howard gravel over shale. Perfect for growing fruit of all kinds. We are very diversified with an equal emphasis on grapes, cherries and peaches. Tango Oaks also has one of the prettiest views on all of Seneca Lake. We are dedicated to providing great fruit. Our practices utilize a combination of common sense aged-old wisdom and proven cutting edge technology and techniques. We look to the land and the plants provide us with guidance.”

Many assume a grower’s favorite time of year is harvest. For Fred, it is spring! The rebirth, renewal, the possibilities of a new growing season, and of course the colorful transition from winter that includes all the cherry and peach blossoms. All signs that warmer weather is on its way!