Since its first vintage in 1977, Heron Hill has grown from a small 5,000 case winery that only made white wines into an award-winning, dynamic, 20,000 case production facility and entertainment destination for more than 50,000 people every year.
Overlooking scenic Keuka Lake, the winery’s tasting room is a sprawling, beautiful space with neat architecture and a friendly staff. At the recommendation of Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report, my tasting party met with tasting hall manager, Tambi Schweizer during a recent visit to the winery. Tambi’s knowledge of her products and her enthusiasm for the wine business is palpable and made my party’s time at the winery all the more enjoyable.
Our tasting focused primarily on comparing various wines of the same varietal against one another with a peppering of other neat finds.
- First on the list were the 2008 Ingle Vineyards Chardonnay Unoaked ($14.99) and the 2009 Classic Chardonnay Unoaked ($12.99). Both wines are light and refreshing with notes of green apple, but the former is super well-balanced with lemony undertones and mineral-infused, longish finish. Both enjoyable, but Ingle Vineyards will only found at the winery (which I did).
- Second, and being sampled alone, was the 2008 Reserve Pinot Blanc ($17.99). Nice all-purpose wine with crisp green apple nose and the right level of acidity that would make it likeable with food or without.
- Next on agenda were the 2007 Reserve Old Vines Riesling ($24.99), the 2008 Classic Dry Riesling ($12.99) and the 2007 Ingle Vineyard Riesling ($14.99). All three are nice examples of Finger Lakes Rieslings, but the Reserve with its bold juicy citrus bouquet and crisp finish reminded me of the best tastings in Mosel. The Ingle offers the characteristics I enjoy in a Riesling: lemony, tart green apple but with a richness and crisp finish I crave to pair with shellfish.
- Tambi offered a nice treat, the 2009 Classic Muscat ($12.99). Tropical flower nose, tropical fruit flavors. Neat wine.
- We moved on to sweeter Rieslings with the 2008 Classic Semi-Dry Riesling ($12.99) and the 2009 Classic Semi-Sweet Riesling ($12.99). The Semi-Dry is Heron Hill’s most popular Riesling – for good reasons. It’s sweet on the palate, dry on the finish with a nice amount of acidity. The Semi-Sweet is super with its mouthful of juicy pear/peach and its flowery nose – craving spicy Indian food just remembering it.
- Next on the agenda were the Pinot Noirs: 2007 Ingle Vineyard Pinot Noir ($14.99) and the 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir ($29.99). The Ingle Vineyard is light in color and offers a silky mouthfeel and cherry/raspberry flavors. The slightly smoky reserve is fuller-bodied, boasts of bright cherries in the glass, on the nose and on the palate. Nice wine.
- Next were the 2007 Classic Cabernet Franc ($12.99) and the 2006 Eclipse Red ($13.99). The Cab Franc is a nice example of a varietal that not all vineyards in the Finger Lakes do well. Food-friendly wine with big mouthful of ripe raspberries and oaky finish. Can’t wait to pair this wine with my porcini risotto.
- Last but certainly not least were the Late Harvest wines: 2005 Late Harvest Chardonnay ($44.99) and the 2007 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc ($17.99). Love late harvest wines, so was excited to try these. Both offer a honeyed and lush ripe fruit flavors but the Vidal Blanc has a nice spicy finish and 13.5% residual sugar level that I loved.
The wines are enjoyable and showcase Finger Lakes favorites in a positive light. Visiting the winery around lunchtime? Don’t hesitate to grab a tasty bite at the Heron Hill Café located on the premises. Ask for the ‘adult grilled cheese’ not featured on the menu, it’s a winner.
To order Heron Hill wines, visit the winery online or better yet, stop by the tasting room located at:
9301 County Route 76
Hammondsport, NY 14840