I’m not normally in the business of breaking news here on The Cork Report — but sometimes you learn about larger, more important happenings that deserve to be the exception to the rule. Today’s news that Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard‘s owners, Fred Merwarth and Oskar Bynke, have purchased Standing Stone Vineyards from Tom and Marti Macinski (all pictured at right), is beyond worthy of making an exception. This is big news in a still-small wine region.
The press release below offers some of the details — details that I hope to dig into soon with those involved. In the meantime, Bynke told me today via email “We take over the whole operation and ownership. So yes, we bought it.”
Congratulations to Fred and Oskar — and also to Tom and Marti, who will continue with the winery for the next few years .
(Seneca Lake, NY) The owners of Herman J. Wiemer Vineyard have been named as the successors of Standing Stone Vineyards by Tom and Marti Macinski, Standing Stone’s founders. Winemaker Fred Merwarth and his business partner Oskar Bynke have successfully integrated their progressive methodologies into Wiemer’s longstanding heritage to create the next generation of HJW wines, and are excited to do the same for Standing Stone.
“Marti and Tom have been trailblazers in the Finger Lakes wine industry, helping to advance our region’s vinifera, pushing our wines forward and into their rightful spot on the world stage,” said Oskar. “It is with great admiration and respect that we continue the work of this iconic Estate.”
Standing Stone Vineyards began in 1991 when the Macinskis purchased the historic vineyards originally planted by Charles Fournier and Guy DeVeaux of Gold Seal Vineyards on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake. Standing Stone maintains the most significant sites of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Saperavi in the Finger Lakes region, and is also known for its line of acclaimed ice-style wines.
“I’ve always admired the quality of the sites at Standing Stone. There’s a fascinating mesoclimate at work there, which we look forward to exploring further,” said Fred, who started as Wiemer’s apprentice, took over as winemaker in 2003, and then ownership with Oskar and their families in 2007 when Wiemer retired.
“It’s never an easy decision to begin to pull back from something you love, something that’s consumed you for over 25 years,” admitted Marti, who, with her husband Tom, believes that the winemaking process starts deep in the soil of the vineyards. “At the end of the day, you’re a farmer. Each crop depends on Mother Nature, and each vintage on what the grapes tell you.”
On the west side of Seneca Lake, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard has been pioneering Finger Lakes vinifera since 1979 and is recognized worldwide as a top U.S. Riesling producer. Always at the forefront of site-specific farming, by incorporating biodiversity building and ecosystem health into their vineyard management under Merwarth and Bynke, the winery has earned acclaim for their Cabernet Franc and Sparkling wines as well.
“When we began thinking about the future of Standing Stone Vineyards, we knew we had to find someone who understands that distinctive wines start in the roots of the vines,” explained Marti. “Oskar and Fred share our values, our vision and our love and understanding of the land. We knew right away there was no one else we would ever trust our life’s work to.”
The gradual and collaborative management transition begins this month, with the Macinskis keeping an active role at Standing Stone over the next few years. On the surface, nothing changes, with both wineries continuing to produce wines unique to their estates and maintaining their own identity. “There is a special legacy here that we will continue to honor and preserve, just like we’ve done at Wiemer,” says Oskar.