As he surveys the grapevines at Atwater Estate Vineyards in Burdett, Schuyler County, owner Ted Marks is seeing red. Yet his blood pressure doesn’t creep up a bit.
Like others across the region, Atwater is enjoying advanced ripening in the vineyards this year, compared to the wet, challenging season of 2009. More time on the vine in hot, dry weather may mean the chance to quiet a few more critics of Finger Lakes red wine, Marks says.
Strides in that regard have already been made with the success of the winery’s 2007 Meritage and 2007 Pinot Noir, says Marks, whose operation has the additional advantage of being in the Banana Belt, a curved notch of land on Seneca Lake’s southeastern shore known for its relative warmth.
Even in years without bumper crops, the winery makes the best of it, Marks says. Lower yields of certain white grapes in 2009 led Atwater winemaker Vinny Aliperti to reintroduce a blend of Gewurztraminer and Riesling called Rewurz. Not in the rotation since 2004, the wine has a run of just 300 cases and is selling well, Marks says.
Rewurz joins roughly 430 cases of the 2009 Dry Riesling and older whites, including the 2008 Pinot Gris and the 2008 Vidal Blanc.
As a dry wine lover, Marks tends to reach for Atwater’s Stone Bridge Red, a nonvintage blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Corot Noir. Yet the winery does produce sweet wines, mainly under the Somerset label.
“There’s a very definite demand for sweeter wines,” says Marks, adding that those products sometimes act as a gateway for consumers to drier, more nuanced options.
Still riding high on the staycation phenomenon, visitor numbers at Atwater’s tasting room are up by 1,000 people when compared to 2009, Marks says. Sales also have risen 21 percent.
Passage of legislation allowing wine sales in grocery stores would spur Atwater to grow its 8,000-case annual production, Marks says. He believes the approval is only a matter of time.
“The public wants this,” he says.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Tasting fee: $2 for up to 12 samples. The additional fee to taste the sparkling wine and the limited edition Syrah is returned when purchasing either or both wines.
Accessibility: Fully accessible.
Courtesy of Atwater Estate Vineyards
Reconstructed in the fall of 2003, the tasting room has floor-to-ceiling windows.