My most recent stop visiting winemakers during harvest around the Finger Lakes was at Hosmer Winery on Cayuga Lake. It was a beautiful, sunny day when I visited last week. Head winemaker Julia Hoyle agreed with her fellow winemakers that the wet growing season had an impact, but that the warm dry spell in September was a big help.
“What I look for in the vineyard is flavor development more so than anything else. So, we don’t have as high sugar levels as other years, but the flavors are really good. So, that’s okay and the sugar levels aren’t low by any means they’re just not as high as say in a drought year like last year.”
The Hosmer family began growing grapes on their acreage in the 1970s and began making wine in the mid 80s. Julia Hoyle is a recent addition to the team, coming over to Hosmer from Sheldrake Point in January.
“Several months ago, Tunker looked at me and said, ‘Do you know what I really don’t like when people say? We’ve always done it that way.’ So, there are certain products that are going to be what they’ve always been, but I do have some leeway with certainly the Riesling portfolio, to mess around and try different fermentations and experiment a bit.”
Hosmer remains a family affair. Tim Hosmer is largely taking over the vineyards and works closely with Hoyle. It’s part of an embrace of young wine industry professionals in the Finger Lakes that she says is good for the region.
“There’s a lot of young people either at the assistant winemaker level or as a cellar hand right now that are looking to break in. What’s exciting about the Finger Lakes is like my experience at Hosmer. I don’t have a set portfolio that I have to walk into and make the same wines as they’ve been made for X many years. There’s a lot of experimentation. A lot of owners are open to that and not every wine region is that way. I think younger regions you have more opportunity to experiment as a winemaker. Where more established regions, that can be trickier to find the right spot to work.”
You can find past stories featuring winemakers from Fox Run, Red Newt, and Red Tail Ridge talking about their 2017 harvest experiences on our website. My next visit will be with August Deimel at Keuka Spring.