Standing Stone Vineyards featured in Wine Spectator’s June 2018 issue “Wineries to Watch” by Emma Balter

In the June 2018 issue of Wine Spectator, Assistant Editor Emma Balter highlights 4 wineries, including Standing Stone Vineyards, that are “shaping the future of the Finger Lakes.” She spoke to co-owner Oskar Bynke and winemaker Jess Johnson about what projects lie ahead for the winery. Read the excerpt from the article here.


Tom and Martha Macinski founded Standing Stone in the early 1990s on a beautiful sloping spot on Seneca Lake’s east bank. But now, after nearly three decades, the couple has decided to retire. In June of last year, they sold their property and 50 acres of vineyards to Fred Merwarth and Oskar Bynke of their celebrated neighbor, Hermann J. Wiemer, and will be slowly transitioning out of the operation. 


“You have to see this as almost a start-up project,” says Bynke. “We’re going back to the basics.” The new team is reevaluating everything and getting to know the site. They’ll be looking at what works and what doesn’t over the next couple years and figuring out what to focus on moving forward. But a few decisions have been made already. The Vidal Blanc that made property’s ice wine is being torn out due to the vine’s poor health. (Pinot Blanc will likely replace it.) The old-vine Riesling that was planted in 1972 used to make two single-vineyard cuvees, which could be discontinued and made into something different. For now, a regular dry Riesling, a Gewürztraminer, and a Chardonnay will be sold under the label. 


When the Wiemer team came in, they asked Jessica Johnson, the Standing Stone winemaker who is staying on, what she wanted to make. Her response: Saperavi rosé. The winery had used the grape in its red wines, both in a varietal bottling and in a blend, but Johnson’s idea was a first. “We find it to be a really unique variety,” she says. “I’m always excited to play with it.” The inaugural 2017 vintage is distinctly savory, with the piercingly high acidity that is typical of the grape. 


Changes will be made in the vineyard as well, starting with the elimination of herbicides and pesticides, and the adoption of organic and biodynamic farming practices. Harvest will be conducted with several passes through the vineyards to capture optimal ripeness, replicating the process done by the meticulous team at Wiemer. A renovation of the Civil War-era cellars, as well as the tasting room is also in store. This transition is one to watch as the new ownership settles in and develops a unique identity in the years to come.


Excerpt from Wine Spectator June Issue
“Wineries to Watch” 
-Emma Balter