Standing Stone Vineyards: Finger Lakes, NY

On a recent trip to the Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York, I stopped by Standing Stone Vineyards, located on the east side Lake Seneca for a tour and tasting. Seneca is a Native Indian name, roughly translating to mean “Place of the Stone.”

Standing Stone Vineyards

Standing Stone Vineyards

Standing Stone Vineyards, which overlooks Lake Seneca (received its AVA in 2003) was founded in 1991 by Tom and Marti Macinski. Some of the vineyards are planted in the same area as the historic Gold Seal Winery, which is long closed. The winery boasts of 41-acres of planted grapes, producing approximately 8,000 cases of “top-notch” wine. Their first crush, which occurred in 1993, yielded a mere 800 cases of wine, which sold out in 12 weeks! Most of the barrels used for the wines are made from American oak, although the winery experiments with French and Hungarian oak.

Marti Macinski and Gary Smith, the winery’s salesman, took us on a most splendid tour of the facilities, culminating in a tasting of more than a dozen wines. My tasting notes are grouped from dry wines (white and red) to sweet wines.

2013 Chardonnay (Vineyards planted in 1972 by Charles Fournier and Guy DeVeaux of Gold Seal Vineyards): The wine was fermented and aged (mostly) in stainless steel. Tropical overtones, with strong flavors of pear, apple, and honeydew melon.

2013 Dry Vidal: Most Vidal is used in the making of sweet, dessert wines. Charles Fournier and Guy DeVeaux of Gold Seal Vineyards planted the grapes in 1975. Vidal is a French hybrid of Ugni Blanc and Rayon d’Or, developed in 1929 by Jean-Louis Vidal. The wine has a lovely, pronounced aroma of citrus, pineapple, and pears. It has 0.5% R.S., which is dry, with plenty of good acidity, which keeps this wine clean and crisp tasting. Definitely one of the best dry Vidal wines I have encountered!

2013 Riesling (Vineyards planted in 1972 by Charles Fournier and Guy DeVeaux of Gold Seal Vineyards) Hints of gold-green in the glass with a perfumed, flowery aroma of peach skin, apricots, and green apple. It’s quite dry, with plenty of acidity to balance the high fruit overtones.

2013 Gewürztraminer: I love a good Gewürztraminer and this wine is brimming with aromas of jasmine, litchi, spices, and allspice. Round in the mouth with flavors of grapefruit.

2009 Merlot (Marti and Tom planted this vineyard back in 1994): Spicy cherry immediately jumps out of the glass; followed by hints of smokiness, herbs, and citrus.

2010 Merlot: (Aged in American oak for 18 months): Ruby colored with a bouquet and flavor of chocolate-cherry; big flavors and great structure.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon: (Aged in American oak for 18 months; some Merlot and Petit Verdot added): Cherry-colored with a bouquet and flavor of black currants, cranberry, and blackberry. Hints of cedar and licorice. Dry with a long finish.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Barrel-sample): Bright ruby colored with aromas of wild cherry, red candy, and blueberries. Should develop into a stunning wine.

2012 Saperavi: (“sah-peh-RAH-vee”; Dark red grape originally from The Republic of Georgia): Deep, dark colored with a full bouquet and flavor of pomegranate, black plums, black tea, black currants, and cherry. Excellent structure and balance. Very little is produced…so don’t miss buying some!

2013 Saperavi (Barrel-sample from 20-year old vines): The wine is already showing its pedigree with layers of dark fruit and plenty of pomegranate.

2011 Petit Verdot: (Aged in American and French oak for 18 months)Petit Verdot is used almost exclusively as a blending grape and not many wineries bottle it as a varietal wine. A bouquet and flavor of blackberry and plums. Hints of leather, pepper, and spices are also present.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (library reserve; blended with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot): Deep ruby-colored with a full bouquet of dark chocolate, raspberries, and Morello cherry. Medium-bodied and tannic with plenty of life ahead.

NV Smokehouse Red (A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Pinot Noir): Wow, what a surprise. Lovely ruby color and so full of spices, cherry-chocolate, and cinnamon. Dry, with mouth-filling flavors and a hint of smoke in the aftertaste. Don’t miss a bottle (or case)!

2012 Vidal “Ice Wine” (40 degrees Brix; 20% R.S.; 11.2% alc; TA 0.82 g/100ml.): Golden colored with an intense bouquet and flavor of banana, citrus, roses, oolong tea, and apricots.

2013 Riesling “Ice Wine” (41 degrees Brix; 20.3% R.S.; 12.4% alc; TA 1.03 g/100ml.): Light yellow colored with a perfumed bouquet and medium-full body of honey, apricots, tea, citrus, and white peach. The acid really balances out this wine.

2008 Gewürztraminer “Ice Wine” (43 degrees Brix; 19.5% R.S.; 11.8% alc): I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a Gewürztraminer Ice Wine, but I’m not going to miss the next bottle. Lovely overtones of so many spices…nutmeg and cinnamon, along with tea, coconut, honey, apricots, and plenty of litchi.

I’m already making plans to revisit Standing Stone sometime in 2015; why don’t you join me!

Ice Wines: Vidal, Gewürztraminer, Riesling

Ice Wines: Vidal, Gewürztraminer, Riesling

Bob Lipinski, Executive Director of High Impact Business Solutions and author of nine books, writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on many subjects. He can be reached at OR


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