A few weeks ago I had one of my first contacts from the “Contact Us” section of my blog. Needless to say, I was pumped! Todd Eichas had reached out to me to invite me to taste at his winery, New Vines.
When I visited the website, I was intrigued. Todd and his wife Dani operate a charming Bed and Breakfast which is located on one of the hills on Seneca Lake close to a couple of my favorite wineries (Hermann Wiemer, Red Tail Ridge). So on a sunny Memorial weekend day, my husband and I drove to the B&B to check it out.
We were greeted with a warm smile and the place was instantly welcoming. The view is spectacular, and I was excited to taste! A little background on Todd, he has been making wines for some time, but really started to try his hand at it when he retired to the B&B. Todd retired from a career of being an Electrician and Training Manager, so I thought it was very cool how he has made his second career in winemaking. He is the epitome of “handmade.” From planting the vines, to pruning, trellising, harvesting, winemaking, etc- it is all him. There is a labor of love put into each and every one of his bottles, and it truly shows.
First up with the 2017 Dry Riesling. I’ll admit that the aromatics were not quite what I am used to from Seneca lake, but it was an overall nice wine. Good minerality, some floral notes, it was subtle, but enjoyable. I favored the Semi- Dry Riesling as the aromatics were a bit bolder including honeysuckle, honey and pineapple. The Semi-Dry Riesling was well balanced and would make an excellent pairing with spicy foods.
The next wine we tried was the 2017 Gruner Veltliner. For those of you who do not know, I’m an “everything but Chardonnay” kind of gal, and am obsessed with unique white varietals. Gruner is a varietal out of Austria, and it makes a beautiful and acidic crisp white wine. It is also a tough wine to grow here in the FLX region. Todd mentioned to me that he lost about 80% of the crop last winter, so kudos to him for sticking with this finicky varietal! It was worth it as this wine was AWESOME. Great citrus and lemon zest on the nose with a gravely finish. A few fun facts about this wine from Todd are that it is the only varietal that will go with asparagus, and he once had a Master Sommelier in from Belgium who loved this wine so much they purchased 70 cases of it!
Next up was by far one of the most unique wines I’ve tried from the FLX region in a while. It is the 2018 Dry Rose of Marquette. Marquette is an unusual varietal as it is a hybrid made from two other hybrid varieties. It was developed at the University of Minnesota and is extremely winter hardy. The aromatics on this wine were unlike anything else I have ever smelled. It was super fragrant, with boysenberries and violets on the nose. The wine was made more in an austere style, and would make an excellent pairing wine. I love that he is making an excellent wine from a hybrid varietal. So many wine drinkers will turn up their nose at hybrids, but there are a few producers out there who are doing some very cool things with hybrids, like Todd!
After a taste of the Semi-Dry Riesling (see notes above), we moved onto the reds. Hands down, the New Vines 2016 Cabernet Franc is one of the best Cabernet Francs I have tasted on Seneca Lake in awhile. There is beautiful white pepper spice and leather on the nose of this wine. There were other “earthy” smells to the wine that really gave it some character. The taste was equally enjoyable and complex, with great spice and dark fruit. I inquired with Todd how he oaks his wine, as to be honest, I didn’t see how his shop was big enough for oak barrels. He mentioned that he hung oak staves in his wine, and doesn’t prefer overly oaked wines. AMEN Todd. I totally agree. Maybe on a Chardonnay I like a little oak, but for the most part, subtle oak is the way to go from my perspective. 2016 was a warm year so this red showed excellent body and would be a perfect pairing for a dish with red sauce. But visit quickly, as with any boutique winery, supplies are limited! Do not miss out on this gem from a small producer!
The next two wines we tasted were the 2017 Lemberger and the 2017 Travis Red (a 50/50 Lemberger/Cabernet Franc blend). These reds were very enjoyable. Both wines had great depth, as I tasted black currants, cloves and black pepper on both of these wines. Todd certainly knows how to make excellent cool climate reds here in the Finger Lakes.
As a fun bonus wine, Todd poured my husband the 2017 Fireside Marquette. It is a fortified wine that is great for sipping by the fire (hence the name). He had lessons from the Fox Run winemaker in how to make this wine, as he is an expert in making fortified wines. This wine was fortified with neutral grape spirits. My husband thoroughly enjoyed the smoky overtones of this “port-like” wine.
After the tasting, Todd took us for a tour in his cellar and chatted with us more about New Vines. A few years ago he sold almost everything they made to guests, but he is trying to branch out and attract more people to his winery. He noted that 70% of the B&B business is repeat visitors, which speaks volumes to the level of hospitality that he and his wife Dani provide to guests. There is an evening social hour from 5-6 where they pour their wines with local cheeses. Todd also has a vast garden which he spoils guests with during the harvest season.
I can’t say enough great things about my visit to New Vines. Todd is wonderful and so authentic in his love for wine and hospitality. The Gruner Veltliner, Cabernet Franc, and Dry Rose of Marquette cannot be overlooked. Even though Todd may not have as many years of winemaking under his belt, he has talent. Plus, I feel like the wines just taste better knowing how much love he puts into each bottle!
Do yourself a favor and go for a tasting. Even better, stay at the B&B while you are visiting other Finger Lakes wineries! You will not be disappointed!