Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards Sold to New Owner

I was originally introduced to the wonderful Finger Lakes Rieslings of Hermann J. Wiemer by fellow food addict philadining. I’ve also written about Wiemer’s wines here in the past, citing the estate as producing one of the finest Rieslings of North America. Wiemer studied his art in Germany and brought the sensibilities he learned there to play in crafting all of the wines at his New York estate. So it was with trepidation that I learned recently, through a post at LennDevours, that Wiemer has recently sold his estate to a new owner. Transfers of ownership like this tend to take one of three inevitable directions: good intentions eventually leading to decline, homogenization or brand dilution through insertion into the new owner’s larger portfolio, or – all too rarely – a slow, steady improvement in the hands of a talented and inspired new leader. Here’s hoping for the lattermost scenario.

Best wishes to Hermann, who will stay on in an advisory role. And best of luck to Frederick T. Merwarth, the new owner of Wiemer Vineyards.


Jason Feulner said...

Knowing what I do about Wiemer, I'm sure the man took a great deal of time to come to this decision. I believe that Merwarth has been under Wiemer's offical tutlege for several years. Wiemer is a calculating, deliberate person who built his winery from literally nothing--his experience in Germany's cooler but successful growing regions inspired him to take a chance in the Finger Lakes almost 30 years ago. The results speak for themselves.

For the most part, Finger Lakes wineries are not yet as lucrative as their California counterparts. Transfers of ownership are very subdued affairs that are not handicapped by a runaway market that disqualifies those with the proper skills who lack financial backing. Thankfully, most wineries are able to make good decisions as to whom they wish to sell their winery and brand name.

David McDuff said...

Thanks for your insightful comments. With knowledge of a close, established relationship between Wiemer and Merwarth in hand, the future of the estate seems brighter. I'll look forward to tasting the wines in the coming years.

philadining said...

Yeah, thanks for that reassurance Jason! I was seriously bummed to hear that Hermann Wiemer was moving on, his wines have absolutely thrilled me for the last few years. It was with some trepidation that I first poured this for McDuff, because I knew it would be hard to impress him with domestic riesling. I was pleased that he, and most everyone else I've shared it with, enjoyed it. That Dry Riesling is a favorite, and his dry Gewurtztraminer is a wonder to behold as well. More recently I've become enamored of his sweet late-harvest Rieslings, especially the "bunch select" LH. So it saddens me to think I might not have a steady source of this stuff in perpetuity.

But if Wiemer has been working closely with his successor, there's some hope he's passed on some skills, and more importantly, his ongoing involvement might be greater than the typical figurehead role. Let's hope Merwarth has been paying attention, and has appropriate respect for what Wiemer has accomplished!

He's been making wine up there for a long time, so no one can fault him for wanting to slow down. That said, I'm going to seize the moment and stock up. You might want to as well, one can order from the website:

David McDuff said...

phila-d, Thanks for posting your thoughts -- and for sharing. I'm indebted for the introduction to Wiemer's wines.

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