Vinny began making wine in the Finger Lakes with the 2000 vintage; in 2001, he became a winemaker at Atwater where he has headed our winemaking operations since 2003. Vinny’s style is often described as crisp and fruit-driven with a focus on creating intense but balanced wines. His dynamic approach has earned him praise both locally and nationally, including several write-ups in The Wine Spectator and New York Cork Report.
Reflecting on the harvest, Vinny explained that with each new vintage comes the excitement and anxiety of the harvest. “We are still a week or two behind thanks to a late start back in the spring and a relatively mild summer. But as is the case in most years, September weather was critically important in shaping the course of the vintage. For the most part we received a good dose of sunshine with below average rainfall. Now that we are into October and grapes like Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have been harvested, we turn our gaze to Blaufränkisch and Merlot, and hope the weather continues to stay clear and bright as we head into the second half of the 2019 vintage.”
“This season's main challenge is getting the grapes into the ripeness ‘window’ before they begin to breakdown. Fortunately, most of the grapes still hanging are looking strong but as ripening continues, they also become more vulnerable to disease pressure. We plan to continue monitoring the grapes closely out in the vineyards through sampling and visual inspections and of course we'll be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast!”
“Atwater fans may be surprised to know that the wine quality depends on both the subtle and profound differences of each harvest season. Many factors contribute in shaping how the wines will eventually taste. While we all know the weather is a big factor, grape yields, size and integrity of the grapes as well as grape chemistry including sugars, acids and pH all contribute to the final product.”
“Wine production is truly a team effort that starts in the vineyard, winds its way into the cellar, and pops out on the shelf or dinner table. It takes many dedicated people to bring a quality product to fruition and I am fortunate to be part of our competent and hard-working staff here at Atwater who take pride in bringing wines to life.”
When asked his favorite Atwater wine, he responded that “the skin-fermented Gewürztraminer/Chardonnay with spicy Thai food is divine.”
Vinny’s hobbies include running, reading, sailing and cross-country skiing. In 2006, he and his wife, Kim, and embarked on our their wine journey (with Atwater's blessing) when they founded Billsboro Winery in Geneva, NY, 2016 winner of the NY Wine & Food Classic Governor's Cup for its 2015 Syrah.
Be sure to tune in to our LIVE webcam to watch the seasons change.
Harvest 2019 began on September 24, with staff from the tasting room and office joining the winemakers and vineyard crew to hand-pick an acre of Grüner Veltliner. The vines were planted three years ago, and this was their inaugural harvest. Grüner Veltliner translates to “Green Wine of Veltlin” and is a white wine grape variety grown primarily in Austria. The flavor profile is similar to Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Blanc. We look forward to seeing what Vinny and George do with this new to us varietal.
Follow our harvest progress on Instagram and Facebook.
Since the first pick, we've been harvesting steadily, and the fruit quality is good though a little on the light side of our estimated tonage. Climate is one of the most critical aspects in ripening fruit to achieve optimum characteristics in a wine style. With warm days and cool nights the weather this year so far has been beneficial for the crop. We expect harvest to go non-stop until the middle of October as grapes are still ripening on the vine.
As winemaker Vinny Aliperti notes, "Wine production is truly a team effort that starts in the vineyard winds its way into the cellar and pops out on the shelf or dinner table. It takes many dedicated people to bring a quality product to fruition." This collaboration is especially critical during harvest as grapes move from the field to press deck and cellar. To harvest grapes at optimal ripeness, the vineyard staff and winemakers assess the grapes’ acidity and sugar level.
Pictured: A gorgeous cluster of Chardonnay.
As soon as we harvest grapes, they move to the press deck where the winemakers process them according to the wine style. With new grapes arriving on a regular basis, they are putting in long days and working weekends to ensure the best tasting wine for our customers.
Pictured: Chris delivers Grüner Veltliner grapes to Vinny on the press deck.
Pinot Noir, one of the early harvested grapes, spent time in bins fermenting and was pressed last week. Vinny and George just moved it to barrels. A separate portion of the juice will also be transformed into Rosé of Pinot Noir which will be carbonated and bottled in the spring as our very popular Bubble Pinot Noir Rosé.
Pictured: George punches down the cap on pinot noir. Carbon dioxide bubbles (released during fermentation) push the grapes, stems, seeds, and clusters to the top of the bins forming a thick cap. Those grapes, stems, and seeds have a lot of magic in them so they need to be mixed back into the juice that sits below to increase skin-to-juice contact and improve flavor, color, tannin, and aroma. This is done twice per day for about 10 days and takes strength as well as balance.
Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2016 has a beautiful ruby color and lightly smoky aroma that gives way to ripe red berry jam and plum flavors while a smooth finish provides hints of bittersweet cocoa. We recommend pairing with char-grilled steaks, braised roasts, or grilled vegetables.
End of Vintage, Last Call!
Be sure to grab these wines before they're gone.
Big Blend 2015 (SOLD OUT)
Chardonnay 2015 (SOLD OUT)
Navone Vineyards Riesling 2015
90 points, Editors' Choice
Aromas of candied lemon peel, yellow blossoms and a slightly savory note translate to the medium-bodied palate. This is lightweight and delicate in feel, with a well-honed mineral edge guiding the mix of citrus and white-fruit flavors on the lingering finish.
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FROM THE TASTING ROOM
You know it's fall when Amanda breaks out the mulled wine kits and glass mugs for warm and steaming Mulled Wine. Perfect for the cooler seasons, our Mandy’s Mulled Wine Kit contains one bottle Sweet Chancellor, one bottle Sweet Catawba, spice bag, and recipe.