Review: Standing Stone Vineyards – Finger Lakes, NY

Official Review by The Traveling Winers

Standing Stone Vineyards, NY (1)So what’s in a name? Sometimes everything, sometimes nothing…for the name Standing Stone it is quite short and sweet.  The vineyard and winery sit on a cliff approximately one-quarter mile above Lake Seneca. The components of that cliff? Well, stone, of course. Quite appropriately named, simple, short and sweet. What is also short and sweet (well, not really that short, but definitely sweet as can be) is the co-owner of Standing Stone Vineyards, Martha (a.k.a Marti) Macinski.

A recipe for success!

What do you get when you combine 1 chemist turned IBM buyer + 1 trial lawyer + 1 crazy, fun-filled week in San Francisco and Napa Valley? Well, you get a winery, of course!  What else in the world might have crossed your mind? That’s exactly what happened to Tom and Marti Macinski, but maybe with a little more detail.

After formulating the idea on their crazy, whirlwind trip to the West Coast, in the late 1980’s they brought themselves back to their reality of New York State and began doing research like crazy on grape growing, wine making and agricultural economics, all culminating after 3 years with a brilliant business plan. In 1994 this plan became a reality as they opened their doors as the 21st winery on Seneca Lake.

Listen to Marti tell her own story in her own style.  You will see immediately why we were so taken with her!

Educational Corner with Marti

In most of our winery reviews we tend to cover the interesting story behind the winery or a particular person, an educational piece of some sort and then a quick introduction of just a couple of the wines that stood out to us during our tasting.  In this review we are going to do it a little different, combining the educational portion and wine coverage.  Why?  Because that was the way it was presented to us and it made so much sense to learn about the grape side-by-side while tasting it. So here we go!

11-Standing Stone Vineyards

Gewürztraminer

Marti calls this the “problem child grape” because apparently, just like a teenager, it has a temperment of its own.  It wants to be of a certain crop size or else it might pitch a fit and throw off some mighty unbalanced fruit. Marti teaches that Gewürztraminer notoriously is not acidic, with a high pH, and that this can be the challenge in the vineyard to make sure that the fruit is harvested at exactly the right moment, with a nice balance of  sugar, acidity and flavor. Listen to Marti explain why the use of VinPerfect Wine Closures, a special type of screw cap, is her closure of choice for this next year’s harvest.

Saperavi

In this part of the wine growing region of the United States, Dr. Konstantin Frank is the proverbial Godfather of the vinifera vines success. When he immigrated from Europe in the 1950’s he brought with him many vines from across the seas, and one of these vines was the Saperavi, which at some point got planted in a vineyard at Standing Stone.

17-Standing Stone Vineyards

The Saperavi is one of the oldest grapes known, being around 6,000 years old and originating from the Republic of Georgia. It has a very unique dark, inky color and turns out to be very cold tolerant, which is obviously a good thing in this wine growing region. Marti said that one year there was a really cold freeze and it was the Saperavi that made it through 10 degrees below zero.  She also told us that they started with 80 vines (that is only 2 rows!), with the intent of using this grape to blend with Pinot Noir.  As it turns out, this grape doesn’t work with Pinot at all, “not even one little drop” says Marti, “but it goes great with everything else”. They named their first vintage The Dark Red (Marti laughs as she tells the story) and priced it at $36 a bottle, which was at the time, the highest priced red in the Finger Lakes.  Their 36 cases sold out in 3 weeks. End result? Plant more Saperavi, to the tune now of 5 acres, the largest single planting of Saperavi outside of the Republic of Georgia.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon was absolutely one of our favorites. So mild for a Cab Sauv, easy to drink, only medium tannins hence not over-powering, aged in neural American oak. An “A” all around!

Marti tells an interesting story about how Standing Stone came into producing a Cab Sauv.  It’s kind of a cute story too as it shows who really wears the pants in the family! (teasing, teasing, Marti!) In this little clip, Marti also tells about the name change that occurred with this wine.  Listen for yourself…she tells it with her bubbly personality making it oh, so interesting.

Petite Verdot

Peite Verdot was another one of our favorites at this winery. Strangely enough, it doesn’t really taste like the Petite Verdot that you are used to with the typical tasting profile. It was unique and surprisingly fun.  And just as we were recognizing this interesting aspect, Marti starts to tell us about how the grape seems to have a mind of its own in the vineyard.  Listen to her tell her relationship with this very independent grape.

The final word we have for Standing Stone is that it is a MUST VISIT winery!  Their wines are top notch, their staff are the best kind of friendly, and if you get the opportunity to corner Marti, you will experience her fun, bubbly personality and knowledge that just floweth over.  Bring a picnic lunch, a blanket or chairs and enjoy the beautiful view of Seneca Lake.

 

Tom Joe
“Hops ‘r Better” Winer

During our brief stop here at Standing Stone, we learned so much about the business side of wine from Marti. It was really educational and right up my alley. In addition, Marti was also the host of the Finger Lakes Women Winermakers session, which was thoroughly enjoyably.

Elizabeth
“Hippie” Winer

Shared a lovely bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Standing Stone with my Best Friend Forever Miki, over a dish of home made lasagna (prepared by me).  Could not have asked for a better combination.

Miki
“This Is The Life” Winer

I had such a fun and relaxing time hanging out with Marti, learning all about her and Tom’s  journey to becoming winery owners.  Marti has such a positive energy about her that is almost infectious.  She has a real ‘can-do’ attitude and I believe this shines through in the creation of their wines. We specifically really enjoyed their red wines here….excellent, they were!

Brian
“Timeless” Winer

I was very impressed with the Cabernet that we served, compliments of Miki, at our lasagna dinner which I also attended (but who pays attention to the busboy?).  Easily held its own with the pasta and sausages.

Photos

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The Winer’s Experience

AMBIANCE GROUNDS & SCENERY TASTING ROOM
Standing Stone exuded a feeling of coming home – coming home to the ‘ole homestead of years past.  Nothing fancy, nothing pretentious, nothing but welcoming vibes. The natural beauty of Lake Seneca can’t be anything but near perfection.  Standing Stone Vineyards vines were well manicured, as was the surrounding lawn area.  Not much offered in the way of kicking back outside to enjoy that view, so may want to bring a blanket. Now that could be very romantic! Warm, cozy kind of a old barn house atmosphere.  Plenty of space to hang out with friends and not be rubbing elbows at the tasting bar.  And just so you know, for you shop-o-holics, there is only a little shopping to be had.
WINE TASTING EXPERIENCE CUSTOMER SERVICE TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE
Our experience with Marti was wonderful, as you would expect from a vineyard and winery owner that has poured their heart and soul into their venture. Marti lead us through our tasting with ease and educated us on the grape varietal Saperavi. Top notch from Marti and all her staff. Of course, the best tech knowledge coming from the person that works the fields, plants, make the wine, runs the winery…..well….between she and her husband, they do it all (with the help of their staff, I’m sure!).  Marti was patient enough to answer all of our questions.

Vineyard & Winery Information

WINERY NAME ADDRESS
 Standing Stone Vineyards  9934 Route 414, Hector, NY 14841
HOURS
 Daily 11am – 5pm
EMAIL WEBSITE TELEPHONE
 ssvny@standingstonewines.com  http://www.standingstonewines.com  (607) 582-6051
MUSIC WINE CLUB TASTING FEE
No  Yes $5/7 tastes
TOURS FOOD OTHER
 Yes Snacks

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