Every year, we hold our own version of the Oscars: the Local Hero Awards, wherein readers vote for their favorite local chefs/restaurants, farm/farmers, non-profits, culinary artisans, beverage producers and food or wine retailers, and the winners are awarded with a feature in our March/April print issue. Every weekday till the polling booths close on December 31st* we’ll be looking back at last year’s winners.
Today we’re highlighting Shalestone Vineyards! The below story originally appeared as part of our Local Heroes feature in the 2010 Spring issue.
*There’s still time to make sure your voice is heard! Vote here for your 2019 local hero chefs, farmers, non-profits and artisans.
2010 LOCAL HERO WINNER Beverage Artisan: Shalestone Vineyards
Shalestone Vineyards is a love story: the love shared by Rob and Kate Thomas for good red wine, for the land and for creating something to share with others that makes life enjoyable.
There’s a bit of that love in every bottle of wine Rob Thomas makes at his vineyard on the eastern slope of Seneca Lake. In a region known for white wines, he is dedicated to making the best red wines he can, and nothing else. “Red is really my passion,” Thomas says. “It has the most complexity, depth and interest for me. And I wanted to prove it could be done here.”
Since 1995 the Thomases have proven they can make complex, quality red wines from Finger Lakes grapes. “Standards have to be really high and the risks are high,” says Thomas. “When some years are out of balance, I have to intercede. Balance is my guiding philosophy in wine, in life, in the tasting room.”
Thomas himself has thirty years of experience in finding that balance, and now he’s passing that knowledge to the couple’s son, who recently joined the business full time, and to other young winemakers just starting out. “I learned the hard way,” he says, “but when I share my experience they can be at my level in five years, and that new generation coming in will create a legacy for our area.”
9681 Route 414, Lodi; 607.582.6600; shalestonevineyards.com