The family matriarch lives on, bottle by bottle
Written by Laura Winter Falk
With this issue being about the impact of women on our local Finger Lakes food and wine scene, we thought it would be befitting to get the back story on Wagner’s Alta B wines, a three-bottle series that depicts a beautiful woman on the label. We connected with John Wagner and Laura Wagner Lee to get the story behind the lady behind the bottle.
EFLX: Who is Alta B, the namesake behind this series? Was there really an Alta B?
Wagner Family: Alta Button Wagner was the mother of Bill Wagner, founder of Wagner Vineyards. Alta was always supportive of our father’s dream of owning a winery from the very beginning, so Bill wanted to honor his mother with a wine that she would enjoy.
EFLX: The picture of Alta B on the label is stunning. Can you tell us more about it?
WF: The label artwork is based on a photo of Alta when she was 18 years old. The beautiful styling was done by a design group out of Rochester.
EFLX: How else is Alta B honored at Wagner?
WF: In addition to the wine series, we also started Alta B Weekend—a celebration that originally started as Alta B’s birthday party and naturally stuck as a staple of summer celebrations on Seneca Lake.
EFLX: So what were the kinds of wine that Alta B enjoyed?
WF: What she really wanted was – not a fancy wine for the aristocrats, but a great wine for real people, full of flavor and not overly dry.
EFLX: There are three wines in the Alta B series: a red, a white and a rosé. Which came first, and what unites them all?
WF: Alta B Red was the first and was always Alta’s favorite, followed by Alta B White and Alta B Blush. As a trio, they are all sweet, fruity and refreshing.
EFLX: How else does the wine represent her?
WF: It’s simple and elegant, but down to earth, just like Alta B.
9322 NY-414, Lodi, 607.582.6450, wagnervineyards.com
Laura Winter Falk owns Experience! The Finger Lakes, a touring and events company that provides immersive wine experiences. She holds a PhD in food and nutrition and is a Certified Sommelier, with WSET 3 award in wines. She is also an adjunct professor of wine at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 Women’s Issue of the magazine.