An interesting thing can happen when a winery changes hands. Depending on the time of year when the sale is complete, the new winery owner can inherit wines in any stage of the process. In the case of Knapp winery on the west side of Cayuga Lake, new owner Cole Wilson, who took over in December of 2021, inherited 2021 vintage white wines that were fully fermented and ready for the next stage. And they were ready for the new winemaker, Vanessa Hoffman, to make some decisions about what to do with them.
“It’s like a meal that has been prepared halfway and a new chef came in to complete it”, Cole says, about the process of receiving these wines already in process.
And this 2021 Dry Vidal is an interesting example of how taking a new angle on an old standby can result in something fresh and exciting. Vidal is a french hybrid grape that is usually used for making for ice wines and sweeter dessert wines because of its high acidity and high sugar content. A hardy variety that can handle tough winters, it’s typically grown in cooler climates like Canadian wine regions.
It’s less common in the Finger Lakes to see Vidal made into a still wine. But that’s exactly what the new team at Knapp decided to do with it, for the first time in the winery history.
“2021 was a hard vintage for everyone due to the wet summer and fall, but our Vidal Blanc held up so well that we decided to try a still wine. It was a beautiful vintage,” says winemaker Hoffman. “Fermented with V3 yeast in stainless steel at low temps to help uncover aromatics since it tends to be a mineral-driven, acidic wine. It also seems to hold up really well over time, so I am interested in the aging potential of the wine in the coming years.
The wine is all estate, with grapes coming from the two acres of Vidal grown on Knapp’s site, which is about two-thirds of the way up the west side of the lake. The Vidal sits in the first block, just east of the tasting room and were first planted by the original owner, Doug Knapp over thirty years ago.
The wine is pale gold with aromas of medium ripe strawberries and dried pineapple, slight bit of petrol in there too. The wine is lower in acidity than expected, surprising for a Vidal, but the body is fuller, more like a stainless steel Chardonnay. The RS (residual sugar) is .6 but this comes across like a dry wine. Flavors of tangerine, yellow apple and a bit of pepper make for a refreshing sip. There’s a crisp, meyer lemon finish that lingers. The alcohol, sweetness and acidity are well balanced, making it a very drinkable wine, suitable for drinking on its own or with some salty braised pork or roast chicken. It’s a personal favorite of the new owner.
“Years ago Standing Stone made a wonderful Dry Vidal. My wife Karen and I would drink way too much of it. It was a clean crisp wine that was priced at a point you could drink it daily without much guilt,” Cole says. “When we bought the winery, I knew we had Vidal growing and really wanted to try and recreate the wine I had had at Standing Stone. I approached Vanessa, our wine maker, and she was all for it. I joke with friends that I bought a winery so I could make this as Standing Sone discontinued theirs, cutting off my supply.”
2021 Dry Vidal, Knapp winery
RS .6, ALC 11.5%
600 cases made.
Knapp Winery, 2770 Ernsberger Rd, Romulus, (607) 930-3495