Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shaw Vineyard and LiBella Wines

One of the most fascinating finds of my trip to the Finger Lakes was Shaw Vineyard. I tried all their wines, and found them wonderful. I was so impressed I looked up their reviews on the internet and then contacted one of their owners.

"I had given high praise to the red wines at Shaw Vineyard when the new winery opened last summer. Little did I know that owner Steve Shaw and winemaker Morten Hallgren (who is also owner of Ravines Wine Cellars on Keuka Lake) were also working on a line of white wines," wrote the Finger Lakes Weekend Wino in his review of Shaw Vineyard. "I visited Shaw Vineyards last weekend as they unveiled these new whites and they are very impressive. Don’t let the slightly disheveled look of the winery's finishing touches being completed keep you away because, when you get past the rough exterior, inside you will find truly inspired wines." High praise indeed. You can read Finger Lakes Weekend Wino's reviews below.

Shaw Vineyard is something special. "Shaw Vineyard was established in 1980 when my father planted Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon on the east side of Keuka lake. Additional vineyards in Penn Yan, NY & Himrod, NY were purchased in the mid 1990's. We currently have 55 acres under vine between Keuka & Seneca Lake," Steve Shaw recently told me.

Steve is no stranger to the wine business. His family has been active in the wine business for two generations. "I've been in the wine & spirits industry for 20 yrs now, and my father 30 years. He has been a grape grower for the following wineries for decades- Herman J Weimer, Dr Frank, Glenora, and Canandaigua Wine Co."

The accomplished and serious winemaker Morten Hallgren is Steve's secret weapon here. If you are serious about making serious wine, few people are as passionate as Mr. Hallgren. "My father met Morten when Morten was a winemaker at Dr Frank. My father was selling his grapes to Dr Frank then. Morten recognized the quality of my father's grapes and a relationship was established from there."

Shaw Vineyard has some special wines.

2005 Semi-Dry Riesling is an elegant white with citrus and honey.

2002 Finger Lakes Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep red. An elegant red with big flavors, soft tannins, and a dry finnish. Very nice.

Keuka Hill Reserve is a meritage of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.This is a nice, big wine, with big tannins and lots of beautiful structure. This meritage just recieved a rave review and an 84 from Wine Enthusiast! A well deserved score.

In truth, one of the wines I was most taken with was LiBella Pinot Grigio. LiBella is a label one finds at Shaw. The Pinot Grigio is a light, fruit forward white with a nice lemon-y finish. A truly wonderful white wine. According to Steve, "LiBella is a second label for Shaw - a second label establishes its own brand identity. The Shaw Vineyard label to me is a very refined and mature label for an experienced wine drinker. My goal with LiBella is for a relaxed yet high quality Pinot Grigio that appeals to premium as well as novice wine consumers. The dragonfly on the label is meant to attract people based on the design. [The Pinot Grigio] has a refreshing summery feel in my opinion." It does indeed. I drank the LiBella and thought instantly of having an arugala salad with lemon and olive oil dressing with shaved parmesea, for example, with plenty of fresh Italian bread.

The tasting room opened June 7, 2007. And Steve's goal is "to be recognized as a premium Finger Lakes wine producer and be included in the prestigious ranks with Dr Frank and Herman Weimer."

Shaw has 55 acres planted including Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Noir, with the plan to plant more. The goal is to come "as close as possible to an estate winery but its likely that grapes will come from outside - we know several great growers and we are trying to establish long term grower contracts just like the more established wineries. We are proud to produce a handcrafted product made from fantastic, world class, home grown, New York State grapes

The winery currently produces 3,000 this year. But Steve and his father hope to grow the winery to within 5,000 cases in a few years.

You can read more about Shaw at: