The owners of one of the Finger Lakes wine region’s top wineries are buying a respected neighbor. Wine Spectator has learned that Fred Merwarth and Oskar Bynke of Hermann J. Wiemer have purchased Standing Stone Vineyards from Martha and Tom Macinski. The deal includes 50 acres of vines and a winery that currently produces 6,000 cases per year. Neither side disclosed a purchase price.
The plan is for the Macinskis to stay at Standing Stone for three years, running and managing the estate while the Wiemer team transitions in. Standing Stone will remain a separate entity and brand going forward.
"We're not quite ready to let go completely, so this is a little ahead of schedule," Martha Macinski told Wine Spectator. "But making sure the property would be taken care of when we begin to step away was what we needed to do. Finding someone with the same values and vision is great. And to be frank, it's an honor for us, considering the quality of the people who are buying it. We know Standing Stone will not only be kept safe, but also continue to progress."
Martha, a lawyer who goes by Marti, and Tom, who worked for IBM, kept their day jobs while indulging the wine bug in the early 1990s. In 1991 they purchased the green and yellow barn complex that welcomes visitors, and nearly 70 acres of farmland, in the town of Hector on the east side of Seneca Lake. The price then was $175,000. In 1996 the Macinskis returned the farm to its original boundaries with the purchase of an additional 50 acres of neighboring land for just $75,000 more. Today, high-quality plantings of Riesling vines sell for an average price of around $23,000 per acre in the Finger Lakes.
One of the region's most historic sites, the farm included Riesling vines planted in 1972 and Chardonnay planted in 1974 by Finger Lakes wine pioneer Charles Fournier. They are among the earliest Vitis vinifera plantings in the region. Much of the vineyards survived the devastating Christmas frost of 1981, giving proof that the terroir was suited to high-quality vinifera production.
"I remember talking with Hermann [Wiemer] back in 2002, about how much he admired the Standing Stone site," said Merwarth, who purchased Wiemer's namesake winery in 2007. "He admired it as much as our own Josef vineyard. Then, in 2016, we purchased some fruit from Tom and Marti for the first time, and it was everything we expected it to be." Hermann J. Wiemer currently produces about 17,000 cases per year.
Since their initial purchase, the Macinskis have consistently produced the Finger Lakes' best Vidal Blanc ice wine, as well as perennially very good Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. The vineyards also include Saperavi, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.
In addition to its own production, Standing Stone sells about one-third of the estate's grapes to some of the Finger Lakes' top producers, including Forge, Dr. Konstantin Frank and others.