WESTFIELD - The 2013 harvest is under way at Johnson Estate and the winery's estate-grown Riesling grapes were picked on Oct. 9.
To celebrate the Riesling harvest in Germanic style, Johnson Estate will serve Federweisser - a partially fermented white grape juice similar to apple cider - during the last two weekends of the month, Oct. 19-20 and Oct. 26-27.
"Federweisser" means white feather and refers to the color of this sweet, slightly fermented, pale-colored juice with an alcohol level of roughly 4-8 percent, depending on the duration of fermentation. As they do in Germany, the winery will serve a generous glass of this well-chilled young wine with a slice of onion-bacon tart for $5 per person; no reservations are required.
While at the winery, take the opportunity to taste all three estate Rieslings made at Johnson Estate. The three Rieslings, Dry, Semi-Dry and Sweet, are vinified in the classic German Riesling style and range in sweetness from dry, off-dry, to semi-sweet. All three are bottled using a unique, tempered German glass cork and these vintages just earned scores of over 90 points from the Beverage Testing Institute.
Johnson Estate is located in western New York, a region whose climate and soils are very similar to Germany's and whose location, therefore, is ideal for growing the high-quality Riesling grapes necessary for world-class wines.
Johnson Estate owner, Frederick Johnson, has always maintained that "the Lake Erie region has the perfect 'terroir' for the production of world-class Rieslings." Johnson and his brother, Tony, planted the winery's first Riesling vineyards in 2008 and winemaker, Jeff Murphy, who is celebrating his 10th anniversary at the winery, began production of Riesling wine in 2010.
For the second year in a row, the winery has earned high marks for its estate-grown Riesling vintages. In September, the Beverage Testing Institute, an independent rating agency for wines, liquors and beer, rated Johnson Estate's Semi-Dry Riesling 92 points, its Sweet Riesling 91 points, and its Dry Riesling, 90 points. The BTI noted that the Semi-Dry Riesling was "a dead ringer for a fine German Riesling" and the Dry Riesling, "Old World in style." Johnson Estate's 2011 vintages of Rieslings earned 93 and 92 points in 2012. These three wines join 13 other Johnson Estate wines which have won gold medals at international competitions during 2013.
Johnson Estate Winery, with 115 acres of vineyards, is the oldest estate winery in New York state. It is a founding member of the Lake Erie Wine Country Trail.