Kemmeter Wines Review
Address: 1030 Larzelere Rd. Penn Yan,New York 14527.
Phone Number: 315-521-3897
Tasting Hours: By appt.
Region: Finger Lakes AVA, Seneca Lake AVA, New York
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith
Review Date: 8/29/2015
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith
On August 1, 2013, just over two years ago, winemaker and proprietor Johannes Reinhardt opened his own winery, Kemmeter Wines, to the public after being the winemaker at Anthony Road Wine Company since 2000. Reinhardt, who emigrated from Germany to make wines in the Finger Lakes, has a celebrated history as a winemaker, and also as a person who, with the support of many, successfully championed to remain a resident of the United States.
History and family are both very important to Reinhardt. Kemmeter is a family name that dates back to 1438 when it was granted its crest by Emperor Albrecht II of Germany. The family estate was known as Kemmeter until 1936 when it was changed to reflect the union of the Kemmeter and Reinhardt families. One of the labels produced by Reinhardt is SanSan, which is the Chinese name for his wife, Imelda. Another label, Sonero, denotes an improvisational salsa singer, and the image design is said to represent Imelda as she dances.
On the approach to Kemmeter Wines, you will see in the distance a very small, yet intimate and welcoming, tasting room among newly planted vineyards. Here, on the west side of Seneca Lake, is where you will taste with Reinhardt himself. The room is filled with classical music, one of Reinhardt’s other great loves. The tasting is nothing short of mesmerizing as Reinhardt tells the story of each wine. You immediately notice that he never tells you what or how you should taste a wine, but rather provides the backdrop, the process, and allows you, the taster, to enjoy the wines with your own palate. When you visit the winery’s website, you will notice that the wines are described by their personalities, not aromas and flavors, which to me, is reflective of Reinhardt’s approachability and humanity. When I first met him at Anthony Road three years ago, he introduced me to a wine that he described as my wine, because it matched my personality, and that’s what captivated me and caused me to continue following his journey as a winemaker.
Reinhardt currently makes wines under three different labels, five rieslings whose grapes are sourced from noteworthy Finger Lakes vineyards as well as a vineyard in the Lake Ontario area, White Pine Vineyard. His current releases include the 2014 Sonero ($14), 2014 Kemmeter White Pine Vineyard ($24), 2014 Kemmeter Sheldrake Point Vineyard 19 ($24), 2014 Kemmeter Sheldrake Point Vineyard 31 ($24), and 2013 SanSan ($40). Four of these are produced by spontaneous (ambient) yeast fermentation, and that’s truly where Reinhardt excels as a winemaker. A writer who visited with me, after tasting the 2014 Sonero, exclaimed, “This is the best riesling under $15 that I’ve ever had!” The three Kemmeter rieslings are fleshy, plush, nuanced, and impeccably balanced, each with a sense of place and its own aroma and flavor personality that will continue to evolve if you are patient enough to wait for it to develop further in the bottle. The SanSan, a riesling produced from 100% botrytis grapes, expresses beauty that is almost beyond words. There is no mistaking why Reinhardt named this label and wine after Imelda, as it reveals unwavering love with each sip.
While at Kemmeter, I had such a beautiful experience tasting with Reinhardt. There’s nothing more personally satisfying than tasting with the winemaker and experiencing his dream realized in each bottle of wine. When you visit, you will taste wines with him and realize you are tasting the wines of a virtuoso.