2015: Our 5th Vintage

Last night we wrapped up the 2015 harvest and as the full moon began to rise up above our new press, it seemed to mark a pretty exciting occasion: our 5th vintage!

We started our last day with ripe, exciting Riesling from Sunrise Vineyards which is almost always our last picked vineyard (this year being no exception). With the original Willmes press and our new Vaslin press both in operation, we were able to get through 3 press loads and finish just in time to see that big beautiful moon.

2015 was all about pushing boundaries in the vineyard, becoming more efficient on the press pad, and moving toward our goal of making great, hands on wine in the Finger Lakes.  We are continually thankful to the outstanding growers who share our vision, and to our hardworking crew for their efforts this harvest. 

The Regional Impact

Today we added to our cellar 2 new 1500 gallon stainless steel Vance tanks. We joked along the way that if we did this everyday (move giant tanks into a building) that we’d be really good at it. Turns out we were pretty good anyway and they are shiny, sound and without dents, inside. And yes,we understand they are not as sexy as barrels, but we are really happy to be supporting local business (Vance Metal Fabricators is located in Geneva, NY at the top of Seneca Lake). When we grow as a wine region there is real and legitimate regional growth as well. Seeing companies like Vance grow alongside the wineries is great. It’s the kind of growth we want. Gas storage on Seneca Lake, on the other hand, is NOT the kind of growth we want.

The Next Great Rieslings...

Recently I had a nice email from a friend who was visiting Dr. Ernst Loosen, or simply Ernie, at his home in Germany.  Each year at the end of the visit, comprised of professional wine people, Ernie hosts a dinner and asks all the guests to bring a bottle of wine to be served blind.  Evidently, this is a tradition at the Loosen household.  Our friend decided to take a bottle of the 2013 Forge Riesling for his blind wine: a bold move as this is like taking paint to Picasso or steaks to a butcher.  Needless to say our friend, the unofficial Finger Lakes ambassador, was a little nervous at this prospect.  How did it turn out?  Well, after much deliberation and much discussion, an enthusiastic thumbs up was given by Ernie and he said something to the effect that the next great Rieslings in the world will be produced in the Finger Lakes.   Coming from the “Dr.” that is a wonderful compliment to our region.  I look forward to meeting the Dr. one day and showing him around the “lakes”.

Forge Cellars – Pinot Noir Rosé 2014

Normally I would be the one to tell you about our rosé but this time it will be our partner, Louis….

Forge Cellars – Pinot Noir Rosé 2014

100% Pinot Noir

East side of Seneca Lake…Standing Stone Upper Red Block #1

Full bunches/clusters crushed and macerated for a few hours. After the “saignée”, gentle pressing.

Fermented at low temperature in a stainless steel vat.

This is without a doubt the best rosé we have made since Forge was created in 2011. It’s particularly nice to write this since making a good rosé wine is quite difficult. Let’s celebrate this great fruity, complex and fresh rosé made with Pinot Noir. We can be happy with this achievement since Pinot Noir is not an especially easy grape to deal with for a rosé wine. A real wine of joy which has to be drunk before the end of the summer, just in case you need a good reason to drink it immediately.

Please drink it with grilled vegetables, grilled fish, or taste it for the aperitive, along with “pata negra ham”.. This is one of the only wines which could cop with hot food such as asian dishes. This is good to know when the time comes to organize a food and wine pairing with a Curry !..

Fresh cherries, raspberry, lavanda (lavender)

Production: not much

Henry’s ‘New Yorkers Drink New York’ features ’13 Les Alliés Riesling

You have to love NY restaurants that get as excited about NY wines as the producers who make them. If you are in the NYC area soon, swing by and have a glass or bottle of some NY wine at Henry’s Restaurant.

For the months of July and August HENRY’s American Bistro on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is featuring a New York Only wine program on the front of their exclusively American wine list. Here’s a peek at their ‘New Yorkers Drink New York’ list:

Sparkling & ROSÉ
Brut Brotherhood Blanc de Blancs NV (Hudson Valley, NY) 36
Pinot Noir Rosé Fox Run (Seneca Lake, NY) 34

Grüner Veltliner William Vigne ’14 (Seneca Lake) 34
Vignoles Keuka Lake Vineyards ’13 (Keuka Lake) 30
Fumé Blanc Osprey’s Dominion ’12 (North Fork) 31
Riesling Forge “Les Alliés” ‘13 (Finger Lakes, NY) 40
Gewürztraminer Swedish Hill ’13 (Cayuga Lake) 37

Lemberger Lakewood ’12 (Finger Lakes) 33
Pinot Noir Red Tail Ridge “Estate Grown” ’12 (Finger Lakes) 39
Pinot Noir Leonard Oakes Estate ’13 (Greater Niagra) 40
Cabernet Franc Wolffer ’12 (The Hamptons) 40

Wine Spectator Reviews

This what we have received thus far on the 2013 Rieslings from Wine Spectator/James Molesworth.  This is the only publication we submit wine to….in case you were wondering.

Forge Cellars Riesling Les Alliés 2013 – 90 pts
Focused and pure, with lovely anise, ginger, blanched almond, pear and mirabelle notes that stretch through the long, mineral-edged finish. Shows Excellent range and tension, delivering a very distinctive mouthfeel. JM, Wine Spectator April 2015

Forge Cellars Riesling Classique 2013 – 89 pts
This has a plump core of yellow apple and melon flavors, offset by hints of lemon zest and apple skin along the edges. A light fennel note leaves a tangy hint on the finish as this opens steadily in the glass. JM, Web Only 2015

Finger Lakes Riesling poured in Bordeaux

Every other year Vin Expo is held in Bordeaux.   This year they expect around 50,000 visitors from 120 countries.  1200 of those being journalists.  This is a wine “fair” as the French say, that is specifically directed at those in the trade.

Louis received an invitation from Vin Expo and the Wine Spectator to be part of a special tasting that is to feature producers (approximately 25) that have both a foot in Europe and the U.S.  The tasting will be limited to 1000 guests.   He will be pouring a wine from Chateau St. Cosme (Gigondas) and a wine from Forge Cellars (Finger Lakes).  We have decided he should pour the 2013 Riesling Classique.  This wine is comprised of barrels/tanks from all of the vineyards we work with: Sawmill Creek, Harvest Ridge/Verrill, Sunrise Hill, White Springs (Ravines) and Maguire’s.  This bottling truly represents the idea behind Forge Cellars.

The only down side…Justin and I are not going…maybe next time.


Pinot and Southern Cuisine…

I am bad…plain and simple as I haven’t given an update on Forge since Dec.  Well, the truth is a LOT has been happening and hopefully in a few days we will have some great news to share.

In the meantime I received a note from our Tennessee distributor that we are being poured in a great restaurant in Nashville named HUSK.  I have an interest in HUSK because I saw Sean Brock on Anthony Bourdain’s “Mind of a Chef” and thought, if I ever get to Nashville I am looking this guy up (http://www.husknashville.com/sean-brock/).  I was born in the south and spent a good amount of time in the countryside of Georgia and have always liked the “old food” and ingredients of the South.  Pecan pie, smoked mullet, swamp cabbage, quail, black eyed peas, tomato gravy…I could go on and on.

Who would of thought that Finger Lakes Pinot Noir would be on the same table as Benton hams!!  God bless America…


Forge Cellars Pullover

We have been working with Jesse Beardslee, owner of Themis and Thread, to produce a truly local pullover that our friends in the vineyards and our friends that follow Forge would be happy to wear.  I will see the latest design this afternoon…in the meantime take a look at a letter Jesse sent out to her customers:

Thanks for signing up for Hector Pullover Exclusives: updates on the collaboration between Themis and Thread and Forge Cellars.  It’s been a busy week!  Final details are coming along nicely for this premium piece of menswear, developed just for this incredible winery.  We’d like to take just a minute to share some background from both the manufacturer and retailer to get us all acquainted with each other. 

My name is Jesse, I am the designer/creator/owner at Themis and Thread.  I studied Fashion Design in Florida and have been designing and creating clothing for over a dozen years.  I opened my micro-manufacturing fashion business in May 2013, here in Hector.  I grew up in The Finger Lakes and have been in vineyards and wineries my entire life.  I’ve always seen fashion and wine as a perfect fit!  I have known Justin Boyette (Barruol, Rainey & Boyette making up the trifecta that is Forge Cellars) most of my life and have loved his wines everywhere he has made them.  He has introduced me to great wines and times and friends, like Rick Rainey and Louis Barruol.  Rick came to me with this idea of creating a really great, heavy duty, we’ll crafted, twill pullover that was rugged and functional enough for vineyard work, stylish enough for a fine wine pairing event, and easy enough to grab on your way out the door without thinking twice about how great you’ll look.  Locally made with 100% American made components was something important to us both, so the sourcing, designing, testing, and eventual prototyping began!  I’m proud to say that we did not sacrifice any portion of our goal, and the sampling process is looking just great!  I’ve enjoyed working with Rick as my co-designer and it’s been fun getting to know him better, I’m sure you’ll agree he’s a passionate and goal oriented man.

Interestingly enough Rick moved to the Finger Lakes nearly 20 years ago to make wine after his multi-year stint in Philadelphia, where he worked for the Ritz-Carlton.  He may be goal oriented but is also patient; Which is why it has taken Forge Cellars 3 years to find the right wearable retail item that best represented the devotion to quality that makes Forge Cellars such an outstanding winery.  After all, we will be sending a stack of these pullovers back to Gigondas France, where Louis’ vineyards are, so we needed to make sure they were extra special!

Current Details
-13oz dusty brown twill color we call Terroir, 100% cotton made in New Hyde Park, NY
-undyed 100% cotton thread makes up the seems and top stitching, from Fairhaven, MA
-leather patch made in Portland, OR
-embroidered details stitched in Hector, NY
-buttons carved in Hector, NY
-everything assembled in Hector, NY

hope to offer final product and pricing details with you very soon.  If any of you are excited enough to share size and quantity order requests with us now, please feel free to email head designer Jesse Beardslee at jessecreates@icloud.com to be the very first to get The Hector Pullover.  Stay tuned for more soon!
If you know anyone else who may be interested, help them sign up!

Hector Pullover Exclusives by ForgeApparel
State Route 414 Hector, NY 14841 USA

A Real Connection w/ Burgundy…of not a good sort.

Often I talk about how our Pinot Noir is closer in style to Burgundy than say Oregon or California.  This is due to the difference in flavor profile, color, acid…basically cool climate vs. warm climate.  I like this connection because simply, I really enjoy Burgundy but can’t afford to drink much, so it works to make a wine that reminds you of it.  I like that connection…

Well now we have a different connection and one that I can’t say I am all that excited about.  In the late afternoon on Tuesday August 5th, Hendrix’s birthday, I walked out of my house to get the mail after I had noticed a really cool, actually cold, breeze come through my office.  I was concerned as that kind of temperature swing is usually not a good thing.  I looked to the west, toward Seneca Lake and saw a big dark cloud on the horizon.  Immediately, I thought of hail and the damage Burgundy had witnessed this season and thought “oh shit, not us…”.  Within a few minutes the phone begin to ring and the text begin to fly…below is my text from Phil Davis:

Severe hail in Hector...4:46

Upper Pinot pretty beat up….going down over the hill checking…5:10

Lower Riesling moderate, lower Pinot moderate..Standing Stone okay..5:20

Indeed, our Pinot and Riesling blocks at Sawmill Creek took a substantial beating on Wednesday.  50% loss in our upper Pinot block and about 10% loss in our lower Pinot and Riesling blocks.  I was celebrating Hendrix’s birthday by cooking him Chicago style hot dogs, his request, so I couldn’t rush over and check out the damage right then but had to wait until the next morning…not easy.

I have spent a fair amount of time in Burgundy listening to growers talk about loosing vineyards due to hail.  You stand there and think “wow, that is tough luck and I feel for him.”  In reality, I never had a clue exactly what it felt like.

Upper Pinot...ouch.

Upper Pinot...ouch.

Yesterday morning, after talking with Arlo and Alana, the “Boots on the Ground Canopy Control Squad”, I walked through the vineyards to survey the damage.   It was surreal, the sense of disbelief and awe at how quickly things can be lost or drastically changed all due to Mother Nature is fairly uncomfortable.  I was in a haze during my drive up to Syracuse pondering and reflecting on the meaning of what draws us to this profession and the risk and disappointments we endure because it is worth it and the pleasure it gives us and others is worth it.

Eric and the crew at Sawmill will do what is necessary to help the grapes recover and all will be okay but it is a stark reminder that growing grapes in cool climates is not for the faint of heart.

All the best,


Notice the peace sign?  Mother Nature's poke at us.

Notice the peace sign?  Mother Nature's poke at us.

Thinking About the Future – the Battle Happening on Seneca Lake

Many people ask me about our partner, Louis, who is respected the world over as Winemaker and Proprietor of Chateau St. Cosme. I am always quick to point out that he has his own vineyards and ultimately, he is a grower first and then a winemaker. He is extremely connected to his home and his land (both in the family for hundreds of years), as well as his region.  What I find very interesting, and I have seen this with other growers, is the ability to have a vision for the future by understanding the past:

“The great vineyards and vines I have now are not because of me, but because of my grandfather and father. The game is to think 20 years ahead. So 14 years ago I saw climate change occurring, and realized I needed vineyards that would be able to handle the change. I had to think about my children.” (http://www.winespectator.com/blogs/show/id/50241)

Yesterday, 500 people showed up on the southern end of Seneca Lake in a selfless act to protect our waters for our children and the generations that will come after them.

Please support or learn more about our battle on Seneca Lake @ http://gasfreeseneca.com/

2013 Forge Rosé Released

 We thought you might like to know….that the 2013 Forge Rosé has been released!

Ah, so much to say about rosé.  Do you talk about the pressures to release in March, you know, to be the first on the block?  How about the idea of blending white and red together?  Should the wine be sweet, or dry?  What grapes work best for great rosé?  What regions make the best, most interesting examples?  Does rosé age?  How cold should you serve it?  I’m not sure if I’m qualified to answer all of those questions, but I can tell you this about the Forge Rosé…

The grapes, 100% Pinot Noir were handpicked and later sorted.  They were sourced from Sawmill Creek Vineyard, from our lower block of Pinot (.7 acres) that was maintained with Pinot Noir Classique in mind…Mother Nature had other plans so we adapted. The Pinot was crushed and de-stemmed with 32 hours of skin contact.  We fermented the juice to dryness in all stainless steel.

We are fortunate in that we made about 91 cases of Rosé this year so we are under no pressure to release early.  We can take our time and let the wine evolve at its own pace.  If we made 5000 cases of rosé well, that may be a different story.  We make Pinot rosé because it is not easy and we like trying to wrap our head around it and secondly, if we get it right, it can be delicious.

We just bottled this past Tuesday and so I would recommend giving it a chance to “recover.”  Often, the first couple of weeks after bottling is a bit of a hangover for the wine.  That being said, I opened a bottle last evening and re-tasted it again this morning and was really happy.

But now the important part: How does it taste?

On the nose we found  cherry pits and skins with ripe strawberry.  They grow a lot of cherries at Sawmill in addition to grapes…could it be? On the palate, the wine eases in very gently with the broad cherry-strawberry flavors kicking in along with the stone/mineral component.  The structure is substantial.

The rosé this year is not a one shade-away-from-white wine kind of rosé, it is fairly dark and electric.  It is not a “little” rosé that you sip with one finger in the air.  This rosé is a bring-on-the-grilled-sausages, flavorful-foods kind of rosé.  Will it age?  I am willing to bet by August it will really sing!  We had our last bottle of the 2012 in September and were just all smiles and giggles.

The rosé is bottled, the weather is clearing, the holiday is upon us…summer has begun.

2012 Les Alliés Riesling Scores 92 in Wine Spectator

With our few remaining bottles of 2012 Les Alliés Riesling laid down in our cellars and our minds and hearts focusing on our 2013 wines, reading the latest round of Finger Lakes Riesling scores by the Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth was like hearing great news about an old friend. We took a moment last night to celebrate, thank our growers and deep, cool, ancient lakes and reminded ourselves that this time-this place-and this cast of characters- has created something greater than the sum of its parts.

Here’s a portion of the review that posted to the Wine Spectator site last night.

FORGE Riesling Finger Lakes Les Alliés 2012 Score: 92 | $26

Ripe and distinctive, with a creamy edge to the Jonagold apple, heather, honeysuckle and jasmine flavors. Shows well-buried zip through the finish, adding length and definition. This is a step ahead of the pack. Drink now through 2018. 85 cases made. JM January 31, 2014

In 2012, the Finger Lakes enjoyed an ideal growing season, with warm temperatures and a little bit of drought, resulting in ripe, concentrated wines. Riesling, the region’s lead varietal, performed exceptionally well, retaining ample acidity to balance its more intense flavors. If you haven’t tried Finger Lakes Rieslings yet, the 2012 vintage is the right place to start.

Leading the way from this set of recent releases is a reserve bottling, called Les Alliés, from Forge. A product of Château St.-Cosme vigneron Louis Barruol and his New York–based partners, Forge, in just its second vintage, is setting a bar for the region. The wine is whole-cluster pressed and fermented partially with indigenous yeasts, then aged in barrel as opposed to stainless steel—all techniques uncommon for the Finger Lakes. The resulting wine offers a texture that stands apart from the pack, combining creamy and racy notes that carry a wide range of flavors.


The 2012 Les Alliés Riesling is sold out of the tasting room but a few bottles may be found through our retail partners. As always, if you are interested in purchasing, please contact us directly or get on our mailing list for information of the release of the 2013 vintage.

Harvest in Gigondas

Joelle, Louis’ right-hand wonder woman, sent me these pictures of their white grape harvest (Grenache blanc?) at Chateau St. Cosme.  She reminded me that we all live under the same sky, are doing the same work we love and face many of the same challenges.  Those French, sometimes they are so poetic and insightful.

It is great having the connection that we do to Gigondas.

Moved by a New York Wine: Forge Cellars 2011 Pinot Noir Les Alliés (Jim Silver, Peconic Bay Winery and Empire State Cellars) | New York Cork Report

In the wine business when your wine is reviewed by a major publication (Wine Spectator, Robert Parker, Tanzer) you are really happy as it has a direct impact on sales and heck, it is nice to be recognized by a professional journalist. Then their is another type of review, one that comes in the form of a short email or phone call, or even a pat on the back in a local watering hole followed by “damm dude, that was some good wine”.   The link below is something I have yet to experience.  It is someone I have a huge amount of respect for that took the time to write a serious, insightful piece that is not about a score or a letter grade but just about the joy that interesting wine can bring you.  I highly recommend it.

Thanks Jim Silver.

Moved by a New York Wine: Forge Cellars 2011 Pinot Noir Les Alliés (Jim Silver, Peconic Bay Winery and Empire State Cellars) | New York Cork Report.

Wine Spectator continues interesting coverage of the Finger Lakes

Nice to see James Molesworth  continuing to cover such diverse areas as the Finger Lakes and Colorado.
14 Impressive and Diverse Wines
New reviews from Colorado and the Finger Lakes region of New York
James Molesworth
Posted: May 17, 2013

In upstate New York, cool-climate varietals—aromatic whites such as Riesling and Pinot Blanc, as well as reds such as Pinot Noir—continue to make strides. Forge Cellars is the Finger Lakes project of Château St.-Cosme vigneron Louis Barruol and his U.S. business partners. The two debut versions here, the deeper Les Allées and the more elegant regular bottling, both show promise.

FORGE Pinot Noir Finger Lakes Les Alliés 2011 Score: 88 | $32
This has a solid core of red licorice, steeped plum and cherry sauce flavors, lined with taut red licorice and singed apple wood notes. Focused and fine-grained through the finish, where the singed wood note lingers. Drink now through 2014. 65 cases made. —J.M.

FORGE Pinot Noir Finger Lakes 2011 Score: 87 | $25
This has subtle tea and cinnamon shadings, with light-bodied dried cherry and strawberry notes that linger through the finish. Not big, but has sneaky length and nice mouthfeel. Drink now. 185 cases made. —J.M.

With little fanfare….

…we release our 2012 Riesling this afternoon.  Well, when I am done with the day job and get over and put some wine on the shelves.

The wine?  Compared to the 2011 the 2012 is much more open and approachable now, especially with just a tiny bit of decanting before enjoyment.  Lovely texture, richness and exotic qualities in 2012, with a hedonistic, fresh peach, ripe apricot nose that kind of sticks to your sniffer.  Perhaps more exotic than some are used to, fennel appears with a bit of air,  but from what I have seen this is very much the 2012 vintage in some respects.  Let us know your thoughts if you have a minute….

A heads-up.  We will have about 150 cs to sell at the winery this year, slightly less than last year.  The downside of spreading the word of the Finger Lakes wine scene to other states is that you have to send them the wine.   Don’t they realize this cuts into our local “stash”!   As always, if you want us to put aside some wine for you to pick-up next time your in the area we are always happy to do so.  Membership has it’s privileges…..

Here is to good livin’,


Forge Pinot Noir “Les Alliés” in Baja

Received this pic recently from two very good friends, and dare say mentors, George Louis and Mark Seymour. Mark (3rd from left) hired me 15 years ago for my first real job in the wine business and George (1st from the left) has offered me tons of advice along the way.  These gents were down in Baja fly fishing for rooster fish and made time for a bottle of wine.  Great feeling to see the two people that have been very important in your wine career tasting the fruits of your labor…RR

Petroleum and Riesling

Justin and I recently conducted a tasting for a group of consumers consisting of our different Riesling vineyards.  It was fun and encouraging to see so many people stay engaged for nearly 2 hrs and taking such an interest in what we do.  Someone asked me about petrol in Riesling and it just so happened that today as I was checking one of my favorite producers web-site, I don’t see him as much as I used to, he had a nice piece about petrol in Riesling…By the way, if you get a chance to try André’s wines, you should.

From the great (in my humble estimation) André Ostertage of Alsace, France:

“I’m not talking here about those fires raised by some infuriated pétroleuses. More prosaically, I mean petroleum notes in Rieslings! You do remember that, not so long ago, we said Cabernet Franc was smelling after green pepper. This was before the best winemakers in the Loire region managed to harvest ripe and green pepper-free Cabernets. Ever since, we have figured out the green pepper taste was indeed typical of Cabernet Franc, but only when it is not ripe! It goes the same with petroleum in Riesling. This is a distinctive plant tracker of grapes harvested unripe, especially when petroleum notes are to be found in young wines.

So please, stay away from petroleum-smelling young Rieslings, or you may feel sorely disappointed. Look only for noble petroleum ageing notes in some terroirs, not including Muenchberg, Fronholz and Heissenberg at all. However, bear in mind that Riesling wines made from ripe grapes will never smell after petroleum. They will rather remind you of a bunch of white flowers or a peach and apricot basket, and most aged Rieslings will only exhibit a short-lived hint of it, never enough to fill up an oil barrel!”