Zum Wohl! — Weis Vineyards on Keuka Lake

By Wayne Schutz, 

In a rustic red schoolhouse built in 1887 on Keuka Lake, a young German winemaker is fulfilling his destiny. Peter Weis, from the Mosel region in Germany, follows in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, making superb German style wines here in the Finger Lakes.

With a philosophy that wine “starts in a vineyard”, Peter believes that he must do his best to retain what mother nature has given him. As he puts it: “the winemaker can only make it worse”. Peter is a pragmatic winemaker who believes that the methods that make the best wine are the right methods to use. Based on the condition of the vineyard, he will choose either machine harvesting or hand picking to harvest the grapes. Hand sorting is called for when the grapes are less than ideal.

Peter has been involved in winemaking as long as he can remember. Working in his family winery in Zell, Mosel, one of his favorite memories was fetching bottles of 1976 Trockenbeerenauslese Riesling for the winery’s customers (and occasionally sneaking a sample himself). Peter’s winemaking style was influenced by his father, and winemakers from Biologische Bundesanstalt Bernkastel-Kues and  winemaker Thomas Emmeric of Welker Emmerich in Rüdesheim an der Nahe.

Peter with his “Opa”.

Believing that sometimes you have to leave home to find home, in 2005 Peter decided he needed to see more of the winemaking world. His first stop was in Sonoma, working for the Schug Carneros Estate Winery. There, his focus was on making great Chardonnay. He was planning on going to Australia next, when he decided in 2006 to visit a friend who was working at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s winery on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes. Willy Frank made Peter an offer that changed his life forever. Peter was one of the winemakers and vineyard manager at Dr Frank until fate put another opportunity in his path.

Inscribed by the builder: “Alfred Gleason Builder Wayne Steuben Cty NY. Built in the fall and winter of 1887”

His friend, Joe Carrol owned Limeberry Winery. When Peter was able to buy the property in early 2017, he finally was able to produce wine under his family name. He first released his wines around Memorial Day of 2017.

This year, Peter has bottled slightly more than 1300 cases. Peter focuses on vinifera, such as a lovely dry Gewürztraminer. But Peter also includes some interesting hybrids (such as Cornell NY81.035.17, a Cayuga White and Riesling hybrid) in his “Heart of the Lakes” blend. Although Peter has mostly whites, he rounds off his inventory with a Dry Rose and a red called SchulHaus, which is a blend of Chancellor and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Currently, he is buying select grapes from local vineyards, but expects to put about 13 acres under vine. Riesling, Chardonnay and Saperavi are planned. Someday, he hopes to convert a barn on his property into a tasting and event area.

Peter loves that the Finger Lakes wine industry sees itself as “one whole” community, and was pleasantly surprised by the support he gets from his neighboring wineries. He worries that the harsh winters will take “his babies” (young grapevines), but with the support of his fiancee Ashlee, Peter is carrying on the family destiny.

Peter and Ashlee

Visit them at:

10014 Day Road, Hammondsport, NY 14840
Phone: 607-284-4011 email: Info@WeisVineyards.com

Featured Wines:

Dry Riesling
Dry Rose
Unoaked Chardonnay
Grüner Veltliner
Semi Dry Riesling
Heart of the Lake
Schulhaus Red
Perle Perle (sparkling white wine)


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