Page 39 - The Valley Table - Fall 2021
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                                 ( where we were warmly welcomed by owners, Susan and Tom Higgins.
Years back, Tom had a tech job and a fascination with wine. After an internship in France, he began looking
for his future winery. He learned that soil with limestone produced better Riesling, so he searched for the perfect spot. “Limestone is alkaline,” he explained. “And when soils in the vineyard are alkaline, the pH is more neutral which pushes the nutrients up the vines.”
One fortuitous day, Tom noticed a “for sale by owner” sign in and knew he’d found his spot. They began their adventure in 2006, opening the tasting room three years later. Today, they welcome small groups to taste their dry Rieslings, Pinot Noirs, and Chardonnays. Heart & Hands also produces superb sparkling wines: Brut Rose, Blanc de Noir, and Riesling. Of the 2500 cases they make each year, 70 percent is sold “out the cellar door,” they happily told us. Consistently earning scores of 90 and above in both the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, their dream is well underway. These selections can be purchased at their online store as well.
We also wanted to visit one of the area mainstays and chose Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard ( which turned out to be a wise decision. Founded in 1979, this winery pioneered the production of wines similar to those grown where Wiemer grew up in Germany’s Mosel Valley. The region's cool climates and gravelly soil convinced Weimer that great wines could be made here. He soon proved his point and Wiemer has continued to produce
their signature Dry Riesling known for its clean minerality
— the 2017 vintage earned a 92 from the Wine Enthusiast. This, along with other fine Rieslings, Grüner Veltliners, Gewürztraminiers, have consistently kept them at the leading edge. Rosés, red wines, and sparkling varieties round out their roster.
Arriving a little early for our reservation, we had some time to walk around the grounds which have lovely open- air buildings, vibrant plantings and flowers, plus several indoor/outdoor tasting areas. We settled into a room
Heart & Hands Wine Company
with large silver casks and chatted with Dillon Buckley,
the young winemaker responsible for the delicious dry Rieslings we enjoyed and the biodynamic practices they’re incorporating in some of their fields. “When working this way,” Buckley told us, “we plant and prune by the phases of the moon.” Our tasting included wines that were both biodynamic and traditionally grown. Hermann Wiemer, the original owner, was a forerunner in bringing dry Rieslings to the area. His vision continues to grow and expand under the new ownership of Wiemer’s apprentice Fred Merwarth and his close friend, agronomist Oskar Bynke. Last year, the winery was nominated for American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine.
Our last stop was Kemmeter Wines (, the highlight of our trip. A long dirt road took us to a modern production building and separate tasting room. This
  Ravines Wine Cellars
Tasting Room, Ravines Wine

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