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Goose Watch first to produce wine from new Aromella grape varietal

The official Goose Watch Winery logo.
The official Goose Watch Winery logo.

The Aromella grape has had its name for just a little more than a year, but it already adorns the label of a new release from Goose Watch Winery. What bore the code NY76.0844.24 until 18 months ago when it was christened during the Viticulture 13 industry meeting in Rochester is described by its developers as "highly winter hardy," which makes it of much interest in Upstate winemaking circles.

Goose Watch has just released 2013 Aromella, a wine new not just to the winery but to the global wine industry. The grape was first planted in 1978 by the Geneva Experimental Station of Cornell University. It is a hybrid of Traminette and Ravat 34 grapes. The wine is an aromatic semi-dry white. Cornell says Aromella's "juice chemistry is similar to Riesling, averaging 19.5° Brix, 3.0 pH and 12 grams per liter TA. Wines produced from Aromella are described as aromatic and characterized by notes of pineapple, honeysuckle, citrus peel and floral Muscat character."

Dave Peterson, owner of Goose Watch, said his Aromella plantings have survived temperatures as low as minus-16℉.

"We are the first winery in the nation to produce a varietal Aromella," Peterson said, "which is fitting given our philosophy to take the less-traveled road and to make varietal wines that are out of the mainstream.

"We have collaborated with Cornell University for years, including using some of our vineyards as an extended test site for some of their more promising selections, even before they are named. Information obtained from our experiences in growing these varieties and making wines from them help determine whether the new selections will become commercially named and released."

Goose Watch Winery began production in 1997 under ownership of the Peterson family. They own 120 acres overlooking Cayuga Lake, which in addition to the winery is home to a tasting room in a restored century-old barn surrounded by vineyards, chestnut groves and gardens. Twelve of its acres are dedicated to vineyards of different grape varieties. Over the years, the Petersons have been successful developing Viognier, Pinot Grigio, Traminette, Melody, Diamond, and Lemberger wines. Goose Watch's initial production of 6,000 cases has grown to more over 15,000 annually.

Its sister wineries are Penguin Bay Winery, which it opened in 2005 on the east side of Seneca Lake at the site of the former Finger Lakes Champagne House, and Swedish Hill Winery, which for 42 years grew grapes for other wineries and in 1985 began rushing their own.

Goose Watch Winery, located at 5480 Route 89 in Romulus, Seneca County, is part of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. Phone: 315-549-2599. It has a satellite tasting room at 2523 Main Street in Lake Placid. Phone: 518-523-1955.

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