Rural Canadians learn from U.S. region: Part 6

One of our afternoon stops on Day 1 was Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards, considered by TripAdvisor users as one of the best food and drink experiences in the Finger Lakes.

The tour of the Finger Lakes by rural small business owners from Norfolk County, Canada, was organized by Norfolk County Tourism & Economic Development and sponsored by Ontario’s Southwest Tourism.

The winery was founded by Hermann Wiemer, who emigrated to the Finger Lakes in the 1960s from Germany’s Mosel Valley. His mother’s family had been making wine in the valley for 300 years.

Welcome Norfolk

Wiemer Vineyards staff welcomed us / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Jeremy Coffey, hospitality and program development manager, Dillon Buckley, assistant winemaker, and other team members greeted us. The group enjoyed a tour of the production area and tasted some of the wines. The group was particularly impressed with the “Welcome Norfolk” message on the wine tasting sheets. There was a true, welcoming ambience upon our arrival, and a sense of professionalism and integrity persisted for our entire visit. Our hosts were very knowledgeable and gracious.

The winery sells high quality vintages that fetch top dollar. For example, Wiemer’s Noble Select Riesling Josef Vineyard 2009 sells for US$135 per bottle. Blanc de Blanc 2008 is priced at US$45 per bottle. However, the winery also has dry Rieslings and Cuvee that sell for US$11 and US$13.50 per bottle. The winery is housed in a 150-year-old barn that was deconstructed on a neighbour’s property and raised on the Wiemer land. Our stop at the winery in winter did not do justice to its exterior.

“Got a couple great ideas at the wineries,” said one of the tour’s participants. “Tinging of the glasses to get people’s attention.”

wine bottles

Bottles of Riesling at Glenora Cellars / Photo: Clark Hoskin

Next, we stopped at Glenora. It is a winery, restaurant and 30-room inn developed by Gene Pierce and his partners after the passage of the New York Farm Winery Act of 1976. Norfolk County staff met Gene at a Finger Lakes culinary tourism event in the summer of 2014, and struck up a conversation, resulting in an offer by the entrepreneur to bring a group of Canadians to his business. Although Gene was out of the country, the group was met by Steve DiFrancesco, winemaker, Bob Madill, brand ambassador, and Kathy Marchenese, event manager, at Glenora Cellars. Samples of wines were provided, followed by dinner.

Cindy Kimble of the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance welcomed the group and spoke of her organization’s 100+ year history. She encouraged the group to collaborate, not view one another as competitors. Cindy talked about the methods her team uses to determine the cost-benefit analysis in marketing initiatives. (Businesses in Norfolk County may recall that Cindy Kimble was keynote speaker at the Norfolk County Economic Development Symposium in 2009.) Norfolk County Mayor Charlie Luke also greeted the group officially and made comments. After a flavourful salad, Glenora’s chef served pan-roasted chicken, raised locally. Local officials were originally scheduled to join us for dinner, but due to the winter storm, they wisely stayed off the roads.

These were just two of the stops along the way on the Norfolk County Finger Lakes Study Tour. Watch this blog for more chapters in the story. See photos of the trip on the Invest in Norfolk facebook page.

(c) Clark Hoskin 2015

Finger Lakes Study Tour blog posts

  • Part 1: Wine & Culinary Centre | Technology Farm
  • Part 2: Winewagen Tours
  • Part 3: Weaverview Farms | Milly’s Pantry
  • Part 4: Yates County Arts Centre | Finger Lakes Ec Dev
  • Part 5: Climbing Bines Hop Yard & Brewery
  • Part 6: Wiemer Vineyards | Glenora Cellars
  • Part 7: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel | Ice Bar
  • Part 8: Finger Lakes Distilling
  • Part 9: Cornell Lab of Ornithology | Ithaca Commons
  • Part 10: Americana Vineyards
  • Part 11: Seneca County Army Depot
  • Part 12: Seneca Falls
  • Part 13: Warfields Restaurant
  • Part 14: Debriefing at The Combine