Red Newt Cellars

Red Newt Cellars is located on the east side of Seneca Lake in the hamlet of Hector in the Finger Lakes region of New York, founded in 1998 by David and Debra Whiting (for anyone who hasn’t been there yet, it’s not obvious that despite being in New York state, this is a good four hours’ drive from New York City). Wine production began with the 1998 vintage with a mere 1,200 cases. During the first thirteen years of Red Newt, winemaker David Whiting and Chef Debra Whiting were a husband and wife, food and wine team that rocked the Finger Lakes wine and food scene. They were part of the community that saw the region change from an emerging wine region to one that is firmly planted on the world stage. Debra’s death in 2011 shook the entire region, and ushered in fundamental changes to Red Newt Cellars. By 2014, David Whiting had passed the reigns of winemaking to Kelby Russell.
With a full suite of Rieslings, from dry to dessert, and several Cabernet Franc bottlings every harvest Kelby looks to embrace the single vineyard ethos that he inherited from David Whiting, pushing the envelope with spontaneous fermentations, lees contact, cold soaking, and basket pressing. The production is overwhelmingly committed to Riesling, a grape that constitutes 75% of their production and ten or more separate bottlings in any given vintage. Of the remaining 25%, Cabernet Franc makes up the majority, with Gewürztraminer, not far behind. While Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and even Syrah find their way at Red Newt, Riesling and Cabernet Franc are the grapes that consistently and transparently express their soil and vintage most readily in the Finger Lakes. The shale soils, steep slopes, and cool continental climate moderated by deep lakes make Red Newt’s vineyard sites ideal for growing Riesling in particular. Crisp, rich, aromatic grapes are the result of this combination; and as a Riesling specialist, Red Newt cannot help but make multiple styles from dry to dessert to show off the diversity of Riesling on our soils. While a less common companion grape for Riesling, Cabernet Franc also thrives on the sun-drenched slopes of Seneca Lake. An emerging classic in the Finger Lakes, the grape ripens wonderfully for styles from Rosé to fruit-forward and crunchy red to barrel reserve.