FORGE CELLARS, Seneca Lake
Louis Barroul is a 14th generation vigneron, and current custodian of his family's historic estate in Gigondas, Château de St. Cosme. Just around the time Louis' family acquired St. Cosme, Columbus discovered America. It seems that, 500+ years later, Louis decided it was time to check it out...
In 2008, Louis established Forge Cellars with partners Rick Rainey and Justin Boyette in New York's Finger Lakes region. Focusing on the east shore of Seneca Lake, their first vintage was 2011, and the winery was completed in 2016. While the Finger Lakes is a long-established wine-growing region (America's first bonded winery is here), the focus on Seneca Lake is significant. Seneca is the deepest of the Finger Lakes, and the east shore provides a mosaic of soils types (from glacial origins) on steep, west-facing slopes. Forge focuses exclusively on cool-climate varietals – Pinot Noir and Bone-Dry Riesling. Over 20 different vineyards, including the Forge Estate, contribute fruit for these wines, allowing the team to explore, understand and classify these hillside vineyards.
Justin shares winemaking duties with Louis, as well as at neighbouring Hector Wine Company, where he is co-owner. Louis and Justin are assisted by Alexandra Bond in the cellar.
Forge’s managing partner is no stranger to our team. Rick has worked for Cave Spring’s US distributor for many years, introducing the winery to the Winebow portfolio and helping establish a strong market for Cave Spring in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
As Louis notes, “The south-eastern part of Seneca Lake is a truly magnificent site for the Riesling grape variety. The combination of schist slate with the cold climate, the north-westerly winds that come straight from Canada and constantly promote healthy vines, the West-facing aspect and the diversity of Riesling plant material that has long been propagated in the Finger Lakes, make this a true ‘appellation’. The natural physiological balance that makes it possible to ferment bone-dry Riesling is quite exceptional and brings out the natural freshness in the wines that characterises top white wine sites. No other region in the United States can match the potential of south-eastern Seneca Lake for white wines.”
The wines are handcrafted in small quantities – total annual production is currently under 4,000 cases. Organically farmed. Biodiversity encouraged (and planned). Hand harvested. Hand-sorted. Indigenous yeast fermentations. Very low levels of suplhur. Pinot Noir is unfined & unfiltered. Riesling is fermeneted 'bone dry' with less than 4 gr/L residual sugar. There are 3 vineyard-designated Rieslings, 'Classique' Riesling and Pinot Noir, and a Rosé in the current roster.