Marty Gibson is a kind, loyal man, who comes from a long line of well known Finger Lakes grapes growers. Today, Marty tends to approximately 10 acres on the west side of Seneca Lake.
His vineyard site, located directly next to Seneca Lake in the town of Penn Yan and village of Dresden, is a marvel to behold. Setting foot in his vineyard, you can sense there is something special about the site. Situated amidst rolling hills, the microclimate results in temperatures that are always a few degrees warmer than other sites in the Finger Lakes. A gentle breeze works its way through the vineyard constantly, drying the leaves and fruit on humid days or after rains; this gentle breath is mother nature’s way of combatting mildew problems that can decimate vineyards.
Due to the positioning of the land, and the fact that it lies in a formation that juts out over the lake, a unique lake effect impacts this location, and keeps its temperatures moderate in the winter. In fact, although more anecdotal than scientific, the casual visitor will be struck when entering his vineyard in the fall, long after most vines have already lost their leaves, to find Marty’s vines still clinging to life before nature forces them to hibernate for the winter. As a result of the prime location of this vineyard, Marty’s vinifera varietals (Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Merlot), consistently produce remarkable fruit. Additionally, Marty grows Seyval Blanc, a hybrid varietal popular in the Finger Lakes.
Marty’s father, Lee Gibson, at one time had hundreds of acres of vines planted in the Finger Lakes. In fact, there is a legend about his Seyval Blanc vineyard that evidences the fact that Finger Lakes winemaking is like a stand of DNA with hundreds of personalities and businesses woven tightly together.
Hermann J. Weimer and his namesake winery, are synonymous with word-class Rieslings produced in the Finger Lakes. It was a circuitous route that brought Weimer to international prominence as an German winemaker, crafting distinct wines in America.
Prior to the establishment of Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards, just across the road from Villa Bellangelo, Wiemer was the head winemaker for Bully Hill Vineyards, a winery made famous in part by its headstrong leader Walter Taylor, whose struggles with Coca-Cola Co., the U.S. Patent Office, and many others, led him to reiterate his saying that “they took my name and heritage, but they didn’t get my goat.”
While at Bully Hill, Weimer worked with Lee Gibson to plant Seyval Blanc, a varietal Weimer would use in the white table wine blends so popular with Bully Hill’s customers. Growing up working with his father, Marty was constantly around these vines, and by 19, he was managing his own Seyval vineyards. Grape growing was in Marty’s genes, but by his early twenties, he had turned away from a farming career, and set off for a career in education.
The memories of the days he had spent with his father in the Seyval vineyards stuck with Marty though, and by the time the vineyard bug had bitten him again in 2001, he knew that had would have to plant the very vine that his father had worked so closely with, and that he was so intimate with himself. As an homage to his father, the Seyval vines remain planted today and produce some of the best Seyval Blanc grapes in the region.
Of particular note, is Marty's Riesling vineyard. Bellangelo purchases the entire block and in 2012, featured this wine with a single vineyard designation. The 2012, Gibson Vineyard Riesling is a special wine, and is remarkable for its delicious level of residual sugar, rich minerality, and tight acidity.
Read an overview of Terroir in the Finger Lakes here.