Finger Lakes Riesling gets tanked

The alternative packaging trend gets bigger and reusable: a 2009 Riesling from the Finger Lakes in 20-liter tank will soon be available in NYC.

Known as Gotham Project, the thirst-quenching Riesling is the brainchild of Charles Bieler (above, left), of Bieler Rose in Provence and one of the Three Thieves, and Bruce Schneider (right), of Schneider Vineyards on Long Island. Bars and restaurants will be able to get it from local distributor Michael Skurnik; the only open question is whether it will be available for homes, as rooftops and poolsides beckon…

UPDATE: You can’t see it clearly in the photo, but both Bieler and Schneider are wearing black t-shirts saying “Give them the Finger Lakes.” I reproduce the image here courtesy of designer Steven Solomon. Welcome to New Yawk!

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44 Responses to “Finger Lakes Riesling gets tanked”

  1. That is awesome! I’ve never seen anything like that! Hmmmm. It would great to have that in my house….

  2. I want one too!

  3. No mention of what makes the wine a Finger Lakes Riesling?

  4. regarding that last question about the wine’s origin it’s 2009 vintage riesling from the east side of Seneca Lake (AKA the ‘banana belt’)

  5. Rumor has it that this came from Lamoreaux Landing, and depending on which of their vineyard it might not really be in the Banana Belt (might be though).

    This is a fun thing to see. And I know I want a keg of Finger Lakes riesling in my fridge at all times.

    We just did a story on a Long Island restaurant serving both Finger Lakes riesling and Long Island red from kegs:

  6. Nice, Lenn.

    Bruce Schneider just wrote in about the sourcing of the keg wine: “The wine was grown, produced and filled at Lamoreaux Landing winery. It is a unique lot that Charles and I selected.”

  7. Thanks for the information.

    I’m wondering if Lamoreaux Landing receives mention in the PR in NYCity.

  8. Cayuga is the middle finger – it’s the longest.

  9. That’s ok, Matt. The lakes on the T-shirt that are located south of Keuka are west of Keuka (and to the north), but that would require a Lochness-like hand.

  10. Am I the only one offended by the profane imagery on the t-shirt and the handling of this beautiful product like industrial pesticide?

    Or am I just getting old and cranky?

  11. Jim, it’s a New York City schtick–like the old Lindy’s Restaurant where waiters insulted customers. You are not alone in how you feel about the image. It is juvenile. But it likely will sell the wine.

  12. Maybe this sort of thing would be like a wine growler?

  13. Mr. Beiler is an brilliant innovator and a free thinker. His work is spectacular (3 Thieves, the Rose, Treb in tetra paks, etc.) But the finger is wee bit over the line, that’s all I’m saying.

  14. I just got back from the Wineries Unlimited trade show and there were a few vendors with a variety of small tanks for serving wine by the glass in a restaurant setting. My guess is that this is becoming a trend and it would be a great one for local wine. a 5 gallon keg holds about 25 bottles. It is far easier for a local winery to supply the kegs than a far off winery (if the restaurants put deposits on the kegs). It also shaves about $1 off the cost of a bottle in materials and 50 cents in labor. Add to that the positive ecological impacts, reduction in floor space needed at the winery and this is a win-win.

  15. Jim. the t-shirt is a bit juvenile and i apologize if you are offended. we truly meant no harm. we thought it was funny and would bring attention to a part of the wine world that doesn’t get the attention and respect it deserves.

  16. No problem Charles, I think drawing attention is ultimately a good thing.

    Duncan, I question how positive the trend really is in the long term: If you are right, and ten years from now half of the wine we drink on-premise is from cannisters doesn’t that really drive the business from small growers and producers to giant corporate entities ultimately? (Marketing becomes more Anheuser-Busch styled in the future?)

    If we look into the future, the cannister gets bigger, the taps become more numerous, the product gets more generic, maybe nameless, and the producers who make it get larger – as badly needed profits that small wineries survive on get eaten up by more efficient large-scale operations.

    History teaches us a lot. And the history of breweries in America should be something we look at before we go wishing for kegged wine all over the place. Fifty years from now we’ll be hailing the rise of the regional micro-winery like we did when Sam Adams broke in.

  17. Farewell complexity.

  18. Jim said,

    “the product gets more generic, maybe nameless,,,”

    That’s why I wondered about there being no mention of the producer behind the Riesling. It may already be happening and it’s not even started.

  19. If this prank got more people to try this lovely, exciting and authentic riesling then we did our job. The “complexity” is in the grape juice.

    Also: if the Finger offends you, please spread the word. Awesome.

  20. Being a small producer, I would not want to see anything that hurts small producers or makes if difficult for others to get into the business (it’s already tough enough with the capital required!)

    However, small producers are at a huge disadvantage in terms of packaging costs. at least $1, maybe $1.50 of a bottles cost is packaging or labor to package. Mega producers have costs that are less than .50 making things like 2 buck chuck possible. Filling these small kegs can be done easily by a small winery and allow them to compete with mega producers who make bottled product. Of course, the mega producers could always go into kegs as they do with boxes today, which would negate the advantage.

    As for the containers getting bigger and the product becoming more generic, I don’t think this will happen any more than it does today (think house wine – would you like red or white)? If we look to beer or soda, the brands survive and even thrive in kegs, though beer “belongs in a keg”, so it may be different. Keg sizes top out for beer at 15.5 gallons which is really the max that can be moved around easily.

  21. “Farewell complexity”?

    How so?

    Out The Door in SF is a killer example of a tap program (disclaimer we are on tap there)

    Wines from Scholium, NPA, LIOCO on tap…

    It is pretty amazing.

  22. Agreeing with Hardy and Steven here. The complexity lies in the wine, not the packaging. These guys shouldn’t be knocked for having the entrepreneurial spirit and resources to create an innovative package. And if they’re true to their track record, it’s sure to be good juice at a fair price. Well played, boys.

  23. Duncan, Hardy – I’m just suggesting be careful what you wish for. I don’t know Out the Door but I’m sure the program is innovative and quite nifty. Also, I’m well aware of packaging costs, and whatever you think you can save, the mega corporations will save more. Whatever you innovate, they will invade it – and cheapen it. (Real Chardonnay anyone?)

    I know that I can’t taste this particular Scholium Project at Out the Door because its on tap 3000 miles from here. But any bottle on their wine list I can get right here in NY if I look for it. I can take it home and drink it.

    Farewell complexity merely means that I predict a future of kegged wine that is never laid down to develop complex aromas, nor presented to friends over a dinner at home. It can’t be studied over time, decanted, or compared to another bottling a vintage later. ITs not interesting. There is no poetry in a keg…Sorry to wax…

    Seems sad. This whole thread is a drag to read. It’s like “Logan’s Run” for wine. I sure as hell wouldn’t call it amazing.

  24. Jim,

    Some wine is made for immediate consumption (our NPA wines for example)– Ask anyone that’s had them- They change dramatically in the glass over the course of a night. They are made to be consumed now and keg and klean kanteeen work great for us and our customers.

    This is not a replacement for bottles to lay down- we make those too, and they need years and years to come around. The experience is totally different.

    The keg isn’t poetic, but the wine in them can be.

  25. Your fear is misplaced. Wine from draft will never supplant the bottled stuff. After six months or so, the wines will become (for lack of a better word) “keggy.” Abe Schoener (Scholium Project) attributes it to electron transfer, but so far nobody has been willing to test that hypothesis. So far we haven’t had any wine stay in a keg longer than about 4 weeks. Inelegant, perhaps, but in a casual, fast-paced restaurant setting, it’s perfect. I am the director at OTD Bush Street in San Francisco. Feel free to e-mail me if you’d like more information ( Gus

  26. Logan’s Run? That may give us some inspiration for a blinking red light in the middle of The Finger. Awesome.

    On a serious note, the keg, the box or bag is not meant to supplant the glass bottle for all wines. Reductio ad absurdum by the keg as it were.

    Other issues to consider would be: sustainability, freshness in a wine bar/restaurant setting and value. The keg may not be perfect but it’s a worthy experiment in our eyes.

    There are many virtues to seeking out alternative ways to deliver good table wine. As well as provocative labelling to promote lesser known winemaking regions.

    Plus, in the words of Woz, “pranks make life worth living”!

  27. I like the concept. The reusable part is nice. I don’t see fine red wines in this, but for crisp whites to pair with food at a restaurant would be fine. Kudos for a new idea.
    I have to say I was taken aback by the Finger Lakes depiction. I have lived here my whole life and been in the wine industry for over a decade. We have always joked about this fact in private but would never put it on a label or talk to the consumers in this manner. I am not in any way conservative, but feel that this was more an in your face statement to get noticed more than anything. You could have just shown the whole hand spread out with the lake names written on that and not just the middle finger displayed. I feel your concept would be more accepted in the beer arena than the wine. You know what they say, no publicity is bad publicity. Working in the business I know that no matter what label you put on a product everybody has a clear opinion on whether they like it or not and you will never please everybody. It will clearly get noticed, and hopefully bring some more much needed recognition to the Finger Lakes area. I will ride that wave. If anybody has to be the middle finger I guess I’m glad it is Seneca. 

    On a side note I have shown it to four other people. Three agreed with me and one wanted to buy a tee shirt.

    Good Luck!

  28. It’s funny that outsiders can’t even get the lakes right that comprise the hand.

    With regard to Charles comments
    “the t-shirt is a bit juvenile and i apologize if you are offended. we truly meant no harm. we thought it was funny and would bring attention to a part of the wine world that doesn’t get the attention and respect it deserves.”

    Would you be offended if I made a “Fuck Provence” T-Shirt because Rose doesn’t get the respect it deserves? It seems a little like a backhanded compliment. I’m not sure your apology is truly sincere and you’re trying to show “respect” for the wines crafted in the Finger Lakes. I’d recommend working with some players in the region to understand and properly represent Finger Lakes wine.

  29. Awesome.

  30. The middle finger is Seneca b/c that’s where the wine comes from in this case. (Or keg. Ahem. )

    The hand is not intended to be used as a literal geographical map so please don’t plan your trip based on it, kids.

    Vignelli had similar problems w his NY subway maps which were designed for conceptual clarity, not as street maps.

    Fucking Axl Rose! Yes! Yes, I would make jokes like “Don’t be an Aix in Provence” or “The Kids are Arles Right”or “Demoiselles Drink Avignon”. If The Finger is being proferred to anyone, it’s to consumers of crap lame oakjuice who have ignored often brilliant wines of Finger Lakes.

    We will make an burnt oak offering at our shrine to Dr. Frank later on today.

    Peace, Love and The Finger to All!

  31. So where do we get one of these? Both the tank and the t-shirt.

  32. Where can I that t-shirt???

  33. […] will note the tap closest to him is actually for Finger Lakes Riesling! Yes, they are having Riesling keggers in Tribeca […]

  34. […] found this on Dr. Vino’s blog.  It’s worth scrolling to the bottom of his post to see how fired up some people got about […]

  35. […] Schneider of Schneider Vineyards on Long Island. They have a nice Riesling for you right now and a poster that can’t be beat. And remember, the keg is reusable — think environment an’ […]

  36. […] wine keggers The SF Chronicle reports on the continued rise of keg wines. Quotage from Matt Licklider of Lioco: “Fine wine isn’t the exclusive domain of bottles […]

  37. […] Keg wine and wine vending machines just got supersized: 500 and one-thousand liter kegs have landed in French supermarkets. […]

  38. […] Keg wine and wine vending machines just got supersized: 500 and one-thousand liter tanks have landed in French supermarkets. […]

  39. […] Keg wine and wine vending machines just got supersized: 500 and one-thousand liter tanks have landed in French supermarkets. […]

  40. […] Keg wine and wine vending machines just got supersized: 500 and one-thousand liter tanks have landed in French supermarkets. […]

  41. […] Keg wine and wine vending machines just got supersized: 500 and one-thousand liter tanks have landed in French supermarkets. […]

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  44. Well nice shirt, where can we have one of those?


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