New Alliance Promises Super-Premium Riesling from New York

Riesling is among the most food-friendly of all white wines, and before long, we’ll all have more world-class Riesling to enjoy.

In a joint announcement, two of the biggest names on the global wine scene have unveiled a partnership that promises to reward Riesling lovers with some mind-boggling bottlings. Here are excerpts from that announcement…

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Winemakers Paul Hobbs of Sebastopol, Calif., and Johannes Selbach of Zeltingen, Germany, announced the purchase of a 65-acre property on the east side of Seneca Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes AVA.

Site preparation has already begun at the vineyard, which will be planted predominantly to Riesling starting in 2015.

Paul’s brother, David Hobbs, a long-time resident of Rochester, N.Y., will oversee daily operations of the new venture. Details of long-term plans, including a wine brand name, are yet to be determined.

The venture combines Hobbs’ talent for working with new and historical sites and regions (Argentina, Armenia, California, Canada, Chile, France, Hungary and Uruguay) with the extensive Riesling expertise of Selbach, whose family has specialized in growing steep-sloped Riesling from Germany’s Mosel Valley since 1600.

“After an extensive two-year search, I am pleased to have found the right property, and Johannes is the right partner to launch this new brand,” Hobbs said. “Fine German Riesling, more than any other wine, influenced my own interest and love of wine. Selbach is one of the most highly regarded producers of the Mosel, and I believe our synergies will result in a very focused and successful project.”

Hobbs and Selbach first met when Hobbs visited the Selbach-Oster Estate in the Mosel Valley in November of 1998, through an introduction arranged by importer-distributor Michael Skurnik. They kept in touch over the years, and discovered they shared a mutual desire to explore the Finger Lakes.

“I was immediately interested when Paul approached me with the idea of producing first-rate Rieslings in the Finger Lakes AVA,” Selbach says. “I first visited the area in the 1980s, and have been back a few times since. I see many similarities in Seneca Lake to the Mosel Valley, including steep slopes, low-pH soils comprised of shale and slate, and a cool growing season which is moderated by the lake. I believe the combination of California and Mosel knowledge allows tremendous potential for super-premium Rieslings.”

Hobbs grew up in upstate New York on a farm, and prior to moving to California in 1975 to study winemaking, he had planned to return home to build a winery with his father.

“After almost 40 years,” he said, “this feels like a homecoming, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!”

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If you’d like to learn more about Johannes Selbach, click here. For more information on Paul Hobbs, click here.

Posted in The Wine Business
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