Johnson Estate Winery

Johnson Estate Winery Commercial

About

An estate, or farm winery, uses grapes grown from its own adjacent vineyards. The entire vinification process, including the crushing, pressing, fermentation, aging, and bottling, occurs on site. Since grapes ripen at different times from vineyard to vineyard, an estate winery is better able to harvest the grapes at their perfect ripeness. Grapes start to deteriorate the moment they're picked, and the farther they must be transported and the longer the time until they are crushed, the more their quality is affected. Estate wines are proudly labeled "Erzeuger-Abfullung" in Germany, "Mise du Chateau" in France, and "Estate Grown and Bottled" in the United States.

Location Description

Located in the heart of Westfield, NY (on west side of town).

Features

  • New York’s oldest Estate Winery.

Additional Information

  • Meeting / Conference Facilities:
  • Caves:
  • Wedding Facilities:
  • Picnic Facilities:
  • Dog Friendly:
  • Winery Tours:
  • Wine Tasting:
  • Art or Architecture:
  • Organic / Biodynamic:
  • Awards:
  • Wine Club:
  • Lodging / Bed & Breakfast:

Average Bottle Price

$ 10-15

Winemaker

Jeff Murphy, Winemaker:
Jeff is a graduate of Penn State with a degree in Food Science. Jeff has been Johnson Estate’s winemaker since 2003 and has introduced eight new wines during his tenure there, including Port and Sherry, fruit wines and sparkling wines. Many of these wines have won gold medals in international competitions along with numerous silver and bronze medals. Jeff enjoys making wines that are approachable, food-friendly and elegant. He has a distinct Germanic tilt to his preferences and style of winemaking, eschewing excessive oak and permitting the terroir of the grapes to be revealed in our wines. He regularly attends Pro Wein, held annually in Dusseldorf, Germany, and visits equipment suppliers and wineries elsewhere in Europe.

History

A Story of Three Generations:
The First Generation: An English Immigrant
The history of Johnson Estate begins with an English orphan named Frederick Johnson (1877-1960). He immigrated to Canada as a teenager and found his way to Cornell at the turn of the century to study entomology. In 1908, Johnson purchased a circa-1822 family home and the adjoining farm along the banks of Freelings Creek in Westfield, N.Y.

The farm, which he named Sunnyslope Fruit Farm, consisted of apple, cherry and peach orchards, along with a number of vineyards, predominately Concord. Fred Johnson also worked as an entomologist with the Department of Agriculture in both Washington, D.C. and in North East, Pennsyvlania, where he met his wife, Nan Scouller. In 1920, he built an apple cold storage facility and it is this building that now serves as the winery tasting room. The facility was said to have been built using timber from an 1860's dairy barn found on the farm. Family lore also credits him with the unofficial start of the winery during Prohibition, when he made wine from his homegrown grapes in the basement of the farmhouse.

The Second Generation: The Founder of Johnson Estate Winery

Frederick Spencer Johnson (1921-1998), grew up on the farm his father purchased. He served in World War II as a naval aviator and graduated from Cornell University in 1946 and later worked in both Hawaii and in South America for Nelson Rockefeller in various agricultural endeavors. In 1960, after his father died, he returned to Westfield, New York and the farm. He proceeded to remove the aging fruit orchards and a majority of Concord grapes. He replanted the Estate with various French-American hybrid grapes and native American varieties of Ives and Delaware - all suitable for making wine - and opened the winery in 1961, although with plans to sell the bulk of the juice to wineries in the Finger Lakes on a bulk basis. Frederick Johnson was a true husbandman and also a pioneer, as he was amongst the first in the area to plant wine grapes on a commercial basis. As a result, his winery is the oldest estate winery in New York State.

The Third Generation: A Third Building and a New Tasting Room for the Winery's 50th Anniversary
Mr. Johnson passed away in 1998 and the winery and farm were inherited by his three children, Frederick, Jr., Elizabeth, and Anthony. The three Johnsons continued to operate the winery and farm, planting new vineyards of Traminette and Riesling. Under the guidance of winemaker, Jeff Murphy, they have introduced ten new wines, including fruit, sparkling, and ice wines, and constructed a finished goods warehouse.

In 2010, Frederick Johnson, Jr., became sole owner of the farm and winery with his wife, Jennifer, former president of the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail. They completed a renovation of the tasting room in 2011, just in time for the winery's celebration of its 50th anniversary.

The Team

Frederick Johnson, Owner and Vineyard Manager:
A graduate of Cornell University (BS and MBA), Fred is a third-generation Cornellian who spent over 30 years in management and consulting, in international food companies including Pepsico, Chiquita Banana, and Nature Sweet (tomatoes).

Practices & Techniques

An excellent wine evokes memories of its origins: vineyards, countryside vistas, and gentle summer days. Good wines are but well-crafted expressions of their terroir and that provenance includes geography, topography, soils, microclimate, and the vineyard-caring culture. The art and science of great wine production is to so manage the vineyard and wine-making disciplines that the local terroir is expressed to perfection. Johnson Estate’s terroir is most like the Rhine and Moselle areas of Germany, both in climate and soils. Since Lake Erie is a more effective heat reservoir than a river, this terroir, is arguably better than its Old World cousins.

Johnson Estate Farm, with Lake Erie in distance.

The Lake Erie Viticultural Area, Century-Old Grape Region
The largest and finest grape growing area east of the Rockies is found along the southeastern shore of Lake Erie in western New York and Pennsylvania. In this place are the classic wine-growing conditions: a northern latitude with the resulting long hours of summer sunlight, well-drained sand, gravel and shale soils which grapes prefer, left from the retreat of ancient glacier, and a climate moderated by an adjacent body of water, Lake Erie. The “lake effect” on the local climate is held in and concentrated by the hills of the Allegany Plateau which parallel the lake shore. For more than a century, this region has been known as the largest concord grape growing region in the world, testimony to the area’s suitability for growing grapes of all types, and increasingly wine grapes. Located in the heart of this area, the 200-acre Johnson Estate farm overlooks Lake Erie at the closest approach of these hills to the lake and, as a result, it has one of the finest wine-growing microclimates to be found in the region.

We Do We Mean By an Ideal "Micro-climate?"
Like most plants, grape vines thrive when they have the correct balance between warmth and coldness, sunshine and rain. That is why 90% of the grapes grown in the world fall between 30 degrees and 50 degrees north and south latitude. Our vineyards are at approximately 42 degrees north latitude. For grapes to ripen satisfactorily they need a minimum of 1500 hours of sunshine during the growing season; we get 1500-1700 hours beginning on April 1st and ending on October 31st. This is particularly true of red grapes, which need more sunshine than whites. The long hot summers of the region are ideal for growing grapes. Importantly, Lake Erie acts to moderate the temperatures, this is very important in the winter, as extreme cold can kill or damage grapevines. When the temperature falls below -20 C (-2 F), bud damage becomes more likely. This large body of water can cause the lakeshore region to be as much as 5 to 15 degrees warmer than it is inland. The extra warmth also delays bud-break until mid-April, at which point the buds are out of danger of any severe frost that may damage or kill them. The lake's influence is also felt in the summer. By absorbing vast amounts of heat and then releasing it whenever the surrounding air and land is cooler than the water, we are able to harvest as late as the end of October without the risk of frost. As you can see, much of the success of our vines is owed to the beautiful blue lake that lies a few short miles from the farm.

Along with sunshine, the vines also need to absorb considerable amounts of water throughout the year. The ideal is approximately 700 mm, or 27.6 inches, of rain per year. The farm gets about 25-30 inches, which is ideal for flourishing grapevines. Once again, Lake Erie lends us its blessings. Though the rainfall is perfect, the quality of the grapes produced can suffer if they absorb too much water. Our vineyards grow in good soil that sits on a foundation of gravel and shale that was once the old shoreline of Lake Erie...about 15,000 years ago. It is perfect for the vines and it provides the perfect drainage system for any excess rainfall

Estate Vineyards / AVA

Grapes have been grown at Johnson Estate for well over a century. The winery, established in 1961, is the oldest estate winery in New York State. All of the European and American grapes used to make the estate wines are grown within 3000 feet of the winery and our grape varieties have been selected for their excellent wine-making quality and suitability for the Lake Erie microclimate.

Awards

Freelings Creek Reserve & Johnson Estate Vintages

Chardonnay 2011 88 Points (Silver, Recommended), Best Buy Beverage Testing Institute
2011 Silver Long Beach Grand Cru
Estate Dry Riesling 2012 GOLD, 90 pts 2013 Beverage Testing Institute
2011 Silver 2013 Dallas Morning News Wine Comp.
2011 GOLD, 92 pts 2012 Beverage Testing Institute
2011 Silver Long Beach Grand Cru
2011 Silver Riverside
Seyval Blanc 2012 Silver 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition
2011 Silver 2013 Eastern International Wine Competition
2011 Silver, 85 pts Beverage Testing Institute
2009 90 Beverage Testing Institute
2009 GOLD Finger Lakes International Wine
2009 Silver Riverside
Traminette 2010 Bronze Riverside
2008 82 (Bronze) Beverage Testing Institute
Semi-Sweet Riesling 2012 GOLD, 92 pts 2013 Beverage Testing Institute
2011 GOLD, 93 pts 2012 Beverage Testing Institute
2011 GOLD 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine Comp.
2011 Silver Riverside
2011 Silver Great Lakes
Sweet Riesling 2012 GOLD, 91 pts 2013 Beverage Testing Institute
2012 Silver 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition
Vidal Blanc 2011 Silver 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition
2011 Silver 2013 Dallas Morning News Wine Comp.
2011 Silver 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine Comp.
2011 GOLD, 90 pts 2012 Beverage Testing Institute
2011 Bronze Long Beach Grand Cru
2010 Silver Finger Lakes International Wine
Pinot Noir 2011 82 Points 2012 Beverage Testing Institute
Merlot 2009 Silver 2012 Great Lakes Wine Competition
2007 84 Points 2012 Beverage Testing Institute
Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Silver 2013 Dallas Morning News Wine Comp.
2010 GOLD, 91 pts 2012 Beverage Testing Institute
Chancellor 2010 87 Beverage Testing Institute
Chambourcin 2010 Silver 2013 Eastern International Wine Competition
2010 Silver 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition
2010 Silver, 88 pts Beverage Testing Institute

American Heritage Series
Chautauqua Rouge NV Silver 2013 Dallas Morning News Wine Comp.
NV Silver, 86 pts Beverage Testing Institute
NV Silver 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition
Liebestrophchen 2011 GOLD 2012 Long Beach Grand Cru
2012 Silver 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition
Niagara NV GOLD 2013 Dallas Morning News Wine Comp.
NV GOLD 2013 Eastern International Wine Competition
GOLD 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine Comp.
NV Silver 2012 Finger Lakes Wine Competition
Pink Niagara NV Silver 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition
Pink Catawba NV Silver 2012 Finger Lakes Wine Competition
NV Silver 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition
Ives 2011 Silver 2013 Dallas Morning News Wine Comp.
2011 Silver 2013 Eastern International Wine Competition
2011 Silver 2012 Great Lakes
Concord NV Silver 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine Comp.
NV GOLD 2012 Long Beach Grand Cru
2012 Silver 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition.

Dessert & Specialty Wines
Sparkling Rose Ice Wine 2011 GOLD 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition
2011 Silver 2013 Dallas Morning News Wine Comp.
2011 89 Pts. Dec 2012 Beverage Testing Institute
Sparkling Traminette 2011 GOLD 2013 Eastern International Wine Competition
2011 Silver, 87 pts 2012 Beverage Testing Institute
2011 Silver 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine Comp.
Vidal Ice Wine 2007 GOLD, 90 pts 2011 Beverage Testing Institute
2007 Silver 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine Comp.
2007 Silver 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine
Chambourcin Ice Wine 2011 Silver 2013 Dallas Morning News Wine Comp.
2011 GOLD 2013 Great Lakes Wine Competition
2009 Silver, 88 Beverage Testing Institute
Grape-A-Granate NV GOLD 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine
NV Silver Riverside
Passionate Peach NV Silver Riverside
Cream Sherry NV Silver 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine

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Hours

Mon - Sun: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm Winter Hours, Jan 1 - Feb 28: 10:00 am - 5:00pm,

Address

8419 West Main Road (Route 20)
Westfield, New York 14787
United States

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