PENN YAN, NY — It’s a sure sign that the wine grape harvest is about to hit high gear in the Finger Lakes: Anthony Road Wine Co. rolls out its Federweisser for a one-day only tasting event and family festival.
The name mean “feather white” in German. It’s partly fermented wine juice taken from early in the harvest — sweet, low in alcohol, with a cloudy look to it. It’s tangy and fizzy, light and frothy.
“It drinks like a hard cider and pairs perfectly with German fare,” said Peter Becraft, head winemaker at Anthony Road, just off Route 14 south of Geneva, overlooking Seneca Lake.
And sure enough, the 17th annual Federweisser Festival at Anthony Road Saturday (Sept. 22) will feature bratwurst, sauerkraut, German potato salad and more to accompany the flowing Federweisser.
The festival is noon to 5 p.m. at Anthony Road, 1020 Anthony Road. It also features BBQ, live music and a bake sale to benefit the Keuka Comfort Care Home in Penn Yan. Admission is free; food and drink available for purchase.
Federweisser made its way to the Finger Lakes via former Anthony Road winemaker Johannes Reinhardt, who grew up in a wine-making family in southern Germany. Federweisser is a harvest-time tradition there, spawning festivals through the region.
Reinhardt suggested to Anthony Road owners John and Ann Martini that they follow the tradition. Reihardt has since moved on to operate his own winery, Kemmeter Wines, across Route 14 from Anthony Road. But the Federweisser tradition continues.
As fun as the idea of Federweisser sounds, it is extremely limited. Made from freshly picked and crushed Chardonnay grapes, it barely has time to ferment into alcohol and develop its flavors before it’s served.
“As the wine is still fermenting, we do not bottle it for for sale any other day then the Federweisser event,” Becraft said. The winery makes only about 60 gallons — the rest of its Chadonnay grapes become “real” wine.
At the festival, Federweisser is tapped straight from the barrel, much like beer. You can also take home some in bottles — but only after a hole is poked in the cap to release the pressure building from the ongoing fermentation inside.
Whether you drink the Federweisser at the fest, take some home, or both, remember: It will be gone until next harvest season.