When the Finger Lakes Times published one of their recent articles titled, “The Grape Guru: A New Wave of Winemakers,” it charted the journey that Hoyle took to enrich her knowledge of winemaking as well as her role in the local wine industry. For these distinctions, Hoyle was also recently featured in The Ithaca Times.
While at HWS, Hoyle was introduced to wine from the Finger Lakes in 2009 when she began tasting wine from Fox Run Winery and developed the ability to distinguish the different varieties of wine and the precision that they were crafted with. As a result, Hoyle decided to pursue winemaking as a career.
Currently working as the winemaker at Hosmer Winery in the Finger Lakes region, Hoyle makes wine crafting multiple varieties of grapes, such as Riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet Franc and many more. Although Hoyle enjoys crafting each wine, her favorite grape to work with is Hosmer’s Riesling.
The article is as follows:
Finger Lakes Times
“The Grape Guru: A new wave of winemakers”
Harvey Reissig • July 16, 2017
Julia Hoyle is one of the new wave of incredibly talented, locally trained young winemakers bringing fresh ideas to wineries in the Finger Lakes.
Hoyle first became interested in wine while pursuing her degree at William Smith College. She began her wine career in 2009 in the tasting room at Fox Run winery while still in college. A few years later she began to come in early in the morning to work informally with Peter Bell, longtime winemaker at Fox Run, and soon decided that winemaking was more to her liking than working in a tasting room.
After finishing her degree, Hoyle worked with Bell as a “cellar rat” for several months. In 2013, she began to broaden her experience by working with Vinny Aliperti, the winemaker at Atwater Vineyards, for one harvest season. Then she went to work as an assistant winemaker for three years with David Breeden, the winemaker at Sheldrake Point. During her tenure with Breeden, she not only learned a great deal about table wine production, but also was involved in making dessert and ice wines. In 2015, during a season when Sheldrake was not making ice wines, Hoyle decided to go overseas to Australia and broaden her experience by working from January through April during the harvest season at Yalumba Winery. She became the head winemaker at Hosmer this past January.
Winemaking is deeply ingrained in her family as Hoyle’s husband, Kelby Russell, is also a winemaker at Red Newt. The young couple met while they were both working at Fox Run. They informally eloped during the winter solstice on Dec. 21, 2012 in Paris and then formalized their marriage two years later in 2014 during the summer solstice on June 21 at Fox Run. Hoyle said although they mostly keep their winemaking activities separate, they are familiar with each other’s products and occasionally will discuss the merits of some of their wines together and agree or disagree on some attributes.
Hoyle believes that she has found the perfect position offering the best of both worlds — the chance to work at Hosmer Winery, which is one of the older Finger Lakes wineries with a long tradition of making estate-produced wines, and also has the chance to work with a core of young people like herself in the winery. She credits owners Cameron and Maren Hosmer for allowing her to pursue new winemaking innovations that match her current interests. She also enjoys working with the Hosmers’ son, Tim, who has his own grape planting business and wears many hats at the winery, as well as Katie Rosen, director of marketing and who is also responsible for the new design of their wine labels.
Hosmer currently grows about 70 acres of grapes, including riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, gruner veltliner, pinot gris, pinot noir, cabernet Franc, seyval Bblanc, catawba and Cayuga white. They also have a few rows of newly planted pPetit verdot, which is a Bordeaux variety now commonly grown on the east coast in Virginia. Although Hoyle enjoys working with all of these diverse varieties, she is particularly focused on riesling and cabernet Franc.
Hosmer produces a variety of rieslings and Hoyle plans to continue experimenting with them — including fermenting some batches in large, older oak barrels and testing different commercial strains of yeasts as well as fermentation with natural wild yeasts. She also will test semi-dry rieslings that have lower alcohol levels so they are pleasant and fruity.
Hoyle’s goal in cabernet Franc production is to make fruit forward wines that have herbal and sage notes with aromas and flavors of black raspberries. She believes in cold soaking cabernet Francs (letting partially crushed fruit macerate prior to pressing) to enhance the intensity of flavors.
Hoyle believes that one of the most important aspects of quality wine production for all types of grapes is making wines that are very well balanced. This concept applies to all aspects of grape growing and winemaking, beginning with ensuring that the crop load of grapes in vineyards is properly balanced so that vineyards are not over or under cropping their total load. Then in wine production, sugars and acids should be properly balanced and red wines should receive enough oak to make them interesting, but not too much to overpower the natural wine flavors. Finally, she believes in altering the wines as little as possible during the winemaking process, including not adding excessive sugars, tannins or artificial color.
Stop by the winery now to sample these interesting 2016 wines, and be sure to return next year when the 2017 vintages come in and will represent Hoyle’s first complete season in her new position.
- Hosmer Gruner Veltliner, $14 — This vintage will be released in July. A clean, well balanced, crisp wine with notes of herbs and white pepper balanced by citrus and lime flavors. This wine is from a new planting in only its second year of production
- Hosmer Sauvignon Blanc, $20 — A relatively new Finger Lakes grape. Flavors and aromas of passion fruit with notes of white pepper and lemongrass. It has a nice weight on the palate and is crisp and refreshing.
- Hosmer Dry Rosé, $16 — Made from cabernet Franc. A perfect summer wine that scored 90 points in Wine Enthusiast magazine. Flavors and aromas of strawberries and bright red cherries. Crisp and clean with a pleasant acidity.
- Hosmer Single Wheel Riesling (1.6 percent residual sugar) $20 — Made from a parcel of about one acre in a single vineyard. Flavors and aromas of tropical fruit and honeysuckle. Lingers on the palate with honey flavors in the aftertaste. This vintage will be released in mid-July.
- Hosmer Cabernet Franc, $20 — Recently bottled in May. Cherries and bright red fruit aromas and flavors on the palate, with lively acidity and supple tannins.