Re-Inventing the “Aged” Using the New
Two defining moments have occurred in wine over the last few years. First off, the COVID pandemic certainly affected wine buying habits, but more importantly gave time for reflection. Second, is the rapid change in age demographics that are potentially our main market and the changes in what they see as important and desirable in wine. Both wine industry cultural changes can be especially interesting as both a challenge and opportunity for “aged” wineries like us at Heron Hill.
John and Josephine Ingle started Heron Hill Winery in 1977 with two criteria in mind: sustainable/organic farming and great quality wine. They are wine lovers first and foremost and always have been. They also knew they wanted to raise their family on a farm that is free from seemingly dangerous pesticides and inputs. The dream started almost perfectly in John and Jo’s home in the Finger Lakes. John grew the majority of fruit in his home vineyard and the wine was crafted to be sought after for years as one of the early pioneers of the Finger Lakes.
Like every burgeoning region, wineries get challenged with “what else can we do to draw customers?”, and Heron Hill was no different. The desire for quality wine and viticulture never waned for John and Josephine. Through growth, time, and different people helping the Ingles at the helm, Heron Hill became much more than just a winery on Keuka Lake. They did very well building up a café, a destination, and a gathering place that also spread its wings near and far.
Fast forward to 2020, and the world shut down. Of course, many saw this as a challenge first and foremost, but John and Josephine also saw it as an opportunity. This was their chance to re-examine everything and get back to the roots of what got them started, grape growing and wine. They knew they had to develop a team to guide Heron Hill to the next level and bring back their glory days of being a flagship producer of premium and great quality wines. They knew this also required a balanced team that understood all people and the way wine has adjusted over the years.
In June 2020, Jordan Harris was hired as winemaker, and in 2023 expanded his role to COO of Heron Hill Winery. He was brought to Heron Hill as someone whose innovative history complemented the innovative nature of the Ingles as well as the passion for fine wine and sustainable viticulture. While Jordan brings 20+ years of experience, it still comes at a relatively youthful age, mind frame, and openness. Though Jordan has accolades ranging from ratings and personal reviews in national and international top publications, success in an international sommelier competition and many hospitality awards, he is more concentrated on the future. He believes that success is not measured by his past, largely personal accreditations, but by the success of Heron Hill and its entire new and youthful team.
His career started in Niagara, Ontario (2002-2007), coming stateside to Virginia for 13 years (2007-2020) before having a reckoning in 2020. He realized now was the time to fulfill one of his dreams he always had when he was living and working close by in Ontario, to make wine in the Finger Lakes. Moving to the Finger Lakes brought him back to his passion and greatest successes working with cool climate wine, especially Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and now Blaufränkisch.
More important than the addition of Jordan is the fact that Heron Hill did not stop there. They built an entire team of youthful excellence in all areas of the business. In sales, hospitality, and marketing they added Jacqueline Wooster as Director of Sales, Jessie Gorcica as Marketing and Operations Manager, Chris Schmitt as Keuka Tasting Room Manager, and Stephanie Chrysler as Bristol Tasting Room Manager. Helping Jordan in the cellar is Assistant Winemaker Laura Zuzek and in finance is Jeanine Housman. In the vineyard, Kirby Field has taken the reigns as Vineyard Manager still working alongside longtime mentor Don Riesenberger to complement the Ingle Vineyard management team led by Kyle Franzoni.
The new-found team is filled with passion, excitement, and youth to help the Ingles guide Heron Hill to new heights. The team has also started to design and roll out a brand-new look to complement their aspirations to make not only the very best wine with sustainable fruit but present it in a desirable way to all. The new labels include the favorites: Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Blaufränkisch. Look for the newly designed classic wine labels to start hitting the shelves soon!
Challenges become opportunities every day. This was Heron Hill’s opportunity and they have grasped on to it to continue being a leader in the great Finger Lakes and showcasing some of the nation’s best cool climate wines while continuously becoming more sustainable and accessible to all.