Hermes Vineyards is a winery devoted to growing exclusively vinifera varieties, especially of more unusual varieties such as Rhone, Italian and Spanish varieties in the Sandusky region, with the use of minimal winemaking interventions. Our philosophy is: wine is made in the vineyard. Many people have asked, why here and why these varieties?
It's been almost a decade since I decided to plant a vineyard and start a winery on our 7th generation family farm in Ohio. Spending the last 20 years as a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City, I had originally looked for a place to plant a vineyard closer to me on the east coast.David Kraus However, I couldn't find anywhere else in the east with the ideal growing conditions for vines as in the Sandusky area where our family farm resides.
In fact, my great, great, great grandfather on my maternal side, a Hermes (my mother's maiden name), was attracted to the area because of the growing wine industry in Sandusky. He was a grape grower in Germany's Moselle Valley, where the Hermes family are still large grape growers today. Starting in the 1850s, German grapegrowers (like my ancestors), were attracted to Sandusky's chalky limestone soils and long, temperate growing season created by the moderating influences of the western basin of Lake Erie and the Sandusky Bay. This long growing season extending from april till end of harvest at Thanksgiving, unrivalled by most grape-growing regions, maximizes flavor development in the grapes. In fact, for a quarter of a century after the fall of the Cincinnati wine industry (America's first) due to grapevine diseases in the mid 1800s and prior to the emergence of the California wine predominence in the late 1800s, Sandusky was the leading wine producer both for quality and quantity in the country, and for a half century after that remained 2nd or 3rd. Remains of these enormous old winery buildings remain in and around Sandusky.
These are some of the reasons I chose my family farm to plant a vineyard. I chose to ignore the prevailing wisdom that you could only plant hybrids in Ohio or hardy vinifera like riesling or cabernet franc. I planted 25 varieties of vinifera including Rhone, Italian and Spanish varieties. Beating even my own expectations, all have been able to ripen and make good wine. Because of this success I've continued to plant these varieties and have close to 30 acres planted now.