Paul and Shannon Brock have reached an agreement to assume ownership of Silver Thread Vineyard, a small operation on a highly regarded piece of property on southeast Seneca Lake.
The transition will begin immediately, with the Brocks set to oversee the upcoming harvest. And while they profess a desire to maintain the vision of founder Richard Figiel, the Brocks are planning significant changes.
Currently at 750 cases annually, the Brocks expect to increase production of Silver Thread wines to 1,000 cases this vintage, while eventually increasing production to 3,000 cases annually within five years. The first step toward achieving this goal is changing the vineyard management. Figiel has farmed the 10 acres of vines with organic practices in mind.
"There were a number of things that Richard was doing that led to very low yields," Shannon Brock said. "The organic practices certainly contributed to that. We expect to see the yields increase this year. We're definitely hoping that will happen."
That doesn't mean overcropped vines. Paul Brock, formerly the head winemaker at nearby Lamoreaux Landing before taking a teaching job at Finger Lakes Community College, is a proponent of balanced vines and healthy yields.
"Paul and I consider ourselves environmentalists," Shannon said, "but we'll make some changes. We'll continue to work organically when possible, but it's not always possible. It's a worthwhile effort."
In addition to changing the growing practices, the Brocks will eventually plant more vines -- mostly riesling. "There's room to get bigger," Shannon explained, noting that of the 27 acres of property, fewer than half are under vine.
Figiel has agreed to offer his assistance of the first year under new ownership. He launched the operation in 1991 and convinced the Brocks to keep the winery name.
"Some things will have to change, but a lot can stay the same," Shannon Brock said. "We respect the work Richard has done, and we're simply going to make sure more consumers can find Silver Thread wines."