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Chateau Lafayette Reneau
Terry Sullivan

Chateau Lafayette ReneauSummary: Relaxing on the deck outside the tasting room at Chateau Lafayette Reneau, it is easy to let time pass by. The views of Seneca Lake are stunning, more so at sunset. Add to the setting wonderful wines and you have the perfect winery to visit. We visited the winery while on an excursion at the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference taking place in the Finger Lakes.

From Route 414, a medium-sized sign announces Chateau Lafayette Reneau. From the road you do not experience this gem of a setting for a winery and tasting room. Follow the driveway to the parking area and plan to spend awhile. The tasting room is located in a restored 1850s English bank barn. The tasting room is a large area with a U-shaped tasting counter at one corner and retail shop throughout the remaining area. Wines are tastefully displayed throughout the room and there is a plethora of wine-related merchandise including clothing, jewelry, cork holders and food items.

Chateau Lafayette Reneau     Chateau Lafayette Reneau

Walk through an event room area to the deck. There is plenty of seating at tables. From the deck you can observe vineyards and Seneca Lake. We were at the winery for a dinner event. The views of the vineyards and lake at sunset were amazing with greens and blues added to the end of day yellows and oranges. From the vantage of the deck, we also observed stainless steel tanks and oak barrels.


In 1985, Dick and Betty Reno wanted to spend their retirement enjoying and making fine wines. They purchased a farm house and 140 acres of land along the southeastern side of Seneca Lake. Dick’s grandfather was named Lafayette, and the winery was named Chateau Lafayette Reneau. The farm had grapes planted and Dick and Betty had those American varieties removed and planted vitas vinifera grapes. A year later the winery opened for business. Current winemaker, Tim Miller started working at Chateau Lafayette Reneau in 1996 and through the decades has won many awards for the wines. While in the tasting room, look at the showcase of trophies. There are several Governor’s Cups and Jefferson Cups.

The winery was for sale in 2013 and was purchased in the autumn by winery owners Gene Pierce and Scott Welliver, owners of Glenora Wine Cellars and Knapp Winery and Vineyards. Along with Chateau Lafayette Reneau’s 20,000 case production, the new owners’ three wineries have a combined case production of over 70,000 cases.

Chateau Lafayette ReneauVineyards

The 55 acres of vineyards are planted with Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. The deep waters of Seneca Lake help to regulate the temperatures of the vineyards, allowing for the growing these varieties.

Chateau Lafayette ReneauWines

Prior to our catered dinner we tasted several Chateau Lafayette Reneau wines as well as their wines at the Wine Bloggers Conference. The 2014 Dry Riesling had a light yellow color. Floral and tropical fruits were noted on the aroma. Peaches and pineapples were evident on the taste. The finish was crisp and fruity. The 2014 Semi-dry Riesling was a light yellow color. There were floral notes along with yellow stone fruits and tropical fruits on the aroma and taste. The wine was reminiscent of a fruit salad. The finish was crisp, fruity and somewhat sweet.

The 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé was an orange color with pink hue. Raspberries were mostly observable on the aroma and taste as well as some minerality. The finish was crisp with the fruit yielding to mineral. The 2012 Cabernet Franc was aged in a combination of American, French and Hungarian oak barrels for 18 months. The translucent light, ruby colored wine had dark fruits on the aroma with a hint of leather. The taste included blackberries, plums, and leather. The wine had tannins with some oak influences. The finish was fruity.

Chateau Lafayette ReneauEvents

There is a large room adjacent to the tasting and retail areas. The room is used throughout the year for different events. Several of the events are food and wine themed such as pasta and wine, chocolate and wine, and cheese and wine. There are also wine trail events.

We attended an event during the evening. One of the wine excursions at the wine bloggers conference brought us to Chateau LaFayette Reneau. Other buses took conference attendees to other wineries. We began with a wine tasting paired with local cheeses, and then settled down for a wonderful dinner. A long table was set up in the center of the room. On the table there were platters of locally grown vegetables including: corn, squash, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and broccoli. Also on the table were canned goods in glass canning jars along with loaves of freshly baked bread, and charcuterie. The entree was then served followed by dessert. After the dinner many of us enjoyed the sunset from the deck.

While traveling the Seneca Lake wine routes, plan a stop at Chateau LaFayette Reneau and enjoy the wines and views in this beautiful setting.

Chateau LaFayette Reneau
5081 State Route 414
Hector, New York 14841



Article written August 2015




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