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Keuka Lake Vineyards
Kathy Sullivan

Summary: Keuka Lake Vineyards is a small, boutique winery located in Hammondsport, New York. A deck attached to an old barn offers delightful views of sparkling blue Keuka Lake beyond the thriving acres of vineyards.

Keuka Lake VineyardsThe Keuka Lake Vineyards’ tasting room is located in a small building reminiscent of a small home. Outside of this building landscaping including summer flowers, an arbor and vines add to the comfortable feel of the winery. Inside, the tasting room offers a small winery friendly ambiance. Behind the simple wood tasting counter that sits on oak barrels, a large framed display of corks shows the KLV initials of the winery. Past the tasting counter, a large wall chalkboard lists the many restaurants that offer KLV wines on their menus. Some of these restaurants are top rated restaurants in New York City.

Keuka Lake VineyardsKeuka Lake Vineyards KLV

Mel Goldman is the owner and vineyard manager. Throughout his career, Mel had been interested in agriculture for a long time. Before starting the winery, Mel worked in developing countries in the agricultural and industrial areas. Eventually Mel was inspired to own vineyards and purchased property owned by Taylor. Today an old sign on the front of the aged barn reminds visitors of the old Taylor dynasty, “Taylor Wine Co. Inc. Area II, Keech Place.”

The 50 acres of vineyards at the winery are located on both sides of the southern end of Keuka Lake. Some of the varieties have been recently planted while others are much older including 65-year old Leon Millot vines and Delaware vines. Some of the grape varieties planted include: Gewürtztraminer, Riesling, Vignoles and Cabernet Franc. In addition to vinifera grapes and hybrids, KLV also grows and sells Catawba and Concord grape varieties.

Keuka Lake VineyardsKeuka Lake Wines

Today Keuka Lake is producing 3,000 cases of wine. The winery owner wants the production to stay manageable. Mel wants to concentrate on quality not quantity.

The wine bottle back labels show a sweetness scale. The scale is easy to read ranging from dry, medium dry, medium sweet to sweet.

During our visit the wines tasted included the 2014 Dry Riesling Falling Man Vineyard. This wine had two grams per liter residual sugar. The wine was a light yellow color with a slight green hue. The aroma was of citrus notes. The taste also with citrus had minerality and was smooth. The finish began with citrus and yielded to mineral. The 2013 Dry Riesling, Evergreen Lek was produced with grapes from the Evergreen Lek Vineyard. The residual sugar was seven grams per liter. The wine was a light yellow with notes of mineral, floral and a hint of petrol. The finish was crisp and dry with mineral notes.

Vignoles Dry Amber 2013 Turkey Run Vineyard was fermented on the skins. The wine offered floral aroma notes and the taste had floral plus dried fruit notes. The wine had bold tannins. The finish was crisp with floral and dried fruit notes.

The 2014 Leon Millot Fournier was from the Fournier Vineyard. The Fournier vineyard was an experimental vineyard originally planted by Charles Fournier who was one of the regions vineyard pioneers. The vines from this vineyard are about 65 years old. The Leon Millot was very aromatic with dark fruit. The wine was dry and full bodied. The taste was velvety and smooth. According to the website, this wine has a cult following.

Keuka Lake VineyardsWinemaker

After our wine tasting we walked to the nearby winemaking area to meet Winemaker Katey Larwood and see the bottling truck in full operation. Katey was busy wraping cases of just bottled wine in heavy plastic wrap. A winemaker has many winery tasks. Katey is from California who while studying changed her career major to oenology at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Katey has made wine in California, New Zealand, Alsace in France and Hunter Valley in Australia before coming to the Finger Lakes region. One of the drawing factors that brought her to the Keuka Lake was her love for the Riesling grape.

Keuka Lake VineyardsWhile the whole bottling operation looks simple, it is hard work with lifting heavy cases of wine while the sun is beating down. At the time of our visit, they were bottling the KLV Red.

Wine enthusiasts are welcomed to visit Keuka Lake Vineyards. Keep in mind that groups larger than 12 need a reservation and bus tours are discouraged.

Keuka Lake Vineyards
8882 County Route 76
Hammondsport, New York 14840

GPS: N42º 25.872’ W77º 12.017’


Article written August 2015




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