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Knapp Vineyards Winery and Restaurant
Terry Sullivan

If you want to discover wines you like, Knapp Vineyards Winery and Restaurant near New York’s Cayuga Lake is the ideal place to visit and experience. You will have a choice between 27 wines and five brandies and cordials. The choices may be overwhelming, however you will certainly discover wines you like. You will also have the opportunity to go to the Knapp Vineyards Restaurant adjacent to the winery and tasting room. With so many choices at Knapp Vineyards Winery and Restaurant, plan to spend at least a half-day.

The Knapp family created a small boutique winery in 1982. They produced about 1500 cases of wine a year. In 2000, they sold the winery and restaurant to Gene Pierce and Scott Welliver. Today Knapp Winery produces between 12,000 and 15,000 cases a year. The vineyard has forty-two acres of vines adjacent to the winery and restaurant. From the restaurant, one has a view of the newer Riesling vines.


We began our visit with the restaurant. Since it was a beautiful late April day, we decided to sit on the patio. It was difficult to imagine that seven days ago a foot of snow covered the area. A constant cool breeze helped to make the eighty-degree weather very comfortable. The outside seating area had 13 tables of various sizes overlooking the vineyard. The Riesling vines were still waiting to burst forth for the spring. Large two-inch thick rootstock 3309 grape vines rose next to columns that held the support beams for the ceiling over the patio. These recently pruned vines were weeping. A month from now they will cover the underside of the translucent ceiling and provide a canopy of grape leaves.


We both decided to order the crab cakes. A generous sized crab cake served on a bed of shredded lettuce was delicious. A drizzle of sauce with capers adorned the plate. Multi-colored tortilla chips and potato salad accompanied the crab cake. The restaurant changes their menu frequently. However, visitors like the crab cakes so much they remain on the menu. I decided to pair the crab cake with a dry Knapp Brut. I enjoy pairing food with a sparkling wine. The carbonization cleanses the palette. The food was excellent and the new chef, John McNabb should be commended. John works with the winery staff sampling and discussing which Knapp wines can be used in his recipes and which wines can be suggested to pair with the meals. The Vineyard Restaurant at Knapp Winery is a stop you should plan to make.

We then moved the few yards to the tasting room and winery. Along the way, we met the winemaker, Steve DiFrancesco, who also doubles as the winemaker at Glenora Wine Cellars. Steve told us that Knapp uses grapes from Knapp ’s vineyards, and purchases a few elsewhere. They buy the Merlot, Isabella and some of the Sangiovese grapes.


In the tasting room, we met Knapp’s general manager, Kathy Pasqua. Kathy talked about the wines and gave us a tour of the winery. Knapp Winery offers an impressive list of wines. They have something for everyone. Knapp offers a range of white wines from dry to sweet, fruit wines, dessert wines, a sparkling wine, and dry red wines. They also offer brandy and cordials. This is the first winery we visited that has a working still. On the day of our visit, the still was operating and producing alcohol. The still heats the wine, and since alcohol evaporates before water, the alcohol evaporates off into a coiled tube submerged in a water-filled tank. The cool water condenses the clear alcohol that pours out of the bottom of the tank into a container. The alcohol fills the container in about an hour. A staff member transfers the alcohol to stainless steel tanks.


Knapp Winery offers an opportunity to taste the Grappa and Brandy made from the distilled alcohol. I suggest that you try the Grappa first, made from adding distilled water to the distilled alcohol. There are no flavors other than the alcohol. The Grappa is produced in stainless steel tanks. Compare the Grappa with the amber colored brandy made by adding distilled water to the distilled alcohol. However, the brandy was aged for seven years in oak barrels. Comparing the two will give you the opportunity to taste the influence that oak has on the alcohol. It is smooth with hints of butterscotch.

The winemaker uses alcohol to produce fortified wines. The Ruby Port is not overly sweet. The Limoncello, Knapp Winery second best seller, has intense lemon flavor and is high in alcohol. It would make a great addition to iced tea. You can also make your own fortified wines. An excellent choice is to add some Grappa to the George’s Peach wine.


An interesting series of three wines has a different cat pictured on them. We have heard of and seen winery dogs and we also observed winery cats. People sent pictures of their cats to Knapp Winery who chose three to picture on their wines Superstition, Kat Knapp White and Kat Knapp.



Kathy spoke of ideas that she has for the winery. She would like to develop a tour where visitors can sit in a wagon and tour the vineyard. The wagon would make several stops, the guide would talk about the variety of grape, and visitors would taste a Knapp wine made from that grape variety.

There are many reasons to visit Knapp Winery. The winery has an excellent restaurant on the premises. You will have the opportunity to see a still and compare different beverages made with distilled alcohol. There are so many different varieties of wine, you are certain to find several that you will like.

Knapp Vineyards Winery and Restaurant
Romulus, New York

GPS: N 42° 43.951’ W076° 46.252’






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