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Leidenfrost Vineyards
Kathy Sullivan

Leidenfrost VineyardsSummary: In 2015 Leidenfrost Vineyards, a family winery, is celebrating their 25th Anniversary. This is an enduring father and daughter enterprise continuing the farm in the family since the 1940s. Wine enthusiasts can choose to enjoy sparkling wines, still wines and ports.

Leidenfrost Vineyards has had established vineyards since the 1940s. Today the vineyards are tended and the wines are produced by the second and third generations, John and Elizabeth Leidenfrost. Back when it was established, Leidenfrost Vineyards was granted the 10th winery license in the Seneca Lake region. When we arrived at Leidenfrost Vineyards, an enthusiastic Elizabeth was quick to include her father in our talk. It was delightful to see the camaraderie and love between the two generations of Leidenfrosts who have a common interest and love of the vineyards and wine.

Leidenfrost VineyardsThe Tasting Room at Leidenfrost Vineyards

The early American-style tasting room is comfortable and the staff member was friendly and enthusiastic about Leidenfrost Vineyards and wines. A door at the back of the tasting room leads directly to a large deck that overlooks vineyards with views of Seneca Lake. Adjacent to the tasting room there is a large event room, where works of art are also displayed. Several pieces of artwork were created by John Leidenfrost.

We began our visit to Leidenfrost Vineyards enjoying a glass of Blanc de Blanc 2011 while sitting on the deck overlooking the refreshing views of vineyards and the lake. The sparkling wine was crafted in 100 percent oak. The tasting room and event room are based on an early American structure. John Leidenfrost designed and built the facility in the 1990s.

Soon we met Elizabeth with an effervescent personality who is also the third generation winemaker and tasting room manager. Elizabeth told us the story of the winery and related how the land had been a family farm.

Leidenfrost VineyardsLeidenfrost Vineyards

Elizabeth’s grandfather had grown grapes on the land since the 1940s. The market for grapes collapsed in the 1980s. In 1984 John Leidenfrost, Jr., an architect with a PhD in art, took over the family farm and began replanting the vineyards. By the early 1990s, the vineyards were replanted with vinifera grapes. John and Elizabeth noted that the soils are shallow, and shallow soils are good for growing premium grapes. The first vinifera grapes harvested were Merlot in 1991.

Currently the vineyards, with almost 30 acres of vines, have 15 grape varieties. Varieties include: Pinot Noir, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Cabernet Franc, Baco Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. The owners plan to increase plantings and will add Cayuga White. The largest vineyard planting is Pinot Noir followed by four acres of Riesling. Grapes not used in the production of Leidenfrost wines are sold to other wineries.

Leidenfrost VineyardsIn the beginning the vinifera grapes were harvested and sold to Bully Hill winery. Eventually John, who had been crafting home wines in the 1980s, decided to establish a commercial winery. At first the wines were sold successfully out of a log cabin. Then the current tasting room was built.

When we noted that there is a sense of good-natured rivalry between the east side and west side of Seneca Lake over the quality of the wines, the Leidenfrosts’ whose vineyards are on the east side were quick to explain. “This is the gold coast. The sun comes up and hits the vineyards and is still hitting the vineyards in the evening.”

The Leidenfrost father and daughter team want people to know that they are producing a superior product by themselves with recent technology. They have a passion for wine and really care about the quality of their wines.

Leidenfrost VineyardsLeidenfrost Wines

Current production is 3,000 cases. We tasted several wines and then followed Elizabeth to the barrel room and tasted a few wines from the barrels. Brut 2012 was a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The wine, produced in the traditional method, was a gold color with multiple columns of beads forming a mousse around the circumference of the glass and in the middle. The aroma and taste were of mineral and jammy figs. The finish was crisp. Blanc de Blanc 2011, produced with Chardonnay in the traditional method, was a yellow color with multiple columns of beads forming a small mousse along the circumference. The aroma and taste were of apple and mineral. The finish was very crisp and refreshing. The two sparkling wines were a perfect aperitif while we talked with Elizabeth and John.

Cabernet Franc 2010 was a dark ruby color. The wine aroma offered dark fruit notes with a taste of plum and blackberries. The medium-bodied wine had silky tannins. The crisp finish was fruity. Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010, with 12.5% alcohol, was a dark ruby color. The aroma was of dark jammy fruits. The taste was smooth and full-bodied with black berries and bold, puckering tannins. The finish was crisp and fruity.

Leidenfrost VineyardsWhile in the barrel room with Elizabeth we tasted some ports. White Port 2013 was a blend of Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, and Vignoles. The wine was a dark yellow to gold color. The notes were of floral and cooked fruit. The taste was smooth and fruity with an aftertaste of honeysuckle. White Port 2014 was a blend of Vignoles, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. This port was yellow and the taste was smooth with floral and very fruity notes.

When visiting the tasting room at Leidenfrost Vineyards, stay awhile and enjoy a glass of wine with views of prolific vineyards and picturesque Seneca Lake. While there be sure to check out the artwork in the event room.

Leidenfrost Vineyards
5677 Route 414
Hector, New York 14841

GPS: N42º 30.480’ W76º 52.630’


Article written September 2015




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