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Rock Stream Vineyards
by
K.L. Sullivan

Synopsis: Rock Stream Vineyards is located on the west side of Seneca Lake, in the Finger Lakes area of New York State. Opening in July 2005, today the winery features wines made from Cayuga White, Niagara, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay and Vignoles. The vast majority of grapes are from the vineyards located only one mile from the tasting room. Rock Stream Vineyards has the only licensed Grappa and Grape Brandy distiller.

Rock Stream Vineyards tasting room is located is easy to reach on Route 14 and only six miles north of Watkins Glen. Mark’s history with wine began while he was in Italy. Mark’s mom was the person who found the old dairy farm for sale and sent the clipping to Mark while he was stationed in Italy. He purchased the 150-acre farm with 35 acres of vineyards in 2001. Mark had a contract with another company to purchase his Niagara grapes. Shortly after the contract fell through and Mark made the decision to begin producing wine. In 2003, he had his first vintage. The vineyards located on Mark’s farm are one mile from the tasting room. Today all of his winery equipment is from Italy.

The tasting room opened in July 2005. Mark’s dad, a professional engineer, helped with construction of the tasting room. The bright tasting room is of ample size and has displays of wines available for purchase. Across the ceiling, small flags dangle and add color. A particular magnet drawing display features Vignoles. The display is enticing and the tasting of Vignoles even more so. If you like dessert wines, be sure to try this one when you visit the tasting room.

Another display features Yancey’s Fancy New York’s Artisan Cheese. Visitors have the opportunity to try the cheese with a wine tasting.

 

Mark is proud that the entire production takes place at the winery. He is the one who makes the decisions and is the winemaker. According to their brochure, “We grow our own grapes, bottle and produce our own wine and even design and print our own labels.”
The winery has a printer for making its own wine labels and is capable of adding a barcode, which indicates the residual sugar.

Currently, the winery produces 1500 gallons (more than 630 cases) from 40 acres of the best grapes on the farm located one mile from the tasting room. The other grapes are sold. Mark’s vision is to increase to 15,000 gallons.

Mark is a jack-of-all-trades and master of many. Mark has a Ph.D. in chemistry. Mark is a vertical winery manager. He is the vineyard manager, winemaker and tasting room manager. All this he does in addition to his continued employment with the military. As we tasted wines, Mark picked up a guitar and began playing along with the music in the room.

We tasted several wines in the tasting room guided by a friendly and knowledgeable wine assistant. Make Me Blush is the best selling wine and is sweet with a five percent residual sugar. The Dry Riesling 2006 had a mineral nose with a fruit taste. This was dry and light. The Niagara 2005 was full and foxy. With full body and two percent residual sugar, the Chardonnay was still very dry tasting. Cabernet Franc has red cherry flavors with a balance of fruit, alcohol and acid. Shamus Red is a blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and DeChaunac, with 3.5 percent residual sugar. Vignoles, a dessert wine, is the sweetest with seven percent residual sugar.

Mark’s aunt, an artist, created the colorful picture on the wine labels. Several of her paintings were used on covers of The New Yorker magazine.

Whether you prefer dry wines or sweet wines, you will enjoy trying a variety of the wines at Rock Stream Vineyards. If you have an opportunity to meet Mark, you will enjoy talking with him about his experience in the wine industry.

Rock Stream Vineyards
Rock Stream, New York

 

 


 

 

 


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