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Rooster Hill Vineyards
by
K. L.Sullivan

Sitting midway on a hillside overlooking Keuka Lake, Rooster Hill Vineyards winery and tasting room is a spot of glorious red against the green fields of grapevines. With the name of Rooster, the red siding of the building is a perfect match.  One enters the tasting room after walking along a path separating a lovely landscaped garden. A large welcoming rooster stands in the garden. A customer who helped negotiate and retrieve it for the winery discovered this antique metal rooster in a Philadelphia shop. Curious as to why the winery name Rooster Hill was chosen, we learned that in Italy a rooster is a symbol of good luck and longevity. This Italian symbolism of a rooster carries over nicely with wine.

Much time and thought has gone into creating the atmosphere in the Tuscan decorated tasting room. As soon as one enters the tasting room, there is a sense of “hush.” Perhaps a sense of respect for wine. As Amy Hoffman, owner of Rooster Hill Vineyards mentioned, visitors coming in the door immediately proceed quietly. The dark wood polished floors, the oval shaped counter, and wall décor all add to the mystique of wine. Copper molding decorates the walls of the tasting room. Amy refers to this as “living art.” She foresees the copper changing and aging with time. The placement of the oval shaped counter and windows allows visitors tasting Rooster Hill wines to have a view of Keuka Lake.

 

Amy and David Hoffman, spent a great deal of time learning about the winery business and vineyard management before starting their vineyards and building the winery and tasting room. An innovative practice they have found beneficial in the vineyard is using drainage tile. The drainage tile enables the vineyard to be dry in one to two days after a heavy rain. Using the newest techniques in the winery and new equipment, the Hoffmans hope to establish a winery that consistently produces fine wine.

 

Rooster Hill Vineyards is a relatively new vineyard in the Keuka Lake wine area, opening the tasting room on May 3, 2003 with six wines and a total of 1600 cases. The vineyard consists of eight acres of grapevines and included Lemberger, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. The future includes planting more vineyards. Long Island is the source for Merlot, which is a difficult grape to grow in the Finger Lakes region. Today the winery produces 4500 cases of wine. Now there are 16 wines with a 17th bottled next week (June 2007.) Currently 80% of the wine is sold in the tasting room. After working in the corporate world, Amy would like to see the winery stay as a family winery and not become a large commercial enterprise.

Amy firmly believes that it is important to treat the customer right. Tasting selections are in a restaurant-style wine list. There is a fee for tasting and that fee includes a glass. We tasted several Rooster Hill wines including a dry Riesling, semi-dry Riesling and Gewürztraminer. The dry Riesling has a floral bouquet with a nice balance of fruit and acid with a long aftertaste. The semi-dry Riesling had a floral bouquet with a nice mouth feel and medium aftertaste. The Gewürztraminer, semi-dry has a floral (rose) bouquet, fruit taste and long aftertaste.

Visitors are encouraged to come taste the wines and discuss the wines. Labels on the back of the wine bottles offer pairing suggestions.

Amy emphasized that she wants to consistently produce quality wine. Handcrafted wines are important. As the Rooster Hill website notes, “Wine is a land's noblest ambassador. Drinking a glass of wine allows one to discover a region's entire history.” When the tasting room first opened customers were buying one or two bottles of wine. Today the same customers are buying wine by the cases.

Events offer unique opportunities at Rooster Hill Vineyards. Located off the tasting room is a large patio for many events. Some of the events are unique. The patio has a large stove. This feature allows a variety of unusual winery events to take place. A gourmet barbecue with port and cigars, cooking classes, Cheers, Chocolate and Cheese and Twilight tastings are some of the great ideas Rooster Hill is bringing to the winery business. Twilight tastings consist of ten wines from around the world followed by a gourmet meal.

 

Rooster Hill Vineyards
Penn Yan, New York

GPS: N42° 37.591’ W077° 04.029’

 


 

 

 


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