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Shalestone Vineyards
Kathy Sullivan

Shalestone VineyardsSummary: Discover a boutique family-run winery in the Finger Lakes producing only red wines. In addition to the creativity of winemaking, the tasting room is filled with an array of creative woodwork.

For twenty years Shalestone Vineyards has been devoted to producing only red wines. The owners decided to focus on red wines as a way to differentiate themselves from the numerous wineries in the region. Today Shalestone Vineyards is the only Finger Lakes winery solely producing red wines. The tag line is “Red is all we do.”

Shalestone VineyardsShalestone Vineyards is owned by Rob and Kate Thomas. Today their son Seth is the assistant winemaker and vineyard manager. Their daughter, Liena was working in the tasting room on the day of our visit.

Shalestone Vineyards was started in 1995 and by 1998 had opened the tasting room. The name Shalestone Vineyards came from the land. Shale is the rock under the topsoil. The roots of the grapevines cannot penetrate the shale. The vineyards consist of six acres of red varieties. Grape varieties include: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Lemberger, Pinot Noir and Syrah.

While talking with Rob, he said, that he “has spent a lifetime finding the right red vines that will grow and make good wines” in this area of the Finger Lakes. Rob’s background includes agronomy and soils.

Shalestone VineyardsWinery

One barrel aging building was built into a hillside. With stone walls and landscaping it resembled a scene from Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Tom gave us a tour of the main production area in an building also covered with vines. Stainless steel tanks and oak barrels are in different areas. The pink colored ceiling contrasts with the honey colored wood doors and oak barrels providing a warm feeling even though the room was cool on a warm summer day.

Shalestone’s Tasting Room

The tasting room was modeled after the historic Queen's Castle of Fossenvue built in the 1800s. It is formed by the shape of the roof that slopes from the edges to a small peak in the center. Inside, the decorative use of wood provides a unique place to taste Shalestone wines.

The tasting room is delightfully rustic with a very creative use of wood showing Rob’s fondness of woodworking. The ceiling is of honey colored pine and reaches to a peak. Windows behind the tasting counter offer views of Seneca Lake. Facing opposite the main tasting counter, wines are artfully displayed in racks. Behind a wall is a private tasting area for a small group.

Shalestone Vineyards     Shalestone Vineyards


Shalestone produces 1,500 cases of red wines. During a wine tasting the winery policy is to not tell people what they are about to taste but to let people discover for themselves. Harmony was a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This wine was an inter-vintage blend of 2011 and 2012. The ruby colored wine offered an aroma of dark fruits and spice. The taste was smooth with notes of blackberries, black raspberries, black cherries and blackcaps. The wine had smooth tannins and had a medium/full body. The crisp finish was fruity and the wine had a long aftertaste. The back label reads, “Harmony sings with pleasure. Made with balance and understanding. Harmony can elevate the quality of your life.”

Shalestone VineyardsPinot Noir 2013 was a translucent light ruby color with a pink hue. The aroma and taste offeredraspberries. There were tannins and the wine had a medium body. The finish was crisp with a very fruity finish. Syrah 2012 was an opaque, dark ruby color. The aroma was of dark fruit notes and pepper. The full-bodied wine offered notes of blackberries and blackcaps with bold tannins. The finish was crisp and fruity with spice. Synergy 2012 was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The opaque dark ruby colored wine offered dark fruit notes including black berries and black cherries. There were also notes of spice and bold tannins. The finish was crisp and fruity.

Lemberghini 2012 was a blend of Syrah, Merlot, and Lemburger. This opaque dark purple wine offered aromatics of red berries and mushrooms. The wine was full bodied with bold tannins. Consider pairing this food friendly wine with beef dishes and chocolate. Red Legend was a blend of Cabernet Franc, Lemburger and Merlot. The translucent purple wine had a red hue and one percent residual sugar. The taste was smooth and slightly sweet. Pair this wine with food or enjoy it as an aperitif with a rocking chair on the porch or by a fireplace.

While enjoying a visit to Shalestone Vineyards, be sure to take time to browse the creative uses of wood that Rob has used throughout the tasting room.

Shalestone Vineyards
9681 Rte. 414
Lodi, New York 14860

GPS: N42º 33.319’ W76º 51.956’


Article written September 2015




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