The west side of Cayuga Lake plays host to numerous wineries, each filling a certain niche in the market with the wines it produces. Sheldrake Point Winery, with its own Estate vineyards, is quite proud of the wine that is produced due to the unique terroir of the vineyards. While traveling in the area, we headed down to the point to learn more about this winery.
Sheldrake Point Winery was founded in 1997, with the tasting room opening the following year. To get there, you leave the main thoroughfare and head down to the shores of Cayuga Lake. The winery grows its own grapes which can be seen stretching up the side of the hill next to the main building. The tasting room is large and brightly lit with windows on all sides so you can look out at the lake and the vineyards. During our visit we spoke with Brittan who was very helpful in guiding us through a tasting of the wines currently available to purchase. The following is a brief look at what we tried.
- .1% Residual Sugar, Partially oaked
- A great example of what a Chardonnay can be when not heavily oaked. Made with oak staves.
- .6% RS
- Great tropical nose, excellent character for a variety I don’t typically enjoy.
- 2.4% RS
- Lots of fruit and spice, but not overly sweet. Some white pepper as well.
- .5% RS
- Perfumed nose but finished dry.
- 1.3% RS, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer.
- An interesting blend of grapes. Slight hints of oak.
- 4.6% RS, Pinot Gris, Muscat, and Cabernet Franc Ice Wine
- Made for the sweet wine drinker!
- .2% RS
- Served slightly chilled. Interesting notes of cinnamon. Nice flavors, does not taste like a typical cold climate red wine.
- .08% RS
- Notes of strawberry, nicely fruit forward. Elegant, with a hint of pepper.
- .2% RS, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot
- A bit smoky and earthy. A classic Bordeaux blend.
- .4% RS, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Gamay, and Cabernet Sauvignon
- Slightly smoky with a hint of cherry. A bit of a spicy finish.
- 25.7% RS
- Very elegant, amazing flavor. Really nice finish.
- Winner of quite a few awards such as Best Riesling in America, 2011 and a Double Gold in 2012.
While taking us through the tasting, Brittan emphasized the fact that Sheldrake Point Winery focuses on drier wine styles. The care they put into the creation of each wine really shows up in the glass. I especially enjoyed the Chardonnay which was not overly oaked. The red wines were all spot on and showed no trace of traditional cold climate grape characteristics that other wines from the region tend to exhibit. Currently the most popular wine is Luckystone White which tends to please both the dry and sweet wine seeker. Overall favorites are the Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Cabernet Franc.
Brittan was also very enthusiastic about the many awards the winery has received. This is especially true of their Ice Wines which require extra time and effort to properly balance without becoming sugar bombs. There is a photo album on display which goes over the Ice Wine harvest and processing as well as the awards these wines have garnered. The winery currently produces two ice wines, one with the Riesling grape and one with the Cabernet Franc grape. Be aware that to taste them, an additional $5 fee is charged. If you are a fan of Ice Wine, they are well worth trying. The regular tasting fee for all the other wines is $3 for five samples. They also always offer a complimentary tasting of one of their wines for those not wishing to have a full flight.
Sheldrake Point’s tasting room also sells a variety of other items such as shirts, local cheeses, dips, and salad dressings. The long bar should be able to accommodate most groups though I can imagine on busier days they might have to extend tastings into a different room! I appreciate the fact that Sheldrake Point sets itself apart from other wineries by concentrating more on drier styles. The fact that they grow their own estate grapes from a unique terroir makes the wine that much more interesting. The winery also has an auxiliary tasting room on Seneca Lake which lends itself well to heavier traffic from that more popular wine trail.
As a side note, a few years back, the Cayuga Lake wine trail used to run an event during the winter where you met the winemaker to learn more about the wine. We came to Sheldrake Point then and participated in a demonstration with the winemaker regarding Meritage blends and got a glimpse into how he produces his wine. It was a fascinating look at how complex the blending of different grape varieties can be!
Cayuga Lake is 38 miles long and is the longest of the Finger Lakes. It is named after the Cayuga Indian Nation, one of six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. Throughout the years, there have been reports of sea monsters in the lake, but they are most likely giant eels. Still, who knows what might actually be lurking in the depths!
Sheldrake Point Winery
7448 County Road 153, Ovid, NY 14521
Visited November 27, 2013
Blog post written by Thomas Andersen.