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Since 1947, the Leidenfrost family has raised grapes and produced wine on a picturesque lakeside farm in Hector, New York. Located on the east side of Seneca Lake, Leidenfrost Vineyards is considered one of the finest growing sites for premium wine grapes in the Finger Lakes. Founder John Leidenfrost Sr. planted and grew American and hybrid varieties for the Gold Seal and Great Western wineries for many years. Each year he made wine in the old fashioned tradition, passed down in the family for generations.

 

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In 1984, the present proprietor, John Leidenfrost Jr., assumed control of the farm. Removing many of the older, less productive vineyards, he planted premium European Vinifera varieties, with the intent of offering a more diverse grape selection and someday creating an estate winery. His love of quality red wines prompted some of the earliest plantings of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc in the Finger Lakes, complementing the already well established Baco Noir variety on the farm. Along side the reds, John planted Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Vignoles and other white grapes, bringing the varieties planted to 27 acres. A lover of organic farming, John maintains the grapes in a sustainable fashion employing minimal use of herbicides and pesticides.

 

john and elizabeth leidenfrost

Winemakers, John and his daughter Elizabeth Leidenfrost

The newly replanted farm yielded sufficient fruit for John to begin his commercial winemaking in 1990. The winery had humble beginnings, producing only 1200 gallons in its first year. By 1992, however, Leidenfrost Vineyards was poised to present its wines to the world. Setting up shop in a small log cabin adjacent to the estate and at the celebrated Ithaca Farmer's Market,

 

John began selling some of the earliest Merlots, Pinot Noirs and Cabernets in the Finger Lakes. Leidenfrost Vineyards wines were a hit! Perennial customers, in fact, still reminisce about the old days at the rustic log cabin where, on cold winter days, a hot wood stove blazing, peanut shells on the floor, friendly conversation and great red wines could always be found.

 

As the Finger Lakes experienced a wave of new wineries, John opted to expand the business by building a timber-frame tasting room overlooking a spectacular view of Seneca Lake. Construction began in 1995-designed and built by John himself-and opened in 1996. Throughout the following years, he erected additional structures, including a state-of-the-art tank room and barrel aging cellar.

 

 

Today the tasting room is a center of bustling laughter and activity as visitors come to snack on fresh roasted peanuts and sample the large variety of fine wines that are avaliable for tasting. Tasting room manager, Elizabeth Leidenfrost strives to create an easy atmosphere where, from novice to connoisseur, wine tasters feel comfortable sharing a pleasant anecdote or their description of a given wine. On Saturdays, John and Elizabeth are often found side by side behind the bar serving customers and bringing a sense of familiarity and an authentication to the tasting expirence.

 

Now joined by daughter Elizabeth in the winecellar, the winemakers of Leidenfrost Vineyards instill great pride in retaining traditional wine making methods. Leidenfrost's red wines are fermented in the Old World Burgundian tradition, in small, one ton batches that are barrel-aged in classic French oak barrels for two years or more.

 

Their white wines are individually crafted in modern stainless steel tanks, with an emphasis on freshness and fruit style. The winery also reserved some of its mature Catawba, Niagara, Cayuga White and Baco Noir grapes-some over 100 years old-for its classic American Heritage series.

 

With over 22 years of winemaking experience, Leidenfrost Vineyards has won an array of Double-Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze awards for its wines. Leidenfrost Vineyards has intentionally remained a small, family-run winery. A high level of quality and individual attention to every wine is essential which John and Liz see as a beautiful limited edition, with only 3000 cases of wine produced annually. A small family winery also means that you're treated like family when you visit. The winery’s staff are long-time employees who bring a wide range of talents to the winery, including an appreciation for good wines and gratitude for the customers who stop in to taste, buy and take home Leidenfrost Vineyards wines to enjoy.