The Waterfront’s Finest Wines and Vineyards

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Article co-authored by intern Sam Harvey

Simply being near the water can increase your sense of calm and alleviate stress and anxiety – a phenomenon called the “blue mind effect.”

However, owning a lake home also tends to make you the most popular person in your friend group, which can create a few stressors.

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from entertaining guests, taking the kids tubing and cleaning up lake toys. You need an activity that’s more, shall we say, adult.

“Wine” down every once in a while at any of these award-winning waterfront wineries located on your favorite lakes. 

Pleasant Valley Wine Company

Nestled along the shores of Keuka Lake in Upstate New York is one of the oldest wineries in the Finger Lakes region.

Built in 1860, the Pleasant Valley Wine Company offers connoisseurs a variety of 31 products ranging from the official champagne of the National Women’s Hall of Fall Induction ceremony to a refreshing strawberry white Zinn and some of the finest cooking sherries in the country.

A trip to Keuka Lake is not complete without a tour of the Pleasant Valley Wine Company facility, comprised of eight stone buildings recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. You will also find the equipment from the original establishment and wine-making displays.

Offered from Memorial Day through mid-November, Pleasant Valley tours are self-guided beginning at 11 a.m., daily. The last tour group of the day departs at 3 p.m. and concludes with a complimentary wine tasting.

Bottles are also available for purchase on-site and online, ranging in price from $3.50 to about $30. Among the winery’s most popular beverages is the Pleasant Valley Chocolate Lab, made of labrusca grapes and flavored with rich chocolate.

The winery recommends mixing this dessert wine with their Autumn Frost Strawberry White Zinfandel or Blackberry Merlot and pairing it with blue cheese.

Lake Michigan Vintners

Lake Michigan Vintners, situated just 10 minutes from the Lake Michigan waterfront, is the Midwest’s only teaching winery.

Part of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, this world-class facility boasts products made with locally sourced ingredients, producing wines comparable to those made in the Bordeaux and the Piedmont regions of Italy.

The Lake Michigan Vintners tasting room is open from noon to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Sundays and from noon to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. For just $10, winery guests can enjoy a sampling of five wines of their choice.

Lake Michigan Vintners produces all wines in small batches, so availability is limited.

Among those wines currently available for tasting and purchase is the Grüner Veltliner, characterized by green apple aromas, a hint of lime and lemon shortbread cookies. This beverage pairs nicely with goat cheese and mozzarella.

Also available this summer is the Wavelength White, which features floral aromatics, jasmine, and hints of honey.

For red wine lovers, the Lake Michigan Vintners Pinot Noir tastes reminiscent of cherry pie and baking spices. Serve with savory dishes like pot roast and grilled lamb.

Rosemont of Virginia Winery

Conveniently situated on the Virginia-North Carolina border, just two minutes from beautiful Lake Gaston, the Rosemont of Virginia Winery invites guests to tour their 25 acres of grapevines and sample their 15, 100% estate-produced wines.

The Rosemont Estate, housed on 450 acres, dates back to the mid-1700s, during which time its grounds served as farmland for vegetables, hay, tobacco, soybeans, corn, and peach trees.

Winery construction began in 2006 and today is complete with an underground state-of-the-art gravity flow production facility.

Tours and tastings are hosted daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. With a $10 tasting fee, winery visitors can sample each of the venue’s current vintages and receive a commemorative Rosemont wine glass at the tour’s conclusion.

Unique to the Rosemont of Virginia Winery is their Adopt-a-Vine program, through which wine lovers can donate $300 to the facility in exchange for access to exclusive events and their own vine of Chambourcin grapes.

Adopt-a-Vine program members can learn to prune and trim their vines, help harvest their grapes and receive a bottle of wine made from their fruits for three harvest years.

One of the winery’s most popular wines is their Traminette 2017, a semi-sweet, dry, white wine characterized by touches of citrus and spice and bright floral notes. The winery recommends pairing this beverage with spicy cuisine or light summer salads.

Also a Rosemont favorite is their 2016 Cabernet Franc, which features light oak and dark cherry aromas alongside hints of berry and pepper.

This Cabernet Franc is a delicious red, aged for 20 months. It has the perfect complement to earthy flavors such as those found in olives and feta, fontina, and goat cheese.

Rosemont of Virginia Winery sells its products outside Virginia in North Carolina, Maryland, Washington D.C., New York, Florida, Michigan, and California. Bottles range in price from $14 to $33.

For more local flavor, be sure to check out our article “Tastes of the Lake: A Spotlight on Your Favorite Lakeside Restaurants“!

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