With a spectacular, panoramic view overlooking Seneca Lake, our 80 acre farm-winery boasts an enviable location seven miles north of Watkins Glen. Winemakers Vinny Aliperti and George Nosis use their combined experience and distinctive style to create wines that are consistently clean, well-defined and expressive of our vineyard site. Dynamic Rieslings, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah are part of our portfolio along with artful blends, sparkling wines, and sweet selections.
Thousands of years ago, glaciers gouged their way through this region of New York, carving through slate and shale, leaving behind eleven glorious lakes. The Iroquois Nation that once thrived in these fertile valleys believed the Great Spirit had blessed the land by placing her hands on the earth and after she lifted her fingers, the remaining impressions left on the land filled with water and became the eleven lakes we know as the "Finger Lakes." The rich, fertile soils combined with the deep lakes and rolling valleys create an ideal climate for growing grapes.
Our vineyards, located on the southeastern hillsides of Seneca Lake, date back to the early 1900s when native varieties like Catawba and Concord reined the region. In 1970 it was purchased by Minnesota newspaperman and wine entrepreneur Bill Moffett, creator of Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine, several prestigious commercial wine competitions, and trade shows. He began planting French-American hybrids and vitis vinifera on the farm. Within a few years, Chardonnay, Marechal Foch, Seyval, Chancellor and Chelois took root and flourished.
By early 1980, Moffett sold the land to locals Ed and Joanne Grow who opened Rolling Vineyards Farm Winery under the New York Farm Winery Act of 1976. This new law enabled grape growers to open a winery on their farm, and was the true beginning of today's thriving Finger Lakes Wine Region. Ed continued to plant more grape varieties, including Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Vidal Blanc, and continued to make and sell wine using the farm's early-century barn as the production facility and tasting room.
From 1981 to 1991 Rolling Vineyards continued to operate, and even tied with Wagner Vineyards to win New York State's first "Governor's Cup", the highest award a New York wine can win. However, the wine business in the Finger Lakes during this time did not have the respected recognition or tourism-interest it has today, and Rolling Vineyards closed its doors in 1991.
The vineyards were still cultivated and the grapes were contracted out to other wineries in the region. In 1995, the previous tasting room of Rolling Vineyards was rented to Swedish Hill Vineyards to use as a tasting room for their line of sparkling wine. Dubbed as the "Finger Lakes Champagne House" the tasting room continued to operate out of the old barn until moving north to a new building in early 1999.
THE TED MARKS ERA
Later that year, local entrepreneur Ted Marks purchased the established vineyards and Atwater opened its doors for wine tastings and sales in September of 2000. With the help of his previous son-in-law, Phil Hazlitt, whose winemaking expertise, vineyard knowledge and high standards helped establish our philosophy of creating consistent, clean and innovative wines, Atwater quickly gained reputation as one of the most exciting new wineries of the region.
Winemaker Vincent Aliperti has been in charge of the cellars since 2003. He began his winemaking career on Long Island apprenticing under Roman Roth at Wölffer Estate from 1997-1999 learning traditional techniques in a state-of-the-art facility. In 2000, he and his family moved to the Finger Lakes Region and was hired at the legendary Hermann J. Weimer Vineyard on Seneca Lake as Assistant Winemaker where he was first exposed to Riesling production.
Vinny’s winemaking style is often described as crisp and fruit-driven with a focus on creating intense but balanced wines. His dynamic approach has earned him praise both locally and nationally, including several write-ups in The Wine Spectator and New York Cork Report.
Our vineyards continue to develop as we increase the vinifera acreage, including Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Currently planted with sixteen different varieties of grapes, we continue to expand and experiment with other varieties such as Syrah and Lemberger. Currently our vineyard consists of 68% vinifera, 30% hybrid, 2% native varieties. We produce 8,000 cases each year.