Hunt Country Vineyards

Hunt Country Vineyards 2012 Dry Riesling

About

The Finger Lakes region is blessed with hot summers to ripen the grapes and chilly nights in early fall that capture even the most delicate fruit flavors. Our farm’s gravelly loam soil retains the natural nutrients and provides excellent drainage. The sloping western flank of Keuka Lake helps ventilate the vines by maintaining airflow toward the valley floor. The cold water temperature of the lake in spring creates a cool microclimate that reins back the develoHunt Country wines (photo Seth Nenstiel)pment of fruit buds until the danger of frost has passed. In the fall, the lingering warmth of the lake water holds off early frosts and lengthens the ripening season by up to several weeks.

Location Description

Hunt Country Vineyards is a family farm and winery in the heart of New York’s celebrated Finger Lakes wine region.

Contact

Fax: 315.595.2835

Features

  • Handcrafted wine of excellent value.

Additional Information

  • Meeting / Conference Facilities:
  • Caves:
  • Wedding Facilities:
  • Picnic Facilities:
  • Dog Friendly:
  • Winery Tours:
  • Wine Tasting:
  • Art or Architecture:
  • Organic / Biodynamic:
  • Awards:
  • Wine Club:
  • Lodging / Bed & Breakfast:

Winemaker

Jonathan Hunt
Owner & Winemaker

Jonathan is an alumnus of SUNY Cobleskill and Cornell University, with degrees in agricultural business and horticulture. After college, Jonathan interned at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Sonoma County, California and at Delegat’s Wine Estate in Auckland, New Zealand.

Jonathan and his wife Caroline started Italy Hill Produce at the family farm in 2009 and expanded it in 2010 to include sales at the Canandaigua Farmers Market and a weekly email newsletter. They obtained their organic certification in 2011.

Jonathan enjoys almost every aspect of the outdoors including hiking with his wife and their two dogs, farming, volleyball and pretty much anything that involves not sitting at a desk. One of Jonathan’s hobbies involves occasionally drag racing in the East Coast Impala Racing Series. He enjoys working on cars and any sort of driving challenge. Jonathan is also a volunteer firefighter with the Branchport-Keuka Park FD, with over 10 years experience, and is certified in interior attack, advanced interior attack, ice water rescue, auto extrication, EVOC, and pump operation. In addition to firefighting, Jonathan serves on the Board of Directors for Yates County Cornell Cooperative Extension.

History

The farm's 170 acres have been home to the Hunt family for six generations.

Hunt Country Vineyards first achieved national attention in the 1990s as a pioneering producer of Vidal Blanc Ice Wine. This delectable wine has been served at the United Nations, ordered by the White House and featured on NBC's Today Show.

We produce over 20 rare and distinctive wine varieties, from traditional dry vinifera (European) and French-American varietals, to complex and intense late harvest, sherry and port wines.

The Team

Art and Joyce Hunt
Founders & Owners

Art and Joyce Hunt, founders and owners of Hunt Country Vineyards, first met in high school in Corning, New York. After graduating from Syracuse University in 1971, Joyce began her career as a social worker. Art received his BS in Management from Virginia Tech the same year. He started selling insurance, but was "saved" by the flood of 1972: HUD needed people to help victims get settled in temporary housing.

In 1973, Art and Joyce moved to the 170-acre farm of Art's grandfather in Branchport. The farm's proximity to Keuka Lake and soil were extremely promising for growing superior wine grapes. They planted about 50 acres of premium varieties for eventual sale to wine producers. It took a few years for the vines to mature and yield wine-quality fruit. Then Coca-Cola Company purchased Taylor/Great Western Wine Company and moved all operations to California. The market for wine grapes collapsed, bankrupting many growers. Art and Joyce evaluated the idea of a small farm winery and in 1981 launched Finger Lakes Wine Cellars, which they guided from a small proprietorship to incorporation in 1985. In the fall of 1987, they formed Hunt Country Vineyards, with the logo combining Art's family name and Joyce's love of horses.

Art handles regulatory, fiscal and legal issues for the business, and maintains an active schedule in front of the public at festivals and tastings. He enjoys working with his hands, and around the farm, there is never a lack of things to fix! He is an active member of the Branchport–Keuka Park Volunteer Fire Department, and though rarely has the time, loves to sail with family and friends.

Joyce is extremely active in the business, in strategic analysis, designing and planning of (and even cooking for!) major events, banking and public relations. She was appointed by Gov. Cuomo in 1987 to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. She is a founding member and past president of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, and serves in several other local organizations. She divides her free time among riding, walking and reading.

Art and Joyce are recipients of the 1999 Unity Award of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation for major achievements in promoting unity in the industry.

Their three children are all happily pursuing their interests and passions. Carolyn is an attorney specializing in employment and human rights law. Suzanne is the President of HuntGreen LLC in Washington DC and Senior Advisor to the Carbon War Room leading their Renewable Fuels Operation. Jonathan, after graduating from Cornell and internships in wineries in California and New Zealand, became our Director of Winemaking, making him the sixth Hunt generation to till the farm’s soil.

Caroline Boutard-Hunt
Owner

Caroline graduated from Cornell University in 2003 and 2008, with a B.S. in Plant Science and an M.S. in Entomology, respectively. Her research focus has been on biological control in both horticultural and vegetable crops. She spent much of her younger years in Oregon, where her parents currently have a certified organic farm, where she developed her interest in agriculture and whole farm systems.

She loves to hike, garden and travel, and along with her husband and father-in-law, is a firefighter with the Branchport-Keuka Park Fire Department and is certified in interior attack. Caroline also serves on several boards, including the Town of Italy Planning and Zoning Board. She and Jon have a son, born on 1/1/11.


David Mortensen
Vineyard Manager

Dave grew up on a dairy farm in the area, and is a graduate of Penn Yan Academy and Morrisville College, where he majored in animal husbandry.

In 1985, after three years working for Monroe Tree Surgeons, Dave joined Art and Joyce, first on a part-time, then a full-time basis. Dave was promoted to Vineyard Manager and he has been crucial in helping us improve the quality and consistency of our vines and grapes. Dave also maintains all the tools and machinery for vineyard management, including our 1973 harvester (above, with Dave at the wheel).

Dave is a dedicated volunteer fireman and certified instructor. He served as Chief of the Branchport-Keuka Park Volunteer Fire Department for 3 years, and regularly conducts fire safety classes for area school children. He is also a talented musician, playing guitar and singing solos at wedding services.


Brian Barry
Assistant Winemaker

Brian is a native of Hoosick Falls, NY, a village east of Albany a few miles from the VT border. He studied fine arts at SUNY New Paltz, then took a variety of jobs including cabinet making, building sets for plays, and groundskeeping before joining Heron Hill Winery in 2005. Brian first worked in the vineyards, then transitioned to the winery, where he was cellarmaster and later assistant winemaker. In 2011, he joined Atwater Estate Vineyards for a harvest and began devoting considerable time to renovating his 100-year-old house in the village of Dundee. He joined Hunt Country in early 2013.


Jim & Cecilia Alsina (with Freddy)Jim Alsina
General Manager

Jim grew up in Rochester and attended Middlebury College, majoring in math. He spent 20 years in a variety of operations, marketing and general management positions in Eastman Kodak's Health Imaging business. He lived and worked in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, experiences which were the culmination of a childhood dream. After earning his MBA at Cornell, he joined Hunt Country and found his second calling in the wine industry.

Jim met his wife, Cecilia, while living in Egypt. She is a native of Buenos Aires and an agronomist and writer. Their son Marc recently graduated from Brandeis University, and has decided to stay in the Boston area. Jim enjoys hiking in the Adirondacks with family and friends, and NFL football. A dog lover, Jim occasionally brings his poodle Freddy to the winery for a romp with the other dogs.


Andy Marshall in Tasting Room at Hunt CountryAndy Marshall
Marketing Operations Manager

Andy was raised in Upstate New York, living in a variety of towns over the years; most recently, and for the longest, in Penn Yan. A 2005 graduate of Keuka College, he holds a B.S. in Business Management (summa cum laude) with a minor in Computer Technologies. Hired by Hunt Country Vineyards in early 2006, Andy said, "This was my first job out of college and I thought it’d be for a year or two, but seven years later I’m still loving the winery and can’t imagine working anywhere else!"

Andy is a vegan and life-long animal lover. He currently has four cats - all of which were rescues - and a Bernese Mountain Dog, Pax (Latin for peace). Andy is a diehard fan of NCIS and an avid reader – with an impressive library of more than 3000 books! – and also enjoys music, hiking, horseback riding, football (soccer to most Americans).


Tessa Olsen
Gift Shop Manager

Tessa joined Hunt Country in 2012. She particularly enjoys being able to use her artistic skills and talents in her job.

In 2011, she, her husband Zac and their 2 boys moved just down the road from us from the tiny island of Cuttyhunk off the coast of Massachusetts. They started their family there over 10 years ago and are happily easing into life on ‘the mainland’.

Tessa is a graduate of The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In her ‘spare’ time she can be found mostly with her kids and family, gardening, making jewelry and bottle art, fishing, cooking, picking flowers, tending to their new flock of chickens, and helping Zac with the ongoing project of building their home.

Practices & Techniques

As the sixth generation of Hunts on our land, we plan and manage our farming practices with a long view toward sustaining and improving the land for the future. When you visit, we would be happy to show you our latest sustainable agriculture (environmental) initiatives.

Go Geothermal!
Major Carbon Footprint Reductions
The Locavore Room
Leftovers from Pressing become Fertilizer
Opposition to Hydrofracking in the Finger Lakes

Go Geothermal!
(It's not Hydrofracking.)

This exciting new sustainability project at Hunt Country began with the drilling of eight 375-ft-deep wells in the area outside the main TR windows.

Our conventional A/C and heating in the tasting room, winery and warehouses was replaced by this system. A mixture of water and alcohol is circulated through these buildings and wells where the earth’s natural 55-degree temperature cools or warms the liquid and a system of heat pumps will bring the buildings to a more comfortable temperature.

The geothermal process is about 400% more efficient than burning fuel oil and propane to heat or cool our buildings, because we are mainly moving heat from one place to another.

The project is being financed partly by grants, partly by loans.

Major Carbon Footprint Reductions!

A range of projects implemented since 2007 have substantially reduced Hunt Country's carbon footprint: moving the winery from our 1880s barn to an expanded building with high R-factor; moving wines into a newly insulated warehouse; replacement of lighting with the latest low-consumption technology; installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system. As a result, we have reduced our total energy costs by 30% and our carbon footprint by more than 40%.

The Locavore Room

In 2011 we began tracing the origin of a sampling of products we sell. Among the discoveries was a top-selling type of cracker, distributed out of New Jersey, that was actually produced in Hong Kong! We said "Stop!". Since then, we have been replacing those items with delicious regionally-produced foods and beverages that not only reduce our environmental footprint but also help support the "home team". In 2012 we named this section of our Wine Shop the "Locavore Room", to recognize the amazing bounty of local foods and beverages in the Finger Lakes.

Composting at Hunt Country Vineyards

Since the inception of Hunt Country Vineyards, Art and Joyce Hunt have spread the leftover grape pomace back in the vineyards and on our crops to improve soil health. Grape pomace (photo at right) consists of the stems, skins and seeds left over from pressing the grapes.

In the fall of 2005 the Hunt family began mixing the pomace with animal manure and then composting the mix before applying it to the vineyard. Jonathan Hunt, a graduate of Cornell University's School of Agriculture and son of owners Art and Joyce Hunt, is coordinating the project. Composting the combined grape pomace and manure is advantageous because it adds vital minerals and nutrients to the soil that help produce outstanding grapes for winemaking. Compost heaps at Hunt Country VineyardsThe increased nitrogen due to the manure may also help us reduce the use of other fertilizers.

Our compost piles can be seen in the photo at left. The pile from last year’s harvest, at the rear under the large tree, is nearly finished decomposing and darker in color, while this year's pile in front is just beginning its cycle. During the composting process millions of microorganisms break down the leftover plant material and release large quantities of heat.

Adding compost and other organic matter improves soil health and structure, ensuring that the land upon which Art and Joyce have built their vineyard will continue to improve and produce beautiful grapes.

Opposition to Hydrofracking in the Finger Lakes

Hunt Country Vineyards has joined others in the Finger Lakes to actively oppose current proposals to extract natural gas in our area by “hydrofracking”.

Conventional drilling for natural gas in the Finger Lakes has been going on for generations. Most agree that this type of drilling is not too disruptive to the environment and that the risks to landowners and their neighbors is acceptable. The gas companies have made good profits over the years this way.

Recently, the gas companies want to use a controversial technique known as high-volume slick-water hydraulic fracturing or “hydrofracking” in the thin shallow Marcellus shale layer located under the Finger Lakes. This process involves horizontally drilling multiple wells in the shale layer from a main wellhead and injecting millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals, many of them toxic, into each well. Explosives and extremely high injection pressure pulverize the shale, which releases the gas. The process is risky, resulting in unintended consequences such as blowouts, spills, fires, and poisoning of streams, wells, aquifers, soil and the air. The intense nature of the saturation drilling turns each area into a huge industrial site.

The Finger Lakes area is known for its pristine beauty, clean lakes and air, and healthy agricultural environment. Consequently millions of visitors flock to the wineries, lakes, resorts and other attractions annually. With huge truckloads of water, sand, chemicals and equipment constantly on the move – thousands over the course of a year -- the roads and the environment will be degraded and tourism will suffer. More importantly, even one accident can permanently destroy the quality of the groundwater and lakes or the viability of the soil to produce healthy food, including grapes and wine. Other large areas where hydrofracking has been used are now becoming unsuitable for agriculture and largely unsuitable for people to live.

We have informed the New York State government that we feel it is unwise and unacceptable to allow hydrofracking in the Finger Lakes at this time.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

On our 50 acres of vineyards overlooking the Keuka valley, we now grow 13 varieties of cool-climate grapes using sustainable agricultural practices.

Awards

Since 2010, our wines have garnered over 20 major awards (Gold, Double Gold, Best of Class or Best of Show) in prestigious competitions across the country.

Cabernet Franc 2012
MEDAL OF AMERICAN EXCELLENCE (Gold),
2014 Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition

Dolce di Moscato
BEST OF CLASS & GOLD MEDAL, Aromatic White Blends,
2013 Riverside (Calif.) International Wine Competition
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL, 2013 San Francisco
International Wine Competition
94 RATING (Exceptional) and BEST BUY,
2013 Wine World Championships (tastings.com)
CONCORDANCE GOLD (Double Gold equivalent) and
BEST OF CLASS, White French-American Blends,
2012 Indy International Wine Competition
MEDAL OF AMERICAN EXCELLENCE (Gold),
2012 Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition
GOLD, 2012 New York State Fair Commercial Wine Competition


Late Harvest Vignoles 2012
JEFFERSON CUP NOMINEE (Double Gold equivalent),
2013 Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition
GOLD, 2014 Riverside (Calif.) International Wine Competition

Pinot Gris 2013
GOLD, 2014 Riverside (Calif.) International Wine Competition

Seyval Blanc 2013
DOUBLE GOLD, BEST OF CLASS, BEST WHITE, BEST OF
FINGER LAKES, 2014 Grand Harvest Awards, Sonoma County, CA
GOLD, 2014 New York State Fair Commercial Wine Competition

Vidal Blanc Ice Wine 2013
WINNER, JEFFERSON CUP, Dessert Wines,
2014 Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition

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Hours

Mon-Sat 10-6, Sun 11-6 (June-October) Mon-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5 (November-May)

Address

4021 Italy Hill Road
Branchport, New York 14418
United States

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