Atwater Estate Vineyards
Atwater Estate Vineyard, NY - Riesling Block North Farm
Using quality estate grown fruit, our portfolio of wines include dynamic varietals and artful blends to please every palate. With a spectacular panoramic view of the lake as a backdrop, our friendly and inviting tasting room staff welcomes you to sample current vintages throughout the year. From vineyard to tasting room, our staff is committed to creating outstanding vintages, providing a unique experience and promoting the best of the Finger Lakes.
Atwater Estate Vineyards and Winery is located on the southeastern shore of Seneca Lake in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York State. Located 7 miles north of Watkins Glen, our vineyards, containing sixteen different varieties of grapes, grow on a glacier-carved hillside that extends from Route 414 to just above the water’s edge.
- Award winning wine.
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Average Bottle Price
Vinny Aliperti started his wine journey making homemade wine as a teenager with his relatives, never considering it would one day become his profession.
After graduating college with a liberal arts degree and a stint in the Peace Corps, an opportunity to pursue commercial winemaking on his native Long Island was presented and he never looked back. For three vintages ('97 - '99) Vinny apprenticed under winemaker Roman Roth at Wolffer Estate, learning traditional technique in a state-of -the -art facility.
In early 2000 Vinny and his new family moved to the Finger Lakes and was hired as an Assistant Winemaker at the Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard on Seneca Lake. Just a year later, he was lured over to the east side of Seneca Lake to a new upstart, Atwater Estate Vineyards.
Since 2003, Vinny has been head winemaker at our 7000 case facility producing dynamic wines from over a dozen varieties, including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.
With Atwater's blessing, Vinny and his wife started their own label, Billsboro Winery, in Geneva, NY in 2007. Sourcing grapes from Sawmill Creek Vineyards on Seneca Lake, Billsboro specializes in producing small lots dry vinifera wines.
Our vineyards, located on the southeastern hillsides of Seneca Lake, date back to the early 1900's 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 started to take root and were flourishing well.
By early 1980, Moffitt had sold the land to locals Ed & 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.
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.
The 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 7000 cases/yr.
A friendly and knowledgeable staff welcomes visitors all year long to taste the wines, learn about the region and take in the breath-taking panorama of the vineyards overlooking the beautiful waters of Seneca Lake.
In 1999 I purchased the farm of Ed and Joanne Grow and started Atwater Estate Vineyards with my daughter Ann. The Grows closed down their winery in 1989, but kept up their vineyards, selling their outstanding crops to various wineries nearby. In fact Rolling Vineyards won the first Governor's Cup issued by NY for their Vidal. Along with the rolling hills and amazing view, came 80 acres of the Banana Belt's best grapes and we were able to open in 2000 with our first vintages, thus getting off to a fast start.
Soon after, Ann's husband Phil Hazlitt decided to go off to different ventures so Vinny Aliperti joined the A-Team as our winemaker. His experience, was first with Wölffer Estates on Long Island and then he with his wife Kim and three kids came to the Finger Lakes joining Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard.
We since have had many exciting ( actually too good) assistant winemakers who seem to steal off to start their own wineries or work for much bigger wineries. Aaron Roisen is now winemaker at Hosmer's, Tom Higgin's has started Heart & Hand Winery, Justin Boyette has started Hector Wine Co. along with Jason Hazlitt who also worked with us in our vineyards. I need to mention Paul Martin, who was our vineyard manager in 2006, has started his own CSA, Sweet Land Farms. To finish off this great story, Vinny and his wife have started their own winery, Billsboro Winery, in Geneva. Luckily he has no wine-making facilities at Billsboro, thus he makes his wines here while he continues making Atwater's wines.
When one mentions wineries, little attention is made about the back office staff who actually run the joint. No winery would be complete without the tasting room and my daughter Katie started out as the tasting room manager. Immediate success of the winery dictated hiring a full time tasting room staff and local Amanda Gumtow came on board in 2003 and became tasting room manager when Katie moved on to other pursuits. Katie continues to offer her comments and her dazzles us with her chalkboard drawings making our tasting room one of the best experiences for visitors on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail! Denise Clappier is really responsible for our organizational status, our office, our cooking, our website, label design, etc., etc., etc. She is now being helped by Stacy Yeater, who is allowing Denise to concentrate on the before mentioned with gusto. The last part of the A-Team is the vineyards and Chaz Cooney, Bob Tomberelli and Pete Clappier care for them with perfection, giving Vinny only quality grapes to make Atwater's award winning wines.
My personal background has nothing to do with wine to be honest, except I like to say that it runs in our family as my brother-in-law was one of the founder’s of Glenora Wine Cellars (the first Farm Winery in NY) and my niece and her husband Sayre own and started Fulkerson’s Winery. Sadly, both of these wineries are on the west side of Seneca Lake, but we won’t hold that against them!
I started watching my parents drink wine in Elmira, NY and we had a summer home at Glenora on Seneca, where my Grandfather Marks bought a home there in 1907. After finally making it though Babson College in 1963, I wandered through many jobs, firings and cities, finally ending up back here in Corning and started a printing company that was washed down the river with Hurricane Agnes in 1972. In the meantime, I had married Evealyn Chlebowy and immediately became the father of two delightful daughters. We then had two more daughters and I opened a bookstore in Corning, New York called Bookmarks. Eve passed away in 1986 to cancer and in 1991 I married Mary Ann Sheen who brought three more daughters with her. Between us we now have 15 grandchildren.
I can’t begin to say how much I enjoy working with all the young exciting folks here at Atwater. The wine industry here on Seneca Lake is very robust and the Finger Lakes are now being recognized as one of the outstanding wine regions in the United States. Atwater is proud to be a part of this growth and our awards for the wines made here by the “Atwater Team” are proof positive that our land here at Atwater has the best views, wines and personality in the region. Boastful and brash comments I know, and it excites me to say so, I must humbly admit! Stop in, won’t you?
Chaz Coney, Vineyard Manager
I've been working at Atwater since the beginning of 2005. I started doing vineyard work in the mid-eighties.My other experiences include bridge building, owning and operating a flower/greenhouse business, farming, and many other ventures where I’ve gathered many skills over the years. Of all my jobs, my job here at Atwater is my favorite (especially since I purchased a pair of Carhartts for winter pruning!) Working outdoors, enjoying the company of my fellow workers, and picking on the vineyard workers are some of my favorite things about working here at Atwater.
My favorite time of the year is the fall when I enjoy hunting and fishing. There is no better place for this than the Finger Lakes.
Bob Tomberelli, Trellis Tender, Watchdog
Bob is a life-long native of Hector. Being raised in the brick house next to Atwater (now owned by Chateau Lafette Reneau), he was already accustomed to the breathtaking view.
Bob is no stranger to the vineyard, either. He remembers his first job pulling pruning clippings out of the vineyard at age 10. After 40+ years working with almost every varietal, he is always willing to share his knowlege with the crew and learn more about the vineyards and winemaking in the process.
In his free time, he enjoys relaxing by the pond with a fishing pole or being out in the woods hunting.
Practices & Techniques
We practice contour farming for erosion control and have permanent sod in the row middles of the vineyards.
We use a post emergent weed program combined with cultivation under the vines.
Weekly scouting the vineyards is instrumental for our insect and disease control.
Our disease management practice starts with our choice of vines, trellis systems and vine hedging for continued airflow and sunlight penetration.
The vines are fed with fish emulsion and a nutrient solution that increases the health of the vine.
Century old techniques of using sulfur and copper are sprayed for mildew control along with current chemical formulations for disease suppression during the peak part of the season when the vines are most vulnerable.
Fertility management starts with feeding the soil. A healthy soil creates healthy vines. Soil and petiole tests are evaluated annually to monitor nutrient content of the soil and vine nutrition.
We compost our grape waste from the winery and spread the resulting compost in the vineyards the following year.
We also mulch some row middles with round bales of straw and disc and replant a sod cover to aerate the soil, reduce compaction, and improve root growth.
Pond for spot irrigation when needed.
We are currently participating in The New York Sustainable Viticulture Program, a grower self-assessment workbook that is designed to both document sustainable grape growing practices already in place and promote sustainable practices throughout the industry.