After a decade of waiting for their dream to bear fruit, John and Lorraine Izzo opened Izzo’s White Barn Winery on the east side of Cayuga Lake in December 2009. The couple plans to keep the operation small and infuse it with a “summer camp” vibe, where the good times roll.
The Izzos began to see their dream take shape in March 2009, when they bought a 14-acre property with a circa 1900 white barn in the village of Cayuga. Since the purchase, they have refurbished the barn, built a tasting room, dug a one-acre pond called Lake Lorraine and planted vineyards featuring lesser-known grapes.
One grape slated to play an important role at the winery is Corot Noir, a mid- to late-season red varietal developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. The Izzos have planted a third of an acre of it so far.
A small block of La Crescent grapevines, capable of withstanding wintry blasts up to -36 F, also is in the offing. The grape, which has been likened to Vignoles and already has a foothold in Minnesota vineyards, produces wine with “a nice apricot nose to it,” John Izzo says.
Traminette, another white grape developed by the Agricultural Experiment Station, also will figure into the vineyards eventually, John adds.
While the vines establish themselves over the next three or four years under Lorraine’s care, John is using juice from Randall-Standish Vineyards in Canandaigua for the winemaking. Though producing 500 cases of wine annually still feels new to him, he continues to draw on nearly 15 years of home winemaking experience. Memories of his Italian grandparents’ basement-based home winery in Auburn, Cayuga County, often tinge the production process.
The Izzos are now pouring five wines in the tasting room and expect to add two more selections soon. The options include the 2009 Seyval Blanc and the 2009 White Barn White, which Izzo calls “a nostalgic New York-style white wine” on account of its pronounced grape flavor.
As the couple puts finishing touches on the gambrel-roof barn, look for events ranging from art shows to live music.
— Sheila Livadas
Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday or by appointment. Also open noon to 6 p.m. on Fridays, from May 21 to Oct. 9. Tasting fee: $2 for at least five samples. Wheelchair accessible.