Starting a winery and a bed-and-breakfast in the 1990s was not a cushy project for Terry and Bob Barrett, but it did afford them an opportunity to throw their souls into a new livelihood.
“We lived very skimpily…(but) those were some really fun times,” says Bob, who relied on one extension cord and one light when renovating their Victorian home in Dundee, Yates County. The Spartan conditions and rural tranquility were a welcome relief for the couple, who had just cast off stressful corporate careers in Cleveland to make the move to the Finger Lakes.
Now fully adjusted to country life, the Barretts produce 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of wine annually in the 1925 barn across the street from their home.
“If you take a look at the tasting board, you’ll see that there’s more than the normal (number) of selections,” says Bob, who buys grapes from growers on Keuka and Seneca lakes to produce two dozen types of wine. “I’ve found over the years of doing tastings that not everybody that walks through the door likes dry wine, nor does everyone like sweet.”
Vinifera wines include Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The winery also produces produce a smaller amount of French/American hybrid wines (Baco, Chambourcin, Cayuga, Vidal and Rougeon).
Uncommon niche products include fruit wines made from mulberries, blackberries, cherries and red raspberries. and blueberries, as well as late-harvest wines made from Chardonnay, Riesling and Vignoles. A limited amount of white port also is for sale.
A bonus for tourists is Grenache, Terry’s miniature Schnauzer, who enjoys scampering through the tasting room and who inspired the creation of gourmet dog treats that are available at the winery. Grenache and baby brother Nicholas sample every batch, while Shamrock and Mandarin inspect the gourmet kitty treats that also are for sale.
Sheila Livadas, for FingerLakesWine.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday year-round. Extended hours may be added in the fall. The entrance is wheelchair-accessible; the bathrooms are not. Rooms at the bed-and-breakfast are available on Friday and Saturday year-round.
Photo courtesy of Keuka Overlook
Terry and Bob Barrett spent every weekend and vacation for six years building their dream business on the east side of Keuka Lake.