In 1951, Frank Stamp left behind the comfort and predictability of his Maryland-based dental practice to revive Lakewood Farm, a then-neglected peach and apple orchard in Watkins Glen, Schuyler County. Adapting to the life of a farmer with ease, Stamp planted fledgling native American and hybrid grapevines on the property the following spring and set his sights on selling the fruit to Welch’s and Taylor Wine Co.
After watching his family grow and sell grapes for three decades, Monty Stamp, Frank’s son, got the itch to hold back some of the fruit for winemaking. That decision in 1988 set the stage for Lakewood to become one of the largest wineries in the Finger Lakes, producing roughly 33,000 cases per year.
Fourteen grape varietals grow on Lakewood’s 80 acres of vineyards, including well-established Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Young Gewurztraminer vines have just yielded their third crop, and even younger Frontenac vines have not yet borne fruit.
The vineyards’ diversity carries over to the winery’s tasting room, where visitors choose between two flights of wine, each with five samples. The 2008 Dry Riesling and the 2008 Gewurztraminer are among the white options, while the reds include the 2007 Pinot Noir and the 2008 Crystallus, a blend of Lemberger, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.
Lakewood also has produced Seifu’s Tej mead since 1997. The honeyed wine’s name refers to Seifu Lessanework, a former butler to Ethiopia’s late Emperor Haile Selassie who contracts with the winery to make the product for his Ethiopian restaurants in Michigan.
Six Stamps continue to work at the winery, including Beverly, the wife of the late Monty Stamp. Tasting room and marketing manager Liz Stamp, the wife of winemaker Chris Stamp, expects that number will grow since both of their children are majoring in enology and viticulture at Cornell University.
Honoring family was in high gear at the winery during “Operation Rosebud,” the Stamps’ effort in the spring of 2010 to revitalize the sprawling rose beds that Frank Stamp planted at Lakewood decades ago. Tons of landscaping stone, mulch and soil were hauled in to support 100 new rosebushes.
Updating the winery’s labels also kept the Stamps busy in 2010. Each back label now provides more details about the wine, but the longtime rose logo remains on the front of every bottle.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Reservations recommended for tour bus groups.
Tasting fee: $2 starting Jan. 2, 2011. Visitors may choose between two flights; each has five samples. The tasting fee is refunded if a purchase is made.
Accessibility: Fully accessible.
Courtesy of Lakewood Vineyards
Lakewood Vineyards is set on the western shore of Seneca Lake.