A prior career in science has proved to be an ace in the hole for Nancy Tisch, owner of Bet the Farm Winery and Gourmet Market in Aurora, Cayuga County.
Though new to winemaking in 2006, the former ecology professor instantly felt at ease when handling test tubes, meters and other tools commonly found in wineries’ production areas.
Yet Tisch soon learned that science is only half of the equation in winemaking.
“There’s also a fair amount of art to it, when it comes to sort of finishing your wine,” says Tisch, who has taught at Cornell University and the University of Rhode Island. “I think it’s a complex mix of both.”
To get the wine production off the ground, Tisch turned to Lou Damiani and Phil Davis of Damiani Wine Cellars in Hector, Schuyler County, for instruction. Now fully up to speed, she continues to produce wine for the Bet the Farm label at Damiani and considers both men trusted consultants.
“Lou and Phil will taste through my wines and make recommendations,” she says.
With fruit purchased from Sheldrake Point Vineyard in Ovid, Seneca County, and juice from Fulkerson Winery in Dundee, Yates County, Tisch has pushed annual production to 550 cases. That probably represents the most she can handle on her own, she says.
Alongside regional foods, Bet the Farm stocks the tasting room’s shelves with at least five of its own wines. Recent releases from the 2009 vintage include Traminette, Pinot Gris and Gamay Noir.
Village White, a blend of Cayuga White and Vidal Blanc that Tisch reaches for on a steamy summer day, is a mainstay in the lineup.
Tisch also invites other Finger Lakes wineries to do evening tastings at Bet the Farm.
Though Tisch has discovered each step in winemaking has its challenges and rewards, the later stages involving blending and achieving balance in the final product typically spark creativity, she says.
“So you can think of it like an artist just painting a picture,” she says.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from May 1 to Oct. 31. Generally open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday for the rest of the year. Also open on Wednesdays in November. Call ahead for exact hours. Tasting fee: $2 for six samples. Wheelchair accessible.
Bet the Farm Winery and Gourmet Market in Aurora, Cayuga County.