Our vineyards lie on the eastern and western slopes above the southern end of Keuka Lake and are an eclectic mix of young and adolescent Vitis vinifera and old hybrid plantings. They range in age from new and young plantings of Gewurtztraminer, Cabernet Franc, and Vignoles to 18 year-old Riesling and 65 year-old Leon Millot and Delaware vines. We work hard to control the quality of our fruit because we know that great wine can only be made from balanced, flavorful grapes.
While our efforts are essential, it is the depth and size of the Finger Lakes that makes grape growing in the climate of New York State even possible. The summer heat retained by the lakes lengthens the growing season and acts to moderate the extremely cold temperatures of the vineyards in the winter. Come spring, the frigid waters moderate the warming air temperatures, delaying bud break and lowering the risk of damage by frost. The winters can be notoriously fierce, so it is imperative that KLV protect vines from the potential damage of extreme cold by moving soil up above the graft union for insulation during the winter. And this is just one of many tasks, most others of which need to be carried out by hand labor, that makes growing extraordinary grapes a challenge, but a rewarding one almost every year.
It is the interaction of our temperate climate with the soil and topography of the land surrounding Keuka Lake that gives our vineyard sites their unique terroir. The special glacial till (a mixture of glacially laid rocks, sand, silt, and clay) deposited on the lower slopes above Keuka Lake provide, in addition to the flavor, for the water drainage that is essential for vine balance and health. The slopes themselves allow crucial air drainage for vine health and sun exposure over the growing season. All these factors work together to provide the unique mineral characteristics of our Keuka Lake Rieslings.
Keuka Lake soils and climate are not only conducive to growing world-class Riesling. It has also been discovered that certain wonderful red varieties like Cabernet Franc deliver delicious grapes with cool climate flavors. New York State wine pioneer Charles Fournier recognized the quality of our vineyard land over 65 years ago when he chose what he thought were the best sites on Keuka Lake for his experimental trial on a series of unknown varieties. Our Leon Millot vineyard on the east side of the lake survives today from these early plantings.
KLV's two vineyard areas offer a unique opportunity to sample wines made from grapes grown on the Eastern and Western slopes. The wines offer such wonderful possibilities to compare the two sides of the lake through single vineyards, as well as making great wines when blended together.