To the Spicola family, wine isn't simply something sipped on at dinner or during a party. Rather, it's the family heritage, which forms a bridge between generations. Today, Dominic Spicola runs the Winery of Ellicottville with his son-in-law, but years ago, he worked alongside his father, Francesco, an Italian immigrant schooled in his home country's winemaking tradition. Together, the duo crushed and pressed annual harvests into barrels of wine, making sure their relatives had enough to fill glasses at dinner and water balloons at family picnics throughout the year.
Today, Dominic and his son-in-law mesh this Old World wisdom with New World techniques to craft chardonnays and merlots, reds and whites. They sell their bottles from an unassuming shop on Monroe Street, where sky-blue walls, family pictures, and shelved knickknacks surround a sun-splashed bar.
As you approach it, Castel Grisch Winery & Restaurant looks like nothing so much as a quaint farm. Get closer, though, and you'll start to notice hints of the winery within. There's the pyramid of dark wood wine barrels out front, for instance, or the wine-colored carpet in the dining room. That same room has the biggest clue of all: the menu, featuring wines from the Chancellor, a fruity red, to a Riesling fermented in stainless steel.
Castel Grisch's wine doesn't just come in bottles and the glasses?it crops up on the food menu, too, flavoring one of the cheese fondues. And when the chefs aren't melting cheese, they're whipping up hearty sandwiches stuffed with roast beef, Cajun-spiced turkey, or a bratwurst simmered in brown beer. Guests eat these hearty meals in a dining room brightened by white tablecloths or, when the weather's warm and the grapes are warbling, on a back patio overlooking the fields.
For more than a century, the Woodbury family has tilled the rich, porous soil of the Fredonia area to craft one-of-a-kind, flavorful wines from homegrown grapes. The vineyard’s serene surroundings—from the doting shelter of the nearby Allegheny uplands to the temperate words of encouragement from Lake Erie—work together to rear aromatic, mature, and emotionally balanced crops. Sippers may indulge in the complex flavors of a full-bodied cabernet ($24/bottle), the peppery floral notes of the Gewürztraminer ($24/bottle), or the regional sweetness of a niagara ($9.50). In addition to bottling up high-quality grape juice, the expert vintners at Woodbury shake down local orchards for refreshing fruit wines, such as a tastefully tart cranberry ($12) or delicate apple ($12), simultaneously capable of banishing thin-skinned doctors and impressing teachers with its semidry personality and ability to rinse chalkboards.