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.
Just as winemakers transform grapes into sumptuous sips, oenophiles Cynthia West-Chamberlain and Michael D. Chamberlain transformed their passion for wine into the family-operated Black Willow Winery. Although the winery primarily functions as a home for the couple's inventive wines, its charms don't end there. An elegantly appointed tasting room invites guests to sit, sip, savor, and even hold private events on Black Willow's scenic grounds. While they're there, many stock up on some of the winery's other house-made offerings, such as mead, chocolates, infused oil, and artisan vinegar.
When Nana and Papa Varallo brought winemaking to America from Italy, they unknowingly brought a livelihood for their successors. Son Nicholas made wine in Papa's basement from the age of 8, then taught the techniques to children Dominic, Cristina, and Americo Varallo. Now all three generations contribute to the development of the family's Spring Lake Winery, which offers group vineyard excursions, rentable wedding space, and, of course, the Varallo's award-winning wines.
A decade ago, the Oakes family planted their first vines across 6 acres, yielding a harvest that would produce 14 types of plump, juicy grapes. The result is a diverse wine list that includes smoky cabernet, award-winning fruity ice wine, and even one that's steam punk cider. Visit the tasting room to partake in sipping sessions, where varietals have been carefully selected and paired with offered snacks, and learn about the wine-making process.
Passion. Love. Harmony. Gratitude. Along with plump grapes, these emotions instill each bottle from Inspire Moore Fingerlakes Winery & Vineyards and pass along their names. For example, Love is a semi-dry riesling with floral notes. And while riesling is the winery's dominant varietal, the boutique winery also crafts vintage-driven reds and ice wines, all in small lots.
One adjective that's important to the winery that doesn't also serve as a name of a wine is green. Inspire Moore's committed to eco-friendly practices, whether that's transforming a former stagecoach stop into the winery with repurposed timbers or forgoing paper labels. Instead of paper, monochrome labels are printed directly onto the bottle, each one like hand-drawn artwork. The winery also composts its grape pomace and cleans with low-temp water and phosphate-free supplies.