“Life in the Finger Lakes” explores Hammondsport’s hidden gem
By Jim Moore, Chief Finger Lakes Enthusiast
KEUKA LAKE, NY — Nestled among the rolling vineyard hillsides and the sparkling waters of Keuka Lake lies the charming Azure Hill Winery, a hidden gem for wine enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
Our recent visit to Keuka Lake brought us to Heron Hill Winery, where we enjoyed a delightful wine tasting experience. It was there that we were introduced to Ms. Marianne, who recommended we continue our day at Azure Hill Winery. With her warm smile and expert suggestions, we couldn’t resist.
Upon arriving at Azure Hill, we were greeted by the co-owners, Joe and Leslie, who exuded genuine warmth and hospitality. They took the time to introduce us to their selection of wines, local craft beers, and food options. Their passion for their establishment and their genuine love for sharing it with others was evident from the moment we walked through the door.
The tasting room was small, but very comfortable. Seating options included stools at the bar, high top tables, and lower bistro style tables. The eastward view of Keuka Lake was wonderful.
Kathy and I each enjoyed a glass of wine, mine being a red and hers a sparkling white. Kathy also enjoyed a cheese tray that included several flavored cheese curds from a local creamery and a variety of crackers. The wines that we tried were approachable, bright, and perfect for a sunny autumn day on the lake. There were several draft beers available from Grist Iron Brewery on Seneca Lake, but we did not partake.
Each Joe and Leslie visited with us several times to assure that we were enjoying our wines and to share more about the founding and growth of their winery.
Azure Hill Winery’s journey began in Joe and Leslie’s basement cellar in 2005. What started as a part-time venture eventually blossomed into a full-time career in 2017 when they made the winery their permanent residence.
Their vineyard story began with the planting of Riesling vines in 2006, later expanding to include Zweigelt and Saperavi. For nearly a decade, they offered wine tastings, bottle sales, and even local craft beer from a nearby brewery in a speakeasy-style setting right in their cellar.
The winery’s offerings are diverse, ranging from estate-grown white wines to grapes purchased from local growers. Their selection includes Riesling (both dry and sweet), Sparkling Riesling Brut, Zweigelt, Saperavi, Chambourcin Rosé, Sweet Chambourcin, Synthesis (a red blend), and a Sparkling Apple. Exciting new releases for 2021 promised an array of enticing reds, whites, and rosés.
In 2021, a new building was added to their home, expanding the winery and creating a new tasting room. The large outdoor deck area provides customers with the perfect spot to savor their drinks while taking in the breathtaking views of the vineyard-covered hillsides and the glistening waters of Keuka Lake.
Azure Hill Winery is not just a place to enjoy exceptional wine; it’s an experience in warmth, hospitality, and the celebration of the Finger Lakes’ finest. If you find yourself in the Keuka Lake region, a visit to Azure Hill Winery should undoubtedly be on your itinerary.