Located in a historic barn constructed in the 1840s, Barnstormer Winery is one of the newer wineries on Seneca Lake. The name of the winery stems from the term barnstorming, a type of entertainment done airplane pilots where they performed stunts and tricks. These stunt pilots would fly over rural towns as an advertisement for their show, and then land at a farm where they would negotiate to use the fields as make-do runway and locations for the spectators to gather (so the barnstorming stems from this act of flying into a random farmer’s field, sadly it does not imply that they did tricks flying through a barn as I had originally assumed).
The first vineyard at the location was planted in the 1970s, and in 2012 it was purchased by Scott Bronstein who has sought to preserve the 170 year old barn that serves as the tasting room on site. The winery is focused on small production and high quality wines, specifically focusing on European varietals.
Our first visit to Barnstormer Winery was in 2013 when it was newly opened. We loved the historic feel of the barn and left with a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon (which we still haven’t drank- it’s sitting in our basement with a tag that says ‘Don’t Drink Me- I Need to Age’). Then, during this year’s Rose Soiree we had the opportunity to try their two rose wines, one from Sangiovese and one made from Pinot Noir. They were so interesting and delicious that we decided we needed to head back to the winery and sample the rest of their wines!
Wine Tasting at Barnstormer
Our tasting was led by the amazing Della, who gave us a great background to the wines and winery, and discussed each of the wines with us. Tastings are always so much richer when the tasting room person lets you make your own interpretation of the wine, but then will discuss the different notes and nuances with you. If you’re doing a tasting, I suggest asking for Della. It really enhanced our experience, and it was fun to discuss the different wines.
Now, onto the tasting!
2016 Chardonnay: Made in stainless steel, so it lacks the oaky characteristics that often turn people off this grape, the chardonnay has notes of pear, apple, tropical fruits like mango, and a great minerality that continues onto the palate. A nice high acidity balances out the earthiness on the palate.
2016 Dry Riesling: This classic riesling has notes of lime, green apple, with a clean mineral finish. The bright acidity and citrus on the palate made it perfect for the warm June day we were tasting on. We compared this against their 2016 Kabinett Riesling, which had more notes of stonefruit, pear and something floral that became more citrus and clean on the palate, and the 2016 Semi-Dry Riesling, which had a nose of lime curd and stonefruit, the sweetness of which was toned down by the bright limey acidity.
2016 Lemberger: Bottled on the day before we visited, this young wine definitely had the “green” notes I associate with wines that need more time in the bottle. Despite that, it has great forward notes of leather and spice, particularly clove, as well as dark berries and a hint of grapefruit. These continue on the palate and it finishes with a medium chewy tannin that lingers pleasantly. This was one of my favorites of the tasting, and I’m excited to see how it ages!
Nosedive Port: This was our most surprising taste of the day- the nose was rich, dark berries and plums, with raisiny aged notes that carried onto the palate. The lingering raisin and plum was set off by a nice acidity. Not so perfect for the heat of the day, but we bought a bottle to save for winter sipping.
Planning Your Visit
Hours: Their summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Note that if you’re in a big group they ask you contact them in advance- larger groups also have more limited hours.
Tasting Fee: $5 for 5 wines, $3 for one or $5 for 2 samples of the ice wine, and $6 for 3 samples of beer or spirits.
Group Wine Tasting: They do allow groups, but for those that are 10 people or larger they ask that you call in advance.
Wine Prices: Their wines range from $13 for a bottle of their Jenny series, slightly sweeter blends, to the $20s for their red wines and port. If you’re buying multiple bottles, you get a discount from 5-20% off.
Other Amenities: This is a great place for a snack- you can get a cheese and charcuterie picnic for only $13, and can enjoy it on their front porch with a glass of their fine wines. In my tasting notes, I also noted that at the tasting bar they have hooks to hang your purse on- which is critical when you’re someone who carries around a large purse for their tasting notebook. Score.
Final thoughts? This is definitely a place to check out. They have a nice range of dry and semi-sweet wines, some fun surprises like their port and sparkling wine, and are doing the classics well. Also, it’s just a cool location.
Say hi to Della for me!