Living Roots: An Urban Winery in Downtown Rochester

Nearly every day, I drive along University Ave in Rochester to get to work at the George Eastman Museum. Over the last year and a half that I’ve been making this drive, I have noticed changes in the urban landscape- in particular, an old building that was being updated. Then, one magical day, a sign was posted: Living Roots Wine & Co., Urban Winery.

A Finger Lakes winery in Rochester? Be still my beating heart.

About Living Roots Wine & Co.

Living Roots Wine & Co. was the dream project of Colleen and Sebastian Hardy, who wanted to create a winery that was half Finger Lakes and half Australia, which totally makes sense given their background. Colleen grew up in Fairport, New York (and went to Michigan State… GO GREEN!), and Sebastian grew up in Adelaide Hills, Australia.

The goal of the winery was to showcase the flavors of each region and bring it to the Rochester audience. Like many wineries in the Finger Lakes, they’ve been able to accomplish their goal by collaborating with other winemakers, like Justin Boyette of Hector Wine Co. and Peter Bell of Fox Run Vineyards.

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The winery is located is a gorgeous open space in a historic bank, and includes a tasting room, event space, and the production facility. It is a gorgeous location, with tall ceilings, rustic woods, and stone bar top that is perfect for Instagramming your favorite wine. In the future, they plan to host wine events and educational seminars in the event space, and will have a wine club.

Wine Tasting at Living Roots

The tasting list is currently divided into two categories: Finger Lakes white wine (with one Long Island Rose) and Australian red wine. There are also two Australian white wines that you can add to your tasting for an extra fee. We decided to split the tastings and try them all. I won’t spoil the tasting, so here’s just a couple notes about our favorites.

2016 Finger Lakes “Linden Blossom” Dry Riesling has a nose of white peach, nectarine, and tangerine, with hints of slate and mineral that continued on the palate with a clean acidity and citrusy finish.

2016 Adelaide Hills “Native Citrus” Riesling has notes of citrus peel, key lime, and slate, with a candied citrusy finish that is balanced out by a bright acidity. It was fun to compare the Finger Lakes Riesling to the Australian Riesling- while there are similarities, there is also a lot of difference that makes it fun.

2016 Finger Lakes Unoaked Chardonnay smells of yellow apple, pear, almond, and peach, with a silky mouthfeel, great acidity, and lingering notes of peach and almond. The almond note was something that caught me off-guard but was actually quite nice (even though I can’t actually eat almonds).

For the reds, you can compare the two takes on 2016 Shiraz. One is from Adelaide Hills, and has notes of pepper, olive, dark cherries, and black berry, with a big bold chewy tannin and light mouthfeel. The other is from McLaren Vale and while it had similar notes, they were more restrained and layered, with blackberry, olive and pepper lingering on the palate with a nice chalky tannin.

Planning Your Visit

Hours: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday

Tasting Fees: $7 for four New York white and rose wines; $9 for four Australian red wines; $2 each for the Australian white wines

Wine Prices: The wine by the bottle ranges from low $20s to mid-$30s

Other Amenities: They have a selection of bar nibbles like olives and nuts, Hedonist chocolates, and in the future will have a cheese board featuring complementary cheeses. You can purchase wine by the glass to enjoy with these snacks.

Final thoughts? We had an amazing date night sampling the wines at Living Roots. Erin led us through a great tasting, sharing the details of the winery and each of the wines, we loved chatting with Colleen and Seb, and the wine was delicious. As much as I love Finger Lakes wine, it was fun to try the Australian wines and explore those regions a little. I’m excited to make this winery part of our regular happy hours! My only request? Finger Lakes red wine please! It would be amazing to compare a FLX Syrah with the Australian Shiraz.

Want to learn more? Check out this great article by Tracy Schuhmacher at Democrat and Chronicle.

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