Tasting the Wines of Nathan Kendall at Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars

Ever since we tried Nathan Kendall’s wine at the Pleasant Valley Inn wine dinner I’ve been wanting to do a tasting at Hickory Hollow to try the the range of his wines, and we finally made it out there.

About Nathan Kendall’s Wines

Here’s the fun part of tasting at Hickory Hollow–since Nathan is the winemaker and his family owns the winery you can taste both the wines he is producing as the Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars and his own line of wine.

Nathan’s self-named wine (previously N. Kendall, now Nathan K.) was founded in 2011. In Fall 2016, Nathan took over winemaking at Hickory Hollow, owned by his family. Previously, the winery had been known for its sweeter wines (one in particular called Liquid Wisdom tastes like adult grape juice and has a disclaimer that it won’t increase your intelligence), and had been importing some of its grapes from California. Nathan’s wine on the other hand is drier and done in a European style; which is a great change for those of use who aren’t as keen of the sweet wine.

If you head over to Hickory Hollow now, you’ll notice changes in action- the old sign is down, a new sign is up; you can try wine made by Nathan, wine made by Nathan for Hickory Hollow, or wine made by the previous winemaker; and they’ve got a new, simpler, arts and crafts style label on the bottles produced by Nathan.

Wine Tasting

For $5 you can do a flight of 5 wines including both Hickory Hollow and Nathan K.’s wines. Since I’m not actually able to taste at the moment, I enlisted my parents and husband to help with the tasting notes–I wrote up the nose and they helped do the taste.

We started off with the Hickory Hollow Chardonnay 2016, which was aged in neutral French oak. The nose has wonderful notes of baked apple, tropical fruits, and vanilla that continued on the palate with a creamy mouthfeel and nice pineapple acidity.

Next was the Nathan K. Dry Riesling 2016. It smelled immediately like candied lime and lemon peels, green apple, and it has this funky zest of ginger at the end. These notes were also present when sipped, with a citrusy acidity and slight creaminess to the texture from barrel aging portions of it.

We moved onto reds with the Hickory Hollow Cabernet Franc 2014. Blackberries, black raspberry, black pepper and vegetal notes dominate the nose, and when sipped it has notes of bright raspberry and green pepper with a nice soft tannin and a balanced acid.

From there we sampled the Nathan K. Pinot Noir 2015, which smells like cherry, wet earth, and ruby grapefruit that continues on the palate with with added black tea like chewy tannins and a clean acidity. This was one of our favorites of the tasting.

We ended with the Hickory Hollow Red Field Blend (Non-Vintage) that has a nose of red berries, black cherry syrup, and a woody finish. It is fruit forward on the nose and palate with a nice medium tannin and balanced aid.

Planning Your Visit

Hours: Currently the winery is open Friday and Saturdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.-5 p.m. for Winter/Spring and will expand to more days in the Summer

Tasting Fee: $5 for 5

Group Wine Tasting: You only need to call ahead if you’ve got a group of 14 or more, but given the size of the tasting room if you’re 8 or more I would call ahead just to be nice

Wine Prices: The wines vary from $10 for the White Field Blend to high $30s for the Nathan K. Pinot Noir

Final Thoughts

I really love tasting Nathan’s wines, and it is fun to compare these his two different takes on Finger Lakes wine. When I’m back to drinking wine, I’m definitely going to taste the Dry Riesling and Pinot Noir. The candied lime and ginger of the former, and the cherry and fun little citrus notes of the latter were so much fun. I can’t wait to taste them for myself. I’m adding them both to my official list of things to try in six months.


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