Pinot Noir and Riesling at Heart & Hands on Cayuga Lake!

This VinifeROC is written by the insatiable Adrian Joaquin. He’s a lover of all things food, travel, and wine, especially when it involves a good Finger Lakes wine! When not at his day job, you can find him out in nature, at a winery, or nerding out about wine varietals! He’s always good for an FLX recommendation, which you can see more of at @wino_dino_ and on The Vintner Project.

The eastside of Cayuga Lake is often the most overlooked amongst the Finger Lakes in the wine world. So it was a bit surprising when I first heard of Heart & Hands Wine Company a few years ago, with their location on the Northeast side of Cayuga Lake. As a local, I’m almost “required” to love Riesling – which I do; but I was also intrigued with their focus on Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir isn’t as widely grown around here, and Heart and Hands is solely focused on Pinot Noir and Riesling, which is precisely why I’m excited to share more with you!

About Heart & Hands Wine Company

Susan and Tom Higgins started Heart and Hands Wine Company, “Heart & Hands,” in 2008. Susan focuses on the business side of things, as the owner and business manager. Her husband, Tom, focuses on their estate vineyard as the owner, vineyard manager, and winemaker. 2012 was the first harvest of Pinot Noir, and 2013 was the first for Riesling. Heart & Hands proudly focuses on Riesling and Pinot Noir exclusively.


Heart & Hands is located in Union Springs, NY, just north of Aurora, NY along the shores of Cayuga Lake. The tasting room site and their estate vineyard was carefully chosen based on the limestone in the area. Their Pinot Noir and Riesling is from both their own estate vineyard, and other grapes are sourced from five growers throughout the Finger Lakes on Seneca, Cayuga, and Skaneateles Lakes.

Tasting at Heart & Hands

The tasting room is very small – this is not a large “mega” winery by any means. At most, six people fit at the tasting room counter at a time.

Your (current) options include four samples of wine as part of either their Pinot Noir Flight, Riesling Flight, or Eclectic Flight, which is a mix of the two.

There is also an à la carte section! For $2, $3, or $5 you can taste a few of their options as additional add-ons. This is a great choice if you love Pinot Noir or Riesling, but really want to try one item that is a little bit fancier (like their Sparkling Riesling!). Also, note that the tasting flights change and rotate, so it might be different when you visit!


A few that are fun to try:

2016 Pinot Noir: An elegant wine crafted from grapes grown on Seneca and Cayuga Lake from four vineyards! Beautiful light ripe cherries and a touch of rubbery licorice. Soon, the cherries turn even more vibrant, and more tart crunchy cranberries and early-season rhubarb come through. Slightly smoky! A gorgeous, delicate, voluptuous bold yet still light bodied cool climate Pinot.

2016 Sparkling Riesling: The dry finish is fresh, vibrant and racy.  This is a top Sparkling option (Riesling or otherwise) from the Finger Lakes in recent years. This is traditional method (not forced carbonation). There is a little bit of citrus zest, but it’s dominated by the yeast, brioche-laden nutty feel. Super creamy!

2016 Polarity: Polarity is a unique white wine made from 100% Pinot Noir Grapes. Essentially, an oaked white wine made from Pinot Noir grapes! It’s an amber color and could be confused for a rosé. It’s very smooth, full-bodied, dry white wine with a little cream and vanilla. It’s similar to some oaked chardonnay! It’s very well done and is a must try!

Planning Your Visit

Hours:  February 10th – March 31st:  Saturday & Sunday, 12 – 5 p.m.

April – December: Friday, Saturday & Sunday 12 – 5. You can also book a private tasting in advance, using the form on their website.

Tasting Fees: $5 for a flight, or $2, $3, or $5 per taste from the specialty/ à la carte section.

Group Tastings: Heart and Hands has a no limo / bus / RV policy and they do not accommodate groups of 6 or more during normal tasting room hours.  

Wine Prices: The wine by the bottle ranges from $18 for their Riesling to $68 for their 2011 Berry Select Riesling.

The “regular” Riesling options, though, range from $18-$32.

The Pinot Noir goes from $25, $28, $32, and the estate (2013 Mo Chuisle Pinot) is $43.

Other Amenities: You can get wine by the glass in the summer (with the amazing view in the vineyard!).

Final thoughts

Heart & Hands makes exquisite cool climate wine. They are Pinot Noir “specialists,” so to speak, with some really great other options: Sparkling Riesling, Dry Rosé, Late Harvest Riesling, etc. But don’t miss out on their Riesling! Of course Riesling is huge in the Finger Lakes, but there are some truly great, austere, dry and semi dry Riesling options! This is a must stop along Cayuga Lake for all wine lovers!


Photos by Adrian Joaquin & Heart and Hands Wine Co

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