Three Brothers is a unique experience- and that last word is key. You don’t just visit here to do a tasting, you’re here to have different experiences across the property, from visiting a classic tasting room to throwing back a brewski in the WWII mess hall to venturing through the woods to taste sweet wine in a rockin’ shack. And it isn’t just that the different wineries and breweries have different themes, they also take different approaches to the beverages they are producing.
We were lucky enough to be invited out to spend the day touring the winery with the co-owners, winemakers, and marketing manager. During that time, we were impressed by the amount of work that has gone into crafting these experiences and making them appear effortless. Yes, it’s a fun place with some crazy themed wineries, but the staff are constantly striving to create a better experience, whether its experimenting with new wines, providing amenities to make the visit more enjoyable, or just being enthusiastic- which they all were, every one of them was truly passionate about the place and the wine (or beer).
So if you’re looking for a good time in a place that has something for everyone (yup, even soda and coffee options for non-drinks and kiddos), this is a great place to visit.
About Three Brothers Wineries & Estate
The wineries were first established in 2006 by Dave and Luanne Mansfield, who purchased what used to the Newland Winery. The challenge about this location, found at the northern end of Seneca Lake, was that at the time it was fairly isolated from other wineries. They needed to come up with a way to get people to visit. They decided that the way to do this was by creating a full experience that would appeal to not only the wine drinkers, but casual tourists who weren’t necessarily up for the wine trail.
It started with three wineries, themed around the personalities of Dave and his two brothers (yes, to there are actually three brothers):
- Stony Lonesome is the classic tasting room experience, offering classic vinifera wines like Chardonnay and Merlot, but also some interesting varietals like Zweiglet and Barbera
- Passion Feet Vineyard is the laid back winery with a feminine twist, that features semi-dry and semi-sweet wines with names like Wanderlush, Eccentricity and Scandelicious (they also have slushies)
- Bagg Dare Wine is the backwoods sweet winery whose wines are a little on the raunchy side with 69 Ways to Have Fun and Skirt Lifter
Also, one of the fun details I love about this place is that the themes really shape everything in the wineries- so pay attention to details, from the music, to what the staff are wearing, to the type of snacks they provide- everything ties back into the theme.
Now, it also includes War Horse Brewing Co, and full scale brewery making a range of beers from sours to stouts as well as soda, and Iron Heart Cafe, which has their own cold brew coffee and a great menu.
Tasting at Three Wineries and a Brewery
When you arrive at Three Brothers, you’ll want to purchase a $20 passport, which gives you flights at each of the three wineries, the brewery and discounts at the cafe and store. You can purchase the passport from whichever location you want to start with, though they suggest Stony Lonesome first.
With that in mind, we set off to Stony Lonesome for a classic upscale tasting experience with soft jazz playing in the background.
Our first sample of the day was the 2017 Reserve Chardonnay, which has a nose of pear, baking spice, and vanilla, a green apple acidity on the palate, and a lingering oaky finish. It’s a lovely balance of tart fruit and warm notes. It was like smelling a fresh baked pear tart.
Next, one of the favorites of the staff was the 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé. It has notes of cherry, tropical fruit and strawberry, but with a surprising creaminess to it that is also on the palate, but is balanced by a bright citrusy acid. It’s a little different, but in a fun way, and the creamy aspect makes it appealing for winter.
Every one was raving about the 2016 Zweiglet/Cabernet Sauvignon blend, so we had to try that. The nose is full of fresh strawberry, chocolate covered cherries, licorice and vanilla. When sipped, the fruit gets rich and a little jammier, but it is balanced out by a medium acidity and full tannin. It lived up to the hype and was one of our favorites.
Next, we walk across the way to Passion Feet Vineyards to sample wines from their Women of Distinction series, a fun and flirty lineup of semi-dry to semi-sweet wines.
We had to start with Wanderlush, a sparkling Rosé made from Barbera and Riesling. You can smell both the grapes in this wine, with notes of lime and citrus mixing with strawberry and watermelon. It’s a touch sweet, but that is balanced out by the bubbles, acidity, and lingering herbaceous notes on the palate.
One of their more popular wines in this winery is Scandelicious, a wine made from black raspberries, Cayuga White and Niagara, and that’s exactly what it smells and tastes like- raspberry and grape juice with a pop of sweetness and acid. While it’s not exactly my thing, I can see the appeal (and I’d totally mix it with a dry sparkling wine for a summer mimosa).
From there, we hiked back into the woods to Bagg Dare where we were greeted with rock music and sweet wine.
I’ll admit it, I didn’t really take notes here- it’s not the kind of place to take notes, it’s a place to kick back and relax while sampling. I will mention that despite it being focused on sweet wine, they are well balanced by acidity. We enjoyed the Two Banger and the Dog Head Red, both of which were a fun mix of fruit forward sweetness and acidity.
We ended the day with the brewery, where the Peace Bomber Riesling and Breakfast with Churchill Oatmeal Stout were the perfect palate cleansers. After three wineries, it’s nice to have something completely different.
Visiting Three Brothers
Hours: November to March, seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from April to October, seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tasting Fees: $20 for the tasting passport that gives you access to taste at the three wineries and the brewery.
Group Tastings: If you’re coming in a limo or bus, you need to make a reservation.
Wine Prices: Prices range from $14-15 for the Bagg Dare and Passion Feet lines to $59 for the Stony Lonesome Bourbon Barrel Barbera.
Amenities: If you’re looking for food and fun, this is a great place. Not only do they have a delicious cafe, each of the different wineries has unique merchandise relating to the theme of the location.
Tips for Visiting:
- Make it a day or at least allocate a few hours: given the different wineries, brewery and cafe, you’ll want to give yourself time to fully explore and enjoy it. They suggest about 90 minutes- I would maybe set aside about two to three hours.
- Try going in the off-season: Summer is a great time to visit because you can hang out on the grounds, there are games and music, and it makes exploring the property a little easier- BUT it’s also a lot busier. If you want the type of one-on-one experience we had, go in the off-season!
- Plan for lunch: The Iron Heart Cafe is delicious, so make sure you check it out. We had the bean burger, which was delightfully spicy and fantastic.
- Bring the whole crew: Whether you like dry, sweet, in-between, are more of a coffee drinker, or beer lover, this is the place for you! They also have lots of space so your group will feel comfortable here.