An Herbaceous Adventure at Zugibe Vineyards

My first time ever visiting Zugibe Vineyards was in Spring 2010 as part of a girl’s day out with the women in my family. While I don’t remember all the details of that day out with my aunts, I have a vivid memory of trying their Sauvignon Blanc. I remember one of my aunts saying she smelled dill in the wine, and that stuck with me. Something I’ve always loved about Zugibe Vineyards is that I always got interesting herbal notes from there wines, so I was excited to head back over to do a tasting of their new lineup.

About Zugibe Vineyards

The land that would become Zugibe was first purchased in 2004 by Dr. Frederick Zugibe II, who felt the vineyard site would be exceptional for growing grapes. Over the next five years, the Zugibe family extensively modified, planted and expanded the vineyard to make room for both classic and new varietals (they were the first vineyard in NY to plant Grüner Veltliner). During this time they also worked on transforming the house on the property into a tasting room.

​In November 2009, they opened the tasting room and began public retail sales. Now, the winery is run by the three sons of Frederick Zugibe II: Frederick III, who works as the winemaker, Sean, who is the vineyard manager, and Brendan, who takes care of marketing, events and wholesale.

Tasting at Zugibe

When you step up to their incredibly tall, but gorgeous, bar, you have the option of doing 3 tastes for $3 or 5 tastes for $5, and you can do a special cheese pairing of five wines and five cheeses. We shared a few flights so that we could get a taste of everything.

We had to start with their Bubbly Riesling, which they just recently starting canning. The nose is super fruity with notes of peach, tangerine and lemon that continues on the palate, and the bubbles are surprisingly delicate. There’s a touch of sweetness to it that is balanced by a nice acid.

Next, was the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, which delivered those notes I remember: herbaceous lemon grass, boxwood, and gooseberry, with citrusy lemon and fresh grass on the palate, and a nice clean grapefruit acidity. There’s a lot going on with this wine, and it’s delicious.

The 2016 Chardonnay is only half done in oak, which gives it those nice baking spice notes and a buttery mouthfeel, but it’s balanced by pear, apple and hints of citrus. There’s a lingering creaminess that is quite warming.

One of the wines I was most excited to try is the 2016 Four Freds Red, and it totally delivered. The nose starts with smoke and spice, but then develops into plum, black berries, and raspberry. The fruit notes continue when sipped, and it finishes with a silky tannin. We sampled this with the Captain Ogden

Their 2016 Cabernet Franc is aged in Hungarian oak, giving it a spicy nose and mouthfeel. It also has notes of cherry, raspberry, and hints of fresh herbs and leather. There’s a bright raspberry acidity and lingering vegetal notes that make you want another sip.

Finally, their 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon– this wine has a classic nose of cherry, raspberry, leather, and pencil lead. On the palate, it changes to bright cherry with hints of coconut from the American oak it was aged in. There is a chewy tannin and lovely acidity that both linger.

Visiting Zugibe

Hours:  November through April, they are open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. From May to October, they are open Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday: 11:00am to 5:00 p.m. They also have live music throughout the summer and those dates have extended hours, so check their website for details.N

Tasting Fees: $3 for 3 or $5 for 5 wines, and if you purchase over 6 bottles you get two tastings free.

Group Tastings: If you have 8 or more, you’ll need to make a reservation, and they can accommodate up to 20.

Wine Prices: Prices range from $12.99 for the Chardonnay to $26.99 for their Cabernet Sauvignon, though most are under $20.

We purchased a couple bottles of the Four Freds Red ($21.99), one to drink now and one to age, and the Cabernet Franc ($16.99). They have some great discounts if you buy more than three bottles, so definitely take advantage of that!

Amenities: During the summer, they have amazing outdoor space that is perfect for enjoying wine and a view, and a little bistro serving up Lebanese food. In the winter, it’s a little more limited, but they do some food specials and have indoor seating if you’re looking to hang out a little.

Accessibility: Other than the stony drive, the winery is accessible and they have tables that would make doing a tasting in a wheelchair much easier. 

Final Thoughts

We had an incredible experience tasting with Ashley, their tasting room manager, who is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the wines they are making. Overall, it was a fun experience, and we will definitely be back. I loved that the herbal quality I remember in their wines is still present- it sets their wine apart in a fun way. If you’re heading to the north end of Seneca Lake, this place is a must!

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