Anyone who loves wine in the Finger Lakes loves Heart & Hands Wine Company; and yet in my entire adult life I think I had only ever had their wine one time. Last year, Adrian wrote up the winery for my blog, further solidifying in my mind that I needed to get out there. Our trip to the Inns of Aurora was finally the excuse we needed to make our way over the East side of Cayuga Lake to try Heart & Hands, and all I have to say is that they are worth the drive.
For more about Heart & Hands and a little on their regular tastings, I suggest you check out Adrian’s amazing post, which has a fantastic introduction to the winery.
Here, I want to share the amazing cellar tasting that we had with owner Susan, an experience that is going to be available soon to the public.
Cellar Tasting in the Barrel Room
Located behind their tasting room is a small area normally reserved for barrel aging that Heart & Hands is opening up for tasting. This gorgeous little space gives you room to spread out a little, while also enjoying their custom labeled barrels.
As we started our tasting we Susan, we learned that what makes their winery so special, and why they decided to plant their roots here on the East side of Cayuga, is the limestone bedrock running under the vineyard- something found in amazing wine areas like Burgundy where Pinot Noir thrives. So it’s no surprise that Heart & Hands has focused their sights on producing Pinot, one of the hardest grapes to grow.
Our tasting began with a Pinot Noir 2017 Brut Rosé, it has an incredible cherry berry and citrusy nose punctuated by a tickle of fresh green herbs and a fruity, creamy finish. It’s divine. Honestly, if this was the only thing that I was poured I would have been happy.
Next up was their 2017 Chardonnay, a lovely vanilla, apricot and yellow apple nose with a smooth body and structural finish.
We also tried four samples from barrels of 2018 Pinot Noirs that have yet to be released, ranging from a smoky cherry to raspberry herbaceous nose. What’s fascinating about all of these is that they are all made in a similar style, but the site they are grown in varies- it’s an interesting look at how vineyard location impacts flavor!
From here, we moved on to their current 2017 Pinot Noir release, with a nose of strawberry candy, savory herbs, and fruit leather with an interesting coffee bean like tannin and tart raspberry acid.
One of our favorite was their recently re-released 2009 Pinot Noir. It smelled of dried cherry, fruitcake, bruised apple, tobacco, and caramelized sugar with a leathery tannin and deep plum finish. It was so fascinating to pick apart the notes of this wine.
We ended by trying all of their Rieslings, the highlight of which was the 2016 Riesling with notes of key lime pie, mango, white peach, and a lime candy acidity that bursts in your mouth and balances out the hints of sweetness.
Planning Your Visit
Hours: February through March is Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.; April through December Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.
You can also book an appointment for a week day, which I’d suggest doing because their tasting room is quite small.
Tasting Fees: I don’t know their full current tasting fees, but we paid $10 for our tasting
Group Tastings: They don’t allow groups of over 6 people without an appointment, and then they only allow up to 8 people.
Wine Prices: The wine by the bottle prices ranges from $18 for their Riesling to $68 for their 2011 Berry Select Riesling. Most of the Pinot Noirs range from $25 to $32.
Other Amenities: You can get wine by the glass in the summer (with the amazing view in the vineyard!).
It was fun tasting through eight very different Pinot Noirs that were all made in the same way, by the same people, but have dramatically different tastes due to vineyard site. It was fun getting a private tasting from Susan, and her enthusiasm for the wine is apparent in the final product- it’s got a depth you don’t normally find.