Enjoying the View at McGregor Vineyard

Prior to this past weekend, the only McGregor Vineyard wine I had ever tried was their infamous Black Russian Red, a highly celebrated and prized blend. But I had heard a lot about the winery: how they had some of the best wine in the area, how they had an adoring fan base, how enthusiastic their winemaker was.

So when the Keuka Lake Wine Trail invited us out to do their Fire it Up! BBQ and Wine Weekend, I saw it as the perfect excuse to finally visit this winery tucked between the hills of Keuka and Seneca.

About McGregor Vineyard

The McGregor family started their vineyard in 1971, with a focus on growing European varietals. This was a time when Finger Lakes wine was still in its infancy, and producing European varietals was still risky and new. In 1980, they decided they were ready to open their winery and begin producing their own wines. Since then, they’ve been producing wines renowned for their aging potential, focusing on letting the grape and vintage express itself.

The winery itself is located on the hillside of Keuka, with a spectacular view overlooking the lake. It’s a peaceful place to do a flight, snack on some food, and enjoy the view- and this is exactly what they want, an approachable wine experience.

Tasting at McGregor

Usually, their tasting room is set up with tables so you can sit and enjoy a flight at your own pace, rather than bellying up to a tasting bar. But because it was a special wine trail weekend, they had the room set up with tasting bars. We grabbed our BBQ pairing (a fabulous pulled pork with corn salsa, cheese and pesto cracker, and pineapple upside down cake), and started tasting! As part of this ticket, we got four samples of wine.

We started with the 2017 Cabernet Franc, which paired with the pulled pork. The first smell blew me away with its delicate and complex notes of baked cherry cake, vanilla, baking spice, and smoke. On the palate it had pleasing vegetal notes with a chewy tannin and cherry acidity. When paired with the pork, it lightened the food and made the wine taste even brighter. This was by far my favorite of all the wines and pairings I had during the trail event.

Next we tried the 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay. It was a fruity contrast with the previous wine, with a nose full of tropical fruits like mango and pineapple. These continued on the palate with hints of yellow apple and a pop of acid.

In comparison, their 2018 Oaked Chardonnay was densely rich with baked apple and spice overlaying the tropical notes. It had a fun candied apple finish that balanced out the woody oak notes.

Next, the 2018 Pinot Noir Rose, which had a nose of cherry, watermelon, and a surprising hint of green apple and fresh cut herbs. On the palate, it had a delicious watermelon Jolly Rancher type taste to it.

We also had to try the 2017 Dry Riesling, because you can’t taste in the Finger Lakes and not try their Riesling. It was so classic, that under the definition of FLX Riesling, they should just have a picture of this wine. A nose of nectarine, citrus and lime, pink lady apple and tangerine, with a balance of citrusy acidity and peach notes on the palate.

Planning Your Visit

Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., though hours can vary seasonally so check ahead.

Tasting Fees: Normally it’s $5 for 5 samples which includes some food samples. This fee is refundable if you purchase over $30 of wine.

We were there as part of a trail event, so we got four samples and a sample of food as part of the ticket price.

Group Tastings: Groups of ten or more are asked to make reservations online in advance, and the tasting fee is non-refundable with a purchase.

Wine Prices: Wines range from $10 for the Highland White Blend or Chardonnay to $16 for their Dry Riesling to $60 for their Black Russian Red.

Other Amenities: Beyond the snacks available as part of the tasting, they have a small selection of cheese and nibbles to purchase.

In July and August, they have live music on Saturdays. See their event calendar for more info.

Final Thoughts

At the end of our tasting, we took our final sample outside, sat at their picnic table, and enjoyed the view. It was so incredibly peaceful, and an amazing way to spend the day. This is definitely a winery I will revisit, especially when I want to kick back a little. The staff was fantastic, the atmosphere was casual and relaxed, and the wine was amazing.

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