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    Visit to Prejean Winery in the Finger Lakes

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    As you drive south down the west side of Seneca Lake, in the Finger Lakes, you’ll see the sign for Prejean Winery on your right.? A this point, if you started at the top of the lake, you’ve gone past 7 or 8 wineries already.? How do you know which ones are worth stopping at?? We’ll take the mystery our of this one right here, and tell you that this is worth stopping at.? Tom Prejean, the current proprietor, is crafting some impressive wines at really attractive prices.

    IMG_2724 - CopyPrejean’s vineyards were started in 1979 by Jim Prejean, a WWII veteran and survivor of the sinking of the US Cushing at the battle of Guadalcanal.? Jim’s dream of owning a winery came true in 1986, when Prejean Winery officially opened.? Sadly, Jim passed just three years later, but Tom carries on the dream with his family and staff.? They grow many vinifera grapes here, including Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.? They have also planted Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, but have yet to make wine from the new vines.? You can get dry wine, semi-sweet and sweet wines.? I focused on the dry varietals during my recent visit.

    When you drive in, the tasting room building is above you, up the hill.? The front porch looks back towards the lake, and you can seeIMG_2722 Seneca lake a short distance away.? Inside there are two long tasting bars, bins of wine for sale and wine related merchandise.? When I got there it was just past opening, essentially empty, and Tom Prejean was running around (literally) tending to some bottling related thing going on.? I tried to be unobtrusive, at least as much as possible.? Tom was very gracious, and we worked through the tasting with a periodic pause now and then, as he dashed into the back of the building to deal with something.? Ironically, one of Tom’s old high school football teammates was in the tasting room as well, and they were both running backs back in the day.? His friend commented on the fact that Tom was ‘still fast’ at 58.

    Let’s talk about the wines, which are all under $20.? I tasted through all of the dry wines, and the overall impression was that these are very good, and very good values.? Specific notes follow:

    2016 Reserve Chardonnay –?this is barrel fermented, and aged on the lees.? They use American oak here, and used barrels (3-4 IMG_2730years).? The result on this wine is a juice that is very light in color, with subtle oak on the nose.? Joining the party are apples and pears.? It is very long, clean and elegant.? This is clearly well made.? $15.99 and a good value there.

    2017 Chardonnay –?very light straw in color, this has a nose of citrus, including lemon and tangerine.? On the palate it is a bit off dry, checking in at 0.8% residual sugar.? This is refreshing.? $13.99 and another great value.

    2017 Dry Gewurtztraminer –?this has more color.? The nose is full of ripe fruit, with honey and spice.? This is dryer on the palate than you expect, and clean.? It finishes nicely.? $17.99

    2017 Dry Riesling –?you get some petrol notes on the nose, and it presents like a classic Riesling.? There is ample fruit and IMG_2732minerality through this wine, and it is clean and balanced.? You could easily believe this is a good German Riesling.? $15.99 and another excellent value.

    2015 Goldfinch Dry Riesling –?here we have a single vineyard wine, from the Goldfinch Vineyard.? It presents a rich nose of ripe citrus.? This had good texture, riper fruit than the previous wine, and a long persistent finish where the fruit maintains throughout.? It is an excellent wine.? $16.99, and at the risk of being redundant, a really good value.

    Now the reds:

    2017 Cabernet Franc Rosé –?this is a new release, and their first dry rosé, made from Cabernet Franc grapes.? They left this on the skins for 24 hours, and it resulted in a beautiful, light salmon color.? On the nose there is berry fruit.? This is lean and long, very long,? $17.99

    2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – a dark garnet colored wine, this has a nose full of blueberry and raspberry, along with some toasty IMG_2733oak.? It is aged in used, American oak barrels, and there is a little Merlot blended in.? It finishes long.? $19.99

    2016 Cabernet Franc – another dark garnet colored wine, this has raspberry and ripe strawberry aromas, and is a bit brighter in character than the Cab Sauv.? The fruit here is pure, and really front and center.? Medium bodied, the wine has good tannin, balance and a very long finish.? This is quite excellent.? $19.99

    2013 Merlot –?this is a tricky grape here, and they don’t get a full crop every year.? They did bring in a 2016, but the 2013 was the last previous harvest.? This wine is richer, and full bodied.? There is dark plum on the nose.? It has more structure than the previous reds, with oak notes and spice.? There is a long finish and good balance to this.? Really good wine here, and a wine IMG_2734that is more like something you’d expect to get from a California winery.? $19.99

    Proprietor’s Red –?this is different, and more of a picnic wine.? A blend of Marechal Foch, Corot Noir, Noiret and Cab Franc the wine has medium body, rich berry flavors and some spice.? You could have this with pizza, fried chicken or a BBQ, or just sip it on a summer day.? This will serve well chilled.? $12.99

    As we mentioned earlier, they do have semi-sweet and sweet wines as well.? Based on the quality of the dry wines I would expect them to be very good also.? Next time I get to the area I will have to stop in and verify that.

    Tom Prejean is making some seriously good wine at Prejean Winery.? That really was my overall takeaway from the experience, that these wines are well made across the board.? Add in the low prices and you get some wines that are worthy of a place in your cellar and home.? This was my first winery of the day, and really set the tone in a good way.

    I think they’re certainly worth a visit, and am not the only one.? The judges at the prestigious San Francisco AwardsChronicle Wine Competition had an opinion, awarding Prejean wines two double golds and a gold medal.

    Clearly others appreciate the quality of Prejean’s wines.? You will as well.

    You can read more about Prejean Winery on their website at?https://www.prejeanwinery.com/SenecaLakeWinery.

    The particulars:

    Prejean Winery

    Open Year Round
    Monday-Sunday 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
    Close at 5:00 PM??November through March

    2634 State Route 14
    Penn Yan, New York 14527

    315-536-7524

    A votre santé!

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