Pleasant Valley Wine Company is located in Hammondsport on the west side of Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes. The winery first opened in 1860 and is the first bonded winery in the United States. It is the home of the Great Western Winery visitor center. In 1867, the Pleasant Valley Wine Company sent their sparkling wine to France and won their first award followed by a gold medal in Vienna in 1873 for their Great Western Champagne. Previously in 1871, actor Marshall P. Wilder proudly declared the Pleasant Valley Wine Company champagne to be “the Great Champagne of the Western World.”
The winery has gone through multiple ownerships throughout its lifetime including companies like the Coca-Cola Company and Seagram. Today the winery is owned by the Doyle family.
Besides a tasting bar, the visitor center has a museum covering years of Finger Lakes winemaking and grape growing. There are a lot of historical artifacts in the museum and throughout the entire winery. Pleasant Valley Wine Company is one of the few wineries in the Finger Lakes who still gives a tour. With the history of the winery, the tour is very informative and interesting. Our tour guide was Todd and he did a fantastic job explaining the history of the winery and answering any questions we had.
During the tour we learned there are eight stone buildings which have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The winery still uses large wooden tanks in addition to the now common stainless steel tanks. The wooden tanks are held together by metal straps and if the straps are not covering the entire tank that means the tank is empty. The largest stainless tanks hold 99,398 gallons of wine.
The winery produced 285,000 cases a few years ago. From 1960-1970, they produced 60 million cases.
A large room originally used as the champagne vault is now used as a hospitality center with tables. There are many things we saw and learned on the tour and can highly recommend taking the time to enjoy a tour.
After our tour, Todd led us through a tasting of the many wines Pleasant Valley Wine Company produces. The tour costs $5 and includes a tasting of five wines. You can get a complimentary tasting if you do not want to take a tour. The tastings are done while standing at the tasting bar and are poured from the uncorked bottles.
Some of the wines which were available for tasting were:
- Pleasant Valley Special Reserve sparkling (100% Riesling)
- Pleasant Valley Brut Champagne
- Pleasant Valley Brut Rosé
- Pleasant Valley Sparkling Burgundy
- Brickstone Cellars Extra Dry American sparkling
- Great Western Brut American Champagne
- Brickstone Semi-Dry Riesling
- Gold Seal Mountain Lake Concord
- Gold Seal Mountain Lake Catawba Pink
- Widmer Lake Niagara Harvest Red (blend of Niagara and Concord)
- Caywood Vineyards Trifecta Vidal Blanc Ice Wine
- Chocolate Lab (Labrusca with chocolate flavor)
- Fruit enhanced wines like Peach Chardonnay
- Solera Dry Sherry
- Vanilla Cream (Solera with fresh vanilla flavor)
- Port (from Concord grapes)
This is just a small sampling of the many wines the Pleasant Valley Wine Company produces.
Also in the visitor center is a very large gift shop with items such as clothing, wine accessories, and a lot of glassware. If you are in the area definitely stop by and take a tour of the Pleasant Valley Wine Company.