Keuka Lake Wine Trail Harvest Celebration, Part 1: McGregor Vineyard


A few months ago at the Rosé Soirée, I was chatting with the owner of McGregor Vineyard, and he suggested I come to a Keuka Lake Wine Trail event. He took down my information, and the next thing I know, I was put in contact with the Marketing Director of the Keuka Lakes Wine Trail! So in full disclosure, these tickets were given to me, however, I promise to give an honest opinion of my experience.

We opted to start at McGregor Vineyard. It had been a many years since I attended a Wine Trail event of any kind, so I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the experience was once we arrived! When we arrived we were given our tasting glasses, and a delicious Fall themed food pairing. The pairing included a squash and creme fraiche soup, cheese with a pesto sauce specially made for McGregor, and a pumpkin crisp. From there we went to the tasting room with our glasses and pairing plates, and we were able to select four different wines for tasting.

A quick Pro tip- Sundays tend to be a bit slower for these Wine Trail events, so if you are interested in chatting more about the wines, Sunday is a great day to do that!

McGregor Vineyard is most well known for their amazing reds, so I opted to start with a dry rosé and then go directly to the reds. The 2018 Pinot Noir Rose was everything I could have hoped for. The wine had aromas of fresh strawberries and crisp citrus, including line zest. The wine was well balanced with crisp acidity and fruitiness. Even though it is fall, I still can’t get enough of the Finger Lakes dry rosés!

The next wine I selected was the 2013 Pinot Noir. They were pouring three different Pinot Noirs at the winery, so if you really wanted to do a side-by-side vertical tasting, this would be a great place to do that! Pinot Noir tends to be one of the trickiest grapes to grow in this area, so you often see big differences in the vintages depending on the weather for that year. When I swirled my glass, the aromas of black cherries, spice and herbs jumped out of the glass. As the wine spent time in French oak, there was a spiciness that hit the front of my palette, but was balanced by a fruity finish that lingered. This was a fantastic Pinot. Had this been my only stop for the day, I would have loved to try the vertical series!

The next wine we tried was McGregor’s 2017 Saperavi. For anybody who has read my blog, you know how much I love a unique varietal here in the Finger Lakes! Saperavi is so unique, that McGregor is one of only six producers of Saperavi in the state. It is an Eastern European varietal from Georgia (the country, not the state!), and can be quickly identified by the deep purple/magenta hue. Robert Parker gave this wine 90 points, so I was excited to see what it was all about! There was toasted caramel, black currants, peppermint and spice on the nose. In tasting the wine, I noticed that it was quite viscous, and had a great blend of fruit and acidity. If I could describe the Saperavi in one word, it would be Black Currants. The wine smells and tastes of black currants, and was quite enjoyable. My husband who loves reds like Lemberger and Cabernet Franc, really loved this wine. I also found the wine to be very unique and enjoyable.

Onto yet another unique wine; the McGregor Highlands Red. Included in this affordable everyday red are the varieties: Saperavi, Sereksiya Charni, Léon Millot and Cabernet Franc. Saperavi and Sereksiya Charni are both Georgian varietals (McGregor is the ONLY producer in the state making wines with Sereksiya Charni), and to be honest, I had to perform an internet search on the Léon Millot varietal as I had never heard of it before. The Léon Millot is a hybrid varietal, and similar to the Saperavi, is known for its dark hue. Léon Millot is well suited to be grown in cool climates as it is disease resistant and ripens early. The aromatics of the wine reminded me of a Malbec, it is very fruit forward and had notes of chocolate, coffee and spice. The wine did not disappoint on taste as it was very fruity, but had a beautiful velvet mouthfeel that balanced the wine. What a fun wine for an everyday drinking red ($12 at the Tasting Room)!

Last, but certainly not least was the McGregor 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon. Friends. Get excited about the 2016 vintage in the Finger Lakes. I know I’ve talked about it before, but the vintage is cemented in my mind as it was the summer that I had my first child, Finley. In between sweating profusely and trying to calm down a newborn in the sweltering heat, I kept saying to myself as a mantra, “just wait until this vintage is released in the Finger Lakes!” It was SO hot and dry that summer. This 2016 did not disappoint. The aromatics of the wine were spectacular with scents of black raspberries, thyme, coriander, chocolate and even pencil shavings (I laughed out loud at the pencil shavings descriptor in the tasting notes for the wine, but I swear to you the scent is there!). The ABV (alcohol by volume) was fairly high for the area at 13.7%, which is to be expected with the 2016 vintage. This wine is the perfect expression of a Finger Lakes Red in a warm vintage. It is big bodied and had great fruit characteristics. In fact, I believe this wine would age very well.

Two wines that I was very sad to miss out on were the Black Russian Red and the Rob Roy Red, both of which were sold out at the time of our visit. The next releases for these wines are the 2016 vintage, and I can not be more excited to try them when they come out Spring 2020 and late Fall 2019, respectively. The Black Russian red is a blend of Saperavi and Sereksiya Charni. The Rob Roy Red is a Bordeaux style blend .

A fun story for you on the Black Russian Red. My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I went to McGregor as friends back in 2008, and bought a bottle of the Black Russian Red together and promised to drink it together five years later no matter where we were. Well, we stayed together and we enjoyed that bottle of Black Russian Red together as a married couple five years later! Unfortunately, it was not the same vintage as Brennan’s mom accidentally drank the original bottle of Black Russian Red as we were storing it in her basement (I forgive you, Diana!), but it was just as amazing as we both remembered it!

I cannot say enough about our experience at McGregor vineyards. Although it seems like a “hole in the wall” type of place from the outside, the tasting room inside is welcoming and filled with tasting room attendants who are super knowledgeable and friendly (shout out to Holly, our server for the day!). Also, the scenery is beautiful. If you have time, grab a glass of wine and drink it on their patio overlooking Keuka Lake. If you are a fanatic for red wine, you MUST visit McGregor. Their reds are spectacular and combined with the fact that they have varietals not seen elsewhere, it is well worth the trip!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Keuka Lake Harvest Celebration, where I will chat about my experience tasting at Keuka Springs Vineyard! Have you been to a Wine Trail event before? What were your thoughts?


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