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A brief history

We are thrilled to announce that Cole and Karen Wilson are the new owners of Knapp Winery & Vineyard Restaurant as of December 8, 2021. Knapp Winery was established in 1984 by Doug and Susan Knapp. They sold the winery in the year 2000 to Gene Pierce and Scott Welliver. Pierce and Welliver recently sold the winery and 100-acre estate to the Wilson’s. Knapp has a long tradition of producing premium and popular wines and the Wilsons themselves had been visiting Knapp for years. The Wilsons plan to build on the foundation that was established by the Knapps and later Pierce. Cole and his wife Karen first moved to Rochester in 1991, where they raised their two sons, Zach and Curtis. They also have lived in Denver, Colorado and New York City and have had a home in the Finger Lakes (Ovid) since 2003. Karen Wilson is a pediatrician with UR Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester. She has a long-standing interest in wine and food and is excited to be involved where she is able.

Cole has been a long-time aficionado of New York wine, in particularly Finger Lakes wine. In between his professional life in finance and banking for Chase, Manhattan Bank, and hedge funds, he and Karen hosted many events and introduced people to different wineries and winemakers in the Finger Lakes region. Through the years Cole befriended many people in the Finger Lakes wine industry and is considered by many as a champion of Finger Lakes wine. His enthusiasm for wine is matched by his generosity. He has immersed himself in various jobs of the winemaking process through the years and volunteering for many. Most recently Cole was the Operations Manager for Damiani Wine Cellars. If you are willing to talk about any aspect of Finger Lakes wine, he is eager to engage and share his love for the region. He hopes to produce more vinifera wines while continuing to deliver the fresh and characteristically unique wines that Knapp has made popular. He has a vision for Knapp and is keen to begin his journey as owner. Wilson said, “I am looking forward to working with our Knapp crew to solidify plans to make Knapp Winery one of the best wineries in the Finger Lakes”.

Located close to Seneca Falls and easily accessible from the New York State Thru-Way, Knapp Winery has been a popular winery from its inception. The Knapps had planted some of the first vinifera grapes along the shores of Cayuga Lake. Knapp was the first winery in the Finger Lakes Appellation to plant and vinify the grape variety Cabernet Franc. Recognizing the importance of wine with food, Knapp opened the Vineyard Restaurant in 1992, becoming the first winery restaurant on Cayuga Lake. The winery also had all of the production equipment and resources to continue to produce the premium wine it was known for, including an alembic pot for crafting cordials and aperitifs.

Knapp offers tastings Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and on Sunday from 11 am to 5pm. Knapp Winery's dedicated staff offers premium reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Lemberger, Cabernet Franc, Unoaked Cabernet Franc alongside signature Rieslings, both dry and off dry as well as two styles of Chardonnay. Knapp serves four popular fruit wines and three native wines in addition to selling port, brandy, cucumber vodka and gin.

Knapp’s Vineyard restaurant is open seasonally from May through October. Knapp Vineyard Restaurant serves perfectly paired lunches using local food ingredients from area farms for a total Finger Lakes wine country experience.
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2770 Ernsberger Rd
United States


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