McGregor Vineyard Cover Image

McGregor VineyardVerified Organization

A brief history

The McGregor family established their vinifera vineyard in 1971, making it one of the first vineyards in New York State devoted to vitis vinifera, a species of grape native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia. In 1980, the McGregors founded their winery and produced the first vintage of McGregor Vineyard wine. Ever since, they have produced estate grown vinifera wines that are known for their high quality and cellar aging potential.

Bob and Marge McGregor didn’t know the journey they were in for when they began searching for suitable vineyard land around Keuka Lake in the late 1960s. However, they were certain it would change their lives and their children’s lives forever, and hopefully, for the better. A series of serendipitous moments led Bob to meet David Stewart (and wife Elizabeth), who was interested in helping make Bob’s dream a reality. In 1971, they purchased about 70 acres of land on the east side of Keuka Lake. Not only did this land seem to be well suited for planting grapes, but it offered one of the most spectacular lake views known in the Finger Lakes.

At the time, Bob, Marge, three daughters and a newborn son, lived outside of Rochester, New York. Bob was a physicist working for Kodak and Marge a homemaker. They were very socially active in many groups around Rochester. Perhaps, most relevant, Bob was an avid home winemaker. In 1973, the McGregors invited other local home winemakers to their home and the group decided to form a Rochester chapter of the newly created American Wine Society. This chapter eventually became one of the largest in the United States!

In the early 1970s, it was a very unconventional idea to start a vineyard in the Finger Lakes with the goal of growing vitis vinifera grapes. These grapes were first successfully planted in the Finger Lakes in the mid-1950s and few farmers thought this a wise investment. Additional plantings of these grapes were few and far between. In the spring of 1972, the McGregors were determined to devote their vineyard land to growing these grapes. First plantings included Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay and soon after, Gewürztraminer. This was the age of vinifera experimentation. What root stocks are most compatible? What is the best approach to pruning? What kinds of spray program works most effectively? How do we get the vines to survive our winters? How do we manage yields to get proper ripening?

Bob continued to search for red varieties that could withstand the often-brutal winter climate of the Finger Lakes, that were disease resistant, and were able to consistently produce quality wines. In 1978, Dr. John McGrew of USDA in Beltsville, Maryland gave Bob scion wood of numerous grape varieties originally imported from Leningrad in the late 1950s and 1960s. Saperavi was one of these grapes and McGregor Vineyard began planting these vines in the spring of 1980.

Saperavi is an ancient wine making grape (vitis vinifera) that is primarily grown and produced in the Republic of Georgia. Georgians make a variety of Saperavi styles, ranging from dry to sweet, unoaked to oaked.

There are only a few vineyards growing Saperavi in the United States, and until recently McGregor Vineyard was the only winery among them to produce Saperavi into a commercially sold wine. McGregor Vineyard has phenomenal success with this wine, and now a handful of other Finger Lakes wineries are producing their own styles of Saperavi. Today, McGregor Vineyard’s Saperavi wine is a benchmark red wine of New York State, earning its status as the must-try, cult favorite wine of the Finger Lakes region. Recent vintages have expressed themselves as approachable in their youth, while improving with age over 8 or 10 to even 20+ years. We hope you agree that this intriguing wine is worthy of the attention it continues to garner across the globe.  

Bob’s endeavors were quite successful and in 1980, he and Marge decided it was time to open a winery. This first vintage was spectacular and its quality surprised many in the industry. “This is Pinot Noir, from New York?!” Even the esteemed Leon D. Adams, author of The Wines of America, proclaimed that McGregor Vineyard produced some of the finest wines in the Finger Lakes. As the decades have passed on from this first vintage, McGregor Vineyard remains committed to producing vinifera wines only from the grapes they grow. Everything is done by hand and vineyard yields are kept very low, between 1-2 ½ tons per acre. Quality continues to be the muse, just as it was on the first day of planting back in the spring of 1972.

Since its inception, McGregor Vineyard has followed the European philosophy of winemaking. Each year's production is a reflection of the, "voice of the grapes", the skill of the vineyard manager and the art of the winemaker. The McGregors offer a unique wine tasting experience. At the winery you will be seated in a relaxing, rustic atmosphere- no standing, no waiting in line. You will receive an assortment of food samples to enhance your tasting of any of the fine wines we produce! The folks at McGregor Vineyard try to make your tasting experience relaxed, enjoyable and memorable. The winery is located on the east side of Keuka Lake and is home to one of the most beautiful views of the lake imaginable.

McGregor Vineyard Wines