Barnstormer Winery in the Finger Lakes, A Passion for Wine

Barnstormer Winery is the result of a dream, the dream Scott had to create a winery with high quality, even if the production was on a smaller scale.

I’ve always liked people who go after their dreams and; little by little find the way to make them a reality and part of their lives. One of these stories is that of Scott Bronstein, a young man who left for Napa Valley to learn about the world of wines and learn new techniques. With all that he had learned in this area of California, one of the best known wine regions in the world, Scott returned to his native New York and wound up in the Finger Lakes, where he opened Barnstormer Winery, a small vineyard focused on local products and high quality. With these two premises, Scott’s adventure began.

Barnstormer Winery in the Finger Lakes
Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boquerón Viajero

When we decided to visit the Finger Lakes and the region of Seneca Lake, we looked for wineries that had something different. When we found Barnstormer Winery and contacted Scott, even though his winery is well known, he answered us with the same enthusiasm as someone who is just starting out. This made us want to visit even more! I wanted to catch some of that enthusiasm, try the wines and talk to him about winemaking and the process at the vineyard.

Tasting at Barnstormer Winery
Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boquerón Viajero

The vineyard is located on an old farm from 1800 (it is one of the oldest farms on the Finger Lakes). The barn has been perfectly renovated to preserve the historical identity of the building, and the place fit right into the natural environment of Seneca Lake. Although the barn had already been used as a winery in the 70s; they didn’t reach the quality that they wanted from the Finger Lakes wine region. So Scott decided to try again, giving new life to this historical barn with a full renovation.

Trying some wine from the barrel at Barnstormer Winery
Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boquerón Viajero

As soon as we set foot in the door, they welcomed us with open arms, and it was clear from the start that they liked to show off their work and share it with others. Scott had visited Spain and tried the wines in areas like La Rioja, so we connected quickly thanks to our recent trip to that area. Even though we were itching to visit the interior of the barn, we had to wait; because he wanted us to start with a wine tasting, and who were we to refuse? Haha!

Mulled wine at Barnstormer Winery
Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boquerón Viajero

The tasting was focused on having the full experience. We started with the dry and semi-dry riesling (the semi-dry is one of the vineyard’s signature wines), and you could taste the quality of the fruit in both. After these two wines we moved on to the reds, which allowed us to try another signature wine, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Pinot Noir. The signature wine was, without a doubt, one of my favorites, achieving a balance in glass and in mouth.

Abby and Scott stirring the wine at Barnstormer Winery
Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boquerón Viajero

We should point out that the main grapes grown in the Finger Lakes are the Riesling and the Cabernet Franc, although Scott works with vineyards in the area to have the best variety of grapes. One of the wines that he is most proud of, was the Riesling Ice Wine; and it was the next wine we tried. Due to the temperature that the grapes need, not all regions are able to produce this wine. The key is that the grapes are pressed when they are frozen, which means they stay on the vine longer and have a higher concentration of sugar, giving the wine its characteristic flavor. This wine was made famous in Germany. To finish off our tasting, we tried a mulled wine with cinnamon and apple flavors. (It was delicious and perfect for a fall day!)

Trying a rosé from the barrel at Barnstormer Winery
Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boquerón Viajero

Once we finished the tasting we were already impressed with the quality of wines we had tried and we wanted to know more about how the business worked. What was the process of making the wines that we tried? If there is anything that Scott is proud of, it is that his business is small and local in every possible aspect. That’s why we didn’t see big extensions or a huge production line. It was completely the opposite, the farm (with an ecological garden in the backyard), had smaller barrels and took lots of care in the production of the wine.

Interior of tasting room at Barnstormer Winery
Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boquerón Viajero

While the winery is small and local, the people working there are fantastic and their passion is big! One of them is Kyle, who arranged our tasting and spoke with us before we arrived. And, although they produce a limited quantity of wine, they like to take care with every detail of the winemaking process (we can attest to this, as we watched them stir the fermenting wine with the excitement of a small child.) The bottles are limited, so when a wine is finished, there just isn’t any more until the next harvest. The idea is to keep it special where there are only so many of each wine.

Vegetable garden at Barnstormer Winery
Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boquerón Viajero

In addition to the wine tastings, Barnstormer Winery also organizes activities related to wine tourism. You can even bring your own picnic lunch! After we finished the tasting and tried several different wines in various phases of the fermentation process (We even tried a tomato from his garden!) it was time to say goodbye to Scott. We spent a lovely afternoon chatting with someone who treated us as if he’d known us for his whole life. We thank them for opening their doors to this small and exciting winery. If you are in the Seneca Lake area, you can’t miss Barnstormer Winery. You’ll love it from the moment you step inside! We “ruskommend” Barnstormer Winery with 4 boquerones.

Exploring after wine tasting at Barnstormer Winery
Photo (by-nc-nd) by El Boquerón Viajero
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Pedro Ramirez
I was born and raised in Málaga, Spain. After living in Madrid, Barcelona and New York, I've returned home to enjoy the sun! I love to share the places I discover and write about them.
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