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By Lacey Gardner

Exploring the Finger Lakes Wine Country: A Tasting Adventure at Pleasant Valley Wine Company


“Life in the Finger Lakes” visits the famous, first FLX winery

By Jim Moore, Chief Finger Lakes Enthusiast,

As wine enthusiasts, Kathy and I embarked on a recent journey to the picturesque Finger Lakes Wine Country, a region renowned for its vineyards and charming wineries. Our destination of choice was Keuka Lake, nestled like a sparkling gem among the rolling hills of upstate New York.

Our first stop  was at the historic Pleasant Valley Wine Company. Established on March 15, 1860, it holds the distinction of being the first winery in the Finger Lakes region. Founded by Charles Davenport Champlin and a group of 12 local businessmen, this winery has stood the test of time.

Tucked down beside a rural road which was adorned with the colorful leaves of autumn in Western NY,  the winery exudes an air of old-world charm. It’s as if time has stood still there, preserving the essence of the winemaking traditions that have evolved over the decades.

Upon our arrival, we were warmly greeted by CJ, our knowledgeable and friendly wine server. He guided us through a delightful tasting experience that showcased the winery’s rich heritage and impressive selection.

Image credit: John Kucko

Kathy, my partner in the tasting adventure, couldn’t resist the allure of sparkling white wines. CJ artfully poured and introduced Kathy to a range of effervescent delights. 

I, on the other hand, opted for the enticing ports that Pleasant Valley had to offer. The velvety richness and complexity of these wines were a testament to the dedication of the winemakers and their commitment to crafting exceptional vintages.

Throughout our tasting, CJ shared interesting stories about Pleasant Valley’s history. We learned that originally all winemaking operations were once carried out by Jules and Joseph Masson, celebrated French-born winemakers. 

A particularly intriguing tidbit from Pleasant Valley’s history is that the record-breaking flight made by Glenn Curtiss on July 4, 1908. This aviation pioneer executed the first pre-announced airplane flight on the Pleasant Valley flats, right below the winery’s entrance. 

Our stop at Pleasant Valley Wine Company was a splendid journey through time and taste. We left not only with a bottle of a new wine to enjoy but also cherished memories of sipping exquisite wines in the wonderfully old and ornate Pleasant Valley tasting room. For any wine lover, or wine history buff, a visit to Pleasant Valley is an essential stop on the Finger Lakes Wine Country trail.

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