Our Damiani Vineyard produces wines that tend to soften the line between feminine sophistication and bold vitality. Anyone who knows Lou Damiani would agree that this characterization of his vineyard perfectly mirrors his energy in life – thoughtful, passionate and strong. This site was hand-planted in two separate instances on Howard Gravelly Loam soils, the lower block in 1997 and the upper block in 2000.
The sweeping western-facing slope of Damiani Vineyard captures brilliant sunlight and warmth throughout the year, creating wines of depth and maturity. Here, Merlot reigns supreme, however, other varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Syrah are not far behind in the spotlight. Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir are among the other varieties planted at this site. Modest-sized varietal plots ranging from ½ to 2 ½ acres, allow attention to be focused on the specific needs of each vine, and therefore care can be given on a vine-by-vine basis. With its rugged terrain and minimalist intervention, this vineyard has grown into the landscape as opposed to growing upon it. While canopy management is strictly followed, the vineyard floor is left uninterrupted, driving the roots of the vines deep into the earth, gathering and expelling valuable nutrients to the grapes.
Structured and harmonious, yet strong and elegant, our Davis Vineyard is a spectacular representation of quality grape-growing in the Finger Lakes. Hand-planted in 1998 close to the eastern shore of Seneca Lake on Howard Gravelly Loam, this 5 ½ acre site is perfectly suited to produce lively, old-world style wines.
Armed with years of experience dating back to his childhood, Phil Davis owns and operates Davis Vineyard. Phil shares a remarkable bond with his vineyard, leaving little space left untouched or unknown to him. Since every vine tells a different story, each is worked by hand and cared for on a vine-by-vine basis. As a firm believer that great winemaking comes from great viticultural practices, Phil continues a thoughtful and constant maintenance program to support the vineyard health. From early leaf-pulling – exposing the grapes to more sunlight, to fruit thinning – removing any weak clusters, allowing the energy to be transferred to more desirable fruit, many precautions are taken to allow for the most optimal fruit quality.
Our rich and compelling Pinot Noir is the centerpiece to Davis Vineyard. Each of the four Dijon clones planted here are cared for separately throughout the vintage and harvested independently. Clone 115 is grown in the lower block, while the other clones 114, 667, and 777 are nurtured in the upper block. Both the Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc utilize the Scott Henry trellis system, lessening disease pressure and canopy density, ensuring ample sunlight and airflow. Other varieties grown at Davis are trellised using VSP, or Vertical Shoot Positioning, including: Merlot, Riesling, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sunrise Hill Vineyard, a picturesque landscape located on the western side of Cayuga Lake, is owned and operated by Bob and Kathy Ruiz. Here, 12 acres of eastern-facing vinifera grapes are grown. The combination of soil, location and climate produce grapes that are packed with bright, fruit-focused flavors with just a hint of mineral and spice.
Dominating the hilltop vineyard site are the red varieties – Pinot Noir, Merlot, Lemberger, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon – all planted in the spring of 2000. Known as the “King of Sunrise Hill,” Lemberger is the champion variety within this particular vineyard as it is able to thrive with very few hurdles every vintage. The infamous Pinot Noir is also a large focus for Bob and Kathy. Three different Pinot Noir Dijon clones are planted at Sunrise Hill – 777, 667 and 115 – each harvested separately and yielding distinct flavors in the wines they produce. The flagship whites of the Finger Lakes region, Riesling and Gewurztraminer, make up about 5 acres of the site, all planted in 2007.
Existing within the unique microclimate of the Finger Lakes is a subclimate known throughout the region as the “Banana Belt.” This 9-mile stretch on the eastern side of Seneca Lake runs north from Burdett through Hector to Valois, and is typically warmer than surrounding areas. These warmer conditions result from the vast depth of the lake, constant airflow from the lake, and the western facing slopes that capture the sun at the hottest times of day – the afternoon and evening. Due to its’ depth, it is extremely rare that Seneca Lake freezes over in the wintertime. The lake retains and gradually expels the warmth of the water gained in the summer months, which aids in inhibiting vine destruction that may result from the harsh winter temperatures.
At Damiani, we celebrate the unique microclimate and dramatic landscape of the Finger Lakes. We cultivate several vineyards nestled along the eastern shores of Seneca Lake where we purposefully limit the amount of fruit per vine to achieve concentrated flavor, and work with other premier growers in the area to source the finest grapes each vintage.
For those vineyards that are our own, we maintain what owner and grape-grower Phil Davis calls “a natural-world based philosophy.” We let the vines speak for themselves, and communicate with us through their growth and maturity each vintage. By leaving the landscape moderately uninterrupted, the vines struggle, searching deeper into the nutrient-rich soils, collecting and releasing the terroir of the Finger Lakes into their grapes, and eventually your glass. Balance is a key component of grape-growing. While on one hand we adhere to minimalist viticultural techniques, we also believe that there are strategies that can be employed to enhance fruit quality. From early leaf-pulling, to fruit thinning, and later harvest dates, the fruit has the ability to thrive throughout the entirety of the vintage, achieving optimal ripeness and flavors.
In order to preserve the natural vegetation in our vineyards we do not use herbicides. Instead, we focus on sustainable agricultural tools. Mulching is employed to achieve an adequate level of weed control as well as maintain a healthy microbial population. Where cultivation is necessary, the area is worked chiefly by hand with the intermittent help of machines. And while tractors are incredible modern marvels, we pride ourselves on the balance between tractor-farming and hand-farming. Even in the midst of the rigorous harvest season, each cluster from every vineyard is hand-harvested, ensuring that only the most desirable fruit is chosen for our wines.
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Damiani is open daily, 10am-5pm
Weekend hours extended in season
Closed Thanksgiving day, Christmas day, New Years day, Easter Sunday
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