The hectic pace of counting up new wineries in New York State can be intoxicating (363 and counting). But, here's a story about a long-term successful operation that was among the pioneers of the state's wine industry.
Lakewood Vineyards, located just north of Watkins Glen, will celebrate its 25th anniversary Thursday. The Stamp family, headed by the late Monty Stamp, founded the operation on the western slope of Seneca Lake, deepest of the Finger Lakes. However, the origins of the Stamp operation go back much farther than 25 years.
In 1951, Dr. Frank Stamp decided to quit dentistry in Maryland and try his hand at farming. He moved the family to Lakewood Farm, then a run-down peach and apple orchard. The next spring they planted their first grapes, originally Labrusca and French-American Hybrid varieties, which were favored by the large wineries and grape juice companies.
In the mid-1980s, the family diversified to add some new hybrid varieties and Vinifera plantings. The commercial grape production continued for 36 years, until 1988 when Monty (Frank’s son), Beverly and their children pressed the grapes for their first vintage. Their first portfolio contained seven varieties. Currently, that number stands at 24 varietals, blended wines, sparkling wines and mead.
The current vineyard manager is Dave Stamp, third son of Beverly and Monty. Dave got into the family business as a toddler. After earning an associate's degree from SUNY Morrisville, he returned to work with Monty, and gradually expanded the acreage and selection as the winery’s need for grapes swelled. Today's Lakewood covers some 80 acres of grapes from 14 varieties, including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir.
Monty Stamp was treasurer of the New York State Wine Grape Growers for decades, as well as being the onetime president of Winegrape Growers of America. Beverly, still very active at the winery, has held leadership positions in the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, Women for New York State Wines, and other industry organizations. Three of their offspring, the aforementioned Dave, winemaker Chris and tasting room manager Teresa work with sisters-in-law Liz and Kay. To further enhance the "family tradition," Chris and Liz's son and daughter Ben and Abby are on the Lakewood staff.
Lakewood Vineyards is located at 4024 State Route 14. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Phone: (607) 535-9252 or toll-free (877) 535-9252.