In the heart of the Finger Lakes, a short drive north from Ithaca, NY, there is a small vineyard and winery that produces fine vinifera wines using time-honored European techniques. Treleaven by King Ferry Winery, on the east side of Cayuga Lake, has been owned and operated by Peter and Tacie Saltonstall since 1984. Here, delicate vinifera grapes are hand-tended and selectively picked to make award-winning wines under the Treleaven label. We believe that by avoiding mass production the finest grapes are produced – the basis of superior wine. Sacrificing quantity for quality in the quest for fruit with intense varietal character has been the guiding philosophy of the winery from the beginning.
Although Peter had grown up in a farming family in King Ferry, winemaking was not on his list of career aspirations. After spending some time with his brother in Napa Valley developing vineyards, he decided the family farm in upstate New York might be suitable for growing high quality vinifera vines. As the New York wine industry began to develop, the Saltonstalls did some basic research and had conversations with local vintners, and made the decision to enter the wine business full time. Peter liked the soil types on the farm, and the proximity to a large lake – two key factors in growing high-quality wine grapes in a cold climate. He studied winemaking, traveled to France, and consulted with Eric Fry (now a winemaker in Long Island) to hone his winemaking skills. The vineyard was planted in 1984, with three grape varieties – Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer. Since then, Tacie has managed the constant flow of paperwork through the office, kept the tasting room up and running since it opened in 1988 (as well as hand-painting the murals that adorn the walls), and spent a great deal of time both in the vineyards and assisting Pete in the winemaking department.
Treleaven began to attract attention for their Chardonnays almost immediately after production began, and accolades accumulated as the years passed. It remains the key variety at King Ferry, followed closely by Riesling. The winery produces about a dozen wines each year, harvesting estate grown fruit from 32 acres of vines.