In the world of spirits, when one refers to an oak barrel it usually means American white oak or French Limousin oak. At Lakewood Vineyards on Seneca Lake, winemaker Chris Stamp is sticking to his own backyard.
Stamp (right) has begun aging his Chardonnay in 59-gallon barrels, built by coopers in Pennsylvania from New York State oak.
“It has produced an extremely nice Chardonnay,” Stamp told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. “We’ve had a consistent run of gold medals.”
As the newspaper reported, "Stamp’s original intent was to better capture the regional terroir by using locally sourced wood for his barrels. 'Where’s the sense of place if you’re using French oak barrels?' he says. After floating the idea in 2002, Stamp patiently waited -- three years -- for the barrels to be cured and seasoned before phasing them in. Lakewood ... now relies on this backyard bonanza for half of its Chardonnay vintage.. ... Stamp notes a more 'delicate' character imparted by our climate’s tighter-grain oaks'."
Dr. Frank Stamp founded the vineyard in 1951, leaving his dentistry practice in Maryland to do so. He bought Lakewood Farm, a rundown peach and apple orchard, and the next spring began planting grapes. The family grew commercial grapes only until 1988 when Monty Stamp (Frank's son), his wife, Beverly, and their children pressed the grapes for their first wine vintage.
Chris Stamp was raised on Lakewood Farm and went on to study food science and chemistry with the goal of becoming a winemaker. He graduated in 1983 and went on to work for Plane's Cayuga Vineyards, a pioneer winery on Cayuga Lake, then worked as a research and extension associate for the wine industry in Ohio. When Lakewood Vineyards winery opened, he returned to the family farm and has been winemaker for each of its vintages.
Lakewood Vineyards is located at 4024 State Road 14, Watkins Glen. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Phone: (607) 535-9252.
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