AWG Correspondent

Julie Grice

Penguin Bay Winery & Champagne House Photos

Penguin Bay Winery & Champagne House Review

Regions: Finger Lakes AVA, Seneca Lake AVA, New York

Reviewed: April 11, 2013 by Julie Grice
Published: April 16, 2013

Penguin Bay Winery, opened in 2005, is fairly new to the Finger Lakes wine scene, but their wines have already been awarded numerous gold medals around the country.

The Place   Located on the southeastern edge of Seneca Lake, Penguin Bay is housed in an unassuming cream and turquoise building off Route 414. The interior is spacious, and there are two tasting rooms to better accommodate large tour groups.

Penguin Bay is associated with two sister wineries: Swedish Hill Winery and Goose Watch Winery. Between the three of them, they grow eighty-two acres of grapevines, which amounts to approximately twenty percent of the grapes they use for the wine. The rest of the grapes are sourced locally. The large deck and picnic area on the back of Penguin Bay’s building overlook Seneca Lake and some of the vineyards.

The Experience   Upon our arrival at the tasting room, we were handed a long tasting menu and told to select six wines we’d like to taste for a $2 fee. The server was enthusiastic and friendly and seemed excited to share her favorite wines with us. As she poured, she told us about the flavor of the wine, how it was made, and the awards it had won. Most of the wines on the tasting menu carry Penguin Bay’s own label, but a few, like the Spumante Blush, are from Swedish Hill.

The Wines  Penguin Bay is known for its sparkling wines, and its tasting menu reflects why. They offer eleven sparkling or white wines for tasting, along with six reds. Of the sparkling wines, the Prosecco-like Blanc de Blanc was especially intriguing with its green apple flavor. And while the Riesling market in the Finger Lakes region is competitive, Penguin Bay’s Riesling is especially clean and crisp.

Penguin Bay’s success seems to stem from their ability to take a standard wine varietal and make it a little differently - usually more dry - than expected. For instance, Penguin Bay's Niagara, dubbed Tuxedo White, is a little less sweet than most Niagaras in the region. The Moscato is also dryer and more complex than Italian Moscato wines, making it a unique and special choice on Penguin Bay’s menu.

Extras  In keeping with the wineries namesake, a portion of Penguin Bay’s proceeds go to the penguin exhibit at Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York. Specifically, the money helps take care of the zoo’s endangered Humboldt penguins.

Insider Tip:  If you are new to dry red wines, try the Humboldt Red, which Penguin Bay considers their “dry red with training wheels.” It has a splash of Cayuga White wine to make it a little less heavy and is made in steel barrels instead of oak, making it a good way to “ease into” the world of dry reds.

Address & Contact Information: 4565 State Route 414 Hector, New York 14841. Telephone: 607-546-5115, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Jan-Mar: Fri-Sun 10:00-5:30; Apr-Dec: Fri-Sun 10:00-5:30.

Overall Rating:  

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