AWG Correspondent

Julie Grice

Thirsty Owl Wine Company Photos

Thirsty Owl Wine Company Review

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

Reviewed: June 10, 2013 by Julie Grice
Published: July 13, 2013

The drive into Thirsty Owl Wine Company’s parking lot is long and winding, passing by one of the vineyards and ending with a clear view of Cayuga Lake. The outdoor area of this Finger Lakes winery is beautifully landscaped, and the covered open-air seating for the bistro overlooks the vineyards and lake.

The Place:  Inside, the space is inviting and bright, filled with warm wood furniture and trim. There is plenty of space to navigate around other tasters, but it is not so open that the room feels empty or bare. Behind the spacious tasting bar are signs with the medals each wine has won, and the actual medals are displayed on another wall.

In the hallway leading to the bistro, there is a painting of the vineyard layout, indicating which varieties of grapes are grown in which field. The vineyards themselves are labeled as well, so guests can see where each grape is grown.

The Experience:  The tasting room’s environment is expansive and welcoming. Despite the fact that three people were staffing the bar, it did take awhile to be greeted when we took our spots for the tasting. It seemed as though they couldn’t decide who to send over for our group. However, the rest of the service ran smoothly, and the servers were attentive and informative.

Five pours cost $3, and each person receives a coupon for $2 off a wine purchase post-tasting. Rather than having community bowls of oyster crackers, each tasting party is given a small bowl, so less goes to waste.

The Wines:  The servers at Thirsty Owl Wine Company say that the winery specializes in all types of wine, but the tasting didn’t necessarily support this claim. The 2012 Gewurztraminer, for instance, wasn’t as flavorful or tart as Gewurztraminers produced by other Finger Lakes wineries. And the 2010 Pinot Noir, a new release, unfortunately didn’t have much flavor.

However, there were a few standouts. The 2012 Dry Riesling was fruity and tart, and the 2011 Snow Owl was a nice blend of sweet and dry. The 2010 Syrah was arguably the best dry red on the menu, and the 2011 Diamond lived up to its “Welch’s for grown-ups” description.

Extras:  The bistro is in the same building as the tasting room and has salads, burgers, sandwiches and a few other items, making Thirsty Owl a nice place to stop for lunch during a Finger Lakes wine tour.

The gift shop displays less wine paraphernalia than most winery gift shops and focuses instead on wine and local foods. It has the usual salsa, BBQ sauce and other sauces, but also expands its offerings with locally-made garlic butter, pottery and olives. The bird theme is spread throughout the gift shop as well, with stuffed owls and owl note cards for sale.

Insiders’ Tips:  Spend the additional $1 to try the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Ice Wine. It is flavorful and sweet, reminiscent of strawberry jam in liquid form. It's a good follow-up to the rich and syrupy 2008 Vinte poured during the regular tasting.

Address & Contact Information: 6799 Elm Beach Rd. Ovid, New York 14521. Telephone: 607-869-5805, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Mon-Sat 10:00-5:30, Sun 11:00-5:30.

Overall Rating:  

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