Five Things with Jeff Dill, the owner of JR Dill Winery
Why did you choose to open a winery on Seneca Lake?
JD: I grew up here. It’s home for me. So, Seneca Lake chose me, you could say. It’s well-known that Seneca Lake is also one of the best places to grow grapes and make wine in the Finger Lakes, so I was lucky in that respect. I got my start making wine as a hobby. Having grown up at the time when the wine industry really exploded on Seneca Lake, I started making wine right out of high school on my own. I pretty much always knew I wanted to own my own business, I would consider myself pretty entrepreneurial. I knew I wanted to stay here and knew that the wine industry was the place to be.
What makes Seneca Lake special to you?
JD: Seneca Lake is a part of my personal history. My family, my friends, it’s all centered around Seneca Lake and this community. Beyond the personal ties, it’s a gorgeous place to live and work. The views, the sunsets, it’s just an amazing place to be.
What is your favorite thing about Seneca Lake?
JD: The recreational aspect for sure. I love boating, fishing, swimming, anything to do with the water. Even beyond the sport and recreation, the overall beauty and scenic qualities of Seneca Lake are second to none. Every chance we get, when the weather is good, we’re down at the lake.
If you had to recommend one thing for a visitor to do while visiting (other than drink wine, of course) – what would it be?
JD: You must do the Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park! I’ve been on a lot of hikes, in places all over the world, and the Gorge Trail can hang with any of them in terms of its incredible natural beauty. People might think of Hawaii when it comes to incredible waterfall settings, but in my opinion, Watkins Glen State Park is just as good as Hawaii. Just don’t tell them I said that.
Anything else we should know about you or JR Dill Winery?
JD: One of the more unique aspects of our tasting room is our bar top, which is made from Seneca Lake glass. As kids, my sister and I always collected lake glass, and my mom, too. Over the years, it was all just stored in shoe boxes in my parent’s basement. I bet we collected over 100 pounds over the years. When we built the winery and were trying to think of a fun idea for the bar top, the lightbulb came on as we remembered those shoe boxes of lake glass, collecting dust… and the rest, as they say, is history.
Learn more about JR Dill Winery here.