5 Questions with Luanne Mansfield, co-owner of Three Brothers Wineries & Estates
Why did you choose to open a winery on Seneca Lake?
LM: I’m originally from the Chicago area and moved to upstate New York my senior year of high school. Upon arrival, my parents and I started exploring the region. We did a lot of wine tasting (the drinking age was 18!) and I just fell in love with the region. There were only a few wineries back then, but it was awesome. During my dating years with Dave, [Mansfield, co-owner of Three Brothers and husband to Luanne] we enjoyed touring and wine tasting with friends, always seeming to come back to Seneca Lake. Three Brothers was Dave’s brainchild, something we could do together, perhaps even with our kids. It was important for us to marry our personal goals with our business goals, so we did a lot of market research and Seneca Lake kept popping up. We purchased the property in 2006 and opened in 2007. Erica and Justin Paolicelli came on board almost from the beginning. Their input and knowledge as natives of the area, and now Co-Owners, has been of tremendous value.
What makes Seneca Lake special to you?
LM: For me, it’s definitely the people, both in the industry and our visitors. But, to add to that, the soil around Seneca Lake is very unique from vineyard to vineyard. It’s unusual for a wine region to have this much diversity in soil. That makes it, and its wines, very special. The majesty of Seneca Lake is also special, from its breadth to its depths. You don’t come across this type of scenic, natural beauty just anywhere.
In terms of the people in the industry, there is talent, dedication, tacit knowledge, and all of the things that are integral to success. You’ll find those things in abundance here on Seneca. But in addition, there is so much shared passion for sustainability. You might say we go to extreme lengths to be more sustainable here at the Three Brothers. Right when we started construction, we put in 2 geothermal systems. We have a pond that we utilize for that. One of our entire buildings (the Bagg Dare tasting room and retail space) is composed entirely of reclaimed wood from a barn that was taken down elsewhere.
We also have our own wastewater treatment system. So, we actually run wastewater through our own treatment system before sending it out to “the mound” [septic] to ensure we’re protecting the surrounding area and reducing our environmental impact.
Then, there’s the way we plant and tend to the vines, which we do in a very purposeful way so that we use the very least amount of spray as possible. We take advantage of the breezes that come off the lake. We till as little as possible and use ground cover to reduce soil erosion. We have all energy-efficient lighting on our entire property.
Environmental protection is important to us. I guess you could say I’ve always been a tree-hugger and pretty conscious of what’s happening in the world. Our region is fairly untouched compared to what’s happening in the oceans, but we need to be consistently as protective as possible. We have to be our own watchdogs.
What is your favorite thing about Seneca Lake?
LM: For me, the coolest thing is that I can go to a meeting on the west side of the lake and take in the beautiful sights along the way (sometimes, including the sunrise!), then I can come back to the east side of the lake, work all day, and see these gorgeous sunsets. I really love that.
If you had to recommend one thing for a visitor to do while visiting (other than drink wine, of course) – what would it be?
LM: I would say to get out on the water. Don’t just drive around the lake- take a boat ride, rent a kayak or SUP, just do something to get out on the lake. The shoreline is so unique on Seneca Lake. You can miss it if you’re in a car.
You should also try to visit wineries during the week. There is something fun about the crowds and the busy-ness of the weekends, too, but during the week, you’ll really have time to spend with the tasting staff to learn and ask questions. Many wineries offer weekday events or specials, too. It’s a great experience.
Anything else we should know?
LM: Something that we don’t talk about enough is how lucky we are to have such passionate employees in our region. Not just our full-time employees, but all of the part-timers, too. These include school teachers and students who are working really hard the rest of the year, yet still give up their summers to come work with us. Pick their brains! They have a deep passion for the industry and the region, and that really helps us spread the Seneca Lake love!
Photo (L-R): Three Brothers Ownership Team Dave Mansfield, Luanne Mansfield, Erica Paolicelli, Justin Paolicelli