Stories of Seneca with Tom Prejean

  1. Why did you choose Seneca Lake? Or if it was already “chosen” – why did you stay?
Tom Prejean
Tom’s self-described “Patron Saint”

“My parents purchased the property in 1978 and planted grapes the very next year. We were living in Connecticut at the time, but my dad came here on business a lot prior to that. He served in WWII, ending up in California where he went college and began his business career.  It was there in California in the early years of the Napa and Sonoma wine industry where he fell in love with the idea of owning a winery.

When NY passed the Farm Winery Act, that jump started my dad’s dream and he and my mom made it happen. I started working at the winery right from the beginning, in 1979. When my dad passed away in 1989, I took over. I was between jobs and careers, so it just made sense for me to stay and help. I came back to help my mom not knowing I wanted to stay in it, but here I am… 40 years later, still at it.

My parents had a vision that the wine industry would develop around Seneca and they couldn’t have been more right.”

  1. What makes Seneca Lake special to you?

“The tie to family on this property is real. In addition, this part of New York is a gorgeous place. It’s easy to take it for granted but there truly is beauty in every day here. It’s also a challenging but rewarding place to grow grapes. I guess you could say it’s the whole package that makes it special.”

  1. What is your favorite thing about Seneca Lake?

“It’s hard to pick just one! First, I’d say it’s not cutthroat here like it is in a lot of wine regions around the world – and that’s really great. We truly do cooperate and collaborate as much as possible here on Seneca Lake. It’s not that way in every industry.

There’s also nature. Every year right around this time, snow geese come here and land on the lake. It’s easy to mistake them for big pieces of ice, because that’s what it looks like from a distance, it’s pretty neat to see. There is such an array of wildlife – eagles, coyotes, osprey.

And I can’t forget, our towns. I live in Geneva, and it’s really experiencing a resurgence, with new restaurants, culture, and music popping up. It’s also nice to be relatively close to Rochester, so even though we’re pretty rural here along Seneca, you can get to a city easily if you’re craving that experience.”

  1. If you had to recommend one thing for a visitor to do while visiting (other than drink wine, of course) – what would it be?

“See some music at The Smith Opera House. They have some of the best acoustics in the world. I’ve seen so many shows there I’ve lost count but blue grass is my favorite. We’re really lucky to have a performance space of that caliber right here in our backyard.”

  1. Anything else we should know?

“Wine shows you a lot about who we are as people. It’s amazing that we humans can sense certain things in parts per trillion. Wine is an incredible combination of art, evolution, and the human experience.”

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