Seneca Lake Wine Trail Presents

Three Things: J.R. Dill Winery

To help you better get to know the wineries of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, we wanted to dive a little deeper than the obvious: that they all make really great wine (tell us something we don’t know, right?).

So we’re unveiling a new series here on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail blog called “Three Things” in which we’ll take you on a journey behind the wine and share some interesting tidbits and hopefully share something new with you about each of our member wineries.

Let’s dive right in, with a visit to J.R. Dill Winery!

1) Memorabilia & History

J.R. Dill Winer on Seneca Lake has historic photos of Watkins Glen and Schuyler County adorning their tasting room

J.R. Dill Winery sits back off Route 414. It is one of the first wineries you come to as you venture up the east side of Seneca Lake.

Owner and winemaker Jeff Dill is graduate of Watkins Glen High School and feels a strong tie to his roots. You can sense this as soon as you walk through their doors.

The tasting room is warm, welcoming, and full of history. The walls are adorned with historic photos from days gone by of Watkins Glen and Schuyler County in general.

Spend a few moments looking up and you’ll get to know a bit about the rich history of the village of Watkins Glen and the surrounding area.

When you walk in to the J.R. Dill tasting room, your eyes are probably taken to the gorgeous windows (and we can’t blame you!) but if you look to the right you will find a truly historic piece of woodwork: a bar that is over 100 years old. This gorgeous piece came out of The Shoemaker building (located on the corner of 4th Street and North Franklin Street) in downtown Watkins Glen (where Cabins to Castles currently is). 

The original store was mainly in business as The Olympian, with a soda fountain, candies, and chocolates.

When The Olympian closed, the bar was sold at auction and spent 40+ years in two downtown businesses, before Jeff Dill (owner and winemaker at J.R. Dill Winery), purchased it.

It has been lovingly refurbished and makes a statement in his tasting room.

2) The Lake Glass Bar

Their tasting bar is another unique touch. Under a clear glass top, you’ll see an enormous collection of Seneca Lake glass. Jeff’s mom (who is also responsible for the winery’s impeccable landscaping) gathered the glass over several decades from the shores of Seneca Lake.

Over time, the glass is tossed in the water and smoothed by the stones and water. It’s beautiful, colorful, and the only lake glass bar that we know of!

3) The Giant Corkscrew

Not to be outdone by what’s inside… a few years ago Jeff installed a gigantic corkscrew as part of his landscaping and it is a truly memorable photo op!

Be sure to snag a picture to remember your visit.

These are just three of the many things that make a visit to J.R. Dill Winery unique. We would also add to the list: their focus on only sourcing the most local grapes they can find (pretty much everything is grown within 7 miles of their location); their focus on dry reds including Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and other stand outs; and their famous Bubbles and Breakfast events, which happen seasonally and are a hot ticket experience!

Jeff Dill is also very much hands-on. He works the harvest, makes the wine, runs the tasting room… he does it all.

It is far more than just his name on the building. His hard work and belief in the uniqueness of Seneca Lake wines is evident everywhere you look at J.R. Dill Winery.

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