A Winery to Remember

Most of the wine servers I’ve met in the past were pish posh boring boring this is how this wine is fermented let me serve you without a smile on my face or excitement in my voice and then ignore you once you’ve maxed your 5 tastings. Bully Hill was the complete opposite. 

Delicious wine, happy people and laughter from the second you step into the winery to the time you leave (which in my case, was 5 hours later).  I cannot speak highly enough of Bully Hill Winery, which is located in Upstate New York on Keuka Lake.  One of my best friends and I discovered Bully Hill Wine back in Undergrad.  Being mostly beer and vodka drinkers at this point in our lives and novice wine connoisseurs, we decided to pick a bottle based on it’s unique label and Bully Hill seemed to be the most entertaining.

We had no idea what the labels stood for but after one sip, we were hooked.  I was devastated when I moved to Boston, MA and discover that Bully Hill was not sold in any liquor stores in that area of the country (at least none that I could find)! Two years ago while home for Christmas, my family and I decided to make the two-hour trek to the Vineyard so I could stock up before I went back to Boston.  My family and I had gone Wine Tasting before, in fact, we typically go three-four times a year.  We had our favorite Vineyards that we always went to, but it was because of the wine they sold, never the people working there. Most of the wine servers I’ve met in the past were pish posh boring boring this is how this wine was fermented let me serve you without a smile on my face or excitement in my voice and then ignore you once you’ve maxed your 5 tastings. Bully Hill was the complete opposite. 

We decided to go the day after Christmas since I had to return to the Greater New England area so quickly after the holidays.  Needless to say, we were the only people there besides the servers…and we had the best time ever.  The Vineyard comes with a lot of fun things to do besides the tastings and beautiful scenery, however, in the dead of winter, sampling was the only activity open to us. But that was enough. The staff there was hilarious and their only goal was to make us laugh and expose our palette to yummy wine.  I can’t say that I’ve ever met another winery staff so hell-bent on making sure our time at the winery was the most enjoyable experience it could be.  We stayed for a good three hours and left with 12 plus bottles, promising ourselves we would return in the summer when we could experience all that Bully Hill had to offer.

Unfortunately, time gets away from you and we were just able to make that trip last weekend.  But it was worth it.  My parents along with my best friend drove down to Hammondsport to discover just how different the Vineyard looked in the fall time.  We were greeted with colorful leaves and a breathtaking view.

After taking in the delicious surroundings, you’re greeted with a small tease of wine vines, along with directions that map out the whole estate.

Visitors Center, Tasting Room  and Retail to the right and Restaurant, Gift Shop, Art Gallery and Museum to our left.  Where to begin! One of the main things we wanted to experience was the Bully Hill tour so to the right we went! Tours at Bully Hill are typically given every hour.  What I learned during our tour, made me love this particular Vineyard even more.  Not only did our tour guide give us a detailed account of how this incredible place came to be, but he did it with humor and ease (and commented after a few stuttering remarks he needed more wine).  Bully Hill was founded by Walter Taylor who embodied the philosophy of “wine with laughter.”  It has a unique and rich history as to how it was founded (you can read more about how Bully Hill began here).

During the tour, our guide also brought us around the grounds, showed us how they disposed of the leaves & vines and where the wine was fermented.

Where all the leaves and excess from the vines are disposed of
Our tour guide in the fermenting room explaining the wine making process

When the tour was complete, it was tasting time! Right when you walk into the well lit ginormous room, you are presented with Bully Hill’s  options for the day:

We decided to go with both the Cellar Bar and Custom Bar option (who wouldn’t want a free Bully Hill wine glass?!)  The servers gave us very generous portions and answered any questions we had. Wine wasn’t the only thing these unique employees talked about.  They’ll tell you jokes, make you sing happy birthday to a person in the crowd, clap your hands, do a dance, basically anything that will cause a roar of laughter.  There is never a dull moment during tastings.

The fam with one of the Bully Hill Wine Servers

After our first round of sampling was complete, it was time to explore the outside of Bully Hill and take photos.

Our appetite eventually caught up with us (or we realized a meal was needed if we wanted to keep standing and walking straight).  The food was amazing, especially their soup of the day, Sweet Potato Butternut Squash.

After the scrumptious meal (and yet another bottle of wine) it was on to explore the Art Gallery and Museum.

Vintage Wine Bottles

Sir Walter and his Goat

Video explaining the history of Bully Hill

Before we went back to the tasting room, we visited the gift shop, which had a versatile selection of items from posters to t-shirts to wine accessories.  My family opted to buy matching T-shirts. 

Dustin! One of our favorite Tour Guides/Servers

As we went back for our last Custom Tasting, the servers laughed and poked fun at us for still being here five hours later.  My friend and I tried at least 4 more tastings, which we were not charged for, our server looking at our shirts and the boxes of bottles we bought saying “you guys have already purchased enough stuff! No charge!”  When asked, they even gave me free corks (Read directions on how to make a cork picture frame here).

It was then I truly realized even though Bully Hill is a growing business who wants to prosper, they really aren’t focused on how to make the most money, but rather on how to have the most fun.  Their overall goal is for people to have a great time.  Wine and laughter truly is what it’s all about here.

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