Boundary Breaks is a vineyard/winery located on the east side of Seneca Lake. It’s known for making excellent cool-climate varieties include Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Cabernet Franc. The winery is owned by Bruce Murray and Diana Lyttle.
When did you open Boundary Breaks? What was the inspiration for doing so?
We started Boundary Breaks in 2008 with the purchase of 120 acres of farmland on the east side of Seneca Lake just north of Lodi Point State Park. We both grew up in Syracuse. Diana taught high school science in Connecticut, and I worked in business which required substantial travel. We decided that it made sense to return to Central New York to pursue a new career growing grapes and making wine.
What did you both previously do before getting into the wine business?
Diana’s career teaching high school biology, earth science and plant science made the transition to vineyard management a logical transition. My background in business gave me some of the experience to assume the multiple risks of starting a new career late in life. Our children were grown, and we were confident that, given time, we could make this work. We also are curious people by nature, and we are not afraid to reach out to more experienced people to seek advice.
What kind of grapes and wines are your focus?
Wine is always about the grape variety and not all grape varieties grow equally well everywhere. We chose three “cool climate” grape varieties that have proven to be successful in our climate and also among wine consumers. These are Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Cabernet Franc. These are classic, European grape varieties that the Finger Lakes wine community has proven can be made into world-class wines.
Why choose Lodi for the location of your winery?
We were very lucky to find farmland on the east side of Seneca Lake on a slope close to the lake. This is considered prime grape-growing land. We benefit from the extra sun exposure late into the afternoon with vineyards facing west. During the winter, our proximity to the very deep Seneca Lake keeps our winter temperatures 4 to 6 degrees warmer that acreage at higher elevations further from the lake. That allows us to grow grape varieties that might not survive colder temperatures further away from the lake.
How you stand out from other wineries?
Great wine is made in the vineyard, and our primary focus is on our vineyard management practices. We currently farm 42 acres of vines, and it is a very intensive process. Our goal is to deliver ripe grapes that are free of disease to our winemakers every year. We try to make a few wines very well, which allows us to develop our reputation for just a few wines in the marketplace.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Our favorite part is how diverse our responsibilities are. We are in the agriculture business and in the hospitality business. This requires developing a great team in each area. We are fortunate to employ 10 full-time employees and 30 part-time employees who are a diverse and skillful group. Our favorite part is keeping everyone on the team working on the same set of goals. That is to make great wine and to give our guests a great experience when they visit.
What do you enjoy most about the Finger Lakes Region?
I appreciate the collaborative community of other wineries and craft beverage producers, the restaurants and other suppliers who are all committed to making the region successful. We work together in ways that are not typical for winemaking regions.
Do you have any favorite local activities you enjoy?
We don’t get away from the vineyard that much, but when we do, we enjoy hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the region.