Tompkins County’s Newest Winery – 12 Years in the Making


Bet the Farm Winery Starts Venture in Trumansburg

On Friday, October 12, Bet the Farm Winery opened its doors at Tompkins County’s newest winery and vineyard. Although the building and vineyard are new, Bet the Farm Winery was established by Nancy Tisch in 2006 when she began making her wines under the mentorship of Lou Damiani and Phil Davis of Damiani Wine Cellars on Seneca Lake. In 2011, together with her husband Kit Kalfs, Tisch moved the production to a leased barn at Sunrise Hill Vineyard on Cayuga Lake. Throughout these 12 years, the couple operated a tasting room in the Village of Aurora that includes their own wines, a selection of other Finger Lakes wines and a gourmet food market. 

In 2017, Tisch and Kalfs purchased a 13-acre parcel of land six miles north of Ithaca at 4204 Krums Corners Road in Ulysses. In the fall of 2017, approximately half of the land was tile drained and deep ripped in preparation for planting. Two acres of grapes - Cabernet Franc and Lemberger were planted in the spring of 2018.  Next spring, two additional acres of Gamay Noir will be planted.

 During 2018 Tisch and Kalfs built a production facility that includes tank and barrel rooms, case storage and a tasting room. Their apt nickname for the building is “Big Blue;” the metal pole barn is marine blue with a copper colored roof. Public entrance to the tasting room is on the building’s east side with double door entry and windows facing the vineyard, Cayuga Lake and the hills of Lansing beyond.    

The design of the production facility is relatively simple. The tank room, at 18 feet in height is equipped with a small propane heater for severe winter temperatures; for most of the year it will be subject to ambient temperature fluctuations. In contrast, the barrel room, case storage, and tasting areas have radiant in-floor heating as well as air conditioning to maintain relatively constant temperatures throughout the entire year. Even at the early stages of the 2018 harvest, Tisch says the design is working as planned. 

Beginning with their open house for the neighbors on October 12th, the new tasting room will be open Thursday through Sunday from 11am-5pm.  Visitation on Monday through Wednesday is by chance or appointment. Offerings at the new facility will include Bet the Farm wines alongside a limited selection of locally produced cheeses, confections, and crackers. Over time, Tisch and Kalfs will incorporate a selection of other Finger Lakes Wines as they have done at their Aurora location.  For the remainder of 2018, tasting and sales will continue at the shop in Aurora as well as the new facility. Hours of operation are the same at both locations. 

Bet the Farm Winery is a boutique New York Farm Winery, producing 1,200 cases per vintage year.  The winery’s portfolio includes a selection of red and white vinifera wines as well as two Cornell hybrids.   Tisch’s wines are dry, fruit-forward expressions of the grapes.

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