The Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars

It takes courage and a sense of adventure to be a trailblazer and Glenora Wine Cellars was the first winery on Seneca Lake. Gene Pierce, along with Eastman Beers, Edward Dalrymple, and Howard Kimball jumped at the opportunity to open the winery after the Farm Winery Act of 1976 was passed. 

In 1987, the winery expanded its production facility, and retail sales area and added a restaurant, The Wine Garden Café. This was the first winery restaurant on the western shores of Seneca Lake. They introduced a unique winery resort to the region with a 30-room Inn and Veraisons Restaurant in 2000. Offering guests the finest accommodations and farm-to-table cuisine after exploring our Wine Trails. 

Widely known for its warm hospitality and outstanding lakeside setting Glenora Wine Cellars has been producing award-winning Finger Lakes wines and offering year-round hospitality since 1977. Today, the owners are Gene Pierce and Scott Welliver and we got to speak with Gene about being a trailblazer and what’s next after nearly 50 years! 

How have you seen the culture of the wine industry changing since Glenora’s inception in the 1970s?

Gene Pierce: Most wineries in the 1980s and early 1990s were formed by people who were already in the wine and grape industry, knew one another, and did things together; it was a more cohesive group. Today, people are coming in from outside; we don't know if they are aware of the region's history and culture.


As the first winery on Seneca Lake, what changes have you seen?  

GP: Almost everything! We’ve witnessed the viewpoint grow from one winery in 1977 to over 60 now. From very few accommodations to numerous today, with even major brands, such as the Hilton, being here. Airbnbs, etc. We’ve seen the industry’s influence on tourism, restaurants, entertainment, and more.

In your opinion, what makes the offering at Glenora Wine Cellar unique to other wineries in the region? 

GP: In a lot of ways, perhaps Glenora isn’t that unique if you look at what other wineries are doing, (food trucks, music, etc) Our restaurant started in 1988 and we expanded our lodging facilities soon after. One of the unique things is our VIEW – when you stand or sit on the deck at Glenora, you can literally see from Wagner to almost Watkins Glens. We did not develop this, but this is a gift and different from the other wineries on Seneca Lake.

The Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars

Another feature that distinguishes Glenora is our lodgings; we take winemaking and tastings seriously, but we also provide an inn and a restaurant. There is no other winery that provides these services in one location. 

In 1987 the Wine Garden Café was the first winery restaurant located on the western shores of Seneca Lake. Since 2000 the 30-room Inn and Veraisons Restaurant have been in operation. What’s next for both of those locations? 

GP: At this point in the industry's development, from a winemaking and hospitality standpoint, we really want to make sure our next moves will fit within Glenora and the industry. The Garden Cafe was a shot in the dark. We spent millions of dollars on the restaurant and inn, and people questioned both of those decisions, but we felt confident it would succeed. Maybe a Ferris wheel should be NEXT!

Veraisons Dining Room

What does the word trailblazer mean to you? 

GP: Daniel Boone in the Finger Lakes Wine industry and Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Someone who isn't afraid to take chances and risks; who does things in a way that others can understand and enjoy, and who others may follow in the future.

Your award-winning wines are beloved by its fan base, new and old. Aside from being known for your quality wine, what else do you want people to know about Glenora Wine Cellars? 

GP: Well, I appreciate that they enjoy our wines and that they are of high quality, but that does not make us unique; what I hope they see is our hospitality. Our welcoming people to the area. A friendly place that can accommodate several people wanting to visit for the wines, environment, and hospitality.