In 1976, after working for the New York State government in Albany for eleven years and assisting with the passage of the farm-winery bill, Jim Doolittle (Cornell University - CALS '67) and Carol Doolittle (Good Counsel College/Pace University '68) decided they wanted to have their own winery. "It sounded like fun," and so they embarked upon an adventure. In 1978, they purchased a promising site with a panoramic view of Cayuga Lake, and planted their first three acres of vines. In 1982, Frontenac Point Vineyard became New York farm-winery #44, producing only 400 cases of wine.
Carol, Lawrence, and Jim Doolittle
Since then, Frontenac Point has experienced great success, but the Doolittles have also worked to maintain the winery's small size and hands-on approach, currently producing just 2000-3000 cases a year. Their son Lawrence, a graduate of Rice University in Texas, now carries this tradition into the next generation.
All of the grapes used to make Frontenac Point wines are grown in the winery's own 18-acre vineyard, on slopes of low elevation, protected by a microclimate influenced by Ontario and Cayuga Lakes. The combination of estate-grown grapes, Cazenovia and Aurora silt loam soils, the local climate, and Frontenac Point's winemaking techniques produces wines that are truly appellation Cayuga Lake.
Frontenac Point's focus is on the production of dry wines, using barrel fermentation and other modern processes to permit the wines to express complexity. The Doolittles are committed to the notions that change is good and that just because there's a traditional way of making wine doesn't make it the only way. Frontenac Point challenges the status quo with Vinifera and old-world hybrid blends, in addition to varietal vintages including Pinot Noir and Chambourcin. More than half of the winery's production is red wine. Whites include Riesling, Chardonnay, Seyval, Vignoles, and Brut Méthode Champenoise.