' Fulkerson Winery - History of the Farm

History of the Farm

In 1805, Caleb Fulkerson journeyed from Somerville, NJ and staked out a piece of land on the fertile western slopes of Seneca Lake. On his way he cut a walking stick from a black willow tree, and upon arriving in Dundee (then Eddytown) he stuck the willow branch into a spring to mark his claim. The branch took root and over the years grew into a great tree, when the tree was full grown, Caleb used the tree to make a set coffins for his wife Deborah and himself. Caleb died in 1848 and is buried in the small family plot on the land he cleared on the hill behind this location.

And so this land has been handed down from generation to generation; from Caleb to his son Samuel, then to his son Harlan P, to Harlan, to Roger, to Sayre, and now to Steven, the 7th generation to farm the land.

Up until the early 1900’s, The Fulkerson’s farmed mainly to sustain themselves, holding church in their home as well as operating a boarding house, bringing in anyone who was wary from travel or needed a bed for the evening. By the 1920’s, black raspberries were the farm's first main commercial crop until the late 1960's brought a blight to the area that devastated the raspberry industry. Raspberries were picked, dried and shipped to New York City via the railroad. Dundee was bustling and home to a large number of supporting manufacturing plants making berry boxes and crates, drying houses, and packing houses. Once that industry was exhausted, many of the area’s farmers started to plant grapes.

Grapes have always been grown on the family farm in small scale between the 1830's and 1950's. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Sayre Fulkerson and his father, Roger expanded grape plantings during the 1960's and 70's and today, Sayre and his son Steven operate, with the help of their staff, 110 acres of grapes, 2 acres of cherries, 1 acre of apples, ¼ acre of asparagus, ¼ acre of blueberries and hayfields that supply food to Steven’s goats, and nutrients and organic matter to the vineyards.

Sayre Fulkerson, 6th generation on the family farm and our Winemaker, graduated from Cornell University in 1975 with a degree in pomology (the study of fruit production) and began a career in winemaking as an assistant at Glenora Wine Cellars.

Sayre, along with his wife Nancy, opened the winery in 1989 with a release of only 1,000 cases of wine. This was an expansion from their original venture of selling grape juice when they acquired Jensen Juice Plant from Glenora Wine Cellars in 1979. They gradually built a customer base that exceeds 4500 home winemakers. Collectively, our home winemakers produce just over 13,000 cases of wine annually. Over the years, Fulkerson Winery has maintained a distinctive quality that has resulted in award winning wines. We currently produce 12,500 cases annually for retail and wholesale sales.

Steven Fulkerson, our General Manager, graduated from Cornell University in 2007 with a degree in Viticulture and Oenology (grape growing and winemaking). Coming on full time in 2011 and taking on the role of General Manager in the summer of 2015.

We continue to be proud of our heritage and traditions, and we hope that we can continue to share this history for generations to come!


Read the Fulkerson Family history