OUR STORY

In 1992, Mel Goldman and his wife Dorothee fell for the Finger Lakes on a family camping trip. This affection, paired with a long-standing dream to plant a vineyard, led them to purchase a few acres of former Taylor Wine Co. vineyard in 1993. Mel retired early, in 1997, to focus totally on the vineyard, and the Riesling and Pinot Noir vines that he and Dorothee would plant soon after still stand on the estate to this day.

Mel sold his crop in the early years, but as the vines matured, he saw the quality in KLV grapes. So, Mel asked neighboring winemakers to assist in making a test vintage. He and Dorothee then carried a few bottles to France, where the wines excelled in blind tastings amidst bottlings from premier European appellations. On the heels of this praise, KLV made its first official vintage in 2005 with the winemaking skills of Ravines Wine Cellar’s Morten Hallgren.

Today, KLV’s estate vineyards have grown to include 40 acres on the east and west slopes of Keuka Lake’s southern end. Six varietals grow in the glacial soils, both vinifera and hybrid. Every vintage that we produce is rooted in the original passion that brought us to the Finger Lakes, and in honoring what our spectacular vineyards provide.

OUR TEAM

Mel Goldman

Owner and Vineyard Manager

Mel started Keuka Lake Vineyards after a diverse career in economic development in developing countries. After serving in the Peace Corps, he got his start with farming while in college on a two-month stint on a vineyard focused on table grapes at a kibbutz in Israel, a short experience on a friend’s Michigan grain farm and working with small farmers in Colombia.

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Mel developed a taste for fine wine from experiences with Burgundy, Napa and Chilean wine, and discovered the Finger Lakes in 1992. After tasting the products of Finger Lakes vineyards, Mel was sold on the potential of the region to make fine wine. Starting in 1998, he planted Riesling and a bit of Pinot Noir, initially with the help of his wife Dorothee. Vignoles and Cabernet Franc followed when he realized their potential to thrive and make excellent wines in the Finger Lakes. He farmed the westside vineyards himself until 2008 when he was overwhelmed by an ever-growing list of responsibilities. Today, Mel is still very much involved in the day-to-day operations at KLV, from hauling trays on pick days to sharing his passion for the wine quality and vineyards with visitors.

Margot Federkiel

Winemaker

Margot started making KLV wines in the 2022 vintage after 15 years of winemaking experience in California and Ohio. Before that, she earned a degree in enology and viticulture at the hands-on program at California State University at Fresno.

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Her first few vintages out of school were spent working in Napa Valley. Since then, Margot’s path East included winemaking stints in the Anderson Valley, the Carmel Valley, and Ohio, alongside experience in cheesemaking, food fermentation and furniture restoration.

Visitors to the winery may be happily greeted by Margot’s dog and Assistant Winemaker, Hawk, if he is not napping in the lab or out rolling around in the vineyards.

Carla Luta

Tasting Room & Wine Club Manager

A Finger Lakes native, Carla Luta’s passion for wine comes to her as naturally as her love of Keuka Lake and estate sales treasure hunting.

Before working in the wine industry, Carla worked for years as a paralegal. She moved to Hammondsport in 2016 from her nearby hometown of Campbell and took up part-time work in the Keuka Lake tasting room of Ravines Wine Cellars. In 2017, Carla joined our tasting room team and quickly became a fixture at the winery. In the summer of 2021, craving a change of pace, she decided to take the leap away from private practice law firms and full-time into wine and hospitality as our tasting room and Wine Club manager (among many other roles).

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When she isn't educating guests, managing online orders, or even hopping on the bottling line, Carla enjoys spending time on the lake with her husband - and most of all being a Mom to her two children.

Brad DeFelice

Vineyard Manager

Brad D. is a passionate outdoorsman and dedicated to maintaining and managing the KLV vineyards sustainably. Born and raised in a small town in New York State, Brad has always been drawn to the natural beauty of the area. He spent his childhood exploring the nearby forests and lakes, and developed a love for hiking, fishing, and camping.

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Brad's approach to vineyard management is rooted in his love for the outdoors. He believes that the key to producing high-quality grapes is to work in harmony with the natural environment, and he spends much of his time in the vineyard, closely observing the plants and the surrounding ecosystem.

When he's not working in the vineyard, Brad can usually be found hiking in the nearby hills or paddleboarding on Keuka.

John Orsino

Vineyard Staff

John was born in the Philippines and came to Hawaii at a young age. He graduated Farrington High School in Oahu, Hawaii and subsequently met his wife, a Hammondsport native. They eventually made their way back to Hammondsport, where John started working in vineyards in 1987.

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Since then, he has worked on every vineyard related task from pruning and tying, to grafting vines, to leaf pulling and spraying. The only task John doesn’t like is cluster thinning; he just can’t see himself throwing away the grapes that he worked so hard on during the season. John has been working for KLV for over ten years and expects to retire at KLV.

Ryan Krause

Vineyard Staff

A native of Dundee, NY, just 15 miles from Hammondsport, Ryan joined KLV less than a year after graduating Dundee High School, in 2014. Ryan has worked on many tasks in the vineyard, including spraying, harvesting and pruning.

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His proudest moment at KLV was realizing all the work he did in helping grow our Leon Millot propelled our 2020 vintage to win Best Red Wine in the 2022 New York State Classic competition.

In his off time, Ryan is a serious dirt track racer and also enjoys playing baseball and video games.

Aniceto Morales Ortiz

Vineyard Consultant

Aniceto has been supplying vineyard assistance and expertise for KLV since 2001. He and his family have worked on all, from pruning to harvest, from weeding to leaf pulling. Aniceto and his family now work on their own vineyard as well as continuing to help KLV.
 
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