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Buttonwood Grove Winery, a CNY Family Attraction

Buttonwood Grove Winery, a CNY Family Attraction
photo by Gulnaz Khan

photo by Gulnaz Khan

Among the wineries that surround the shores of Cayuga Lake in Romulus, the staff at Buttonwood Grove Winery open their doors for the first customers of the day. The fresh breeze coming from the lake is punctuated by the inviting scent of autumn leaves and warmth of the kitchen.

David and Melissa Pittard purchased Buttonwood Grove Winery in May 2014 from Ken and Diane Riemer. The Pittards, Skaneateles natives, wanted to distinguish Buttonwood Grove from other wineries by creating a family-friendly environment.

Buttonwood Grove's family favorites: Frick & Frack. Photo by Gulnaz Khan

Family favorites: Frick & Frack. Photo by Gulnaz Khan

“Although we serve adult beverages, we create an experience for customers that is very relaxed,” says Marcia Klue, Buttonwood Grove’s advertisement coordinator. Klue and several staff members enjoy bringing their own families to events hosted by the winery, she added.

During the warm summer and fall months, local Central New York bands perform live music on weekends to encourage leisurely gatherings. Families can also rent cozy cabins nestled among the trees to enjoy the full range of activities offered at the winery. Cabins are equipped with all the basic amenities, including a small fire pit for gatherings around the campfire.

The cabins have become so popular, Buttonwood books a full house with little effort. “We stopped advertising for those all together because people found out more about them simply from word of mouth of previous customers,” Klue said.

Buttonwood Grove staff. Photo by Gulnaz Khan

Buttonwood Grove staff. Photo by Gulnaz Khan

Pittard and his staff want their customers to feel at home when they visit. They encourage guests to sit down, enjoy a wine tasting, stroll through the vineyards, and pluck some fresh grapes right off the vine to savor the local flavor.

“Anything that we sell or do, we try to keep it as local as possible,” David Pittard said.

The wines at Buttonwood Grove are planted, grown and fermented on location by Pittard and his staff, who remained with the winery after changing ownership. The winery also sells a range of locally-produced products, including olive oil and vinegar samplings with F. Oliver’s and hard cider produced in partnership with Beak and Skiff apple orchard. Pittard happens to be a fifth generation Skiff, and developed a lifelong love for agriculture growing up on his family’s Lafayette apple orchard.

Buttonwood Grove vineyard. Photo by Gulnaz Khan

Buttonwood vineyard. Photo by Gulnaz Khan

Pittard hopes Buttonwood Grove winery will continue to attract visitors from the local and international communities, and is committed to maintaining the amiable family environment that makes the winery stand out.

“We want to be known as the winery that always says yes,” Pittard said.

Buttonwood Cow

Melody, Buttonwood’s cow-in-residence. Photo by Gulnaz Khan

A  Tour of the Winery

After a walk through the fermentation chambers, we explored the vineyards ourselves to see the source of Buttonwood Grove’s distinguished wines. A visit wouldn’t be complete without saying hello to Melody, the winery’s beloved Scottish Highland cow, and goats Frick and Frack. For the grand finale, Klue guided us, a couple of wine-newbies, through the tasting process.

Any customer can taste wine like a professional by following “The Five S’s”: sight, swirl, smell, sip, and savor.

photo by Gulnaz Khan

photo by Gulnaz Khan

  1. Sight: Look for the clarity of the wine — the more clear, the better.
  2. Swirl: This will release the aroma of the wine by exposing it to oxygen.
  3. Smell: Enjoy the aroma of the different types of grapes.
  4. Sip: Take a small one!
  5. Savor: Let the wine sit on your tongue to activate the taste buds and fully appreciate a range of flavors.

The final and unofficial ‘s’ stands for spit or swallow depending on whether the customer likes the wine. Don’t be embarrassed about spitting out your wine, Klue said, even professional tasters do this.

With the five S’s in mind, we sampled several popular wines:

Buttonwood Grove's wines have won local and national awards. Photo by Gulnaz Khan

Buttonwood Grove’s wines have won local and national awards. Photo by Gulnaz Khan

  • Dry Reisling 2014, characteristic of the Finger Lakes region and cannot be found around the world.
  • Reserve Chardonnay 2013, with an oak flavor from where it was aged.
  • Unoaked Chardonnay 2014, a younger trend in wines gaining popularity in the Finger Lakes region. Unlike the reserve chardonnay, it has been aged in stainless steel tanks.
  • Gewurztraminer 2013, traditionally a sweet wine with some spice.
  • Buttonwood Blush, made with Native American grapes with a true grape flavor. Klue says this is a good starter for a beginner.
  • Cabernet Franc 2013, characterized by prominent cherry flavors and a light red color.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, a darker wine made from from smaller grapes.
  • Redbud, made from over eight different grapes.
  • Blackberry Velvet, which starts with a taste of blackberries and ends like a dry red wine. Chocolate will compliment the taste of the blackberry velvet wine.
  • Blackberry Briar, a sweet tasting wine made with Concord grapes.

Buttonwood Grove Winery remains open during the winter season and offers a variety of gifts for every wine lover.


Photos by Gulnaz Khan

About The Author

Sophia Melissa Caraballo

Sophia Melissa Caraballo Pineiro is a Syracuse University student in the Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Jourmalism graduate program. She has a background in English Literature, along with a Writing and Communications minor from the University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez.


This site celebrates the people places, and culture that make Central New York one of the most vibrant and livable regions in the country. From Auburn to Utica, from Syracuse, to Ithaca, this is LivableCNY.

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