Introducing Whitney Elrod, Wine Club Manager

Ithaca native Whitney Elrod got here the way so many others have—through the tasting room! Sheldrake Point Winery’s new wine club manager joined us this past spring. Here’s a bit more about Whitney:

What’s your background and how did you get into the wine industry?

Whitney Elrod

Whitney Elrod, wine club manager, working harvest in New Zealand. Here she is digging out a tank of Pinot Noir to be pressed.

I grew up in Ithaca and studied English and teaching at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The summer before my senior year of college, I applied for a job at Fox Run Vineyards and was there about 3-4 years. At Fox Run I fell in love with wine! Everyone there is so passionate about the Finger Lakes and the winery…it’s catching! It was an inspiring environment, and there was always something new to learn.

My wine education is mostly self-taught. I have a level 2 WSET certification and hope to work on level 3 when I find the time and resources!

I also did a little work for VineSleuth (creators of a wine app) developing a database of wines from all over the world.

Tell us about your experiences in other wine regions.

After I graduated from college, I decided to try wine production so I went out to California for four months to work harvest in Sonoma County. Three months later I went to Marlborough, New Zealand, to work the next vintage (their harvest is our spring, March-June.)

Late last year, I went out to Washington State for five months to work at a custom crush facility in Walla Walla that made wine for 12 client wineries. I came back in December.

Your travels took you to three world wine regions, and you came back to the Finger Lakes!

The plan was always to come back to the Finger Lakes! I have loved the Finger Lakes all my life, this is where my heart is, and I knew I wanted to settle here. Traveling was a fabulous experience, I learned a lot, met wonderful people, but I’m glad to be home.

What makes the Finger Lakes wine region so special to you?

The idea that people in the wine industry are all passionate about wine and winemaking is truest in this region. I found this to be a unique Finger Lakes sensibility, and another reason to come home to work in the Finger Lakes wine region.

How did you get to Sheldrake Point Winery?

The good reputation of Sheldrake Point is well-known in the Finger Lakes, and while working at Fox Run I had met winemaker Dave Breeden at industry tasting events. However, I hadn’t actually been to the winery before.

Once I had returned from Washington State, I was looking for a job, and one of my good friends, a muralist in Ithaca, worked for Fran (Littin) and Chuck (Tauck—owners and founders) in their home and at the winery. She gushed about how wonderful it is here, and what a great group of people work here. I applied immediately and was hired in the tasting room in April.

So it wasn’t by bicycle? <wink>

No, though I do cycle quite a bit! I’ve done the AIDS Ride for Life three times, which is a 100 mile trip around Cayuga Lake to benefit the Southern Tier AIDS Program. I missed it for two years while traveling, but I’m back and will do it again this year in September!

What are your favorite Sheldrake Point wine experiences so far?

The Dry Rosé. I really love it, but unfortunately for me, so does everyone else! We sold out in about two months. And, of course, the ice wines! Few wineries do ice wine, and fewer do it by the true method. I especially like our Cab Franc ice wine—paired with a blue cheese is the most delicious combination, and I don’t even like blue cheese!

A great ‘with wine’ experience I had at Sheldrake Point is being charged with bringing live music to the property for our summer concert series. Our first concert was back in early June and it was great to see people relaxing on our property, snacking on local cheeses, enjoying our wine—it was really fun to see all that happening at once.

If you’re not a wine club member and want to find out more, get in touch with Whitney! If you are a wine club member, say ‘hi’ next time you’re in for a tasting or a pick up party!

Chuck was attracted to the Finger Lakes wine industry during his graduate work at the Cornell Hotel School and was instrumental in the transformation of the old abandoned dairy farm to today’s winery and vineyard. As principle owners, he and his wife Fran assume the risk of the venture and personally see to its priorities and requirements.  Chuck’s focus is on the management and company systems and processes.  When not in the office, he and Fran may also be working with the staff, doing repairs, tending the gardens, or chatting with visitors.