What’s Growing at Sheldrake Point, besides grapes?

Sheldrake Point Winery is, we always say, a farm first. So, what’s growing at Sheldrake Point, besides grapes? A lot!

The best water feature for Finger Lakes gardens is Cayuga Lake.

The best water feature for Finger Lakes gardens is Cayuga Lake.

Our grounds are designed with you, our guests, in mind. When you visit during the growing season, you’ll see ornamental grasses, established perennials, and evergreens surrounding the Tasting Room. This is our ‘home,’ and we garden to make ourselves and our guests happy.

Chuck Tauck, our founder, tells me that planning the layout of our ornamental gardens and pathways was just as important as buildings renovation as Sheldrake Point Winery approached opening day in 1998.

Garden Planning

Beyond all the architect’s plans for making the buildings beautiful and useful, the landscape architect’s creative contributions were a revelation. Paula Horrigan, an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Cornell University, had a vision, and, Chuck says, he learned a lot from her. “She had a sense of relationship between the inner spaces and the outer spaces, and all of these curves were part of her perspective.”

Those curves are part of the flowing design outside our back door, where there is a curved bench on a curved sidewalk leading to a curved garden. Plus, as Paula said all those years ago, “You’ll need to have curves and a radius designed for a 60’ tractor trailer to make it through”…and she was right! The driveway was even re-routed to curve in a way that leads to a view of Cayuga Lake (the ultimate water feature), instead of the old view, of our neighbor’s garage.

Though driveways aren’t gardens, the point is that our landscape was designed with the customer’s experience in mind. By design, there is always something in bloom at Sheldrake Point. This week, the ornamental crab apple trees are in full blossom while we take time to divide and transplant perennials to garden areas where winter damage may have left a bare spot.

A glass of Sheldrake Point wine and a peaceful garden stroll...stop by this summer!

A glass of Sheldrake Point wine and a peaceful garden stroll…stop by this summer!

Soon the boxwood along our front walk will be fragrant with summer. Lavender and roses will bloom next in June, and the rest of the summer will be filled with the colors and textures of Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan’s), Echinacea (purple coneflower), stunning Blue Spirea, plus the swaying of ornamental grasses, cooling arborvitae evergreens, and anemone flowers hanging out in the shade.

Bright annuals liven the beds and containers throughout our gardens, and our unique ‘Thyme Walk’ is a peaceful must-see. When you come by the Tasting Room later this summer, check out our screen wall of climbing clematis, which blooms in late August.


David Wiemann, Vineyard Manager, started planting sunflowers years ago to define the edge of our lawn and the vineyard.

Come by Sheldrake Point and take in the full view of our 500 foot bed of sunflowers!

Come by Sheldrake Point and take in the full view of our 500 foot bed of sunflowers!

He also thought that maybe the birds would be more interested in the seeds than our grapes. (That turned out to be not true – the birds will eat both!) David says we now plant sunflowers just because they’re pretty!

The sunflower patch at Sheldrake Point is something of a local summer tradition. You won’t be able to miss our 500 foot long bed of Mammoth Gray Stripe Sunflowers. They grow 9-12 feet tall with vibrant yellow flowers nearly a foot across. The sunflowers always make a great backdrop to our annual wine club party Grateful Dinner. Everyone at Sheldrake Point, and our neighbors, look forward to them every year, starting in July and lasting until the frost.


Rose bushes at the end of our vineyard rows are just plain pretty.

Rose bushes at the end of our vineyard rows are just plain pretty.

Sheldrake Point also maintains rose bushes at the ends of our vineyard rows, mostly of the pink Knock Out variety. They flower well, are disease resistant, but have nasty thorns!

As for vineyards turning to companion gardening with rose bushes to protect a grape crop, there is some relationship in other vineyards of the world. David Wiemann says that though there is a pest called leafhopper that preys on grapes, and that roses do repel leafhoppers, thankfully, we do not have that pest here in the Finger Lakes.

Roses also get powdery mildew, as do grape vines. However, as it’s a different kind of powdery mildew, it’s not necessarily a good indicator to look for the disease on the vines.

So why do we go through all the trouble to prune, weed, and maintain the vineyard rose bushes? Again, because they’re pretty and we like them!

Happy Gardening

What we grow on Sheldrake Point, including grapes, is beauty and happiness. A glass of our award-winning wine and a serene garden view go hand in hand. Stop by the Tasting Room, and stroll through our gardens. As Chuck has become an expert with the weeding stick, you might see him out trying to stay ahead of the dandelions and bind weed!

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.