Since 1983, when wineries along the shores of Cayuga Lake joined forces to establish the nation’s first wine trail, the organization has experienced many changes. Changes range from grapes grown and marketing strategies used to management and ownerships. After many years of single-family ownership, some of the Cayuga Lake wineries are experiencing a transition in possession, either by sale or by inheritance. Very recently, husband-and-wife team Mark and Amy Renodin purchased Six Mile Creek Vineyard in Ithaca.
While studying at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, Mark began working in food service as a bartender and a waiter until he graduated with degrees in culinary arts and hotel restaurant management. Afterwards, Mark managed the kitchen at Pine Tree Inn in Brantingham until transitioning to the assistant manager of a fine dining restaurant called Memories in Lowville. Just three years later, he became restaurant manager. Eight years in, he switched career paths entirely and took a job with the U.S. Postal Service.
Amy has spent her career climbing the managerial ladder at various major retailer centers, spending the last 10 years as the general manager at a Wal-Mart. After working her way up through the ranks, and at times running multiple retail locations simultaneously, she decided to retire this past summer.
Throughout the years, Mark and Amy had taken biannual trips to the Finger Lakes. During their visits, they fell in love with the atmosphere of New York’s wine region and began dreaming of having a winery to call their own. After some soul-searching, they decided to pursue their dream. Mark took a nonpaying position at Tug Hill Vineyards to learn the art of winemaking and vineyard management. In the meantime, they discovered that longtime owners Roger and Nancy Battistella were looking to retire and had listed Six Mile Creek Vineyard for sale. Mark was a quick study at Tug Hill and after just 18 months, the Renodins were preparing for the purchase of their own winery.
Since opening on July 30, their main focus has been to get acquainted with the Six Mile Creek team, both retail and production, and to get a sense of what direction to take the business in. For now, they have been working together to assess the company’s needs and to formulate a plan for moving forward. Exercising her retail expertise, Amy has been tirelessly working to completely redecorate and re-merchandise the entire tasting room so as to take full advantage of their large retail space.
One of their first initiatives is to expand the list of products offered. Winemaker Paul King is working on producing Six Mile Creek's first sparkling wine, which should be ready for bottling early in the summer of 2016. Also, in order to accommodate an increase in output, they hope to expand their production space, with a direct focus on their distillation facility.
Mark feels that the best opportunity for growth is within their distilled product line. They produce a full list of distilled products from grapes, or finished wine. Currently, since their production volume of distilled products is minimal, Six Mile Creek does not sell spirits through wholesale, only via the tasting room. Within the next year, the team would like to have increased production to the point of distribution. There are also plans to add rum to their list of offerings. The production team has been experimenting with different yeast and molasses combinations and expects to run their first full batch within the next few weeks. After spending a few months in oak, the rum should be ready, along with the sparkling wine, by next summer.
Six Mile Creek Vineyard is located on Slaterville Road (Route 79), just 3.5 miles from downtown Ithaca. On Thursday and Sunday nights from June through September, they host live music on their deck overlooking the vineyard sunset. The property is available for weddings and private events up to 60 inside and 200 outside. The winery overlooks a valley, a pond and rolling fields of vineyards, making it a wonderful setting for all types of functions.
We at the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail welcome Mark and Amy to the family, and wish you the best of luck.