Rise and Fall of NY’s Taylor Wine Company

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NY Taylor wineDrawing on archival research as well as interviews with many of the principal players, Thomas Pellechia’s Over a Barrel: The Rise and Fall of New York’s Taylor Wine Company (SUNY Press, 2015) traces the economic dynamism of the Finger Lakes wine region, the passion and ingenuity of the Taylor family, and the shortsighted corporate takeover scenario that took down a once-proud American family company.

In addition to providing important lessons for business innovators, Over a Barrel is a cautionary tale for a wine region that is repeating its formative history.

In 1880, Walter Stephen Taylor, a cooper’s son, started a commercial grape juice company in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Two years later, wine production was added, and by the 1920s, the Taylor Wine Company was firmly established. Walter Taylor’s three sons carefully guided the company through Prohibition and beyond, making it the most important winery in the Northeast and profoundly affecting the people and community of Hammondsport, where the company was headquartered.

In the 1960s, the Taylor family took the company public. Ranked sixth in domestic wine production and ripe for corporate takeover, the company was sold to Coca-Cola in 1977. Three more changes of corporate ownership followed until, in 1995, this once-dynamic and important wine producer was obliterated, tearing apart the local economy and changing a way of life that had lasted for nearly a century.

Thomas Pellechia is an independent journalist and writer who previously produced wine in the Finger Lakes and operated a wine shop in Manhattan. He is the author of Wine: The 8,000-Year-Old Story of the Wine Trade, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting and Running a Winery and Timeless Bounty: Food and Wine in New York’s Finger Lakes. He lives in Hammondsport, New York.

Note: Books noticed on The New York History Blog have been provided by their publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

19 thoughts on “Rise and Fall of NY’s Taylor Wine Company

  1. Pingback: Online Posts and Articles on the History of Wine: #7 | Hogshead - A Wine Blog

  2. James Fox

    Are the original recipes for Taylor Sparkling Burgundy and or Great Western Sparkling Burgundy
    ( I understand they were different ) still being produced ?

    What was the last date for Taylor Sparkling Burgundy. I still have an un-opened bottle
    with a bar code of 88940 00076

    For years GW was a tradition for our family to serve it at Thanks Giving and Christmas and
    other special occasions.

    1. David L

      Yeah, I have been looking for Taylor Sparking Extra Dry for 4 years now. We have the same tradition for Christmas and the only thing I have found that even comes close is Brickstone Cellars Extra Dry American. HOWEVER, I have a really good solution for you. The Taylor Cellars building was purchased and US Bonded Winery No. 1 is producing again. If you go here: http://pleasantvalleywine.com/pvw_order.taf you can order GW Sparkling Burgundy from them. Hope this help. Wish I could get the Taylors back, but there is no way that Constellation would ever do that.

  3. Charles Bryant

    Hi I’m still looking for n y state Taylor​ burgundy wine is this wine sold anywhere that u know of. I live NC and I could easily purchase this wine in NYC but living here they don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Looking forward to hear from you

  4. Lynne

    I have been buying Taylor Sangria for years
    In CT & now can no longer find it. My
    sister can no longer purchase it in
    PA. Does anyone know why?
    I’ve been looking for a contact #
    For the wine company to no avail

    1. Gail

      I’m having the same issue trying to find Taylor Sangria. All I get are stores offering me an alternative, none of which compare. Desperately wanting to find a contact that will ship to Arkansas.

      1. Lucille Blue

        No answer, still seeking.
        Taylor Sangria was the best wine ever, and at a great price. I ordered it by the case and turned on store owners and friends. If you ever get an answer, please contact me: lucilleblue2007@gmail.com


  5. Donald Hoooper

    I am looking for your Catawba wine. I used to be able to get it at the ABC Liquor stores here in Ocala, FL., but they no longer carry it. Can you tell me where I can get it? Can I order it from you. I am WELL over 21 years old.


  6. dawn kilts

    I am looking for the recipe for oriental cheese spread with taylor sherry that was part of a booklet given out at the winery in the the late 60s/early 70’s

    1. Michelle

      I found this thread looking for a recipe myself and discovered it was in this cookbook. There are several copies for sale on eBay. I’m not 100% sure it’s the recipe I am looking for. I am remembering one that they gave out at the winery that was mayonnaise based with cooking Sherry I believe on top of Ritz crackers. Do you know if that is the one? And I’m not sure I want to spend all the money for just one recipe
      Ihttps ://m.ebay.com/itm/Favorite-Recipes-From-The-Kitchens-of-The-Taylor-Great-Western-Wineries-1985/132365884755?_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIM.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20161006002618%26meid%3Dbae548cd7d38488a8d60dd9116b86d8b%26pid%3D100694%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D391904699011&_trksid=p2385738.c100694.m4598

  7. Anthony Cindrich

    I just acquired a well storwd,and with original box Taylor EXTRA Brut Dry NEW York State Champagne in a Magnum(1.5L).I came across this site,while trying to figure out what I have.

    1. Michael Brain

      I was just attempting to find out if my 750 month bottle of Taylor Brut Champagne (very dry) has any value. The top under the white “cover” appears to be the old wire around the cork type. I’m not sure how old it is. Is it a collectible? What can I do with it? I don’t drink

  8. Luis E. Munoz

    I enjoy tremendously their ports and Cherry’s they are superb and the quality is no different or superior to the Spanish or Portuguese Sherry’s it sadden’s me greatly to see such tradition and quality to be lost…

  9. Patrick

    I have a pool cue with a Taylor Wine Company bottle cage on the butt. It was a gift from my dad’s friend in the 1970s. An absolutely beautiful cue and still straight as an arrow. Any info on these?

  10. Robin

    I have a bottle of Taylor 1976 New York State pink champagne? Just wondering if anyone knows the value of an unopened bottle?

  11. Allan Stone

    On April 5, 1976 I purchased bottle #2218 of Taylor Bicentennial Champagne. It has never been opened; I have the wooden box it came in and the cardboard box that the wooden box came in, along with the original purchase receipt. The legend inside the box says the “unique champagne began mellowing in 1966 and is unique because it was produced wholly from “Aurore” grape

    I’d like to know if it’s worth anything or should I just go ahead and open it to see if it’s any good.

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  13. Dick M.

    A young Walter Taylor, who started the Bully Hill Winery, was a personal friend of mine. Unfortunately he was involved in an auto accident that killed his wife and child. He resided in a rotation hospital bed, until his death. What a great guy, who hated Coca Cola. His art work on the Bully Hill labels was outstanding, even having one of the Space Shuttle in Florida.


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