Arbor Hill Winery is the first winery in New York to produce Certified Craft Wine.
Operating in the town of Naples in the Finger Lakes Wine Country, Arbor Hill Winery
earned certification from the Craft Wine Association in March 2017. A nonprofit
organization, the Craft Wine Association vets small-production wineries and manages the
Certified Craft Wine logo, so consumers can easily identify real craft wines wherever wine
Founded in Naples in 1987, Arbor Hill Winery is a destination, with a tasting room open
seven days a week. It produces 56 wine-based specialty food products, and there’s an on-
site restaurant specializing in craft beer and bratwurst that’s open weekends. The winery
makes 27 wines and 2,500 cases annually, and it offers something truly rare: craft wines
featuring iconic New York grapes.
John Brahm III owns and operates Arbor Hill Winery, and his family has lived in upstate
New York since the early 1900s. “Our family does the growing, the winemaking, the
selling,” says John. “The Craft Wine Association recognizes the personal, hands-on
approach. I feel joining the association will give me a wider audience, who will fully
appreciate the diversity of our wines.”
History & Hybrids
Arbor Hill Winery specializes in labrusca grape varieties, whose histories in New York go
so far back they are considered indigenous, as well as cutting-edge new hybrids specifically
designed to excel in local environments. The most famous of these latter, designer grape
varieties is traminette, a hybrid of gewürztraminer. It’s one of John’s favorites.
“I truly love this grape,” he says, “not only because it was one of the first grapes I realized
creates great wine in our environment, but it is stunning!” The Classic Traminette, made in
the style of an ice wine, has long been one of the winery’s top-sellers.
Beyond the famed dessert wines of the Finger Lakes region, Arbor Hill Winery produces
dry sparkling, whites, and reds, using familiar grapes like riesling and chardonnay, as well
as labrusca varieties like vergennes, noiret, and chambourcin.
“I don’t want these historical grapes to disappear,” says John. “I want them to maintain their presence in the modern wine world.”
Like all craft winemakers, John takes winemaking personally. “My life,” he says, “is in the
history of these vineyards and this region.” New York State has the oldest winemaking
history in the U.S., and John got his start as the vineyard superintendent at Widmer Wine
Cellars, where he worked for 23 years—at one point overseeing 300 acres of grapes New
York and 500 acres in California. Today, he’s 76 years young.
There’s one more iconic New York experience to seek out at Arbor Hill Winery: the famous
Naples Grape Pie. Each year, local bakers prepare around 30,000 grape pies during the
grape harvest. While these pies are quickly eaten, Arbor Hill Winery offers a year-round
solution: The Healthy Purple Grape Pie Topping, made with New York Concord
grapes, lets you recreate the tasty pies at home.