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Moving Back to the Finger Lakes

Happy New Year Everyone!  What is a new year without new changes?  This year is no different.

On June 21, 2006, my husband and I drove across the California state line on the final leg of our move from upstate New York to California. We will shortly be doing the reverse.

As of March 2015, I will be leaving my position at Robert Mondavi Winery and my family and I will be relocating back to the Finger Lakes region of New York State.  This was not a decision that was made on the spur of the moment but one that has been thought out carefully over the past few months.  I have started writing this blog post at least 10 times trying to figure out the best way to explain this decision which I’m sure may sound strange to many people.

The number one reason that we have decided to make this move has nothing to do with wine.  My husband and I feel that it is critical that we move back to be closer to our families which still all reside on the East Coast.  Nothing is more important in our lives than family and we want our son to be able to grow up knowing them and being able to see them without us being at the mercy of the ever more expensive airline companies.  The absolute freedom that comes with being able to drive to see family whenever we feel the need is one that we have missed over the 8 and a half years we have been in California and something that we are extremely excited to be able to experience again.

Secondly, I believe with every fiber of my being that the Finger Lakes has huge potential to become a world-class winemaking region and both my husband and I want to be a part of making that dream a reality.  It does not take long to fall in love with a region and a terroir.  After only a few months living there, my heart was lost to those dramatic expanses of water carved into Devonian era shale eons ago by ice.  Even the beauty of Napa could not compete for us against the lush green foliage and bright blue skies of a summer in the Finger Lakes.  It is not an easy place to make great wine.  The winters are one of the harshest for wine on the planet. The summers are humid and are breeding grounds for any number of fungal diseases that prefer to prey on grapevines.  The ground heaves stones every spring to snarl tractors. I am not under any illusions that it will be easy but I want a chance to try and make a difference.

I am very excited about moving back to the area that I was trained in.  I have learned so much from my time in California.  We have made friends that will be missed and we will be leaving teams of colleagues that we have enjoyed working with.  We will be leaving a house which has only just been finished, in a little town which had started to feel like home. For me, the hardest to swallow is that I will be leaving the opportunity to work with such amazing fruit from To Kalon, a vineyard which I have learned to become a part of so quickly.  However, while there is sadness in these things, I know the opportunities and the excitement of building a new life in a familiar area will prevail.  I am excited about my parents driving up to help us move in to our new house at the end of March.  Europe is only a 5 hour flight away! I can use my snowshoes again! We can hike waterfalls without having to drive very far away.  A world of opportunities that I could only dream of in California are now only a few short months away.

I’ve already signed up for the Wine Bloggers Conference which will be held in Corning, NY this August.  I fully intend to continue this blog and will chronicle our move in addition to continuing the coverage of winemaking and travel.  I’m looking forward to being part of the Finger Lakes community again! Come visit if you get the chance.  The area is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful on the planet (not that I’m biased) and was just named to the Top 10 Wine Destinations by Wine Enthusiast Magazine so I’m not alone in my love for the area.


10 Responses

  1. Nova,

    As someone who grew up in the Finger Lakes, I’m completely on board with your decision. It’s a great place to raise a family. And it sounds like you’ll be in time for the April 1 opening of trout season.

    Best wishes,


    1. Thanks Joe! I’ve never been fishing in the Finger Lakes but I am looking forward to May 1st which is spring Turkey season! 🙂

  2. Nova,
    Congratulations on your life-changing decision. My wife and I made the same decision, but to California, years ago for the same reason: kids should be around the extended family. Ours had relocated to the Bay Area — both of them — and we figured we’d better as well. Leaving was like giving up nine things, and arriving here was like getting ten. A tough move but the right one. You have many great adventures ahead! See you in August at the WBC.
    All the best,
    ps. I’m sure you’ve already read Summer In A Glass by Evan Dawson. But if you haven’t it’s a perfect primer on your future colleagues, some of whom I guess you probably already know.

  3. As a lifelong Finger Lakes resident may I be the first to say “Welcome Home”. The Finger Lakes have always been one of the US most hidden treasures, and with the amazing growth of the wine industry, the world is now discovering them. This is one of the prettiest places on the planet with each of the 11 lakes having it’s own character. Once you visit, you will return again and again. Again, welcome.

  4. I moved Auburn from NOVA. Central NY is not about the wine. It is not California. Actually the winter is beautiful. The people are straight up and the best. Cost of living: amazing. If you bicycle: the best. It’s not cool or hip like San Francisco. If that is what you are about, it probably is NOT for you. But if you want something that is real with amazing countryside and great universities, Central NY is great. If you can’t deal with 13 feet of snow and you want it to become like Sonoma it won’t work. Take it for what it is. A sincere nice place to live m

    1. Hi Ernie,
      I do love upstate NY and can totally deal with the snow. Secretly I like the weather better than CA! (did I say that out loud?). Thanks for the comments!

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About Nova Cadamatre

Nova Cadamatre has become one of the most versatile and experienced winemakers in the industry. She holds a Bachelors from Cornell University in Viticulture.  In 2017 she achieved the title of Master of Wine and was the first female winemaker in the US to do so. 

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