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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Love among the vines: Keuka Lake romance bears fruit

  • Celine and Sebastien LeSeurre grew up more than 500 miles apart from each other - she, in southwestern Saint-Lys, France, and he, in the northeastern city of Arrentieres. If it weren't for their mutual love of wine, they never would have crossed paths.
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  • Celine and Sebastien LeSeurre grew up more than 500 miles apart from each other - she, in southwestern Saint-Lys, France, and he, in the northeastern city of Arrentieres. If it weren't for their mutual love of wine, they never would have crossed paths. The LeSeurres met while working at the Clos Henri Vineard in Marlborough, New Zealand, in 2009 - nearly 12,000 miles away from home. The two stayed in New Zealand for nearly two years and spent another six months in Australia before moving the the United States in 2011. Sebastien grew up on a winery in the Champagne region of France and is a sixth-generation viticulturist. “I've worked in a vineyard and in a winery since I can remember,” Sebastien said. “It's kind of in my blood.” Sebastien studied viticulture and oenology (the science of wine) for six years in Champagne, followed by one year studying sales and marketing for wine and spirits in Reims. Prior to working in New Zealand, Sebastien traveled the world, visiting 23 countries and tasting more than 4,000 different types of wine. “When you taste so much wine, there are some very good wines that you taste,” Sebastien said. “It gave me a big vision and from that I learned a lot.” Celine also grew up around a winery, though it was her grandparents' vineyard intended for personal use. After graduating from the University of Toulouse in 2005 with a degree in hospitality and tourism, Celine went on to work for Le Cellier des Templiers, a winery in Banyuls-sur-Mer, France. Job opportunities brought the couple to the United States in September 2011; Sebastien was working in the Finger Lakes and Celine in Manhattan. Sebastien, working as an assistant winemaker on a Keuka Lake winery, traveled the Finger Lakes, tasting the area's various wines along the way. He, along with Celine, fell in love with Keuka Lake during those expeditions - so much so that the pair exchanged vows on a friend's deck overlooking the lake's east side. “We really fell in love with this lake,” Celine said. “We really love its intimacy; we actually got married here in July 2012.” In September 2012, two months after their wedding, the LeSeurres began operations at Domaine LeSeurre Winery – an effort to make a life on the lake that they love. “We believe in the potential of this region in terms of wine,” Sebastien said. “We believe that this is going to be the next big region.” Thirteen months later, after removing approximately 800 trees by hand - a lengthy but future vineyard-friendly process in lieu of bulldozing the land - and building a business from scratch, the LeSeurres opened the Domaine LeSeurre Winery's tasting room in October 2013. The winery, overlooking the bluff on the east side of Keuka Lake, has been quite successful, the couple said. With nine wines currently available in their tasting room - eight different whites and one rosé - the LeSeurres will add a variety of red and sparkling wines in the coming months, upping their total to 15 wines off of their first vintage. The winery's best-selling items? Their rieslings and chardonnays - two wines particularly well-suited to the Finger Lakes region. “We've had a lot of traffic; every weekend we see more people,” Celine said. “I think we've had a good start; so far we're pretty happy.” Without an actual vineyard of their own, the LeSeurres gather grapes from growers across the Finger Lakes to make their wines, but the French couple has plans to stay on Keuka Lake for quite a while, eventually planting their own vineyard. “We've got some ideas. We're probably going to plant some Riesling and chardonnay, of course, because they work well here,” Sebastien said. “We're also going to bring other grapes from France that we are trying to keep secret that you should probably be able to taste in 10 years.” Located at 13920 State Route 54 in Hammondsport, Domaine LeSeurre Winery is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., daily. For more information, visit their website at www.DLWinery.com or call 292-3920.
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