Welcome to New York Wine Country, home of five major wine regions covering nine officially recognized appellations blessed with fertile glacial soil and ideal grape-growing micro climates.
The third-largest wine-producing region in America, New York has 335 wineries that are making international waves with their award-winning Rieslings, Cabernet Francs, Chardonnays, and other varieties.
Like the famous European vineyards of Burgundy, Champagne and Germany, New York is considered a cool climate wine area, which produces fine wine.
World-Class Wine Country in Western New York
The receding glaciers of the Ice Age left New York with a unique combination of geography and climate. Bodies of water (lakes, rivers and ocean) act as natural air conditioning, cooling in the summer, warming in the winter, and sheltering the vines from temperature extremes.
The result is five major wine regions (each with its own unique micro climate) that grow more than 35 different varieties of grapes and make some of the finest wines in the world.
Latitude + Climate = Classic Wines
Tucked in the Northeast corner of the United States lies an exquisite wine lover’s paradise that’s on a similar latitude to Europe’s most cherished vineyards.
Folklore speaks of rootstock from France being disseminated here in New York State, to protect it from the ravages of World War II.
Northern California (Napa): 38º
New York (Long Island): 41º
New York (Hudson River): 42º
New York (Lake Erie): 43º
New York (Finger Lakes): 43º
Bordeaux (France): 44º
Burgundy (France): 47º
Champagne (France): 49º
Rheingau (Germany): 49º
The Niagara Escarpment
Freedom Run Winery was one of the founding members on The Niagara Wine Trail. European vinifera wines, including Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, thrive in this region. In fact, the climate compares to that of the Alsace, a region of northeastern France, on the borders with Germany and Switzerland.
The Niagara Escarpment was officially recognized as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 2005 and the larger “Greater Niagara” region is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the nation. The geography of The Niagara Escarpment and surrounding area have a unique climate that is one of the warmest in New York State due to proximity to the Great Lakes and the glacial rip of the Escarpment itself, which traps warm air currents from Lake Ontario. The dolomitic limestone soil of the Escarpment and the gravel silts near the lakeshore, along with a moderate climate, sloping land and well-drained soils, are ideal for growing vinifera grapes and a wide variety of fruit, during a 205 day growing season.
Explains Why New York Wine Country is so Desirable!
10,000 years ago, Ice Age glaciers sculpted a beautiful land where earth meets water to soften the air, creating ideal conditions for growing grapes.
400 years ago, Dutch settlers planted vines on a small island in this new world, followed by Englishmen on a different island to the East, and French immigrants in a river valley to the North.
180 years ago, a winery was established in that valley, followed by others further west in a region of spectacular lakes.
35 years ago, the land carved by glaciers had 19 wineries. Today there are 335.
16 years ago, on the land carved by glaciers... well that's where the story of Freedom Run Winery began.
How it all Started
It all started with a conversation in the winter of 2003 when Maureen Manning, the matriarch of the Manning Family, alerted her family that the Kappelt property had been put up for sale. The 93.3 acres of prime farmland included a stone manor house and a dry goods barn, both build in 1826 with stone from the Erie Canal, both of which were in need of extensive restoration. There were some concord grape vines and a 1000 tree apple orchard…but no winery.
The Manning kids had grown up running across the fields of this parcel of land, which is prominently set on the bench of the Niagara Escarpment, leaving the land at the foot of the glacial rip, prime for planting. It was decided that they would establish a boutique winery, and everyone took on a task that suited their own individual talent to get it started, and it has proven to be a labor of love.
In the beginning, Sean stood with his brothers Larry and Chip at the edge of the 90 acre property on the bench of the Niagara Escarpment that he had recently taken ownership of.
The trio tossed around ideas on what to do with the property that he had recently purchased, and it was decided that they would open a Boutique Winery.
Each brother assumed responsibility reflecting their best ability, with Sean assumed the role of CEO, dealing with all the financial and legal matters of opening a new business.
Richard ‘Sean' Manning
A retired vice president and co-owner of a large manufacturing corporation, Larry helped guide Freedom Run Winery, learning from the ground up, and leading by example.
Larry is driven by a voracious entrepreneurial spirit, so he assumed the role as COO, and took on the day to day management of the business.
Larry retired from Freedom Run Winery in 2019, after 15 years of dedication to excellence. He coined the motto here at Freedom Run Winery... 'We View Wine As Art'
Chip Manning took on the responsibility of working the land at FRW, and could usually be found coaxing the best from the six different varieties of vinifera grapes that eventually become the winery’s showpieces.
Unfortunately, Chip has passed after working diligently on land management, and keeping the agricultural operations running smoothly, giving the vineyards at Freedom Run Winery a great start.
Chip Manning - RIP 1964-2018
They broke ground in June of 2005, and erected a building designed to enhance the experience of drinking fine wine. The land was prepared to become home to vine stock that had been ordered to arrive during the spring of 2006 and an original 12 acres of vines were planted. The first few years were consumed with preparation for the day when wine would be harvested, bottled, labeled and offered for sale.
The winery has since been expanded to its present 13,000 square feet, including an elegant Tasting Room, Barrel Room, Production Facility, Lab, Offices and Kitchen. The land portfolio has also expanded over the years, with the addition of an adjoining 29.4 acres of agricultural land on top of the Escarpment, and an extra 15 acres of vines located on the grounds of the The Manning Art Studios a few miles down the road, for a total of 27 acres of planted grape vines.
Freedom Run Winery grows Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as Pinot Noir grapes. It is in the blends of these grapes that Freedom Run Winery shows their passion for 'the blend' by creating wines that show the best qualities of each vintage. There are also white varieties include Riesling and Chardonnay that are planted. These grapes reveal a distinctive minerality in the calcareous soils combined with a depth and concentration that cannot be achieved in lighter more vigorous soils.
The Team at Freedom Run Winery have worked together for many years to create Award Winning Wine and have Developed a Fine Reputation on the Niagara Wine Trail.
Operations Manager & Winemaker
Ryan Sidoti is an experienced winemaker, oenologist, and general lover of the wine world. He has been making wine professionally for ten years, and has been the head of winemaking operations at Freedom Run Winery since 2015. In 2020 he also assummed the role of overseeing the day to day management of Freedom Run Winery.
Vineyard Manager & Sommelier
Kurt Guba was the cellar master at Freedom Run Winery when the doors first opened in 2007. He is a certified Sommelier and wine educator and returned to Freedom Run Winery after a five year hiatus teaching a winery operations program at Niagara County Community College. He is now the Vineyard Manager at Freedom Run Winery.
Tasting Room Weekend Manager
Charissa has a voracious appetite for anything wine! She worked her way up to becoming the Weekend Tasting Room Manager after showing a sophisticated appreciation for understanding and describing the nuances of the wines produced at Freedom Run Winery.
Mark has many years of experience in the restaurant and bar business, and comes to us from the fast paced world of the Hard Rock Cafe. He is responsible for everything that happens in the 'front end' of Freedom Run Winery as the Retail Manager.
Laura Jean Manning
Chief Financial Officer
Laura Jean wears many hats in her efforts to help create a business that reflects the company logo of "We View Wine As Art." Not only does she manage the financial affairs of Freedom Run Winery, but she currates the private collection of art that is created by Sean, and the many great ceramic artists who he has befriended over the years.
A bit of folklore is that during WWII, France planted a substantial quantity of vines in this area, due to the similarity in soil composition, to save them from the ravages of war.
As the story goes, folklore of the area led to the naming of the winery. During the 1800s, many fugitive slaves ran through the area under cover of night against the backdrop of the Niagara Escarpment, which guided them to the Niagara River, and across to Canada, and to Freedom.