A Sparkling History: Great Western Winery
“I am drinking the stars!” exclaimed Dom Perignon in 1693.
According to legend, the French Benedictine Monk had just invented champagne. The truth is that bubbles were present in wine long before his important role was recognized, due to a secondary fermentation that often happened in the bottle.
In the often snobby, high-priced world of French champagnes, the Reims and Epernay area of the Champagne region of France was, and still is, the center of the bubbly wine universe. But in 1867, a funny thing happened to shake up French sensibilities. A little known Finger Lakes wine company shocked the world by winning an honorable mention at the Exposition Universelle in Paris – the first award in Europe for an American sparkling wine. Six years later, the winery’s champagne earned a first-place in Vienna. In between, a wine connoisseur in Boston declared it “the Great Champagne of the Western World.” And so, Great Western was born. Today, it remains the flagship brand of the Pleasant Valley Wine Company in Hammondsport, and holds the distinction of being U.S. Bonded Winery No. 1. The European-style winery commands a picture postcard spot just outside the touristy little village of Hammondsport.