Billsboro Winery is celebrating its 15th anniversary under the ownership of Kim and Vinny Aliperti. The Aliperti’s purchased the property in 2007 from Bob and Jennifer Pool, who founded Billsboro as Geneva’s first bonded winery back in 2000. “I’ll never forget the morning Jen called to ask if we were interested in buying the winery,” recounts Kim, manager of operations, “the minute I told Vinny about their proposition he quickly demurred saying we’d be crazy to take this on.” He went further on to say, “our lives will never be the same!”
The Road Starts in Tunisia
Kim and Vinny’s origin story started back in 1992 when they met as Peace Corps volunteers in Tunisia. Upon their return to the hectic pace of stateside living in NYC, it became apparent they were not cut out for the suit and tie desk job lifestyle. While a lot of people fall in love with the idea of becoming a winemaker, it was the young couple’s honeymoon out in the Pacific Northwest’s wine country that sparked the idea and the rest is history. Thanks to connections to the Long Island wine industry and Vinny’s family tradition of home winemaking, he eventually got his foot in the proverbial cellar door at Wolffer Estate in 1997 where he apprenticed for three vintages.
In 2000, the couple and their two-year old twins, packed their bags and headed for the Finger Lakes. “The running joke for a while was that our move to Geneva was almost like being re-employed to the Peace Corps”, quipped Vinny, for the pace and space of living on Seneca Lake was a world away from the Hamptons. Vinny was hired as Associate Winemaker at Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, where he worked alongside long time winegrowing pioneer Hermann Wiemer. Vinny’s next move was to the startup Atwater Vineyards in 2001, where he rose through the ranks and eventually became Head Winemaker in 2003. In 2006, they received ‘the phone call’ that would inevitably change the trajectory of their winemaking journey. Atwater’s owner, Ted Marks, was nothing but supportive of their plans to start their own brand. “Ted’s spirit of collaboration and trust is indicative of the entire Finger Lakes wine industry’s willingness to work together for the greater good,” says Aliperti. Over the next fifteen years, Vinny continued producing Atwater’s wines from their estate grown grapes, while also sharing cellar space to make Billsboro’s wines from locally sourced grapes.
The Aliperti’s penchant for volunteerism and commitment to their community has been inextricably linked to the Billsboro brand. Their dedication to improving the lives of children, to increasing access to the arts, and preserving the environment for the next generation of winemakers is part and parcel with their philosophy. The bonds they have developed through board and committee work with organizations like The Boys and Girls Club, The Smith Opera House, and the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance have had an impact on many of these important issues. Most recently, Kim serves as a Geneva Town Board Member and Vinny has co-founded a non-profit called FLX Craft Beverage Environmental Coalition, formed to advocate for sustainable environmental policies. “We always felt that the best part of living in a small town was the sense that if you get involved, you can make tangible change in real time.”
The Billsboro Experience
Billsboro’s century old post and beam barn and newly constructed adjoining pavilion sit on an idyllic 60 acres at the northwestern tip of Seneca Lake, in the Finger Lakes region. The solar-powered tasting barn is surrounded by stately walnut trees, terraced fields, a deep wooded ravine, and views of the lake.Visitors can expect to enjoy a rotating selection of new releases, think Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine and chocolate flight pairing, or can even schedule a more intimate guided wine tasting for those who want to geek out. Wine friendly snacks and charcuterie boards are also available to enhance your wine tasting experience. Special events are held year round including Billsboro’s signature bi-weekly event, Pizza on the Patio, held from May through October. Billsboro also has a robust Wine Club, where members have special access to limited releases such as Albariño, Syrah, and library wine offerings. In fifteen years, Billsboro Winery has grown its production from just 1,200 cases to over 4,000. “Over the last fifteen years,” recalls Kim, “the industry has definitely matured, wine quality has markedly improved, the emphasis on customer experience and direct to consumer sales have transformed our business model, and we now look forward to sharing our wines with future customers over the next fifteen years!”
Billsboro is committed to producing dry classic European varietal wines sourced from top Finger Lakes winegrowers and to presenting a high–quality product and customer experience. Billsboro was the winner of the 2016 NYS Governor’s Cup for its 2013 Syrah. The business employs 4 full-time and 12 part-time employees and is located at 4760 West Lake Road, Geneva, NY 14456. For more information, visit billsborowinery.com.