It’s been a winery without a home. Now it’ll have one (and a brewery) near Geneva

Randy Agness has a philosophy that seems suited for the hoped-for and soon end of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We just all need some fun back in our lives,” he said.

He’s doing his part. Agness in the next few weeks is opening a winery, tasting room, brewery and event space on Route 14 just north of Geneva.

Agness is a former amateur winemaker who has been doing it as a pro for the last five years. His Semi Dry Riesling has won some awards and other honors (including a nomination for New York State Winery of the Year).

But Agness Wine Cellars has been a bit of a nomad. Agness has made his Rieslings from grapes grown on Seneca Lake vineyards, using production facilities at different wineries on both Seneca and Keuka lakes. (He started in 2016 at Zugibe Winery on Seneca’s east shore).

Now, for the first time, he’ll have his own equipment and place to craft his wines.

That along with the brewery and tasting room, are opening at Toganenwood Estate, 265 Route 14 in Lyons, a little north of the State Thruway and just across the Wayne County line. Toganenwood has also hosted a barn weddings venue, but that business has been difficult during the pandemic.

Agness is hoping to open everything up in mid-April, or as soon as his permits and licensing are approved. The brewery equipment is being installed this month.

In addition to his Riesling, Agness will also be featuring a new wine: It’s a Finger Lakes Extra Dry Sparkling wine made with a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay. That will debut in May.

With the coming fall harvest, Agness hopes to add Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a Red Bordeaux blend.

Then there’s the beer. It will use local Upstate-grown hops. Agness plans a pilsner, a lager and, as a summer special, a Red Raspberry Kolsch using locally grown fresh fruit. Other seasonals will follow, including a Pumpkin Ale for the fall and a Christmas Ale in the summer.

But, wait, that’s not all. Agness is also planning a hard cider aged in brandy barrels. He’s hoping to get approval to call it an American Calvados (Calvados is a French apple brandy).

Agness wines are currently available at selected shops and restaurants across the state, including Syracuse and Rochester.

But the new tasting room will allow direct sales, often the most lucrative way for smaller wineries to run their business.

The Toganenwood Estate property is an old farm on 175 acres near Canandaigua Creek. It has buildings that have 16-inch cobblestone walls. Some of those walls extend below ground level, giving the space a consistent 50-degree temperature that is ideal for wine-making, Agness said.

The tasting room itself will be housed in a former corncrib. “It’s cool because these barns are just so old,” Agness said. The original farm dates back to 1832.

With the new set-up, Agness is gaining 5 times the production space he had before.

He produced 100 cases in his first year five years ago, and that has increased to more than 1,000 cases a year. He expects to at least double that with the new facility.

Still, Agness Wine Cellars will try to stay true to its small-scale roots.

“We know we’re small,” Agness said. “We’re not tied to anything so we can do whatever we want and take advantage of that. We’re looking forward to being a destination, right off the Thruway when you visit the Finger Lakes.”

Don Cazentre writes for, and The Post-Standard. Reach him at, or follow him at, on Twitter or Facebook.

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