The Finger Lakes wine industry began around 1820 when native North American grape varieties thrived. By 1860 the first bonded winery in America was founded in the village of Hammondsport on Keuka Lake. The sparkling and fortified wines made from the native varieties commanded great respect throughout the world. Because of prohibition -- along with changing tastes and the introduction of European grape varieties -- the wines produced from the native, or "vitis labrusca" grapes, soon became a distant memory.
The ch�p�ka project asks, why not now? The name ch�p�ka comes from the Lenape word for "roots". Lenape was the language spoken by the Delaware tribe of Native Americans. The Delaware grape variety was a major component of the world-renowned sparkling wines that emerged from the region in the 1800s, along with the Catawba grape, and others. A century and a half ago they were some of the most prized cultivars of northeastern North America. These grape varieties are currently used predominantly in the mass production of sweet table wines and fruit juices.
ch�p�ka is the project of winemaker Nathan Kendall and Pascaline Lepeltier MS, beginning with the 2016 vintage. The ch�p�ka sparkling wines are crafted in the ancestral method, relying exclusively on natural yeasts while keeping total sulfur under 10ppm. The Delaware and Catawba grapes are grown organically and the wines are created without the use of modern technology.