Peter Oughterson was born and raised on the West side of Seneca Lake. He received his degree
in Agricultural Engineering from Cornell University and worked all over the country for
vineyards and produce companies. He later returned to the Finger Lakes to work for Herman
Wiemer in his vineyard nursery business, before becoming wine maker and vineyard manager
for the winery. In 2001 he left Wiemer’s to pursue the start of his own winery, Highland Cellars.
Peter produced the wine for Highland Cellars out of a tank room at his home, and a warehouse
building in Dundee, NY. Later he would build a warehouse across the road from his family home
in Rock Stream. The tasting room was constructed in 2002 on Route 14 in Dundee in
conjunction with the Kendall family and Hickory Hollow Winery, which Peter also makes the
wine for. Peter’s wines have received dozens of awards and ratings from wine publications.
Today, you can find these wines distributed in every county in New York State.
When Peter was first starting Highland Cellars winery, he formed the same concern that countless owners have had. “How am I going to get this wine into the bottle efficiently and for minimal expense?” Hand bottling takes a frustrating amount of time, and often results in inconsistent results. A bottling line is too expensive to justify on a winery with small production. Peter consulted many other wineries about the issue of bottling and a solution was created. “People kept telling me, if I buy a bottling line and put it in a trailer; they would hire me to bottle their wine.” It wasn’t a new idea; there are many operating mobile lines in the United States, specifically in California. But yet no one had brought the service to New York. With enough approval and commitment from wineries across the Finger Lakes, Peter put together New York’s first mobile bottling line.
Over the past 15 years Peter has bottled for more than 50 wineries and 3 million bottles of wine. In 2010, his son Gage, started working on the line during his summer break from high school. He continued to help during the summers throughout high school and college. In 2015, Gage graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and joined his father’s business. He would take over wholesale duties, working with the distributor and traveling across the state, selling wine to liquor stores and restaurants. Later in 2015, Gage had the idea to start a mobile packaging solution for breweries and cideries. The decision was made to go with a canning line over bottles after talking to many local brewers and cider makers. The industry seems to be heading towards cans because of their ability to preserve freshness and the material cost is beginning to drop.
Today the father and son team operate the two mobile lines and produce and sell wine for two separate labels. Highland Cellars has quickly distinguished itself as one of the pioneer producers and contributors to growth in the Finger Lakes Wine Region.
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