Wine Maker & Wine Cellar
Business Administration alum turned his degree and passion for winemaking into a small business that has garnered international acclaim.
In most families, blood runs red. But for the Kendall family, it also comes in white, sparkling, and rosé.
Nathan Kendall ’07 has been surrounded by wine from a young age. His parents co-founded Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars, a small winery nestled along the coast of Seneca Lake. Kendall earned a degree in business administration with the intention of entering the business side of wine after graduation.
Since then, Kendall’s Wines have won countless awards that helped land him on Wine Enthusiasts’ Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers in 2018.
“I definitely think I approached school differently to my peers who were changing their majors and figuring out what they wanted to do,” Kendall said. “I always knew I wanted to manage a winery. Getting the business degree was very important because my day-to-day life is sort of like a business now.”
Even with a goal in mind, Kendall found college to be a challenge.
“The business program forced me to work harder than I had at other things in my life so far,” Kendall said. “Dr. (John) Keiser’s classes were very challenging, but I ultimately took the most away from those difficult courses.”
After graduation, Kendall worked at different wineries around the world, learning everything he could about the winemaking process.
“That experience was amazing,” Kendall said. “I was working in both the southern and northern hemispheres, so as soon as the summer is done you hop on a plane and go to work in someone else’s summer.”
“I will continue to make wine until I physically cannot do it anymore.”
After five years of working for other winemakers and honing his craft, Kendall returned to the Finger Lakes to begin making his own wine. In 2015, he joined his parents and took over operations at Hickory Hollow.
From handpicking the grapes to placing the bottle on the shelf, Kendall prefers to keep the operation small.
“My name is on the label so if it’s not up to my standards, it’s not going in the bottle,” Kendall said. “I will continue to make wine until I physically cannot do it anymore.”