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The Wine Guy
Jeff Richards' wine column for Thursday 8/07/03

Wine rebuilds the chapel built by memories

The Wine Guy column by JEFF RICHARDS

After more than 70 years of standing up to the elements, the Garrett Memorial Chapel needs some help.

A detail from an elaborate stained-glass window at the Garrett Memorial Chapel on Bluff Point in Penn Yan
Nine Finger Lakes wineries are coming to the aid of the historic stone building, which overlooks Keuka Lake from Bluff Point. They are donating their time and products for a wine-tasting event to help raise funds for renovation.

"A Toast to the Garrett Chapel" will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, on the lawn at the end of Skyline Drive, just up the road from the chapel.

Wine and grape merchant Paul Garrett and his wife Evelyn built the stone chapel in 1931, honoring the memory of their son, Charles Williams Garrett, who died at 26.

Nestled on the bluff, the chapel was built in a seventh-century Norman style. It is a sight to behold. A walkway beneath stone buttresses on the south side of the building affords a spectacular view of the lake below. But the grandeur outside is only a portion of the meticulous detail that went into the construction of this memorial.

Scenes of the life of Christ are depicted in 10 stained glass windows in the sanctuary. The floor is made of slate from Holland. The marble in the crypt is from Algeria.

Each stained glass window in the crypt draws its theme from a well-recognized poem. "The Brook" by Alfred Lord Tennyson is featured in the first window on the left. The scene depicts a stream passing through the countryside, symbolizing the phrase repeated throughout the poem, "And men may come and men may go, but I go on forever."

There are seven other beautiful scenes in the crypt's windows, with equally engaging themes and a vibrant array of stained-glass colors.

Who was Paul Garrett and why was he in the Finger Lakes? At the turn of the century, Paul started a wine business, Garrett & Company. He acquired more than 4,000 acres of land in the Penn Yan area that he used to grow grapes and produce wine. He eventually had business holdings in New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri and California.

By 1918, his business was producing 10 million gallons of wine annually, according to research provided by great-grandson John Barden. John works with architects on the chapel restoration plans as he continues his research on the family's former wine business.

Great-granddaughter Charissa Roberts has had a lifelong affection for the chapel and its grounds. She remembers, "Even as a child ... asking (the groundskeeper) for the keys and locking myself in the chapel and playing the organ for hours."

The chapel's surroundings became a refuge for her several years ago as she worked to restore the beauty of the gardens. "My passion is the grounds," Charissa says.

Next weekend, all are invited to see what the Garrett descendents and chapel trustees have accomplished over the last few years.

- Call 585/383-0876 for reservations and directions. Reservations may also be made by sending a check, made out to the Garrett Memorial Chapel Trust, to: "A Toast to the Garrett Chapel," 11 Fletcher Road, Pittsford, NY 14534. The cost is $25 per person.

Tours of the chapel, crypt (usually restricted from public access) and bell tower will be offered during the event. Shuttle transportation to the chapel will be provided.

Jeff Richards' wine column appears each Thursday on the Twin Tiers Life Food Page. For comments or questions, he can be reached at 607/271-8279 or 800/836-8970, ext. 279, or e-mail: thewineguy

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