There have been grapes grown on the land which makes up Johnson Estate since the late 1800s. This is when the Johnson family acquired the farm. Fred Johnson was the first to run this land as a commercial fruit farm. He called it Sunnyslope Vineyards. Along with grapes, he also grew peaches, apples, and cherries. The winery itself was once a cold apple storage facility! In 1960 his son, Frederick S. Johnson, came back to Westfield, NY after working in South America for Nelson Rockefeller. He bought the farm from his father and proceeded to remove the fruit trees along with the majority of Concord grapes, which covered the estate. He replanted the land with various French-American hybrid grapes, along with the Native American varieties of Ives Noir and Delaware. Over the years, more acres and varieties of grapes have been added to this original selection, all carefully chosen for their excellent winemaking potential and their fit into the unique micro-climate which blesses the land.
The winery officially began production in 1961, which makes it the oldest family-owned estate winery in New York. The "estate" label is an important one. As an estate winery, the entire winemaking process takes place on the Johnson Estate property. In addition to the extreme attention and care this provides the winery, it also allows the grapes to be picked at their optimal moment of readiness and to be brought into the winemaking process before any unwanted deterioration can occur. Like all aspects of winemaking at Johnson Estate, this advantage makes itself known in every bottle. Mr. Johnson passed away in April of 1998 and the winery and farm are now owned and operated by his three children.