Saint Michael’s Mission, located on Mission Road in the town of Conesus, is indeed off the beaten path.
In the late 1860s, Bernard J. McQuaid, the first bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rochester, purchased hundreds of acres of farmland overlooking Hemlock Lake. He also planted vineyards for sacramental wine and named the winery “Oh-Neh-Da,” after the Indian name for the lake.
But by the 1920s, the diocese determined the farm was no longer viable, and sold the land to an order of missionary priests known as the Society of the Divine Word.
The Society began construction of St. Michael’s Mission in 1936. A convent for nuns, classrooms, dormitories, and athletic fields were added and the vineyards were revived.
The grounds included grottos depicting the Stations of the Cross and beautiful sculptures that attracted scores of people to view the spiritual artistry.
The picturesque yellow brick mission standing against the natural background of woods high above the west shore of Hemlock Lake, thrived into the 1960s.
Faced with declining vocations, the Society of the Divine Word sold the buildings in the 1980s, the grottos and statures were relocated outside the area. Currently the owners operate part of the property as a vacation rental through AirBnB.
Around the corner from the old mission, the original winery, now called Eagle Crest and O-Neh-Da Vineyards still offers natural, pure grape wines from locally grown Finger Lakes fruit.