Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Finger Lakes Year 2005 In Pictures

My wife and I had a great 2005 in the Finger Lakes, especially with our family and friends that stayed with us and helped us enjoy the great people, beautiful scenery, and of course, wine of the Finger Lakes. Here are some of the highlights of the year in pictures.

A Beautiful Seneca Sunrise in April 2005. I got up to let the dogs out and looked out and saw the sun just coming up and grabbed the camera quick. I took about 30 time lapse pictures as the sun slowly rose over the lake. It is so amazing to wake up and see that big lake lighting up right in front of you. (Click on photos for larger image)

This is a view of Keuka Lake in May 2005 from onboard the Keuka Maid, a large 3-deck tour boat. We took the lunch cruise for our first time on the boat and had a great time and a great lunch buffet, while getting up close looks at all the fabulous lakeside homes on Keuka Lake. The crew was terrific and I would recommend the Keuka Maid as a great thing to do if you are visiting the Finger Lakes. The have lunch and dinner cruises and night cruises.

In July 2005, we went to the Finger Lakes Wine Festival at Watkins Glen International Speedway. I had to take a picture of Mr. Mustard and his hot dog hat. Unfortunately, the day was unbearably hot and we could not really enjoy the wine tasting. I really do not know why they put all the wineries in the tents with the flaps down and no air moving through them.

Even though you can't really tell what it is from the picture, this was a once in a lifetime event. This is a picture of Mars rising over the eastern ridge of Seneca Lake in August 2005 in one of its closest orbits to the earth in a very long time. We had just arrived at about 10:30pm on a Thursday night and I was on the deck and looked out toward the lake and saw an orange glow starting to rise over the eastern horizon. I stood there a while and watched as this object that appeared like a small orange moon slowly rose. Somewhere in my mind, I recalled hearing that Mars would be viewable on this weekend and it clicked that this is what I was seeing. It was very exciting to see and I grabbed my camera and tried to get a picture, but my camera had a hard time focusing in the dark. I got my telescope out and I could make out craters on the surface.

In September 2005, we went to the Balloon Fest in Danville and had a great time watching as about 50 hot air balloons ascended into a beautiful blue evening sky. Some of the balloons were really interesting, such as one shaped like a spider with six arms coming out of the balloon and one shaped like a barn with farm animals looking out its windows.

This picture was taken while making the rounds of the wineries in October 2005. It is a picture of Hector Falls cascading on its journey to Seneca Lake. There are many wonderful waterfalls in the area.

This picture was taken in November 2005 outside the "Haunted" winery of Miles Wine Cellars. The craggy tree had shed its leaves and looked forlornly across Seneca Lake, knowing that winter was on its way. We sadly battened down the hatches and dreamed of spring.

I wish you all the best in 2006 and I thank you for visiting my blog. My resolution for 2006 is to try and continue to get better at writing and presenting interesting content about the Finger Lakes. Please feel free to comment or email me about any Finger Lakes news or topics.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Finger Lakes Grape Whines

-- Sheila's latest Finger Lakes winery feature about Castel Grisch Winery is up now at

-- For some awesome photography of the Finger Lakes area, visit Mary Shelsby's blog Make sure to visit the archives. I think she has a wonderful eye for getting beautiful and interesting photos.

-- I could not post about this book before Christmas because I got it for my wife for Christmas and I did not want to spoil the surprise. But I can not say enough about the wonderful Photo book by Charles Feil and Ernest Rose titled "The Finger Lakes Region of New York- A View From Above". It contains amazing aerial photos of The Finger Lakes area. For more info and to see some sample pages of this book, click here

-- VWM has a good article titled "Putting A New Face On The Bottle" about what goes on behind the scenes in developing a good wine label.

-- Come back this weekend for my end of year post, My Finger Lakes Year 2005 in Pictures.

-- Also, Don't forget to visit my sponsor, The Wine Enthusiast (see link on right side of page), for some great savings with their Big Winter Sale on Wine Accessories and All Things Wine.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Finger Lakes Song Lyrics

Some folks have requested the lyrics to the Finger Lakes song that I wrote about in the last post. To hear the song, just click on the link in the Previous Post. Here are the lyrics:

Finger Lakes, Land of the Seneca, the ghosts of the water call me back to you,

Finger Lakes, Made by the hand of God, the whisper of the water calls me back to you.

I hear her waters in the sweetest dreams of night, Softly speaking to me,

Words so peaceful, they put my fears to rest, Her beauty dazzles me, And this is where I want to stay.

At night I hear the sound of ancient drums, Sounding slowly on the wind,

I hear the voices of the ancient souls, And I know the reason why I'm here, Now it's perfectly clear

Saturday, December 24, 2005

My Christmas Present To You

As I've said before, I have been singing, playing guitar, and writing songs for over 20 years. When I am sitting on the deck looking out at Seneca Lake, I often get my guitar out and just play what comes to me and I record these Seneca-Inspired improvisations. I eventually would like to put out a CD of songs about the Finger Lakes. Well, I have finally completed the vocals and a few instruments (more instruments will be added later) for the first song named "Finger Lakes" and I offer it to you, my blog readers, as my gift to you. Just click here to hear it at Soundclick and click on the arrows for lo-fi or hi-fi (depending on your internet speed) or you can download the mp3. A free registration may be required. Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to My Wife, My Family, My Friends, My Readers, My Fellow Wine & Food Bloggers (especially Lenn at LennDevours and Jennifer at Cookin In The 'Cuse- Thanks for your support and encouragement), & All The Great People & Wineries of The Finger Lakes. My Wish is that we may All Share the Good in Ourselves and Be a Positive Force in the Lives of All Those That We Meet In Our Short Time On This Earth! God Bless!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Finger Lakes News and Notes

-- Jeff Richards latest column gives you some tasty ways to use Finger Lakes wine in recipes for Christmas Dinner

-- A Miami Herald writer reports on her trip to the Finger Lakes and how she fell in love with Finger Lakes Riesling

--I challenge all of the Finger Lakes wineries to take a look at the top ten winery websites rated by Winery Website Report and then re-evaluate their own websites. Winery Website report will even evaluate your winery's website and tell you where your website ranks. Just look below the top ten winery website rankings and submit your website.

-- Tony at the ijamming blog recaps his wine buys from his Finger Lakes trip

--The Seneca Lake Wine Trail has announced the Wine Trail Events for 2006. Along with the traditional events, they have announced some very interesting and unique events for 2006. Two that interested me were The Golden Nose Wine Judging Weekend April 8-9 and A Riesling To Visit Passport from May 1 to September 1. The Golden Nose event is a unique opportunity to learn from regional wine professionals how to professionally taste and judge wine, and then actually judge and select winning Finger Lakes wine. The Riesling To Visit Passport gives you free Riesling tastings at all participating wineries with the chance to win a special prize at the end of the event. Also, don't forget the upcoming Bargain Bash event January 14-22 where participating Seneca Lake wineries "clean house" for the New Year by offering extraordinary bargains.

-- We are getting word that will be having a wine sale from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, so be sure to check out their website after Christmas.

-- During this Christmas season, please be sure to give to those less fortunate. I know we have all been asked to give a lot this year with Katrina and other disasters, but a lot of local charities are still in need of donations, especially during this time of year. If you don't know what charity to give to, The Charity Guide website has a search feature where you type in your town and a list of charities for your area is listed.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Finger Lakes has a couple of great new items.

-- Sheila has written her latest Finger Lakes Winery Profile on Yates Cellars.

-- Also, if you want to get to know 10 of the Finger Lakes top winemakers a little better, listen as they each answer 5 questions ranging from "What training or education has prepared you to be a winemaker?" to "What seperates your wines and winemaking from others?" A very interesting and intimate interactive feature from The Democrat and Chronicle. I continue to be very impressed with their coverage of the Finger Lakes wine scene.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Fun With Wine

And Now For The Lighter Side Of Wine...

-- Here are some Fun and Unusual Wine Labels

--Here are some Funny Wine Cartoons

-- Here's where you can find out, You Know You're A Wine Nut If...

-- And funny wine cartoons in 2005 Calendar. Click on "View Cartoons" and click on arrows to move through cartoons.

We could all use a little humor when the Mercury hits the single digits.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Weekend Wines

Here are some tasting notes on a few wines we have enjoyed over the past few weekends:

Ravines 2003 Chardonnay,, Eastern side of Keuka Lake, Hints of Citrus and Vanilla, Buttery mouthfeel, and not too much oak. This is the kind of Chardonnay I like.

Rooster Hill 2004 Chardonnay,, Eastern side of Keuka Lake, This wine has such good balance of vanilla and oak that it could win an Olympic medal for Gymnastics Balance Beam. Sorry, but my notes had in BOLD letters "Excellent Balance".

Keuka Overlook 2002 Chardonnay,, Eastern side of Keuka Lake, A very subdued Chardonnay, with hints of vanilla, licorice, and a sweetness in the oak flavor. Very different for Finger Lakes Chardonnay, but very good.

One of the great things about wine is that when I drink a particular bottle, it takes me back to the winery where I first tasted it. The 3 wineries above all happen to be located on the Eastern side of Keuka Lake and, when I drink the wine, I can envision the amazing views with the summer sun reflecting off the lake, and the uniqueness of each tasting room, and the passion of the people at the wineries describing each wine as I taste. And with the winter snows having arrived already, it is these sensory memories that sustain me until spring.

Friday, December 09, 2005

News and Notes

Standing Stone Vineyards, our neighbors directly across the lake, have had several of their wines rated highly in the November 30 issue of Wine Spectator magazine. Check out the
details here. Standing Stone is one of our favorite places to visit. They have great wines and a fabulous view and they are always very friendly and welcoming.

Wine Spectator also has a good article on the Finger Lakes area from their June 15 issue. You have to sign up for their free 3-day pass to read archived articles.

If you are interested in wine history, Civinous is a blog devoted to wine history and wine education. Very thorough, detailed, and well-researched, this blog is basically an online encyclopedia of wine information.

Here is an article in the New York Times updating progress (or lack of it) on New Yorks efforts to enable shipping of wine from other states (requires free registration). It seems that a major roadblock is that the major carriers, Fedex & UPS, have yet to be approved as shippers of wine from out of state in to New York state. And the extra paperwork that shippers will be required to fill out when delivering wine seems to be holding things up. But there seems to be conflicting thoughts on why the new law has yet to yield the intended effects. The jury still seems to be out on what impact the new law allowing direct shipping of wines from other states into New York state will have on Finger Lakes wineries. But, it should be a wash, because New York wineries will be able to ship their wines to other states. Of course, I hear that other states are setting up hoops that New York wineries must jump through to get approved for shipping. The wrangling continues between the interests of wineries, wholesalers, retailers, consumers, and state governments. Hopefully, it will all settle out to the advantage of the consumer.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Work Behind The Wine

Here is a good article on the work that goes into making wine. When you are enjoying a glass of your favorite wine, remember to drink a toast to the dedicated folks who work tirelessly to bring that liquid gold to you. I know a lot of people dream of owning their own winery, but that wine does not miraculously get into that bottle and sell itself. There is a lot of work involved and a winery owner must be farmer, weatherman, chemist, marketer, personnel manager, website designer, as well as about 20 other jobs at the same time. I raise my glass to all of you winery owners who work hard in your passion to create great wine for us!!!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Wine Blogging Wednesday

Derrick at Obsession With Food gives the challenge for this Wine Blogging Wednesday. I'm very excited about this one because this will be my first WBW. The challenge is to pick a bottle of wine based only on the wine label. The wine that I have chosen comes from a Finger Lakes winery known for its labels and the story behind the winery and its labels is as interesting as the wine itself. I just happened to find myself at Bully Hill winery (see my winery report here) the weekend after this WBW challenge was announced. First I'll tell you about the wine I chose and then (as Paul Harvey says), I 'll tell you the rest of the story.

The way I chose this wine was to stand about 20 feet away from the wall of 40 wines that Bully Hill has for sale and grab the one that caught my eye first. That wine was Ravat 51, also known as Vignoles. The label depicts a pineapple with red flowers blooming out of it in a straw colored background. The red flowers first caught my eye and then the pineapple, and the contrast was intriguing. The wine has a straw or pale yellow color, with floral and citrus scents. The wine starts with a short touch of honey sweetness and quickly erupts into flavors of pineapple (the label does not lie), tangerine, grapefruit, and even ripe peach with a tangy acidity at the finish. It is a sweet wine, but the citrus and acidity cuts the sweetness very quickly. I suppose some would call this a dessert wine, but I think it would be a refreshing summer wine to sip on the deck. I believe that this label was created by the founder of the winery, Walter S. Taylor, a talented artist as well as winemaker. He is responsible for most of the artwork that graces Bully Hill wine labels. Most of you in the Finger Lakes are familiar with it, but for those of you who don't know, here is Walter's very interesting story.

Walter's forebearers started making wine on Bully Hill near Hammondsport NY in the 1880's. Over the next 80 years, the Taylor Wine Company grew to become one of the most successful wine companies in the United States. While employed as an executive at the now huge corporation, Walter bought back the original Bully Hill estate in 1958. This will become important later in the story. Walter did not agree with the direction that the Taylor Wine Co. Board of Directors were taking the company and he made his feelings well-known. Walter, even though he was the grand-son of the founder, was then fired from the company in 1970. So Walter started his own wine company on the original Bully Hill estate that he had bought back in 1958, focusing on French-American hybrid grapes. On the labels of his new wines, he printed that his wines were produced by Walter S. Taylor at the Original Taylor Estate. Well, Taylor Wine Co. objected to this and sued Walter for trademark infringement. Well, Walter used the lawsuit as a publicity opportunity and made a huge outcry that they were preventing him from using his own name. Well, the court ruled in favor of Taylor Wine Co. and ordered Walter to remove his name from his wine labels. But he did not make new labels. Instead, the story goes that he hired several hundred local college kids to come to his winery, gave them all black markers, and had them black out the name Taylor on all the wine labels. This gave Walter even more publicity, but it did not sit well with Taylor Wine Co., who then sued him again for not complying with the spirit of the court order to remove his name. Then, by the time the new lawsuit made it to court, the Coca-Cola company had bought out Taylor Wine Company in 1977 and Walter was David versus Goliath. The legend goes that Walter harnessed a manure spreader to his goat named "Guilt Free" with a banner that said "They Got My Heritage, But They Couldn't Get My Goat" and proceeded to march the several miles into town. Of course Coca-Cola's superior legal power won the battle, but not the war, as Walter continued to make wine and design his own labels (without Taylor on them). Eventually, Coca-Cola sold Taylor Wine Co. to Seagram and Taylor Wine Company faded away. Walter is gone now, but his legacy at Bully Hill is still going strong. Boy, that story is a Hollywood script just waiting to be written. Sideways move over. To see the many other interesting Bully Hill wine labels, click here

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Seneca Shore Winery Visit

This continues my review of wineries visited in November. Seneca Shore Wine Cellars, Penn Yan NY (west side of Seneca Lake) They have a Medieval-themed tasting room, with servers dressed in Rennaisance garb and some very good wines. The tasting room is small compared to some of the others in the area, but the mood is fun and unpretentious. Here are my tasting notes: -Semi Dry Riesling, $8.99, Light citrus start into a light and smooth finish, Very refreshing. -Gewurtztraminer, $8.99, Riesling-like with hints of pineapple and lemon with light spice at the finish. -Chardonnay-No Oak, $7.99, Smooth, full mouth feel, and buttery. I do like Seneca Shore Chardonnay & it's a bargain at $7.99. -Traminette, $8.99, A grape created at nearby Cornell University as a cross of Gewurtztraminer and a native grape, This wine has the classic Gewurtz spice but is smoother and almost buttery. -Port, $9.99, Fortified with brandy, made from Pinot Noir & Baco Noir, lighter than most ports, but still very warm at 18% alcohol.


Bits and Pieces

-- Sheila Livadas has her latest Finger Lakes winery profile posted at This one is on Ventosa Vineyards, a new winery in Geneva, just opened in October. I plan on visiting them in a few months.

--If you are planning on visiting Glenora Wine Cellars for holiday gifts, or just stocking up for the winter for yourself, join their eclub and get a 10% off coupon that you can print out. The coupon is only good for a month, so join the club right before you are going to visit to make sure you get the discount.

--If you are new to wine appreciation, Neil at is offering a free wine course that teaches the basics of wine in 10 emailed lessons. I have received the course and it is a good basic primer for beginners and it is totally FREE.

--A nice review for Wagners Vignoles at The Wine-Reviewer Blog
This is one of my favorites also.

--Dr Vino has a blog post on a new line of perfumes that have the scent of wine. If they would come out with a cologne that smelled like Gewurtzraminer, I would buy it. I love the aroma of a good Gewurtz. What is your favorite wine aroma?

--Congratulations to Alexa Gifford, the new director of the New York Wine & Culinary Center, which is expected to open in Canandaigua by June 2006. It will feature New York food and wine lectures, classes, and tastings.

--Several studies show the impact of wine on the New York economy. A study by MKF Research shows the following for 2004:
-36,000 wine-related jobs
-$1.3 billion in wages paid
-$420 million in New York winery sales
-$30 million of grape sales
-31 thousand grape-bearing acres
-4.14 million wine-related tourists

And a study by NASS shows the growth of winery-related business in New York state:
-148 of New York's 212 wineries (70%) have opened in the past 20 years
-63 wineries have opened just since 2000, doubling the growth rate of the 90's.
-10 times more tourists visited New York state wineries in 2003 than in 1985
-A 54% increase in visits and 49% increase in per-person spending at New York wineries from 2000 to 2003.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Another Great Finger Lakes Road Trip from The Star-Gazette

This Road Trip article covers the Hammondsport/Bath area I really love these road trip articles. Make sure you click on the Photo Gallery. My favorite picture is the one of the Barber House that was bought out of a Sears & Roebuck catalog in 1893 and shipped on a train. Yes, you could buy a house out of the Sears catalog.

Man, I wish I could make it to Seneca Falls the weekend of Dec. 9-11. The village is transformed into "Bedford Falls" from the classic Christmas movie It's A Wonderful Life. There's even an appearance by Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played Zuzu Bailey in the movie, along with a tree-lighting ceremony and an old-fashioned bonfire with a community singalong. Now that's Christmas.

That is part of what I love about the Finger Lakes area. It is truly small-town America and it is like stepping back in time in many ways to a much simpler era. I hope it can stay that way.

In Memory Of A Friend

Along with enjoying wine, another hobby of mine is making music. I have been a songwriter, singer, and musician for over 20 years now, releasing a few CD's along the way. This week, I sadly had to say goodbye to one of my bandmates. I wrote a song to sing at his funeral and it was the toughest song I have ever had to sing. In fact, I barely made it through.

You can hear the song here Click on the hi-fi or lo-fi arrow.

Here are the lyrics:

Verse 1:
Billy was a music man, Oh man he could sing, I loved to hear him singin, yeah
And Billy was in the band, But now he's gone away, Y know I can't believe it No

But you can't stop his music, Cause I still hear him in my head, & Billy's singin
We're an American Band, And we were, And we are, & Billy sing it,
Sing Desperado again, and he would, yes he would,
Cause there's no way you can, Stop a music man

Verse 2:
Now Billy's up in heaven, In that all-star band, Y know he's in the band, yeah
Oh Billy when I get there, I hope they let me in, To play with you again.


Last night I saw the color of crimson in the sunset & I knew he was lookin down on us & I could hear him singin.


There's no way, There's no way, There's no way you can Stop a music man

He was a great man who loved to entertain people and make them smile and have a good time.
I raise my glass to a great music man.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Finger Lakes Winery Websites Woes

Lenn over at Lenndevours did a post about Long Island wineries not doing a very good job with their websites. I believe the same can be said for a lot of the Finger Lakes winery websites. I go to many websites that have not been updated in months and that have no way to purchase wine or gifts or even gift certificates online. Especially during the holidays, shoppers are looking for easier faster ways to purchase gifts and the Internet makes that possible IF the option is available for shoppers. And people that have purchased your product in the past and have become fans of your winery are hungry for news about the winery and its wines. I understand that maintaining an email list and emailing newletters can be time consuming, but even just a monthly update on your website about what is happening at the winery is truly appreciated by those that are fans of your product. It keeps them interested and excited about your products. Blogging (what you are reading right now) is another great way to promote your products. Blogs are extremely easy to set up (just go to and you can be set up in a few minutes). Also, running contests with small prizes (gift certificates,etc) can create a lot of interest. I do understand that running a winery and creating great wines is a more than full-time job, but I really believe that if you are not utilizing the Internet to its fullest, you are losing out on relatively easy sales.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Finger Lakes Christmas Gift Guide

With Thanksgiving having come and gone in a gobble of turkey, Christmas will be here in the wink of Santa's eye. Seriously, there are really only about 2 online shopping weeks left, as you should have any online orders in by Friday, December 16 to ensure holiday delivery. After combing through the internet offerings, here are my recommendations for websites offering gifts for that special someone who loves The Finger Lakes.

--First and foremost, we must have gifts for the Finger Lakes wine lover. The best gift is a bottle or case of that special someones favorite wine delivered to your doorstep. Yes, that is possible now. But, remember some states are not yet as civilized about wine delivery, so in those states, your next best bet is a gift certificate from the winery. The Finger Lakes Wine Country website has a great Finger Lakes winery directory by lake with website links. Visit the winery website and order online or by phone.

-- A wonderful website where you can find great Finger Lakes gifts and also support historic preservation in the Finger Lakes is at the Landmark Society website. A portion of the proceeds goes to this wonderful organization who help preserve historic sites and landmarks in the Finger Lakes area.

--A gift subscription to Life In The Finger Lakes magazine, a beautiful quarterly look at the Finger Lakes area, makes a great gift that keeps on giving year round. Get it at this website

--For the book lover on your gift list, this website offers the ultimate collection of Finger Lakes books.

--Several Finger Lakes wineries offer gift baskets filled with Finger Lakes delicacies. Arbor Hill and Fox Run offer an assortment of themed gift baskets.

--And if you are looking for unique creative gifts for your family and friends, this website lists Finger Lakes craft shops and art galleries by lake with website links and telephone numbers and at this website is a list of amazing Finger Lakes artists and artisans sorted by their specialty.

Now there is no reason why you can't find the perfect gift for the person who loves the Finger Lakes. If you have any other Finger Lakes gift suggestions, please leave a comment.

My Gift of Wine

Basic Juice asks the question If you were to give a wine out of your own collection, what would it be and who would you give it to. My response will probably sound somewhat unsophisticated, but it comes from the heart, and when it comes to the holiday season, that's what matters most to me. I could give some wonderful Finger Lakes wine, but instead I would give my own wine that I crafted with my own hands, albeit with the immense help of a wine kit, but still I gave of my own time and energies to go through the process of nurturing the juice and nudging it carefully into a wine that I could be proud of giving to my family and friends. Yes, I would give my Peach Chardonnay to all of my family and friends and all of my new blog friends. Sophisticated, refined, elegant, expensive- NO. But handmade, heartfelt, and from the heart- YES.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Wine Blog Roundup

Some wine blog posts that caught my eye:

--Tony Fletcher details his Finger Lakes wine tasting tour

--Lenn's guest writer writes a thought-provoking post on The War On Wine Terroir

--Wine Waves pops in on corks vs. screw caps

--Fermentation on the top wine stories of 2005

--Martin at The Wine Blog details his latest international travel adventure

--Wine Expression posts about Matching flavors in food and wine

--Wine Whines writes on the 6 stages of wine education

--If you make wine at home, you'll want to check out the posts at The Home Winery

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Your Family!!!

Stay Safe and Don't Drink & Drive!

From The Finger Lakes Weekend Wino

Monday, November 21, 2005

Favorite Finger Lakes Place (continued)

With the cool fall weather, I can't help but think of apples. So we took a break from the grape and stopped by Ashley Lynn winery (west side of Seneca Lake) The wines here are all apple-based wines blended with other flavorings, using apples from Hurlbut Apple Orchards on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario. Pattie and Leroy are your friendly hosts at the Seneca Lake location. The tasting room and gift shop are warm and inviting with a wide array of unique homemade canned goods, sauces, sweets, and gifts that you won't find anywhere else. Here are my tasting notes: Apple Grape, $9.00, a perfect balance of apple and grape tastes, very refreshing. Apple White, $9.00, The taste of ripe apples with a pleasant tanginess at the finish, This is my favorite and several bottles of this went home for Thanksgiving. Apple Cherry, $9.00, once again, a good balance of apple and cherry flavors.
Elderberry Mist, $9.00, I have to come to like the homemade elderberry wine our neighbor makes, and this is similar, sweet with a gentle tartness at the end. If you want a break from the grape, visit Ashley Lynn for some good fruit wine and some friendly hospitality.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Interesting Wine Website

This website may be old news to some of you, but I just found out about it. You can give your answers to their Taste Interview and then they match your taste preferences to wines. It's free and it's pretty cool. They were pretty spot on about my wine preferences and they matched me to some of my favorite wines. I don't know how it works, but it's fun to try. Check out:

What wine goes with Thanksgiving Dinner?

The Wine Cask blog has a good post about Thanksgiving and wine This begs the question: What wine will you be serving with Thanksgiving dinner and why? I believe I will be serving a Sparkling Burgundy, because I believe it is festive yet will complement the turkey, a Riesling (not sure which one yet) to complement the earthier foods (potatoes, green beans, etc.) and my own homemade Peach Chardonnay perhaps for after dinner as a dessert wine because of the sweetness. And maybe a bottle of Apple White from Ashley Lynn Winery, just because apples remind me of fall & Thanksgiving. I would be very interested in hearing your wine pairings with Thanksgiving dinner, why you chose them, what order you will be serving them, etc.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Favorite Places (continued)

Pleasant Valley Wine Company - Hammondsport NY (south end of Keuka Lake) Established in 1860 as U.S. Bonded Winery No. 1, Pleasant Valley Wine Company holds an amazing amount of history within its stone buildings. It is a little off the main Keuka Lake Wine Trail, but it is well worth finding this hidden gem. They offer tours, a very nice museum, a beautiful tasting room, and very affordably-priced wines. If you are a champagne drinker, this is where the famous Great Western champagnes were made.
Here are my tasting notes from last weekend: Sparkling Burgundy, $8.99, 3.6% Residual Sugar, Good fruit up front (Concord and Geneva Red) with a bubbly sparkle in the middle and finishing dry, overall very balanced, I believe this would be excellent with Thanksgiving turkey and I bought several bottles so that I could find out. Chardonnay, $8.99, 0% Residual sugar
Dry and not enough upfront fruit for me, I prefer at least a touch of sweetness, just not my cup of tea (or glass of wine, as it were). Pink Catawba, $6.99, 6.9% Residual Sugar, Classic Pink Catawba tanginess with a sweet finish. Port, $8.99, 12% Residual Sugar, I must admit that this is one of my favorite ports. Most ports are just too sweet and alcoholly (if that is a word) for me (believe it or not), but this port has a fruity sweetness into a slightly dry, caramel finish. Very smooth for a port. Don't get me wrong, it still has very high alcohol content (I believe the server said it was fortified with brandy), but it is much mellower than most ports I
have tasted. I spent the cool evening sipping on this port (and my wife said I was feeling happy). I know I sure felt happy. I did not taste them this time, but my wife and I also like their Sauterne and their Sherry. For you bargain shoppers out there, they also have a very refreshing line of "Arbor Mist style" flavored wines for just $3.99 a bottle under their Autumn Frost brand. If you are not near Keuka Lake, they also have tasting rooms in Watkins Glen (Seneca Harbor) and on the east side of Seneca Lake (Caywood Vineyards).

One of the artifacts from almost a century and a half of Finger Lakes wine history in their museum. (click on pictures to enlarge)

Beautiful stained glass on the ceiling of their tasting room. (click on pictures to enlarge)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Congratulations & Welcome to Paul Thomas

Congratulations and a hearty Weekened Wino welcome to Paul Thomas, the new executive director of The Seneca Lake Wine Trail. He brings his experience and talent as a creative marketer and skilled communicator to The Seneca Wine Trail. As Finger Lakes wine and wineries become more and more well-known for world-class wine, visitors to the region are, by some estimates, expected to double in the next 5-10 years, and talented people such as Paul Thomas will be vital to the region's success as a must-visit destination for wine devotees.
Thanks to Lenn at LennDevours for the news.

Favorite Places (continued)

Continuing on Keuka Lake just north of Bully Hill is Heron Hill Winery This is one of the most architecturally and scenically beautiful wineries in the Finger Lakes and the wines are also outstanding. From our trip last weekend, here are my tasting notes. 2003 Dry Riesling, $13.99, .8% Residual Sugar, It starts with that classic Riesling citrus/lemon flavor rolling smoothly into a dry finish, very balanced. 2003 Semi-Dry Riesling, 12.99, 1.8% Residual Sugar, Steel aged, More intense fruitiness than the dry Riesling with a touch more sweetness, still very balanced. 2003 Eclipse White, $15.99, .6% Residual sugar, A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris, and I taste Chardonnay on the front, Sauvignon Blanc in the middle, and Pinot Gris at the finish. Nice balance with a touch more on the acidity side. Game Bird White, $8.99, .8% Residual sugar, A blend of Cayuga, Seyval, and Chardonnay. Nice floral scents with light citrus flavors. A very nice light, easy drinking wine. Special thanks to John, our very informative wine server.

Heron Hill Winery- Beautiful Tasting Room

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Few Of My Favorite Finger Lakes Places

Over the next few posts, I'd like to talk about some of the Finger Lakes wineries that have something unique about them, besides having good wine. These are wineries that we always take visitors to. I'll start with Bully Hill.

Bully Hill Vineyards- Hammondsport NY (west side of Keuka Lake) Bully Hill is all about putting fun into the wine tasting experience. The wine servers are as much comedians as wine educators, with a well choregraphed monologue to add laughs as you taste the wine. With 40 wines to choose from, there is something here for everyone. In addition to the beautiful wine tasting room with a spectacular view of Keuka Lake, there is a museum, a restaurant, and 3 gift shops. Here are tasting notes from our visit to Bully Hill last weekend:
Seyval Blanc- $7.49 Clean, crisp and dry with tastes of green apple, Meat Market Red- $7.49 A dry red wine with an excellent balance of fruit and oak, Goat White - $7.49 A semi-sweet blend of Seyval, Vidal, & Aurora. A tangy start with hints of pineapple and citrus into a smooth, clean finish. Pink Catawba - Intense Orange, Grapefruit, & Strawberry linger into a slightly sweet finish. Growers Red - $9.49 Mostly Concord blended with other native grapes with a slightly sweet start with grape and strawberry flavors into a slightly dry finish.

Bully Hill Visitors Center

Bully Hill has 40 different wines - So much wine, So little time.

View of Keuka Lake from Bully Hill

Happy Phil - Our Server/Comedian. Thanks Phil, for the wine and the laughs.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Noble Rot Is Good Indeed

Here is a link to a good story about Finger Lakes vineyards that harvested grapes this year with the rare and prized Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Few Of My Favorite Finger Lakes Places- Part 1

My wife and I are still exploring and discovering new and interesting places to visit and things to do in the Finger Lakes, but here are a few that we seem to visit on a regular basis that I think have something unique to offer. This is not a definitive list by any means as there are so many wonderful places to visit, but here are some that we always take any visitors to. Part 1 are Non-Wine-related places:

Crafts & Gifts:

The Windmill Farm & Craft Market - On Route 14A, 6 miles north of Dundee NY. Over 200 vendors of crafts, gifts, food, produce, and whatever you can imagine. Open Saturdays 8am to 4:30pm. I always see something unique here and the people are so friendly. I don't know what it is about the Finger Lakes, but the people are always helpful and friendly . My personal favorite vendor is Canal Side Wood Carvings; awesome carvings and furniture. I particularly like their Native American carvings. But whatever your interest, you will find it at The Windmill.

Skyland Farm - On Route 414 (east side of Seneca Lake), 7 miles north of Watkins Glen NY. Very unique handmade crafts and gifts and fantastic homemade desserts in a country setting with views of Seneca Lake mingled with interesting gardens and pettable farm animals. If you are looking for something truly unique and special, this is the place to find it.

Weaver-View Farms - Off of Route 14 (west side of Seneca Lake) 28 miles north of Watkins Glen. Open every day, except Sundays.
Old style country store on a working Mennonite dairy farm. Follow the pathways to find handcrafted crafts and quilts, as well as homemade jams and jellies. This store takes you back to a simpler time when families worked together to craft all that they needed. That time is now on the many Mennonite and Amish farms that dot the Finger Lakes countryside.

Watkins Glen & Watkins Glen State Park - A charming little town at the south end of Seneca Lake with many interesting shops, restaurants, and beautiful lakefront views of Seneca Lake. Take a relaxing walk down the small town streets or stroll out on the Pier. One of my favorite things to do is browse The Village Variety Shop, filled with antiques, collectibles, memorabilia, and just about anything you can imagine. About in the middle of town is the entrance to Watkins Glen State Park, where you can take a beautiful hike through the gorge past many waterfalls.

Hammondsport & Keuka Maid - Another charming small town; this one at the southern end of Keuka Lake. Beautiful restored homes, a beautiful waterfront, and many unique shops. Sailing out of Hammondsport is the Keuka Maid Dinner Cruise Boat; a friendly crew, delicious buffet, and up close views of the amazing "vacation homes" that line Keuka Lake Also in Hammondsport, if you are interested in aviation, is the Glenn Curtis museum- an aviation pioneer born in Hammondsport, filled with memorabilia and artifacts from the early days of aviation

Well, that's all I have time for right now. These are just a few of the fun and interesting places to go and things to do in the Finger Lakes. I will highlight more in the coming months. In my next post, I will write about some of my favorite and unique wineries.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Weekend Wine Reviews

I am going to try and review the wines that my wife and I drink on the weekends. This is my first shot at wine reviews, so bear with me. Just from this weekend, I have already learned that it is not always easy to find the right words to describe wine. In fact, my wife and I often noted totally different aromas and flavors for the same wine. So I'm not sure how useful wine reviews really are. In fact, I don't think that I have ever been influenced to buy or not buy wine by a wine review. Everybody has different tastes and it is often difficult to convey a specific wine tasting experience. Also, there are many internal and external factors that may influence the wine tasting and the aromas, flavors, and textures that one experiences; such as temperature of the wine and the room, other smells in the room, the health of the taster (colds or sinus problems), previous foods and drinks tasted, etc. All that being said, here goes. As I said previously, my taste in wines varies from semi-dry to sweet, and I mostly drink whites because of my Acid reflux problem. And I usually break all the Rules of Wine. So if you are here to read the refined musings of a highly trained wine connoisseur, you are at the wrong place. My wife and I buy wines that taste good to us, and can be bought at a good price (to us, that is less than $15). The wines that we drank this weekend were all on the sweet side. Most of the time we just randomly select from what is down in our wine rack. The first wine was "Just Peachy" from Swedish Hill (western side of Cayuga Lake) The price is $8.99. My wife had already been imbibing when I arrived home from work on friday. I guess with the autumn weather, she was feeling in a peachy mood. The bottle describes it as a Finger Lakes Table wine with natural Flavors added (I assume Peach). The color is a beautiful deep amber-gold. It has an amazing Peach aroma. The wine has the expected sweet start (with 11% Residual sugar) on the tongue, but not overwhelmingly sweet (at least, not in my opinion). Midway is the fresh peach flavor lingering into a slightly spicy/bitter (but not in a bad way) finish hinting of peach pit. Most would probably have this as a dessert wine, but not us. We, of course, broke all the rules and had it with Steak and Caramelized Onions. All in all, a fine get home from work, take the edge off, and drink with steak dinner wine. Oh, are the wine purists going to be mad at me. Well, I'm sorry. This is how average people drink wine. We don't think about how the acidity or sugars are going to clash with the meat. We've worked all day, we are tired, and we just don't want to think that hard about the wine. On to the next wine of the weekend. It was "Diamond" from Barrington Cellars (eastern side of Keuka lake) The price is $7.69. From the website description, it is a semi-sweet table wine (definition of table wine from An unfortified wine with less than 14% alcohol that is suitable to be served with a meal) with Lambrusca flavors with 6% Residual sugar and 12% alcohol. The color is almost clear, perhaps very pale straw. The wine had a clean fresh aroma, of honeydew or melon (my opinion) or of light grape (wife's opinion). It had a honeysuckle/honeydew(my opinion), light grape/pear (wifes opinion) beginning with a clean, earthy/airy midpoint on to a medium bitiness or tartness of green apple at the end. Overall, very balanced, smooth and light. We also had a Wagner Cayuga White at a birthday party at my sisters over the weekend. My quick impressions were that it was very unique for a Cayuga. Most Cayuga's I have tasted are usually very grapey, but this one had a spicey finish. Not bad at all, just different, in my opinion, for a Cayuga. So there it is, my first wine reviews. I think that doing these reviews is going to force me to be more aware of the details of the aromas and tastes of the wines as I am drinking them. And that's a good thing, because I think I will learn a lot in the process. As for whether the reviews provide any benefit to you the reader, I hope they do and I hope you will give me your comments and suggestions. Thanks for reading. Also, I am starting to post links on the right side of the page that I believe offer good information on the Finger Lakes and wine in general. In my next post, I will write about some of my favorite somewhat unique Finger Lakes wineries and attractions that offer a unique experience to the visitor.


Congratulations to Sheldrake Point Vineyard, who took honors for Best North American Riesling for their 2004 Riesling Ice Wine at the Hyatt Riesling Challenge in Australia. Sheldrake Point is located on the Western shore of Cayuga Lake about 20 miles north of Ithaca. I have been there several times. They have a beautiful location and I would recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Wine cellar contents

No, I don't actually have a "wine cellar". It's just our cellar or basement with a wine rack full of wine. The temperature stays pretty constant on the cool side, so it's a good place for the wine. Just thought you might like to know what is currently in the rack. I'll put up a picture of it later. In no particular order: Wagner 2003 Semi Dry Riesling, Keuka Overlook 2002 Chardonnay, Ravines 2003 Chardonnay, Rooster Hill 2004 Chardonnay, Seneca Shore Chardonnay (one of the smoothest drinking Chardonnays I've ever tasted), Great Western Autumn Frost (Strawberry White Zinfandel) & Peach Chardonnay, Torrey Ridge 2002 Delaware, Wagner 2002 White Springs Harvester, Americana White, Rasta Ranch Uncle Homers Red, Hazlitt Red Cat, Barrington Cellars Vidal Blanc & Diamond (just drank that last night & will have my review up shortly), Swedish Hill Radical Raspberry & Just Peachy (review also forthcoming), Bully Hill Pink Catawba, Glenora Blueberry Breeze, Pleasant Valley Sauterne & Spumante, Hickory Hollow 2002 Chardonnay, Bellweather Original Hard Cider, 4 Chimneys Honeydew Moon, Arcadian Simple Pleasures Black Raspberry & a couple cases of my own Peach Chardonnay that I made about 3 months ago. I've been making wine for a few years now (mostly from wine kits)and the Peach Chardonnay is one of my favorites, especially for the Holiday season. Please feel free to comment and offer suggestions to me about the blog. I am totally new to this, so I am learning as I go. I will be putting up my favorite wine links and some wine and winery reviews in the coming weeks. It's the Weekend and I'm drinkin wine!!!!!!!

Friday, November 04, 2005


Congratulations to the Finger Lakes winery winners in the 2005 New York Wine and Food Classic-

Governors Cup Winner- Casa Larga Vineyards -

Hosmer winery- Best Sparkling wine -

Swedish Hill Winery - Best White - 2004 Vidal Blanc -

Atwater Estate Vineyards - Best Blush - 2004 Somerset Blush -

Widmer Wine Cellars - Best Specialty Wine - Solaria Cream Sherry -

Casa Larga Vineyards - Best Dessert Wine - 2004 Fiori Delle Stelle -

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Swedish Hill Champagne & Dessert Wine Festival This weekend

If you are in the Finger Lakes area this weekend, check out Swedish Hill Vineyard's Champagne & Dessert Wine Festival. For more info-

Harvest 2005

I was reading some reports on the 2005 Grape Harvest in the Finger Lakes and it looks like a very high quality year for the grapes, especially for the reds. A very warm summer with below average precipitation brought forth higher quality, but somewhat lower yields. So when the 2005 vintages come out, be sure to get your favorites early. Here's a good article about autumn in the Finger Lakes-

My taste in wines

So you can get a better idea of what types of wine I like, I am mostly a white wine drinker. That is mainly because I have Acid Reflux Disease and red wines aggravate that condition, supposedly due to the tannins. I do like a deep oaky Merlot, but I rarely drink it anymore or I risk the payback of my screaming esophagus. My taste tends to be midrange between dry and sweet, perhaps a touch to the sweet side. But as wine drinkers find out, as you drink more wine, your taste slowly adapts to less sweet and more dry. My favorite wines tend to be Chardonnay, Riesling, Gwurtzraminer (probably spelled that wrong), Pinot Gris, Aurora, and various Blushes, Blends, and Fruit wines. And yes, Price is an issue. I do not have the money to spend hundreds of dollars on a highly rated bottle of wine. And I have found that you do not have to spend a lot of money to drink good wine. I rarely spend more than $15 for a bottle of wine. In fact, most of the wine I buy is in the $8 to $12 range. I would be interested to know your taste in wines and how you feel about the price versus quality issue.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Welcome to Finger Lakes Weekend Wino blog. Yes, I am a weekend wino. My wife and I spend every weekend that we can in The Finger Lakes. We first discovered the area many years ago while vacationing and fell in love with the area. We liked it so much that we bought a Vacation Home there. During the spring, summer, and fall, our weekends are spent visiting the wineries on Seneca, Keuka, Cayuga and Canandaigua Lakes. This is our view.