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.