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.