Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Finger Lakes News and Notes

- Sheila Livadas features Casa Larga Vineyards in her latest winery profile

- McGregor Vineyard Winery announces special sunset hours in July and August. They will be open until 8pm Fridays and Saturdays in July & August for visitors to enjoy wine, special food samples, and Keuka Lake sunsets. Also, check out their Raspberries, Chocolate, & Red Wine Weekend July 8 & 9. One of my favorite things is to bring guests to McGregor for their relaxed sit-down tastings. At my last tasting there a few weeks ago, I was wowed by their Unoaked Chardonnay (100% free-run juice), amazing Gewurztraminer (easily one of the best Gewurz I've tasted yet this year, but only 74 cases produced), Semi-Dry Riesling (another wow 2005), 2003 Vignoles (pineapple and honey with a cranberry finish), and the heavenly 1995 Blanc de Blanc (100% Chardonnay). I know McGregor gets accolades for their reds, but I think their whites are top-notch also.

- Having dual citizenship between New York & Pennsylvania, every year I make the trek to the Poconos for the Pennsylvania Wine Festival. Pennsylvania wine seems to have a bad reputation, but I can honestly say that slowly, they are getting better and better. And in fairness, most Pennsylvania wineries have to deal with much less than ideal growing conditions. I've always enjoyed Pennsylvania fruit wines (other than grape) but now a few wineries are starting to produce top-notch grape wines. The highlights for me were the always good fruit wines (especially their Plum) of Bashore & Stoudt Country Winery & Benignas Creek Vineyard
(especially their Strawberry), West Hanover Winery (a newer winery doing a very nice job with a wide variety of wines), and Clover Hill Vineyards (producing top-notch Riesling and Vignoles)

- Newsday writer goes to the source to discover the Finger Lakes

- How the Farm Winery Act saved the New York wine industry

- A veterans cemetary at the old Sampson military base sound like a great idea to me

- Bikers look tough on the outside but inside, they're softies with big hearts

- Immigration crackdown affecting Finger Lakes farmers and Finger Lakes farmers speak at House hearing on Immigration

- Check your NYSEG bills

- Finger Lakes Railway planning new station

- Ithaca battles Two Rivers in fight over origin of the ice cream sundae. Whoever originated it, I thank them.

- Stay tuned for more winery visit summaries and Thanks for Reading!!! Also, I get a lot of questions and emails from people who are planning visits to the Finger Lakes and want advice on which wineries would fit their taste in wine. I love receiving these emails. Keep them coming. Just email me at the email address at the top of the page and I'll be happy to answer your questions.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More Winery Visit Summaries

- I visited the always busy Wagner Vineyards to check out this years wine (and beer) offerings. I particularly enjoyed the Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (Butter and Vanilla and just the right amount of oak for me), the Semi-Dry Riesling (one of my personal favorites- Floral & Tropical aromas and perfectly balanced), Alta B Blush (nice, easy drinking, sweet summer wine), Cabernet Sauvignon (aromas of cherry, nice and balanced), and Sled Dog Doppelback (Beer- rich and caramelly). Don't miss Live Entertainment on the Deck every Friday 8-11pm.

- We pulled in to Hazlitt1852 Vineyards, where there is always a party going on, and enjoyed there Reserve Riesling (nice citrus and mineral), Schooner White (smooth Chardonnay/Riesling blend), Cabernet Franc (I'm really liking those 2002's), and of course Red Cat (see photo below). They are running a nice special 3-pack of White Stag, Cabin Fever, & Red Cat for just $23.50!!!
And make your reservations now for July 30, when Red Cat turns Legal (21). That's gonna be a party!!!

...Too Much Red Cat or Just Enough??? More Uses For Red Cat- Guitar Stand; Blues Slide; Musician Fuel.

- Penguin Bay Winery (no, they do not have any live penguins there, I asked- but they do sponsor the penguin exhibit at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo) served up their Riesling (a nice Riesling on the sweeter side), Swedish Hill Spumante Blush Champagne (a bubbly treat), and Tuxedo Red (Concord-orific). And I love the Flying Penguin Labels. We don't need no stinking Australian animals on our labels.

- I pulled into our neighbors across the pond- Standing Stone Vineyards, tried the newly released Riesling and Smokehouse Vidal and all I can say is Wow! Loving them! When we run out, somebody please send a boat across for us.

- We wandered up north to Amberg Wine Cellars (they now have ice cream, too. And I never pass by an ice cream stand) and sampled their Semi-Dry Traminette (wonderful floral aroma and that nice nice spice spice- you know, so nice I had to write it twice), Pearl (a very interesting blend of Riesling & Traminette- the zing of Riesling and the spice and body of Traminette- Must have been crafted especially for us Riesling & Traminette fans, Thank You Amberg!), Pegasus (a unique Muscat/Riesling blend, sweet but smooth) , & Red Baron (Cab Sauv & Merlot, but at 3% Residual Sugar, Rich and fruity). Amberg has the knack for unique blends that work! And they are offering 50% off shipping through the end of June.

- I got over to Hosmer Winery on Cayuga Lake and tasted another amazing 2005 Riesling and one of the best Blush wines in the Finger Lakes (IMO), their Carousel (Cayuga White & Catawba blend) and now I see on their website that Carousel is on sale for $6.00 a bottle!!! It's time to load up the van at that price.

- We visited the friendly folks at Cayuga Ridge Estate & I was fond of their Chardonnay (blend of oak and steel), Solo (blend of Riesling and Cayuga White), and Cranberry Essence (refreshing and balanced, not too tart). I keep meaning to sign up for their Vigneron program where you lease 10 vines and they train you on the fine art of growing grapes. Maybe next year.

- Thirsty Owl's beautiful tasting room was hopping and I was enjoying their Chardonnay (bright fruitiness and light oak), Dry Riesling (lemon and pineapple with that Cayuga mineral finish), and the excellent Diamond (pineapple zing with a sweet ending). Here is a link to the May issue of PinotFile that reviewed Thirsty Owl, Silver Thread, & Dr. Frank wineries.

- Don't forget the Carnival Cookoff this weekend (June 24/25) on the Cayuga Wine Trail with food and prizes.

- The Keuka Lake Wine Trail presents Barbecue at the Wineries this weekend (June 24/25) with food and prizes.

- The Seneca Lake Wine Trail continues its Riesling to Visit Passport Event through Sept. 1st. I know my passport is starting to fill up.

- I'll see you on the wine trail!!!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

News & Notes

- I attended the grand opening of the New York Wine & Culinary Center and it sure is a beautiful place. With Canandaigua Lake providing a shimmering backdrop, I'm sure wine and food afficianados from around the world will be inspired and educated at this state of the art facility. My hats off to those who had the vision to create this wonderful educational and marketing tool. Visit the NYWCC website for schedules and more information. I was also impressed with the imaginative and delicious food that was served and also the Fox Run Cabernet Franc they were pouring was wonderful!

- Here is Cookin In The 'Cuse's take on the foodie aspect of the NYWCC

- Laura Rebeccas Kitchen with more coverage of the NYWCC

- A few observations after visiting Finger Lakes wine tasting rooms for the last several months; The 2005 Rieslings are, without a doubt, very impressive and consistently good at a wide variety of Finger Lakes locations. The downside is that supplies are low, so buy what you like now. Also, prices have gone up due to low supplies and rising costs. But if you like Finger Lakes Riesling, the 2005's are worth a few extra dollars. I've also been impressed with the Cabernet Franc at quite a few Finger Lakes wineries so, if you like medium-bodied Reds, I would recommend tasting the Franc's when you visit. As I've stated in earlier posts, from all accounts the Finger Lakes 2005 Reds are going to be some of the best in a long time, but it may take a few years until we can taste for ourselves.

- A big Thank You to my fellow blogger Lenn at LennDevours for turning me on to
Wolffer Estate winery on Long Island. I tried their La Ferme Martin Chardonnay and I'd swear, if I didn't know what I was drinking, that this resembled a Finger Lakes Dry Riesling. Fresh and bright fruit and citrus and crisp acidity, with a lingering mineral finish. I am hooked!
Also, See Lenn's review of Standing Stone's 2003 Pinnacle.

- Fulkerson Winery has released their 2005 Semi-Dry Riesling, 2004 Reserve Red, & 2004 Cabernet Franc and will soon be releasing the 2004 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, 2004 Pinot Noir, & 2005 Dry Riesling. Also, look for Fulkerson wines at Medley of Tastes at Hobart College on June 19 & at The Great NYS Food & Wine Festival in Clayton NY on June 23-25.

- Casa Larga has kicked off a campaign to raise money for The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children. See their website for information on how you can help.

- Watkins Glen State Park turns 100!

- Cobblestone Farm Winery strives to be family-friendly

- The Seaway Wine Trail is now open up in the North Country

- If you like bluegrass music, you'll love Pickin In The Pasture. After playing guitar in rock, country, and folk styles for over 20 years, I picked up the mandolin last year and started getting into bluegrass. I attended Pickin In The Pasture last year for the first time and I had a great time. Everybody is friendly and the pickers and singers are great.

- I went down to Seneca Harbor Station to see my first Cardboard Boat Regatta on Saturday, but with the time/temperature sign at the bank reading 101 degrees, I only lasted for about an hour. All the boats that I saw miraculously did NOT sink! It sure was a HOT weekend in The Finger Lakes! Here are some pics of some of the brave mariners and their ships (double-click on picture to enlarge)

- Will the Finger Lakes be used by corporations to sell as bottled water?

- New York wineries now have grants available to help develop their websites

- Be sure to check out this new Central New York food blog called Cooking With Ideas by Bibliochef

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Finger Lakes Winery Visit Notes

- I am way behind on posting my winery visit notes so far this year, so I will give some summaries below (in no particular order) and work on more detailed reports for later postings.

- I stopped at Ravines Wine Cellars (east side of Keuka Lake) last weekend and found out that their 2005 Dry Riesling had just received a 90 rating in Wine Enthusiast magazine. And I definitely agree! Stop by and try all of Morten & Lisa's finely crafted wines and you won't be disappointed. They will be releasing their new Chardonnay (crafted in a unique way- ask them about it) and new Cab Franc this coming Fathers Day weekend and their new Pinot Noir will be debuting next month.

- I visited the impressive new Ventosa Vineyards facility (Northeast Seneca Lake) and was blown away by the magnificent building. A must-see just for the building alone, but I was also impressed by the Chardonnay(light citrus, light oak, very balanced), Vino Bianco (blend of Chardonnay, Vidal, & Riesling- balanced acidity, bright and flavorful with a lengthy finish), and Saggio (a Bordeaux blend with a fruity cherry aroma, rich and fruity with medium tannins).

- At Hunt Country Vineyards (west side of Keuka Lake), we were greeted by the friendly wine dogs Gus & Barli (beautiful Bernese Mountain Dogs). Hunt Country is celebrating their 25th anniversary and they just get better with age. I particularly enjoy their Dry & Semi-Dry Rieslings (very limited qauntities available), their wonderful Vignoles (2004 sold out, 2005 coming June 22), the easy drinking Foxy Lady Blush, and their rich and caramelly Ruby Port.

- Arcadian Estate's (west side of Seneca Lake) friendly Kim and Jake (another great wine dog) poured their wines for us (Kim poured) and I enjoyed their Snowy Evening (crisp and refreshing), their Cool Hand Peach and Shine On Me Pear (intense fruit flavors), and the Happily Ever After Berry Port. They sure do have some of the most entertaining wine descriptions.

- Skip at Glenora Wine Cellars (west side of Seneca Lake- you can't miss the awesome view) always treats us right and I was fond of the Chardonnay (clean and crisp), Dry Riesling (always good), Alpine White (excellent blend of Cayuga and Chardonnay), Catawba (a little less bite than most Catawba), Syrah (lots of cherry and black pepper), Peach Spumante (unique and awesome), and their refreshing Blueberry Breeze and Peach Passion (for when the temperatures hit the 90's with 100% humidity).

- Summaries to be continued.... I also have a lot of winery photos to post. Stay tuned. The job search continues and that, unfortunately, leaves less time for blogging. But I promise to do the tireless work of visiting wineries and tasting wine... for you my devoted readers!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

This and That

Stormhoek wine has landed in The Finger Lakes. No, I'm not abandoning my beloved Finger Lakes wineries, but Stormhoek Winery in South Africa has taken a unique marketing approach by inviting wine bloggers to sample their wine. Unfortunately, my original date to have my fellow Finger Lakes wine tasters come over and taste test had to be pushed back. But my wife and I just had to take one bottle of Pinotage with us to a wedding we were attending and Wow!!! Very Fruit Forward, Medium Tannins, Just a wonderful Red. Many tasted it and it drew raves. I can't wait to try the rest.

- Finger Lakes wineries are gaining credibility as quality improves

- Younger wine drinkers helping New York wine boom

- Another New Riesling debuts in The Finger Lakes

- Go Scuba Diving in The Finger Lakes? It's true!

- Lake Trout Derby winner. I don't know how they could see in that fog last weekend?

- More Info on New Wine & Culinary Center opening June 17.

- More ways to tour the wineries

- Watkins Glen International Race Track brings IRL Fans in

- A journey along Route 20

- Carousel takes 20 years to make, but it's worth it

- You can walk where the Indians walked

- Katherine visits Crystal City and Keuka Lake

- Spitzer visits with New York farmers