Thursday, July 27, 2006

More Finger Lakes Winery Visit Summaries

- I had not been to Catherine Valley Winery (east side of Seneca Lake) since right after they first opened. The Texans are still trying to get on their feet after a couple of hard winters, but are moving ahead with plantings of new grape varieties. Charlie, the winery dog, greeted us cordially as all winery dogs should do and we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of their tasting room. Highlights were their unique blend of Riesling and Vidal called "The Blue Goose"($12.00), named after a local Prohibition-era watering hole, and "The Lost Irishman" ($9.00), a sweet refreshing Catawba wine perfect for summer picnics.

- I made my yearly (or as often as I can get there) pilgrimmage to visit my wine tasting mentor Dave Whiting at his Red Newt Cellars and, alas, he was not there. But we had fun tasting his wines and having lunch on the deck. I enjoyed the Cabernet Franc ($19.50), Medium tannins with cranberry and smoky berry flavors; Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.50), hints of smoke and tobacco, but very smooth; My summer favorite Red Newt White, (9.99) perfectly balanced with citrus highlights into a dry finish; and the excellent Syrah Reserve $28.50), one of the few Finger Lakes Syrah that I know of and it bodes well for this grape's future in the Finger Lakes if the winters cooperate.

- Leidenfrost Vineyards- I think they sort of like to stay under the radar and they don't get the publicity that some of the other wineries do, but I am always impressed by the quality of their wines. 2002 Pinot Noir ($15) smoky cherry aromas and smooth cherry flavor with light tannins and a great value; 2005 Riesling ($12) citrus and mineral in a very light semi-dry style; and Sonata ($8) a unique blend of 3 of my favorites Gewurztraminer, Cayuga, and Vignoles, honey and pineapple with a spicy finish... Heaven!, And the artwork on exhibit is wonderful.

- Bloomer Creek Vineyard- We visited their temporary tasting room in the cellar of the still-being-constructed new tasting room located beside my favorite pulled pork bar b q at The Stonecat Cafe. Highlights for me were 2003 Cabernet Franc ($14) grass and berry aromas with lots of raspberry and cherry fuit and just a touch of smoke; Arabella ($10) a blend of Riesling & Cayuga (but I would swear there was some Gewurz in there) Grapefruit, spice and nice acidity; Half Moon Rose ($10) a blend of Cabernet Franc & Chardonnay that finishes dry, but soft... like Rodney Dangerfield hooking up with Marilyn Monroe. I know, probably not the best image to conjure up, but the wine is good; Cayuga White ($8) Oh the many faces of Cayuga, this one presents a semi-dry citrussy facade with a unique spicy bite at the end. Wino Like.

- Chateau Lafayette Reneau- It's like coming home to the Castle Royale. They do take their wine serious here, and for good reason. I still reminisce about our anniversary weekend at The Inn. The Wine,The Breakfast, The View, The Vineyards, The Deck, The Hot Tub. They treat you like royalty. The awards speak for themselves. 2002 Pinot Noir (19.99) smoke, cherries, and tobacco dressed in smooth silky tannins, delightful; 2003 Reserve Chardonnay ($19.99) Vanilla, butter, and the perfect amount of smooth oak; 2005 Dry Riesling ($14.99) Amazing amounts of peach with citrus and mineral; 2005 Johannisberg Riesling ($14.99) Peach and pear flavors perfectly balanced on a backbone of citrus; 2003 Late Harvest Riesling (14.99) Honey, peach , and pineapple, but NOT sickingly sweet, just right.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Finger Lakes News & Notes

- More Black Bears being spotted in the Finger Lakes

- A nice article about Sheldrake Point

- Storm runoff is deteriorating the quality of Seneca Lake water

- The New York Culinary Center cooks up some good eats

- Water Park to be built in Farmington now

- Nature Conservancy obtains land near Hemlock and Canadice Lakes

- I recently saw June Szabo's exhibit of wood and wire sculptures on display at Leidenfrost Vineyards and the works are truly spectacular

- New Seneca Lake winery opening next month and just down the road. Welcome neighbor!!!

- A good article on organic wine (or the lack of it) in The Finger Lakes

- Lots of old fashioned fun at the Hector fair this weekend

- Send little Alyssa a birthday card and a penny for her birthday... and your prayers

- The first ever Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival

- Finger Lakes Wine Festival Goers come from all over

- Wal-Mart versus The Finger Lakes

- Keuka Lake group receives half million from California charity for park honoring Glenn Curtiss

- Pinotblogger summarizes each day as he is attending the OIV Wine course with good info for wineries

Friday, July 21, 2006

My New Finger Lakes Tshirt For Charity

- One good thing about being unemployed for the last few months is that I have had time to work on some creative projects that I'm going to donate proceeds to charities in The Finger Lakes region. I am working on a CD titled Songs of the Finger Lakes featuring my original songs inspired by The Finger Lakes and that should be completed within a month. I have been working on a humorous illustrated book about The Finger Lakes which I hope to have finished by Fall and I have designed a Finger Lakes Tshirt, which is now finished and available for sale at Tee Shirts 4 Fun. The artwork was done by my friend Annette Myers, who I thank for her beautiful rendering of the idea that appeared in my mind. I will be donating proceeds to Ontario-Yates Hospice and
Southern Tier Hospice because Hospice has helped my family and friends deal with terminal illness. Hospice is a very special organization with special caregivers to help the sick and their families deal with the many physical, mental, and emotional issues that arise when dealing with terminal illness. See the finished design below. The hand portrays the earth and labor from which the grapevines spring forth, the lakes represent the water and climate that provide the conditions needed for the growth of the vines, and the wine glass is the final product of that world-class Finger Lakes wine. The phrase "Wrap Your Fingers Around Our Fingers" is an invitation to all to come and experience the beauty and wine of The Finger Lakes.

In the coming weeks, this design will also be available on other items available at
Tee Shirts 4 Fun such as coffee mugs, hats, posters, bumper stickers, etc. I think it's a wonderful gift idea for any Finger Lakes wine lover on your gift list and you'll be helping out the Hospice organizations with your purchase and all purchases are guaranteed with the Cafe Press 30 day money back guarantee. I have purchased many items through the Cafe Press network and they have top-notch customer service. I hope you like it and I would love to hear your comments.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Q&A with Virginia Wine Blogger Dezel

I'm always interested to hear how people from other states and regions perceive the Finger Lakes. Dezel, who writes a Virginia Wine Blog called My Virginia Wine Spot
had emailed me for some recommendations for his trip to The Finger Lakes and we got to know each other through our emails and we just missed meeting each other while he was in The Finger Lakes a few weeks ago. I took the opportunity to do a Q&A with Dezel on his trip.

WW: What got you interested in visiting the Finger Lakes?
D: One of my co-workers who was aware that I had an interest in wine told me some really positive things about the Finger Lake area. He and his wife have been frequenting the Finger Lakes since the 70’s, and brought in some literature for me to review. A few weeks later I attended an International Wine and Food festival in Washington DC. The Finger Lakes had several booths set up and I conversed with all of the wineries and sampled a lot of good Riesling, thus confirming my decision to visit the Finger Lakes.

WW: What were your overall impressions of your visit
to the Finger Lakes?
D: The Finger Lakes totally exceeded my expectations. What a wonderful place to work, live and play. There are not too many places where you are smack dab in the middle of great restaurants, quality wine producers, and those picturesque and romantic lake views. I’m itching to return sometime soon and take in some of what I missed.

WW: How did your preconceived expectations of the Finger Lakes differ from what you actually experienced?
D: I had pictured tall buildings, traffic, haste and it was the exact opposite. What I found was friendly people, a relaxed and charming atmosphere, vineyards, trees, green fields and those wonderful lakes.

WW: What are the main differences between the wineries in Virginia and the Finger Lakes?
D: The Finger Lakes produce a number of Native American varietals and delicious true ice wines that you do not find here in Virginia (the ice wines for obvious reasons). Due to friendly competition and a plethora of wineries, the Finger Lakes has the ideal set-up for tourism and high volume, which is good news for the consumer resulting in lower ($1) or no tasting fees, and a lower price on the bottled product. Tasting fees in Virginia range from $3 to $5, and sometimes more for a ‘Reserve’ tasting. To Virginia’s defense the wineries are a bit more scattered and not as accessible in a days travel, so that level of friendly competition and everyday volume is not present like in the Finger Lakes.

WW: What were your favorite 3 wineries and why?
D: First off let me say that none of the wineries were less than satisfactory that we visited. There is certainly some very good wine being made in the Finger Lakes today. Based on our total experience at these places, including quality, atmosphere, staff, etc, if pressed I would select the following in no particular order.

Dr. Franks on Keuka Lake was a wonderful time. Both of us found the red and whites to be of equally good quality. Their Riesling was some of the best I had on our trip. The staff was very personable and knowledgeable and we found the grounds attractive.

Heron Hill on Keuka Lake was a favorite as well. Outside of the stunning views and beautiful and spacious tasting area, Heron Hill has some really good wines overall, and a Riesling Icewine to die for. The staff was also very friendly and knowledgeable about the wines produced there. If that is not enough, the sandwiches at the Café in my humble opinion are awesome! I feel totally cheated when I visit Subway now.

Fox Run on the West Side of Seneca Lake does a good job of balancing everything out. There we found very good wines, and enjoyed the collected effort that went into the 2004 Tierce Riesling. We had great conversation here with the tasting associate and enjoyd our time spent. More bonuses would be the Café, and Wine merchandise store and tours.

WW: Was the Finger Lakes visitor-friendly (signs, people,lodging, etc.)?
Not much to add here, everything was exceptional.

WW: What ways could the visitor experience be improved?
D: My visit to the Finger Lakes was specifically geared towards wine tasting. Surprisingly I could not find too much consumer information or reviews on the wineries in the area. That is when I came across your blog and said awesome! It was exactly what we were looking for in terms of information, and your Finger Lakes tasting tips were golden. Thank You very much and we will pass your page on to anyone curious or thinking about visiting the Finger Lake area.

WW: Will you return to the Finger Lakes?
D: Of course we will return, much sooner than later.

WW: Any other comments about the Finger Lakes?
D: We are happy to have found a wonderful vacation spot in driving reach, and to have met nice people as you. Keep up the great work with your Finger Lake blog and music. We love it !

I have to agree with Dezel that, when my wife and I first thought about visiting The Finger Lakes many years ago, our preconceived notion was that New York state is all like New York City; big and bustling with traffic and angry commuters. But New York state is so much more than just New York City. It's got one of the most beautiful State Park systems of any state and The Finger Lakes, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful areas in the U.S. My thanks to Dezel for answering my questions and for becoming another blogger friend of mine. I've never personally met a lot of them, but I feel know some of my blogger friends better than some people that I've been around all my life. That has been one of the unexpected blessings of writing this blog. Make sure to visit Dezel's wine blog at My Virginia Wine Spot.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

News & Notes

- A big Thank You to fellow New York wine blogger Lenn at LennDevours for helping me to access the Wine Advocate issue of June 30 that profiled New York wineries. In that issue, David Schildknecht profiled and rated wines from 11 Finger Lakes wineries: Anthony Road, Atwater, Dr. Frank, Heron Hill, Chateau Lafayette Reneau, Lamoreaux Landing, Shalestone, Sheldrake Point, Silver Thread, Standing Stone, & Hermann Wiemer. The wines he chose to put in this issue were what he felt were "wines of special distinction". Here are the wines and his ratings:
(80-89 is Above Average to Very Good & 90-95 is Outstanding)

Anthony Road- 2005 Pinot Gris (87-89), 2005 Pinot Noir (87-89), 2005 Riesling Semi-Dry (86)
Atwater Estate- 2005 Vidal Blanc (88)
Dr. Frank- 2005 Dry Riesling (90), 2005 Riesling Reserve (89+)
Heron Hill- 2002 Riesling Reserve (86), 2005 Riesling Reserve (86-88), 2003 Ingle Riesling (86), 2004 Ingle Riesling ( 87), 2005 Ingle Riesling (87-89), 2004 Late Harvest Riesling (90), 2003 Riesling Ice Wine (89)
Chateau Lafayette Reneau- 2005 dry Riesling (86)
Lamoreaux Landing- 2005 Gewurztraminer (88), 2002 Cabernet Franc (89), 2002 Cabernet Franc T23 (89)
Shalestone- 2003 Cabernet Franc (88)
Sheldrake Point- 2004 Riesling Ice Wine (90)
Silver Thread- 2002 Blackbird (87), 2002 Pinot Noir (86), 2002 Riesling (88)
Standing Stone- 2005 Riesling (88), 2004 Vidal Ice (87)
Hermann Wiemer- 2003 Blanc De Noirs (86+), 2003 Dry Gewurztraminer (89), 2005 Dry Gewurztraminer (87-89)
And in his comments, he also mentioned "....several others whose 2005 reds looked to set new standards include...Fox Run and Red Newt.

-Sheila Livadas features Wagner Vineyards in her latest profile

- A wine blogger from Virginia gives his thoughts on his recent trip to the Finger Lakes. I will post more about him soon.

- Wineries help contribute 2 billion dollars to Finger Lakes tourism

- The Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival features a unique combination of artists July 20-23

- The grape crop is looking good and has potential to be great!

- Have you heard of Noiret, Corot Noir, & Valvin Muscat... 3 new grapes created at Cornell University. More info here and here.

- If you are visiting the Finger Lakes, the boat tours are a great way to have fun and learn about the lakes

- Grape farmers give wish list to Schumer

- And I just have to give another shout out to Pennsylvania winery Clover Hill
and their amazing Vignoles (as I finish another glass of it)- Pineapple, Honey, Candied Lemon Drops, and Raisins in layer after layer of intense flavor.

- And I want to thank all of you who have given me support and encouragement over the past few months as I was laid off and looking for new employment! I am glad to report that I am employed again and it looks to be a fantastic opportunity for me. Thanks Again!!! I have met so many good people through this blog and I am so blessed to know you all.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

2006 Finger Lakes Photos

With 2006 over halfway over already, I wanted to share some of my photos this year so far of Finger Lakes life and wine. Here is the first of several posts of photos. Double click on photos for a larger view.

-This is my newly acquired prized posession - An actual Riesling baby vine from Hermann Wiemer Vineyards own nursery. They are selling them at the tasting room and I just had to have one from one from the Royalty of Riesling in the Finger Lakes. I have named my vine Reese Ling. My wife just shakes her head.

- Our friends standing under the 150 year old Willow at Miles Wine Cellars. Miles Wine Cellars is one of the few wineries that is actually down by the lake and it is just a beautiful place to visit.

- Lakeside View of Seneca Lake from the dock at Miles Wine Cellars where boaters can dock and walk up and get their favorite Miles wine.

-Looking at the back of Anthony Road's Tasting Room from their magnificent gardens. If you go to Anthony Road, you have to check out their gardens, as well as their wine.

-I had to take a picture at Anthony Road of this picture of the Tierce Amigos, my wine heroes Peter Bell of Fox Run, Johannes Reinhardt of Anthony Road, and my winetasting mentor David Whiting of Red Newt- the 3 co-creators of Tierce Riesling. If Seneca Lake had a Mt Rushmore, I think these guys should be on it. My wife just shakes her head.

-I'm finally learning how to take up close photos of grapes with my camera. I thought this one turned our pretty good. Double click on the photo for a larger view.

-This unique deer quilt caught my eye at Weaver View Farms. If you come to the Finger Lakes and want to find that unique gift, you'll find it here. Amish and Mennonite quilts and handmade products, homemade sauces and jellies, and lots of unique items on a real working Mennonite farm. We are addicted to their Apple Cinammon BarBQ sauce that you can not find anywhere else.

-I must have 100 pictures of this, but this view of Keuka Lake from the Bully Hill parking area always mesmerizes me.

-A Finger Lakes Full Moon rising over the trees.

-Looking out at Seneca Lake through these beautiful windows at the new Art Gallery Room at Leidenfrost Vineyards.

-The beautiful horses of The Buggy Rides with their owner at The Windmill. If you visit the Finger Lakes, you have to visit The Windmill Farm & Craft Market with almost 200 vendors selling everything from Fresh Produce to handcrafted gifts.

-Stay Tuned. More Photos to come.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Finger Lakes News Pours

- Wow. Heron Hill is expecting to have their new Seneca Lake tasting room open by the end of this month. That was fast! Great news for us closer to Seneca than Keuka. Here is my winery visit summary for Heron Hill. Looking at my tasting notes for Heron Hill over my last several visits, the two words that I used most were elegant and balanced. From their spectacular tasting room, which is one of the most architecturally and scenically beautiful ones in the Finger Lakes to their emphasis on top-quality food-friendly wines, owners John & Josephine Ingle have positioned Heron Hill as one of the premium wine brands in the Finger Lakes. And if one wants a truly decadent treat for a very special occasion, winemaker Thomas Laszlo crafts icewines that are world class. Over several tastings, here are my wine notes: 2002 Chardonnay Reserve- Elegant, balanced, and lightly oaked, 2004 Dry Riesling $14.99- A kiss of citrus with crisp acidity, 2004 Semi-Dry Riesling$12.99- Peach and Tropical Fruit with a touch of sweetness, Eclipse White $15.99- Ample fruit with hints of oak and citrus- Elegance without the luxury price tag, Game Bird White- Seyval/Cayuga blend with solid acidic structure, Good value at $9.99, 2002 Pinot Noir $14.99- Beautiful garnet color, light bodied, spicy, and smoky, 2002 Cabernet Franc $14.99-Berry aromas with a smoky cherry finish, Perfect for dinner, Game Bird Red $9.99- Pinot Noir/Baco Noir blend, very soft but complex with a touch of sweetness, Late Harvest Vidal Blanc $17.99- Decadent dessert wine with a touch of spice, 2002 Ingle Vineyard Chardonnay $24.99- From the owners private vineyard on Canandaigua Lake, steely with lingering acidity & oak, 2003 Ingle Vineyard Johannisberg Riesling $24.99- a crisp, drier style of Riesling, 2002 Ingle Vineyard Pinot Noir $24.99- Medium tannins and perfectly balanced fruit taste, In my opinion, one of the best Pinot Noir's in the Finger Lakes. 2002 Baco Noir Reserve $19.99- Soft, with rich port-like aromas,and nice fruit, 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve$34.99- soft tannins with spice, leather, and tobacco, made to age, 2004 Late Harvest Riesling $35.99- Layers of honey and pineapple, 2003 Riesling Icewine-Intensity of flavor to the infinite, so much flavor that I didn't want to swallow, and at $99.99 a half bottle, you'll want to savor this a long time, 2004 Ingle Vineyard Riesling Ice Wine $49.99- Apples, Pineapples, and Honey seduce the tongue. Check out Heron Hill's Full Moon Beach Party on Friday July 14 featuring a Clam Bake and Live music.

- If you are looking for some bargains, check out DundeeFest this Saturday 8am-4pm when the village of Dundee puts on one huge yard sale.

- I hope you have your tickets for the Finger Lakes Wine Festival July 14-16 at Watkins Glen International. It's a great opportunity to taste the best of the Finger Lakes all in one place.

-And don't miss the Yates County Fair July 12-16. I love those Demolition Derby's!

- Check out Wagner Vineyards July wine specials and don't forget Alta B Day, Wagner's Customer Appreciation Event on Sunday July 30 from 1-4:30pm, with specials, prizes, and live music.

- After talking with various wineries last weekend, it seems there was minimal or no damage to the vines from last weeks storms and flooding, so that's very good news.