Cynthia, Janelle and I at Red Tail Ridge Winery
It’s not often that I have the opportunity to have a “girls weekend” like I used to before I met Rich, and I definitely miss my girl time. (Don’t worry, Rich is well aware of this and was brave enough to offer not only to host my friends for the weekend, but also to drive us for our wine tour on Saturday )
It really is a blast to get together and explore the beauty of the region along with the wines and especially to see who likes and dislikes each of the wines we taste together. The only things I knew about my friends Cynthia and Janelle’s wine personalities was that they both dig Sokol Blosser’s Evolution, an Oregon State produced, stainless-steel fermented blend of nine grape varieties: Muller-Thurgau, White Riesling, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner and that they’re both partial to drinking California reds ranging from Pinot Noir to Cabernet Sauvignon.
We ventured out on what was supposed to be a rainy, windy Saturday afternoon but turned out to be sunny and warm, starting at Red Tail Ridge Winery. The first thing we noticed was the privacy and beauty of the winery setting. It’s set back from the road and the tasting room is small and intimate. This was my first visit to Red Tail Ridge and also my first taste of their wines. Our group was partial to the whites over the ’07 Estate Grown Pinot Noir and I explained to my friends that the style of Pinot Noir here is much different than from other regions and that with their palates being accustomed to West Coast Pinot Noirs, a Finger Lakes Pinot Noir would be of a unique style that they may or may not enjoy.
Our overall favorite wines were the ’08 Estate Grown Semi-Dry Riesling (1.8% RS) and the ’08 Semi-Sweet Riesling (4% RS) and I mentioned in jest that I’m one of those wine drinkers who professes to prefer dry wines, but in fact I like a bit of sweetness as long as there’s nice structure, balance and acidity which both of these Rieslings have.
Our day included stops at Anthony Road Wine Company from which we posted pictures to our Facebook pages. Anthony Road Wine Company is among our favorite wineries and we enjoy their reds and whites across the board and always highly recommend them to newbies seeking Finger Lakes winery recommendations. We agreed that the value discoveries to please a crowd were Tony’s White made of the Cayuga White grape ($8.99) and the new 1.5 liter offering called PN II Red Table Wine (around $15), from pinot noir grapes that are the second selection of the sorting process. I told the girls that although I’m enmeshed in the wine industry and love and appreciate special bottles like anyone else, I’m truly an everyday wine drinker in that I’m driven to find wines to enjoy of a high QPR and save my special bottles for sharing at get-togethers or to celebrate with.
We also visited Glenora Wine Cellars, where we discovered that Cynthia much prefers sweeter reds and doesn’t like sparkling bruts. This is where Janelle and I disagreed with her and both chose ’07 Pinot Noir Rose’ and newly-released ’08 Merlot. We had an incredible view of Seneca Lake from the back tasting bar and we had a blast watching Cynthia grab up every pair of Santa Pants wine holders they had out on the floor.
Our last stop was to Fulkerson Winery. We’ve consistently been treated very well each time we’ve tasted at Fulkerson and Vincent is one of our favorite red hybrids in the region. The tasting room is spacious and beautiful with bright sunlight streaming in the large windows. We had the opportunity to say hello to John Iszard, Wine Sales and Marketing Director at the winery and, of course, the topic of interest among my group of Buffalonians and John was football. We “admitted” to our love for the Buffalo Bills and I wished him luck in cheering for his favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s just this type of banter and low-key conversation that I have come to cherish among the members of the Finger Lakes wine community. During our day, we spoke to a group of out-of-town tourists who are regular visitors to the region. They reiterated the importance of wineries selling not only their wines but the experience of each winery and their backstory. More on that in a post to come.