Archive for the ‘Finger Lakes Wine’ Category

TasteCamp East: Voracious Wine Bloggers Taste Throughout the Finger Lakes

Ravines Wine Cellars Morten Hallgren sharing '07 Ravines Argetsinger Vineyard Riesling and wife Lisa's skillet breakfast pizzas

This past weekend, I was among a group of wine bloggers who participated in the 2nd TasteCamp East, this year in the Finger Lakes.  The local wine industry is the inspiration for this blog and my business as I’ve mentioned to you before.  I had nothing to do with the selection of our region as the host of this year’s TasteCamp East, but of course I was pretty ecstatic that it was chosen from several other regions by TCE organizers at The New York Cork Report.

Tom Higgins of Heart & Hands Wine Company

I consider many of you my friends and part of a significant, vibrant and beautiful industry in New York State.  I have also developed friendships with several wine bloggers since attending the Wine Bloggers Conferences and meeting many of them via Open Wine Consortium, Twitter and Facebook. This year’s TasteCamp East brought these two worlds together and I enjoyed hearing the unvarnished feedback and impressions of the region and its wines from the perspective of wine bloggers, craving info on the world of wine and winemaking intricacies and eager to educate their audiences about their discoveries.

Fox Run Vineyards winemaker Peter Bell

Posts and photos started appearing pre-TasteCamp and several bloggers posted live updates and pics via their mobile phones, bringing followers along with us as we navigated through the region, lake by lake, meeting with and tasting an array of wines and food selected for us.  I noticed excitement from some of the winery owners and staff pouring for attendees because of the keen interest and knowledge level of the wine bloggers.  It’s not every day that over 30 wine enthusiasts travel to the region from several states and Canada with pen, wine journals and lots of questions!

Anything Wine's John Witherspoon

Most of the wineries greeted our group with enthusiasm, but the ones who stood out most, from what I’m hearing so far, are the ones who brought their stories front and center, educated this wine savvy audience on their winemaking philosophy but also remembered to share a bit of their personal selves and beliefs, including their struggles and challenges.

Sam Argetsinger of Argetsinger Vineyard

If you missed out on following along, check the New York Cork Report posts tagged “tastecamp” which will be updated with a list of the bloggers posts and check out FLXTwits and the #tastecamp hashtag’s results on Twitter Search.

Thank you to Lenn Thompson and Evan Dawson at the New York Cork Report for organizing TCE and all of the sponsors and wineries for hosting us.  This was my husband Rich’s first wine blogger weekend as my date and we enjoyed seeing the region from a new perspective.

Wineries: the agenda that Lenn and Evan created for us is a good guide for the types of personalized, intimate experiences that your more advanced wine customers would enjoy.  Vertical tastings, wine and food pairing and a BYOB in a casual gathering place (ie on a boat ) went over well this weekend.  Bloggers, any other types of events that you’d like to see more of?

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Seneca Lake Wine Touring on a Beautiful Fall Day

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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.

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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.

Winery Visits: Rooster Hill Vineyards, Keuka Spring Vineyards

On a recent fall weekend, Rich and I spent a couple of nights in modest digs on Keuka Lake with great friends of ours.  The house is on the Northwest side of the lake and featured access to a large deck poised above a bluff overlooking the lake.  The weather was quite chilly and windy but we bundled up and made the most of our short time there.

Our friends hadn’t been to the wineries here in the Finger Lakes before and we were eager to have them experience wine tastings in a relaxed and un-rushed manner.  After a big breakfast, we headed out to our first stop and a favorite winery of ours, Rooster Hill Vineyards.

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Amy and Dave Hoffman and the staff at Rooster Hill consistently provide a quality wine tasting experience.  I hadn’t alluded to my fondness for Rooster Hill wines across the board to our friends, I was interested in their opinion of the experience and the wines.  Amy guided us to Marsha, one of her weekend tasting room staff who has recently studied via WSET and engaged us in a thorough tasting from whites to reds and concluding with port.  Our friends complimented Marsha on her easy, educational approach to leading the tasting and were inspired to learn more about wine because of the relaxed manner in which she talked to us about the wines.

Marsha had us taste both the 2007 Rooster Hill Gewurztraminer and 2008 Rooster Hill Estate Gewurztraminer and there was a noticeable difference.  The ’08 is bolder with a fuller mouthfeel and longer, honeyed finish.  Among the reds, the ’07 Rooster Hill Estate Cabernet Franc shone in our opinion.  My husband prefers reds and is oftentimes lukewarm about reds beyond his go-to bottle of Chianti or Sangiovese, but he was quick to remark that this wine impressed him.

We had hopes of enjoying a bottle together near the fireplace back at the house after the guys indulged in a couple of Rocky Patel cigars after dinner, so we selected the Rooster Hill Vineyards NV Port to accompany the fire and cigars after consulting with Amy,  also a cigar lover,  about our plan.  She told the guys to dip the end of the cigar in the port and then smoke it.  We were sold.  After all of that planning though, the girls didn’t make it late enough after the fire put us to sleep quickly, so we’ll be bringing the Port to our next get-together.

We then ventured out to Keuka Spring Vineyards, just down the road from Rooster Hill.  This was a first time visit for us and we were lured by a long-time curiousity about Keuka Spring Vineyards’ wines and large terrace with view of the lake.  I had a feeling that we would stop our day here in order to enjoy the terrace with a bottle of wine and some snacks we had packed.  We enjoyed our tasting with Bill and found that my friends favored the ’08 Keuka Spring Vineyards Gewurztraminer while Rich and I went toward the ’08 Keuka Spring Vineyards Riesling.  We purchased a few bottles including a chilled bottle of the ’08 Gewurz to drink on the deck, broke out our snacks and grabbed Karma from the car to settle in for a bit.

Judy, Jeanne and Mark Wiltberger took time out to stop by our table to talk and pet Karma.  Rich and our friend Mike participated in the intimate Red Wine and Chocolate tasting and came back from it quite happy and full.  I think Rich was skeptical to pairing red wine with desserts being a die-hard milk and chocolate type of guy, but he remarked that this experience opened his eyes up to the ability of red wine to pair with the nuances of chocolate and other desserts.  The desserts for the event were created by Butterwood Desserts out of West Falls, NY which is coincidentally very close to my father-in-law’s neighborhood outside of Buffalo.

It’s funny, we’ve been buckling down, growing my business and saving for a house, so we haven’t been out to the wineries as much as I would like lately.  I’m grateful for the time we do get out and it’s a reminder of what motivates me to write this blog: the welcoming nature of the people here in the Finger Lakes wine industry, new experiences centered around wine and the ability to share those things with people you love.

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Follow Up: First Finger Lakes Wine Tweetup

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David Breeden, Me, Amy Cheatle, Morgan and Evan Dawson and Tom Mansell

Our first Finger Lakes Wine Tweetup was a success. We had a small, hard-core group of Finger Lakes wine devotees in attendance, the day was beautiful and we were shown a great time by Sheldrake Point Vineyards‘ winemaker David Breeden, wine club manager Antoinette Di Ciaccio and staff.

The Past, Present and Future Riesling vertical tasting was set in a bright but intimate room with limited seating. David walked us through the tasting and answered some tough questions. He was interviewed by one of our attendees and my fellow blog contributor at LENNDEVOURS, Evan Dawson and even after that, wholeheartedly took us to taste several barrel and tank samples from Sheldrake’s 2008 vintage.

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With a new appreciation for the ageability and finesse of “older” Riesling vintages, I grabbed up the 2001, 2005 and 2008 and have resisted cracking into them. (The ’08 will not be available for sale for around another year, but was for sale to attendees of the tasting.) I was excited by what I learned that afternoon in a setting with other enthusiasts: I detected the petrol on the nose of the ’01! I picked up beautiful honey notes in the nose and palate of several vintages! I really should hold onto bottles and cellar them more often than I do, etc.

Great day, fun company, new insights…we’ll be doing this again soon. 🙂

First Finger Lakes Wine (mini) Tweetup


Tweetup defined: a real world meeting between two or more people who know each other through the online Twitter service (source: WordSpy.com)

When:  Sunday, May 31st, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Where:  Sheldrake Point Vineyards to attend “Future, Present and Past Rieslings: A Vertical Tasting Experience” in honor of May is Riesling Month

Why:  for fun, to get together and explore wine with like-minded Finger Lakes wine geeks

I’ve had the idea to start a local wine tasting Meet Up or tasting group for some time now.  With a few more Finger Lakes wine industry members jumping into conversations on Twitter, I thought it would be fun to blaze forth with a Tweetup.  In this case, it will be a mini-Tweetup because the Sheldrake vertical tasting has limited seating, so for the next one we’ll work to include more tweeps (people on Twitter).  Ideas welcome.

Thanks to Tom Mansell of Ithacork blog for coming up with the Sheldrake tasting idea.  Watch Twitter on Sunday afternoon …you may see some live TwitPics and tweets.  More details on the next Finger Lakes Wine Tweetup soon.


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Family, Love, Wine Blog: What a Year It’s Been

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Diane Letulle, Remy Charest, Robbin Gheesling and I at Wine Bloggers Conference

As a girl with a dream to bring together my passions for learning about the wine industry, its people and places and social media, I’m celebrating the one-year anniversary of my first blog post. One year ago, I didn’t know a soul in the wine business. I started devouring wine blogs and publications and most-importantly, joined the Open Wine Consortium on the recommendation of blogger and wine PR guru Tom Wark. It has been a year of wine events, tastings, classes, projects, obstacles and friendship. I have learned much, thanks to many of you who have stuck by me, rallied for me and advised me. I have grown to admire many of the thought leaders in this industry and the business world. See “Thought Leaders I Follow and Admire” in the sidebar.

And if this last year is any indication of how much fun, how challenging and rewarding this business is, I foresee pursuing it until I can no longer take a breath or communicate with you in some way (I wonder what the medium of choice will be by then!)

Thank you for returning to this blog, for telling me your stories and helping me to find my passion in life outside of my family and friends. I am happy and grateful to be a part of the wine community.

A slideshow of the highlights of my first year blogging and doing business. Cheers 🙂

Finger Lakes Wineries Earn 90’s in Wine Spectator…and not for Riesling!

winespectatorLast week, three wineries in the Finger Lakes received the much-coveted rating of 90 in James Molesworth’s latest Tasting Highlights of Wine Spectator. Congratulations to our entire family of wineries on this distinction. More specifically, the wines that were featured and garnered 90’s are:

DR. KONSTANTIN FRANK Gewürztraminer Finger Lakes Reserve 2007 Score: 90 | $25

Very juicy and forward, with enticing apple, anise, fennel seed, fig and spice notes that stay fresh and lovely through the finish. Mouthwatering acidity brings you back for more. Delicious. Drink now through 2010. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 387 cases made. —J.M.

RED NEWT CELLARS Gewürztraminer Finger Lakes Sawmill Creek Vineyards 2007 Score: 90 | $36

Very tight still, this mouthwatering version offers racy acidity that keeps the watermelon, kiwi, green apple and fig notes rippling through the long, bright finish. Textbook bitter almond and bitter orange notes frame it all nicely. Drink now through 2010. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. A new bottling sourced from longtime grower Jim Hazlitt’s vineyard. 250 cases made. —J.M.

STANDING STONE Vidal Finger Lakes Ice 2007 Score: 90 | $25 / 375ml

Ripe and sweet, with lots of maple, honey, ginger, persimmon and spice notes that are nicely rounded. Shows length on the finish, with hints of golden raisin and white chocolate. Delicious. This wine has a terrific track record. Drink now through 2012. 832 cases made. —J.M.

I was lucky enough to attend Seneca Lake Wine Trail’s Pasta and Wine event this past weekend and took the opportunity to grab up an ’06 Red Newt Gewurztraminer, so now have an excuse to go back for the ’07. I think that it says alot that these high ratings came to Gewurztraminer and Vidal Ice varietals and not Riesling. Although I love Riesling and the acclaim that it has brought to the Finger Lakes, 90’s for other varietals speak to the diversity of quality, consistent wines that are now being produced here by some of the top winemakers. Whether you agree with the 100-point rating system or not, these ratings are extremely important for a wine’s sales and attractiveness to distributors and many consumers.

Okay, I’ll put my pom-poms down now. Just couldn’t help myself!

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