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.
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.