Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stalking the Shaw ’07 Pinot Noir


Stalking the Shaw ’07 Pinot Noir
by Rob Lane
(Finger Lakes Weekend Wino)

When the 2007 harvest was complete in the Finger Lakes region, I was particularly excited about one red varietal from the barrel tastings that I was experiencing. It was a grape that many experts said could never produce excellent wine in the Finger Lakes – Pinot Noir. And one ’07 Pinot Noir in particular piqued my curiosity – the ’07 Pinot Noir from Shaw Vineyard. Since I know that Steve Shaw, vineyardist/winemaker/owner of Shaw Vineyards on the west side of Seneca Lake, likes to take his time when releasing his reds, I made it a goal of mine to follow this particular wine through its entire journey from harvest to release.

So for the last 3 years, I have stalked this wine (with Steve’s permission, of course) and Steve has given me unprecedented access to tasting the wine at regular intervals over the last 3 years and all along the way I have been convinced that it was going to be a special wine. But let’s return to the birth of the Shaw ’07 Pinot Noir.

The climate in 2007 created good growing conditions with very hot and dry conditions for Shaw’s vines. As Shaw relates, “I like the Pinot vines to be stressed. But since my Pinot is grown in clay soil types, the vines are less susceptible to shutting down from lack of water, even in the almost droughtlike conditions over the summer of 2007”. Shaw has two 1-acre blocks of Pinot, located .6 miles and .8 miles from the lake shore. The Pinot Noir clones planted are Clones 7, 667, 115, and 777. Shaw uses the German-developed trellis system called Pendlebogen on a large portion of the vines. This trellising is essentially a system where the canes are allowed to arch and it gives a somewhat “wild vine” appearance. Shaw says that, in warm years like 2007, this system allows him to take full advantage of the ground heat. Steve relates that bunches closer to the ground can yield sugars up to 1 brix higher.

The vines are spaced 6 feet apart with 9 foot row spacing. Asked if shorter spacing would give any advantage, Shaw replies “The soils are so fertile here that closer spacing does not provide any additional stressing advantages and in my opinion, creates other airflow and disease issues.” He does not however mind some weed growth around the plants to make the vines struggle. Shaw believes wholeheartedly that the Pinot vines must be stressed to produce the best fruit. The theory is that when the vines are stressed, they will produce smaller but more flavorful fruit.

Shaw has been growing grapes in this region for many decades and he seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to timing the harvest. In late September of 2007, Steve called in his crew to pick the Pinot Noir. The Brix varied from 22 to 23.5, with yields of 2.5 to 3 tons per acre and all of the grapes were hand-picked and destemmed whole with no crushing, and with a very light pressing regimen. Shaw emphasizes, “I believe in gentle extraction, lots of patience, being mindful of the living product, and only interfering when necessary”.

Steve uses several European Burgundy variety yeasts with extended contact with the fine lees. 16 barrels of the ’07 Pinot Noir then spent the next 2 years of their lives lounging in 20% new French oak barrels and 80% 2 & 3 year old French oak barrels, with much of the third year spent in neutral oak barrels for micro-oxygenation and softening the tannins. When it came time to bottle, all 16 barrels were evaluated but only 13 were deemed to meet Steve's standards. 300 cases of the '07 Pinot Noir was bottled in June of 2010, allowed to age in the bottle for 5 months and released this month.

I barrel tasted this wine about twice a year for the last 3 years, my anticipation for the final product growing with each experience. But actually, the best part of these tastings (as any wine geek will say) was the wide-ranging wine discussions with Steve, where I got a glimpse inside the mind of someone with Steve’s vast experience. Steve has amazing patience with his wines. I know I wanted it in the bottle 2 years ago. The flavors and mouthfeel were exceptional from the start and became better at each tasting, with beautiful tannic structure that showed this wine’s stellar aging potential.

When Steve announced that he was releasing this wine in November, I was giddy with excitement. After all, I felt like I was, in some small way, a part of this wine. I had spent 3 years tasting it, discussing it, and experiencing it behind the scenes. The moment was at hand where I would finally taste the final product, and it did not disappoint.

First we tasted a new bottle. Right away, I smelled that familiar aroma of candied cherry that I experience in many excellent red wines, along with that classic Pinot earthiness. On the tongue, the rich berry flavors filled the front of the palate leading into deep notes of cassis and plum, with underlyng tones of anise, deep-roasted coffee, and a complex earthiness that made me smile. The tannic structure was still tight in this young wine, but not overly so, with a long complex finish featuring the positive oak elements.

But the real stunner came when Steve poured a glass from a bottle that he had opened the day before and corked overnight to give me an idea of what this wine will be like with several years of aging. Those tannins had unwound and opened up soft, ripe, and juicy berry flavors, with beautiful toasted vanilla from the oak integrating perfectly with the now deepened layers of cassis (with some raspberry undertones on the deep palate), earthiness, and roasted coffee flavors that lingered on longer than an Alaska Senatorial ballot count.

Was it worth the 3 year wait? You bet it was, and it will be worth another 3 year wait to see how this young wine develops. I will need the patience of Steve Shaw, though, to resist the temptation to open my prized ’07 Shaw Pinot Noir’s now snuggled in my wine cellar.

I thank Steve Shaw so much for allowing me into the world of a passionate and talented vineyardist and winemaker. When you talk with Steve, you can sense the intensity at which he pursues excellence in every aspect of his viticulture and winemaking. Shaw Vineyards is located on the west side of Seneca Lake, 14 miles north of Watkins Glen.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

FLWW Update

Yes, I'm still here. Many projects going now. Not a lot of time for blogging.

See my February article in Mountain Home magazine at www.mountainhomemag.com

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Finger Lakes Wine Industry 2009 Recap

Wow. 2009 passed by in a flash. Welcome to 2010! Only a couple more years left (according to the Mayan calendar), so we better get busy enjoying all the Finger Lakes wine that we can. To recap 2009 for the Finger Lakes wine industry, I believe the operative word is “Relief”. Going into 2009, recession worries were rampant and many wineries were bracing for the worst. But happily, consumers shrugged off the bad economic news and continued to visit Finger Lakes wineries. Many wineries reported that even though the total visitor count was down a bit, sales held up fairly well. So that was very good news for the Finger Lakes wine industry.

The news about the wine was just as good, as award after award was earned by Finger Lakes wineries in 2009 with Sheldrake Point Vineyard (Cayuga Lake) and Hermann Wiemer Vineyard (Seneca Lake) being named in the Top 100 wineries of the world by Wine & Spirits magazine. The quality of Finger Lakes wine could be seen across the board with special note being given to the 2007 reds that were released in 2009, especially some of the 2007 Pinot Noirs.

The optimal weather in 2007, along with the increasing experience and knowledge of Finger Lakes vineyardists and winemakers in this relatively young winemaking region, combined to prove that yes, Pinot Noir can be grown here and can be made into outstanding wine. Red Tail Ridge, Billsboro, Fox Run, Belhurst, Heart & Hand, and Ravines all stood out with fine 2007 Pinot Noir’s.

Of course, Riesling continued to lead the way in the Finger Lakes with critics from around the world finally comprehending what I have been shouting to the world for many years now – that the Finger Lakes region can make first-class world renown wine! But two of my top favorite white wines of 2009 were not Rieslings, but Gewurztraminers. The complex and delicious Dr. Frank ’08 Reserve Gewurztraminer ($24.99) shows layers of tangerine, floral, and spice flavors and the Silver Springs Winery (Seneca Lake) ‘04 Gewurztraminer Ice Wine ($42) continues to develop year after year and is now revealing luscious honey and citrus flavors.

Expansion continues in the Finger Lakes with several more wineries opening in 2009, along with several distilleries making fine small-batch artisan spirits. I made visits to 88 of those wineries in 2009 and tasted over 700 Finger Lakes wines. 2009 harvest reports give a mixed view of the ’09 vintage with the weather not cooperating for much of the year. Rieslings and whites in general are looking good, but the verdict on ’09 reds is still up in the air.

I wish everyone a Great 2010 and I’ll see you on the Wine Trails!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Have A Great Holiday Season & A Great 2010

I wish you all a Great Holiday Season & A Great 2010!!! I hope to get back to blogging in 2010. My newest Finger Lakes wine column is out now in the December issue of Mountain Home Magazine.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Seneca Lake's Newest Winery


For all of you fruit wine (non-grape) lovers out there, Seneca Lake's newest winery, Fruit Yard Winery, may be right up your alley. Since it is located only a half-mile from my house on Route 14, about 10 miles north of Watkins Glen on the west side of the lake, I have been watching the construction with some curiosity and, with it's roadside farm stand look, I thought I would be buying fresh produce there. On its recent opening, alas, it was a winery.

Fruit Yard Winery is the brain child of Dave Dimarco, who also owns Seneca Shore Winery a few miles to the north, and Dave Shope, an experienced Finger Lakes winemaker with a love of making quality fruit wines. Along with wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Traminette, etc. (some from Seneca Shore's stock), they produce 7 sweet fruit wines - Pear, Peach, Cranberry, Cherry, Strawberry, Plum, & Blueberry (all in 375ml bottles), with more to come.



The highlights of my tasting were the Strawberry wine ($7.99, 375ml) with strawberry jam flavors and the Plum wine ($7.99, 375 ml), a very complex fruit wine with layers of plum, cherry, strawberry, and apricot into a nice long well-structured finish.
If you are looking for something a little different while you are tasting around Seneca Lake, stop in to the Fruit Yard.








Friday, July 17, 2009

Finger Lakes Wine Festival


It's time again for the Finger Lakes Wine Festival this weekend and Tommy the Wino and me, The Finger Lakes Weekend Winos Duo, will be performing at the Wine Festival at Watkins Glen Speedway this Sunday from 10am to 1pm in The Brewers Garden. Stop by for some Rock, Blues, & Wino Originals. We'll see you there!!! FLWW

Friday, July 03, 2009

Finger Lakes News & Notes - July 3, 2009


- Finger Lakes Wine Country has started the Painted Barrels event. The barrel pictured is from Hearts & Hands Winery, whose owner Tom Higgins suggested the idea of Painted Barrels as a way to promote Finger Lakes artists and wineries. Its barrel is beautifully painted by Finger Lakes artist, Melissa Littlejohn, of the famed pottery company. MacKenzie-Childs of Aurora, New York. For more info on Painted Barrels, click here.
- Check out July events in the Finger Lakes

- Holly Howell writes on wine blends

- Naples store showcases Finger Lakes artists

- Wine Spectators James Molesworth enjoys Anthony Road Riesling at Red Newt Bistro

- Also read Molesworths’ blog of his recent Finger Lakes visit here

- Jeff Richards writes on the new Finger Lakes Distillery

- Enjoy wine and racing this weekend at Watkins Glen Speedway

- Proposals for Finger Lakes Museum considered

- Baltimore's Terry Sullivan writes about his Finger Lakes travels

- The Wine Trail Traveler website has some nice info on Finger Lakes wineries

- Enjoy Music and Finger Lakes Wine at Taughannock Falls State Park

- If you are looking for ideas of things to do in the Finger Lakes, check out "100 Things To Do in Finger Lakes Wine Country This Summer"

- Finger Lakes wines do well in Los Angeles International Wine Competition, with Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2008 Dry Riesling and 2008 Late Harvest Riesling winning Best of Class awards. Congrats to CLR!!! See complete results here

- The Why Wine Blog visits the Finger Lakes

- The Professor writes about Finger Lakes wine
- If you are interested in making wine at home, Fulkerson Winery's Steve Fulkerson gives you good advice on his youtube videos

I hope your summer is going great & Happy 4th of July to all my fellow Weekend Winos!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Wine Wins Another Medal



- As I posted in my May 20th post, myself and 2 friends entered our Concord wine into the Winemaker Magazine Amateur Winemaking Competition last month and we won a medal. Well, we just found out last weekend that we won another medal at the prestigious Indy International Competition! So we must be doing something right.


-Come out and see Mr. Tom and me, the Finger Lakes Weekend Winos Duo, perform acoustic blues, rock, and originals this Saturday & Sunday from Noon to 4pm at Dr. Franks on the east side of Keuka Lake. We had a great time there earlier in the month and this weekend should be even better!


- Also, My June Wine & Dine Column for Mountain Home magazine about winemaker Barry Tortolon of Rooster Hill Vineyard is now online.


Busy Busy Busy. I'll see you on the wine trails.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Finger Lakes News & Notes

- Mountain Home magazine's June edition is out at wineries and shops in the Finger Lakes with my June column about Rooster Hill Vineyards winemaker Barry Tortolon and my June post for Finger Lakes Wine Country is here.

-Come out and see Mr. Tom and me, the Finger Lakes Weekend Winos Duo, perform acoustic blues, rock, and originals this Saturday & Sunday from Noon to 4pm at Dr. Franks on the east side of Keuka Lake.

- See a complete listing of Finger Lakes events for June at Finger Lakes Wine Country

- If you like to fiddle around, the 20th Annual Fiddlers Gathering is this weekend at Watlins Glen State Park

- More distilleries open in the Finger Lakes

- Red Tail Ridge Winery goes green

- Holly Howell writes on misunderstood Riesling

- In the Eastern International Wine Competition, the 2006 Tierce was named the best dry Riesling, the overall Riesling Champion and the best White Wine of the competition (retail $30). The wine was a collaborative effort by three Finger Lakes winemakers -- Peter Bell of Fox Run Vineyards, Johannes Reinhardt of Anthony Road Wine Co., and Dave Whiting of Red Newt Cellars. See complete results here

- One of my favorite Finger Lakes wines of the year so far, Dr. Frank 2007 Reserve Gewurztraminer (see my notes here) has won a Gold medal at an international Gewurztraminer competition in France.

- Ithaca NY is rated as one of top ten places for wine lovers to retire

- The next generation of Finger Lakes vintners are getting ready

That's all for now. I'll see you on the Wine Trails! FLWW

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Finger Lakes Winery Reports - May 2009

Here are highlights of my May Winery Visits:





Red Tail Ridge Winery, west side of Seneca Lake, They are starting to produce their own estate wines now and I am very excited about the wines here, especially the reds.


> ’08 Estate Semi-dry Riesling, $15.95, 1.8%RS, this Riesling is a bit different (or is it) with lots of green apple flavors instead of peach, leading into rounded lime tones on the finish.


> ’07 Estate Pinot Noir, $19.95, pleasant funky earth and tobacco on the nose, lots of beautiful smoky tobacco tones with deep black cherry undertones and a long mocha finish, an excellent Finger Lakes Pinot Noir!


> ’07 Lemberger, $18.95, from the Martini vineyards, well-defined spicy cherry layers but not much pepper right now, a little heavy on the acidity right now but this has aging potential and should smooth out nicely.





















Anthony Road Winery, west side of Seneca Lake, lots to talk about here,


> ’07 Chardonnay-No Oak, $12.99, .6%RS, steely and crisp with spicy pear highlights.


> ’08 Semi-dry Riesling, $14.99, 2.6%RS, nice fresh floral and citrus aromas, bold citrus with underlying honeyed melon and ripe peach, the acidity should smooth out nicely with a little age.


> ’08 Gewurztraminer, $15.99, 1.1%RS, a bit unbalanced to me right now with loads of lychee and spice overwhelming the hints of orange and ginger below the surface, I’ll try again in a few months.

> ’07 Vignoles, $12.99, 1.4%RS, winemaker Johannes Reinhardt always makes a beautifully structured and flavorful Vignoles, nice honeyed grapefruit aromas, expressive melon with smooth citrus and a steely backbone make this a great Vignoles!

> ’06 Martini-Reinhardt Berry Select Vignoles, $45, 14.5%RS, sticking with Vignoles but in a dessert style, Beautiful amber gold color, honeyed lime aromas, sweet but balanced, intense fig, apricot, and honey in this flavor bomb, savor it slowly.


> ’07 Martini Reinhardt Select Riesling, $22, 2.1%RS, structured and steely on the nose, bold but smooth mouthwatering lime on the front with balanced honeyed lychee and spice on the finish, this is a really good value at $22, this is an excellent well-structured and nuanced Semi-dry Riesling that should also age well!


> ’07 Martini Reinhardt Select Cabernet Franc, $30, Correction: .1%RS, At first the 14.3% alcohol overwhelmed me, but after I let it breathe a bit, this wine came to life, a complex wine, very soft with deep plum and coffee tones with hints of anise, tobacco, and leather on the deep palate into a long long cocoa mocha finale, Bravo Johannes!!!



Belhurst Winery, west side of Seneca Lake, After struggling for a few years to find their wine focus, Belhurst has come out with a an impressively solid wine lineup this year; they are still a bit pricey for my wallet but it IS a premium resort with beautiful views and great dining so I guess I can shell out a little extra for excellent wine, although I am not sure where the grapes/juice is from or who the winemaker(s) are. A recent press release from Belhurst president Duane Reeder stated "With a unique winery philosophy, the Belhurst Winery includes a committee of experts who carefully seek fruit, vineyards, wine varieties and winemakers who will contribute to the palette of wines sold by Belhurst. The committee continually collaborates with area winemakers to produce consistently high quality wines which quickly become Belhurst favorites." Hmmmmm??? I assume it's Finger Lakes fruit, but I'm not sure. I will get to the bottom of this!

> ’08 Pinot Grigio, $19.95, Pinot Grigio has disappointed me in the Finger Lakes. The problem is, I have tasted a couple of exceptional Finger Lakes PG’s so I know that it can be done, but for the most part, most Finger Lakes PG’s are flabby and one dimensional, Fortunately Belhurst latest offering is beautifully structured with apple and peach layers into a spicy mineral finish that goes on longer than a Finger Lakes winter! Thank You Belhurst for a nice Finger Lakes PG. Now work on lowering that price for us common folk : ) I guess they need extra $ for that winemaking committee?


> ’08 Chardonnay, $18.95, more lime in this Chardonnay than normal Finger Lakes Chard but I like it, complex with toasted vanilla with a touch of spice with integrated soft lime with melon undertones into a very long finish, Yum.


> ’08 Dry Riesling, $18.95, fresh honeyed citrus aroma, layers of apple and melon with solid mineral finish, Wow, I am impressed! Way to make a comeback, Belhurst. I have only tasted about 10 ‘08’s so far, but this one tops my list right now. It appears that the ’08 Rieslings that I have tasted generally have more apple tones instead of the normal peach tones and there’s nothing wrong with that.


> ’08 Semi-dry Riesling, $17.95, loads of melon and apple but after the excellent Dry version, the finish just can’t compete, still a very good semi-dry Riesling.


> ’07 Pinot Noir, $21.95, the Finger Lakes ’07 Pinot Noirs seem to be coming in to their own now as the Red Tail Ridge Pinot that I reviewed above and this one are revealing, nicely funky earthy cherry on the nose, lots of dried black fruit and juicy black cherry with underlying hints of dried berries, lots of fruit in this very good and perfectly balanced Pinot, Actually this is a good value at this price point.










Fox Run Vineyards, west side of Seneca Lake,



> ’08 Semi-dry Riesling, $13.99, 2.5%RS, My knowledgable server Tim warned me that this had just been bottled, but even with bottle shock, this wine is showing very well already, very soft and smooth layered citrus tones,of orange, nectarine and lime and should continue to get better, Very Nice.


> ’06 Reserve Chardonnay, $14.99, .5%RS, Expressive Chard fruit with nice peach character and a nice long finish. > Artcic Fox, $8.99, a very steely and structured Cayuga even with 2.1%RS, very intriguing apple and citrus layers happening here, a really nice value white.


> ’07 Reserve Pinot Noir, $50, Once again, the Red wine story in the Finger Lakes this year may be the ’07 Pinot Noir, Lush and Velvety, soft smooth cherry with smoky tobacco undertones, this is an excellent wine and may well be worth the $50 price tag, but for a commoner like me, I see better value elsewhere.















Hermann Wiemer Vineyard, west side of Seneca Lake,


> ’07 Dry Riesling, $17.50, .9%RS, Winemaker Fred Merwarth doing what he does so well, the perfect dry Riesling, this is a ménage a trois of perfectly balanced peach, melon, and lime on a bed of smooth mineral and I hope that you are not in the room next door because they could go all night!



> ’07 Dry Riesling Reserve, $23, .7%RS, finely nuanced mineral character with peach layers and honeyed spice undertones, but I actually prefer the Non-reserve this year.

> 2003 Blanc de Noir, Dry Sparkling Wine, 85% Pinot Noir/ 15% Chardonnay, HW doesn’t get enough credit for their sparklers because their Riesling gets all the press, but this one has nicely expressed apple tones with beautifully defined toasty highlights.

> ’07 Estate White, $12, .4%RS, 60% Chardonnay, 20% Riesling, 20% Gewurztraminer, a very complex value blend, I find that winemakers who make the best premium wines also make the best value wines because they strive for the same balance and structure but blends are at lower price points. Sort of the same concept as eating lunch at a fancy restaurant, the chef is going to strive for the same quality as his dinner fare, but you will pay less for that same quality at lunch (yes, I am a cheapskate). This wine exudes layers of peach, apple and melon, with excellent balance and structure, a very good value at this price point.

That's all for now. I'll see you on the wine trails!!! FLWW

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Wine Wins a Medal!!!!!!

Believe it or not, a wine that I helped make has won a medal at a wine competition.

Okay, so it was just a Bronze. But yesssssssss, a wine I helped make won a freaking award!!!! I am psyched! Well, here's how it came about. I have been making wine, starting with kits and progressing to juice, for the past 10 years or so. Well, last year I decided to make wine together with 2 friends who have been making wine for a while and we decided that we were going to go bigger than we ever had. We got ourselves some 50 gallon fermenters, a pump, filtration system and all the equipment we would need to do 4 fifty gallon batches. We decided to get 50 gallons each of Concord, Niagara, Cayuga, & Dechaunac because that's what we could afford.

We read all the new research we could get our hands on about oxidation and SO2 levels and filtration and cold fermentation, etc. We even built a temperature controlled fermentation room. We were serious. For most of 2008, I had been picking the brains of any winemaker who would answer my stupid questions. Thank You to Mark at Rock Stream, Darren at Villa Bellangelo, & Chris & Liz at Lakewood for putting up with my questions and for giving me good advice!!! I have so much respect for all good winemakers after my years of trying to make something respectable.

After fermentation, we knew the Concord was going to be the best out of the four. We did sweetening trials and the flavors just popped. And it kept getting better and better with fine strawberry/citrus aromas and flavors, actually to me it tasted like the best Catawba I've ever had. We thought it might be too un-Concord like for judges. But we decided to enter it into the 2009 Winemaker Magazine Amateur Wine Competition (There were over 4400 total entries and only 7 medal winners in our category).

And they gave it a Bronze. To me, that is like a Gold and verifies that we are doing something right. Lord knows, we were flying blind at times. But I think every winemaker can attest to the fact that you really never know how a wine is going to turn out until it is in the bottle for many months. So now I can actually say that I AM A WINEMAKER. Our expert peers have deemed our skills to be passable. But now the bar has been set. Can we beat that next year? Well, we are certainly going to try! -Finger Lakes Weekend Wino & Award-Winning Winemaker : )

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rendezvous with Riesling Report & New Finger Lakes Releases


- It was an eventful weekend this past weekend, with me and Mrs. Wino attending the Rendezvous with Riesling event at the New York Wine & Culinary Center (NYWCC) in Canandaigua on Friday night, which showcased Rieslings from over 30 New York wineries. My goal at this event was to try and get an idea of how the ‘08 Finger Lakes Rieslings were shaping up, but there were only six ‘08’s there and many of them were recently bottled and still suffering from some “bottle shock” and not showing their full potential yet. I find that Finger Lakes Rieslings, especially the dry Rieslings, show very bold acidity right after bottling and it takes a while for them to settle down and smooth out. I will try them again in a few months.

The most interesting Riesling to me was the new ‘08 “Value” Semi-dry Riesling from Red Newt, which they are calling Circle Riesling because of the circular label. Red Newt owner Dave Whiting hopes that this Riesling will be Finger Lakes answer to those other out of state produced value-priced Rieslings, and he hopes that this wine will showcase the quality of Finger Lakes Riesling to a broader audience because of its modest $11.99 price point. After tasting it, I think Dave’s theory may prove correct. This wine shows clean aromas with fresh stone fruit and citrus flavors with honeyed overtones, a good introduction to Finger Lakes Riesling for those who have not tried them yet. 2500 cases produced and it is available now. Click here for a good article about this wine from Evan Dawson at LennDevours blog and a lively discussion in the Comments section.

- Actually, what impressed me more than the wines at the Rendezvous with Riesling was the amazing food! NYWCC Executive Chef Carlo Peretti was cooking up a variety of Risotto recipes that would have impressed even Hell’s Kitchens not easily pleased maestro Gordon Ramsey. In fact, Carlo said that he has tried out for that show, so maybe he will get to cook risotto for the hotheaded fellow Brit Ramsey. Also on hand were truly impressive and tasty samples from Hartmann’s Old World Sausage (delicious meats) , Simply Crepes (heavenly apple crepes), Muranda Cheese (veteran milk producer who recently decided to produce cheese and these are very high quality cheeses), The Pierogie Guy (with a unique pulled pork pierogie), and Renee Suzette’s Chocolate (truly decadent chocolates). Mrs. Wino & I were in culinary heaven. I will be writing more about these quality New York state food producers in my Food & Wine column in Mountain Home magazine.

-On Saturday, I visited Fulkerson Winery for 2 reasons. First, they have just released their first Cabernet Franc Ice Wine and I was anxious to try it. This is one of the few Finger Lakes Cab Franc Ice Wines that I know of, but after tasting it, I think other wineries may want to add one of their own to their wine production. I have long thought, after tasting several sweeter Cab Franc’s, that it’s flavors really start to pop at higher residual sugar levels and that is certainly the case here. This wine possesses some of the most bold but still defined flavors of any ice wine that I have encountered. Full flavored but detailed layers of cherry and strawberry pirouette across your tongue like some crazed ballerina on steroids, and the 16.2% Residual Sugar is kept in check by the full flavor profile. At $44.99, this is not an everyday wine, but it is a perfect special occasion treat or for when you really want to impress someone.

The other reason that I was at Fulkerson was because the Finger Lakes own syndicated TV Chef, Chef William, was doing cooking demonstrations and book signings, and I was there to interview him for an article. Chef William’s story is a truly inspiring one and you can tell that he really loves what he does. I’ll let you know when the article comes out.

- Also in my travels this weekend, I stopped at Villa Bellangelo Winery to see what was new and owner Mike Litterio and his crew were very busy with a full tasting room, but they were very excited to have me try their newest wine addition, a sparkling Moscato ($16.99), made from the Cornell-produced hybrid grape Valvin Muscat. There are a few other Valvin Muscat’s being produced in the Finger Lakes, but this is the first sparkling one that I know of. The unique herbal quality of this grape is sometimes a little off-putting for me, but the low alcohol (6%) and sparkling components of Villa Bellangelo’s offering seems to mute that herbal quality and bring out more zingy pineapple and apricot flavors, producing a refreshing and flavorful low alcohol sipper that is going to be a big seller, especially for the summer. In fact, Mike says that only 112 cases were produced and they are going fast, so get it while you can.

- Memorial Day weekend coming up and it’s going to be another busy week. Remember to try and Buy Local when you can and always Drink Well and Be Safe!!!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Finger Lakes News & Notes - May 3, 2009

- It has been a busy last several weeks for The Weekend Wino as I have been tasting wines other than Finger Lakes wines. When I travel to other wine regions or do tastings at International Wine Events, I realize how spoiled I am by the quality and great value that Finger Lakes wine represents. Two examples from the last 2 weeks: I traveled up to Long Island to visit with friends and taste the Long Island wine offerings and, although there were some very nice wines, there was absolutely no good values to speak of. I do understand expenses are higher, but tasting prices and wine prices have increased considerably since I visited Long Island just two years ago, with tastings starting at $6 and going up to $12 to taste premium wines. Maybe the recession has not hit Long Island and NYC as much as other areas, but I believe that people are looking for value right now and I just did not see it on Long Island. I also attended an International Wine event in Pennsylvania, with over 100 of the worlds top wineries presenting tastings. Wines with price tags well over $100 were here and I just was not that impressed. I have tasted wines priced below twenty dollars that compared to some of these overpriced wines. Sure, there were some that lived up to there price tags, but quite a few left me shaking my head and longing for the Finger Lakes. I guess I’ve become a Finger Lakes wine snob, but I’d rather have wine that tastes good than wine with good taste, if you know what I mean : )

- My May column for Mountain Home magazine is available here and my April post for Finger Lakes Wine Country is here

- May is Riesling Month in the Finger Lakes with many events to celebrate the signature grape of the region. Some highlights of Riesling month include:
Rooster Hill Vineyards' Rieslings in Riedel lets anyone who comes in for a Riesling tasting ($3) try the wine in both a regular glass and a Riedel glass that many experts say enhances the flavor.
Ravines Wine Cellars' Ravenous for Rieslings is offering dry Riesling and food pairing each Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May. Saturday's pairing features shrimp with beurre blanc and shallots. The pairing costs $6 and no reservations are required.

New York Wine & Culinary Center presents Rendezvous with Riesling, a celebration of Finger Lakes Riesling on May 15th, including a special tasting of six older vintage Rieslings.

Enjoy free Finger Lakes Riesling tastings every Friday in May from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

Holly Howell gives a primer on Cabernet Franc

Tom Pellechia highlights some lesser known wines

The New York Wine & Culinary Center makes a big impact

Interesting story on how the recession is affecting a Washington State wine region. From what I see, the Finger Lakes wineries have had pretty good traffic on most weekends so far this Spring, so hopefully the Finger Lakes can weather the recession.

Finger Lakes wineries took home 28 Gold medals at the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition, including Best White Wine award to Dr. Frank ’07 Semi-Dry Riesling (see my review here). See Grand Champion results here

Check out the art of Finger Lakes artist Brenda Sunseri

Rooster Fish Brewery delights with food and beer in Watkins Glen

The Best of Routes 5 & 20

Reviews of Taste Camp East

Interesting discussion at LennDevours about Red Newt’s new “sweeter” Riesling and the economics of wine pricing

John Zuccarino of Silver Springs Winery continues his series of educational wine videos and even plays guitar for us

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dr Frank's is Open

- I'm sure many of you have heard about the fire that destroyed Dr. Frank's new tasting room. I am happy to report that no one was hurt, although some wine and memorabilia was destroyed. Fred Frank states that tours and tastings will not be disrupted and they are open for business in the unaffected tasting rooms. My acoustic duo, the Finger Lakes Weekend Winos were one of the first to perform in the newly built tasting area and it sure hits home. It was a beautiful tasting room. I guess we will be performing on the original deck when we play there in June. I am sipping the spectacular '07 Dr Frank Dry Riesling right now that I purchased in the destroyed tasting room. The building may be gone, but the memories remain.

- And in other bad news this week, the Golden Nose event which gives us mere mortals an opportunity to judge wine, was canceled due to lagging ticket sales. Oh well, maybe next year.

On a good note, the weather is going to be awesome this weekend. I am heading to Long Island to visit some old friends and taste Long Island wine. My fellow blogger Lenn at LennDevours has given me a list of must visit wineries on LI and I look forward to a very good time this weekend. Have fun and enjoy this great weather!!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Finger Lakes Vacation Wine Tour Tasting Tips

Wine Tasting Tour season has started so below are my tips for getting the most out of your wine tasting time in the Finger Lakes:

1. Try to plan at least one weekday into your trip. The wineries can be crowded on the weekends, especially during the fall foliage and holiday season from October to December. However, if you visit the wineries on a week day, the wineries are a lot less crowded.

2. Plan which wineries or which lakes that you want to visit. There are more than 80 wineries on Cayuga, Seneca, and Keuka Lakes. There are around 50 on Seneca, and perhaps 15-20 each on Keuka and Cayuga. It is impossible to visit them all on just a weekend. In my experience, a reasonable goal is 5 or 6 wineries maximum per day. If you know what your taste in wine is, I would suggest researching the wineries and the wines they offer by going to their websites. The Finger Lakes Wine Country website has a good winery directory with website links. This way, you can eliminate the wineries that do not have wines that appeal to you and get more information on the wineries that interest you. Or you can email me with your wine taste preferences and I can suggest wineries that I feel would match your palate. To email me, just fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

3. Once you have narrowed down your winery visit list, plan your route. The Uncork New York website has some good maps of the wineries on each lake. The roads in the area are very good, but if you have never driven in this area before, you will definitely want a good map because it is a rural area and it is easy to take a wrong turn. But the area is very safe and the people are very friendly and will point you in the right direction if you ask. The lakes are within a 20-30 minute drive of each other, so if you want to choose a few wineries on one lake and a few on another, it is reasonably easy to do. Keep in mind that most of the wineries are open from approximately 11am to 5pm, so schedule your time accordingly. As far as driving yourself as you taste wines, please use good judgement. Most of the wineries offer 5 to 8 tastings resulting in perhaps a half glass of wine being consumed at each stop. Take water with you to hydrate and take a meal break at some point and don't overindulge and you should be fine. The police in the area do not target winery visitors, but if you are driving erratically, you will be stopped. If you don't want to risk a DUI and you'd like someone else to do the driving so that you can taste wine safely and enjoy the trip without the hassles of driving, try my friends at Finger Lakes Wine Adventures for a Fun & Educational Wine Tasting Tour of The Finger Lakes- http://www.fingerlakeswineadventures.com/

4. Allot at least 30 minutes at each winery for tastings; more than that if the winery has a gift shop, museum (Bully Hill & Pleasant Valley wineries both have nice museums), or additional features to see such as tours of their facility. A few wineries still have free tastings, but most of the wineries now charge one or two dollars for 5 to 8 tastings; sometimes an additional dollar or two to taste their premium wines, so bring along some cash for tasting fees. Still, even with the fees, you are getting a good amount of wine for the price. And bring your credit card to buy the wine that you like, as well as all those neat gifts that the wineries have for sale.

5. Please be polite and respectful to your fellow wine tasters, especially when the wineries are crowded. The wineries are used to serving large crowds and they will serve you as quickly as possible. A little bit of patience goes a long way. Besides, what could be better- you are in a winery, tasting wine with other wine lovers. And wine people are some of the friendliest people around. You are sure to make some friends as you see the same people traveling from winery to winery on your wine tasting day.

6. Dress for the weather. The Finger Lakes can be very cool in spring and fall, very hot in mid-summer, and downright brutal in winter. There is almost always a breeze blowing off the lakes, which can make it feel even cooler, so it is wise to take a jacket with you in spring and fall. You will be standing a lot at wine tasting bars & walking a lot from the car to the wineries so wear comfortable shoes.

7. Ask questions about the wines that are being served. The winery staffs are very knowledgable and ready to answer any questions. Take good notes about the wines, so that you can remember what you like and don't like. A lot of people like to taste on one day and then go back around and buy based on their tasting notes on another day. Bring your camera. The wineries and tasting rooms are beautiful and the views around the lakes are spectacular. Some folks even bring a picnic lunch with them and have a picnic on the grounds of a winery. Most wineries will allow you to use their grounds, especially if you buy wine from them, but it is good manners to ask before you lay down your picnic blanket; and remember to clean up your trash!

8. Take a look through the Archives here at Finger Lakes Weekend Wino. There are posts on wineries and things to do and see in the Finger Lakes. Have Fun on your trip to The Finger Lakes and maybe I'll see you on the Wine Trail. If you have any questions, please email me at the email address at the top of the page.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Finger Lakes Winery Visit Reports - March 2009



Here are some highlights from my March winery visits:

Dr. Frank Wine Cellars, west side of Keuka Lake, This well-known winery always produces a quality product and I've been tasting here for many years, but I have to say that this year, I am struck by the consistency of Dr. Frank's '07 vintage white wine lineup. Right down the line, these whites from the '07 vintage are just beautiful!!! And because of the slowing economy, they have actually lowered the prices on some of their wines!
> 2007 Dry Riesling, $16.99, soft floral/citrus aromatics, a little different than recent vintages of this wine (but just as excellent) with softer mineral tones and more rounded lime tones with mild apple undertones and, as always impeccably balanced and integrated flavors.
> 2007 Semi-Dry Riesling, $14.99, citrus blossom aromatics, Expressive ripe peach and soft citrus with subdued but sufficient minerality and just the right touch of Residual Sugar.
> 2007 Gewurztraminer, $17.99, If you've read my posts for the last 6 months, you know that I believe that many of the '07 Gewurz's in the Finger Lakes have established a new level for Finger Lakes Gewurz and these two '07 Dr. Frank Gewurz's are at that top level, beautifully perfumed complex aromatics, with plush spice and honey tones.
> 2007 Reserve Gewuztraminer, $24.99, All I can say is Wow!!! Extremely aromatic multi-toned floral and spice, layers and layers of plush tangerine, honey, ripe peach, apricot, with complex spice tones including deep palate hints of cinnamon and sweet basil. An amazingly complex Gewurztraminer!!! One of my top favorites right now.
> 2007 Salmon Run Riesling, $11.99, Dr. Frank's value Riesling, nice layers of juicy peach and crisp apple, Very Nice and an Excellent Value.
> Chateau Frank Celebre, $19.99, Sparkling Riesling, smooth soft-toned lemon/lime citrus and peach with nice toast elements in an excellent bubbler.
Also, some noteworthy '07 reds from Dr. Frank
> 2007 Lemberger, $24.99, deep plum and bing cherry tones with slight hints of peppery spice, medium tannins should age well.
> 2007 Cabernet Franc, $19.99, Well defined cherry tones with an expressive earthiness and a hint of anise into a long finish.

Glenora Wine Cellars (west side of Seneca Lake), Glenora also has a quality white wine lineup on the shelves, Some highlights are:
> 2006 Signature, $17.99, Pinot Blanc/Chardonnay/Riesling blend, beautifully layered tones of vanilla, citrus, melon, and toast from the French Oak aging.
> 2007 Golden Glen Chardonnay, $13.99, a full-bodied stainless steel aged Chardonnay, soft melon on the intake into juicy Chard fruit with a solid crisp finish.
> 2007 Pinot Blanc, $13.99, Delicate pear and peach tones lead to pleasant undertones of petrol and Frenck oak. Very Nice!
> 2007 Riesling, $15.99, 3.2% RS, very soft mouthfeel with honeyed melon and peach/pear highlights. The Beverage Tasting Institute named this Riesling as The Best Riesling in the U.S., but I must beg to differ. It's Very Good, but the best???
> Cayuga White, 3.3% RS, $8.99 750ml, $13.99 1.5L, focused layers of honeyed grapefruit, melon and apple, a great example of how Finger Lakes winemakers turn the much aligned hybrids into complex multi-faceted wines.
Red Newt Wine Cellars, east side of Seneca Lake, always a top producer of whites AND reds.
> 2007 Semi-Dry Riesling, $13.99, 2.5% RS, multi-layered citrus of orange/tangerine/apricot into a solid crisp finish.
> 2007 Saw Mill Creek Gewurztraminer, $35.99, Owner Dave Whiting is crafting some single vineyard wines in order to define the profiles of the specific locations and Jim Hazlitt's Saw Mill Creek vineyard is one of them. This can lead to higher-priced wines as evidenced here, but it also lead to wines that define wine regions. Another exceptional '07 Gewurz with unbelievable aromatics from this wine with complex perfumed floral and spice, outlined by more subtle and delicate tropical notes (melon, kiwi) into a solid spicy mineral finish.
> 2007 Cabernet Franc, $19.99, plum, earth and leather on the nose, with luscious juicy fruit with more plum and berry tones and less of the usual cherry, Loving it!!!
Fulkerson Winery, west side of Seneca Lake, here are some highlights for this 20th Anniversary year for Fulkerson
> 2007 Dry Riesling Reserve, $16.49, If you are a dry Riesling fan, this one is for you. This was made for food with an almost Stainless-aged Chardonnay feel to it. Nice framework of crisp lime and some interesting pear undertones into a classic mineral finish. Only 124 cases made.
> 2007 Traminette, 1.6 RS, $11.99, just released a few weeks ago, lightly perfumed nose with exotic spice, opens with delicate honey spice flavors into a long juicy ripe pear finish, even better than the acclaimed previous Tram vintages! And a Great Value at 11.99.
> 2007 Riesling-Traminette, $12.49, 1.2% RS, subtle but very effective describes this unique blend of 55% Riesling and 45% Traminette, full aromatics of floral blossoms, honeysuckle, citrus and mild spices, soft and subtle but still fully detailed pear flavors into a mild spice finish.
> 2007 Ravat 51 (Vignoles), $9.99, 6.3% RS, lots of residual sugar but balanced with perfect acidity, a different tasting Vignoles than normal with interesting apple cider aromas with more peach and apple flavors than the normal pineapple/grapefruit, different but I like it!
>2008 Matinee, $13.99, 7% RS, One of THE most unique wines in the Finger Lakes. Normally Fulkerson makes this with the seldom-used Lakemont and Himrod grapes but this year just Himrod. Lightly perfumed citrus peel and mint on the nose, less of that unique mint flavor this year but it's more than made up for with delicate peach and tangerine. This is a nuanced wine and a nice light apertif that will go perfectly with light desserts.
In wine competition news, a Finger Lakes wine made from Niagara and Diamond grapes - Penguin Bay Tuxedo White - won Best of Class this month at Jerry Mead’s New World International Wine Competition. I can just visualize all of the stodgy old wine snob judges grimacing : )
That's all for now. I'll see you on the Trails!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Finger Lakes News & Notes - March 22, 2009

- Finger Lakes Spring events and happenings listed at Finger Lakes Wine Country

- Record number of wines entered for Finger Lakes Wine Competition

- Tours offer rare opportunity to see the famed white deer of Seneca Army Depot

- FingerLakesWine.com features Imagine Moore Winery

- Ron Reals profiles Walter Taylor

- Senator George Winner's website poll currently shows 79% against eliminating funding for the New York Wine & Grape Foundation; Cast your vote here

- Richard Leahy writes VWM's Cover Story on the Finger Lakes Wine Evolution

- Montezuma Winery receives 91 points from BTI for its delicious Cranberry Bog (one of my favorites)

- Evan Dawson reports on the outstanding '07 Finger Lakes Reds

- Thomas Pellechia recaps the Finger Lakes vs. Germany Riesling showdown. I was there and it was very interesting.

- Abby Nash offers premium tour option for Finger Lakes visitors

- Some wine buyers opting for less expensive wines

- Finger Lakes Community College to offer 2 year viticulture/enology degree program and
Tompkins Cortland Community College to start new Wine Marketing 2 year degree program

- New exhibit at Handwerker Gallery portrays water in innovative ways

- Kens Wine Guide offer reviews on Finger Lakes wine

- Cellar Tracker is another place to look for Finger Lakes wine opinions

- Robert Whitley writes on finding value wines

- Evan Dawson's article at LennDevours on Finger Lakes Single Vineyard Wines produces an interesting discussion

- Ithacork reviews Sheldrake Point ice wines

- Finger Lakes Museum seeking county proposals soon

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Argument Against Allowing Wine Sales in NY Grocery Stores

In order to present both sides of the issue of whether New York should allow wine sales in grocery stores, I have posted views from different sides of this issue. As I've said before, I am not endorsing either side mainly because this is not a political website and I also am not clear about the impacts of this proposal intended or unintended, but it is an important issue and if you feel passionately one way or the other, please let your legislator know how you feel.

The following is a press release from "The Last Store On Main Street" that summarizes the position against this proposal. The previous post summarized the position for this proposal.


STATE’S WINERIES JOIN FIGHT AGAINST PROPOSAL
TO SELL WINE IN GROCERY STORES
Wineries from Around New York Say ‘No’ to Governor’s Plan
ALBANY, NY February 23, 2009 – Wineries from Long Island to Western New York, and from the Hudson Valley to the Thousand Islands, have joined the fight to defeat Governor Paterson’s misguided plan to legalize the sale of wine in grocery stores, delis, mini-marts, gas stations, bodegas, and anywhere else beer is now sold.

"Winery owners know a bad deal when they see one, and we know this plan will hurt our businesses and hurt our partners in the wine and liquor stores," said William Ouweleen of Eagle Crest Vineyards in the Finger Lakes Region. "Big Box stores like Walmart and Whole Foods will stock the most popular, lowest priced brands on their shelves, leaving little space for New York wines. At the same time, wine stores around the state will be forced out of business – severely curtailing our ability to reach our customers. We urge the Legislature to reject this job-killing plan."

Wineries from every region of New York -- 75 to date and growing every day -- have joined forces with the Coalition for the Last Store on Main Street, which includes small business owners, independent wine sellers, and wholesalers from around the state fighting to stop the Governor’s proposal to legalize the sale of wine wherever beer is now sold. If implemented, this change would devastate many small businesses and cost the state thousands of valuable jobs.

"Wineries in New York have grown tremendously over the last 20 years, in large part to the wonderful partnership we have with wine sellers and liquor stores," said Bill Merritt from Merritt Estate Winery in the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Region. "We need to look for ways to build on this partnership so wineries and wine sellers alike can continue to thrive, not tear down a successful system just to benefit a few Big Box stores."

Rich Olsen-Harbich, winemaker of Raphael on Long Island, said, "This plan would not only hurt wine sellers, but hurt wineries as well. Wine sellers know our product and can provide a level of customer service that grocery stores can never match. We know that times are tough for the state, but this is a terrible idea that will only cost jobs for the wine stores and ultimately, the wineries."

Jeff Saunders, head of the Retailers Alliance Foundation and a leader of the Last Store Coalition, said, "New York retailers deeply appreciate the support we have received from the wineries in this battle. New York wineries make great wines, and we are proud to promote them in our stores. We look forward to continuing this partnership and making it even stronger in the years ahead."

In addition to the wineries, the Governor’s proposal has sparked strong opposition from the law enforcement community, which fears that providing teenagers with greater access to alcohol will heighten the risk of underage drinking and fatal drunk driving accidents.

Massachusetts voters rejected a similar idea just last year because of the devastating impact it would have had on teenagers, no state has passed this kind of measure in 23 years. In Florida, California and Texas, three states where wine is sold everywhere, the number of alcohol related fatalities per 100,000 is more than double that of New York State. Even worse, alcohol related fatalities of those under age 21 are three times higher in these states where wine is sold everywhere, as compared to New York which has independently owned licensees, legally responsible for preventing youth from purchasing alcohol.

The list of wineries opposing the Governor’s dangerous plan includes:
Long IslandBedell Cellars Bridge Vineyards Castello Di Borghese Vineyards & Winery Corey Creek Vineyards Duckwalk Vineyards Jamesport Vineyards Laurel Lake Vineyards Lieb Family Cellars The Lenz Cellars Martha Clara Vineyards
Macari Vineyards and Winery Osprey’s Dominion Palmer Vineyards Paumanok Vineyards Pugliese Vineyards Pindar Vineyards Raphael Shinn Estate Vineyards Vineyard 48 Wolffer Estate Pellegrini Vineyards
Onabay Winery
Also, Louisa Thomas Hargrave, Stony Brook Center for Wine, Food and Culture.
Hudson Valley Brotherhood Baldwin Benmarl Whitecliff Clinton Millbrook Warwick
Cascade
Glorie Farm
Palaia
Stoutridge
Adair Applewood
Brimstone
Also, Hudson Valley Wine and Grape Growers
-more-
Finger Lakes Hermann Wiemer Ravines Winery Chateau Lafayette Casa Larga Keuka Spring Vineyards Willow Creek Dr. Frank Chateau Frank Bully Hill Hunt Country
Torrey Ridge Earl Estates Glenora Knapp Wine Cellars Imagine Moore Vineyards Eagle Crest Vineyards Rooster Hill Vineyards
Swedish Hill
Goose Watch Penquin Bay Thirsty Owl Montezuma Fulkerson Winery Hazlitt Winery Standing Stone Crooked Lake Heron Hill Lucas Winery
LaMoreaux Landing Winery
Niagara Wine Trail
Arrowhead Springs
Niagara Landing
Honeymoon Winery
Lake Erie
Johnson Estates
Merritt Estates
Thousand Islands
Yellow Barn Winery
Otter Creek
Thousand Islands Winery
Seaway Cold Hardy Grapes & Vineyard

The Last Store on Main Street is a coalition of small business owners, independent wine sellers, wholesalers and wineries from around the state fighting to stop the Governor’s proposal to legalize the sale of wine in grocery stores, mini-marts, delis, gas stations and bodegas in every neighborhood in New York. If implemented, this change would devastate many small businesses and cost the state thousands of valuable jobs. Additionally, the sale of wine in every store where beer is now available would give teenagers greater access to alcohol – resulting in a heightened risk of underage drinking and fatal drunk driving accidents.
# # #

Scott Osborn Speaks Out about Wine Sales in NY Grocery Stores

I received an email from Scott Osborn, President of Fox Run Vineyards, expressing his support for the proposal that wine sales be allowed in grocery stores in New York, which is in direct opposition to the stance taken by many other New York wineries. This is an important issue for New York wineries. Some may call it copping out, but I have not taken a position in this debate because I just do not get a good sense of what the "real" outcome of the proposal will be. But I do believe the reasons for and against should be aired. Make no mistake, there will be winners and losers when this issue is decided.

I do support the mom and pop liquor stores that are toiling to survive in a challenging economy and I also support the farm wineries that are looking for new markets in which to sell the products. And perhaps most importantly and the group that sometimes gets lost in these debates, I support the wine consumer who deserves both the personal service and knowledgeable advice they get from the smaller liquor stores and the wide range of choice and perhaps lower prices they might get from larger grocery stores. The problem is that no one can know for sure what consequences, intended or unintended, will actually result from enacting this proposal.
We can all speculate and the lobbyists for each group can shout the doomsday scenarios from every side of the issue, but in my small brain, I just wonder why we can't come up with a way where everybody wins. I guess I am naive to think that way. So I am posting Scott Osborn's case for support of wine sales in NY grocery stores today and I will also present the opposing view in another post.


FOX RUN VINEYARDS
President: Scott Osborn

A Statement to fellow New York winery owners:

Many of you are aware that I have spoken out publicly in support of the Governor’s proposal to allow wine sales in grocery stores in New York State .

During the last month, I have heard from many individuals in the trade who have had a negative reaction to this position and I suspect there are many others who are wondering why I would take this stance publicly and put my business at risk with the liquor stores, so I would like to explain my position to my fellow winery owners because I believe in your heart of hearts, you will agree with me.

Most importantly, I want to be clear that I do not believe I am trying to “put liquor stores out of business” by exercising my right as an American to advocate for what I believe will be helpful to my business. If the liquor store associations have the right to speak their mind, why shouldn’t I? My position does not mean that I do not value the business relationships that I have with liquor stores that sell my wine. I consider the owners of NYS wine shops that have supported the sales of my wines for many years to be business partners and I am deeply appreciative of the sales and support they have provided for Fox Run wines the past few years.

However, we have all been struggling in this industry for several years now. I honestly believe that the Governor’s proposal is a necessary step in the right direction.

Let’s take a look at how the liquor store industry and the NY wine industry have progressed over the past 25 years. Back in the early 90’s there were only about 125+ wineries in the state and almost 5,000 liquor stores! Now we have over 250 wineries and approximately 2600 liquor stores. This trend is continuing and at the current rate in 10 years there will only be 1500 liquor stores in NY. SO let me ask you this…how much shelf space do you think NY wines will have then? We have to look at where we are going to sell our wines not only as individual wineries but as a wine industry made up of small, medium, and large producers. What is good for our industry’s growth?

Here is the way I see it.



If we as an industry allow this proposal to be defeated we will be committing economic suicide and this why.

Here in the Finger Lakes , the amount of new wine visitors to our tasting rooms is flattening out (which started before the recession), but we are seeing about a 10% a year increase in the number of new wineries opening. Our industry cannot sustain these increases in wineries with out a major loss of income to the existing wineries because now we are sharing customers with out attracting enough new ones to our tasting rooms. In the near future when you can’t sell your entire inventory at your own tasting room, what are you going to do? How many liquor stores are going to carry more NYS wines?

The newer wineries who have opened in the last 3 years or so have not had the challenge yet of trying to get a liquor store to carry their wines. It is not easy and one gets far more, not interested, than any that will even consider it. It took me 2 years to get any of my products into a liquor store. All of you folks that have been around a while know exactly what I’m talking about. There simply is not enough interest from the liquor stores to sustain all of us now, let alone a growing industry.

Don’t misunderstand! I want all these new wineries to open because it brings diversity and enhances our regions as wine producing areas. But…We need new outlets! Think about this! Do you want to still be struggling 5 years from now! 10? Those of you who have been in this for longer then 10 years remember when the liquor stores wouldn’t carry your wines because, as the liquor stores always reminded us, there was no demand for New York wines. Remember that? Remember how we spent tons of money marketing our wine trails in order to get visitors to our tasting rooms and create interest in NY wines. The only reason any liquor store carries our product is because the customers we created went into those stores and started asking for our wines. Why? It is called consumer pull through. Our tasting rooms were the driver to get these stores to take our wines and then support us.

The amount of shelf space is not going to increase. With the exception of a few stores the vast majority of liquor stores are not going to expand their New York wines section at the expense of their Australian, Californian or Chilean sections. What I find the most frustrating about the big Liquor Store Lobby is that they claim local wineries will be put out of business because grocers will only carry the popular wines from out of state. What I say to them is; show me a store in NYC that carries my wine or has a good selection of NY wines! I’ve tried they won’t take me. It doesn’t matter how good my product is or that I’m from NY. They have no pride in the wines from their own state and yet they point the finger at others. Shame on them. I know my wines can compete. There are grocery stores that sell my wines outside this state and yet the liquor stores have the audacity to say my wine can’t compete at grocery stores in my own state.

We will never have access to the NYC market; the largest wine market in the world unless we have more outlets and can do business with others that have an interest in supporting NY product. We don’t need to fill every shelf and some of us are still growing and not ready yet. But when you are, you deserve to have options.

For me, the bottom line is simple: We need the Governors proposal to happen so we will have more outlets to sell our wines, so our industry can grow and sustain itself. I know better then anyone the risks of publicly supporting this controversial measure, but I am willing to take those risks in order to build a better future for my family, my beloved winery and our New York wine industry.

I invite and encourage you to join me by contacting your local Assemblyman and Senator. Tell them you support the Governor’s proposal to sell wine in grocery stores. We need you to do this today!

Sincerely,


Scott Osborn
President
Fox Run Vineyards, Inc.
315-536-4616

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Lakewood Vineyards 20th Anniversary Kickoff Celebration

Over 200 of us made a pilgrimage last night to pay tribute to a family and winery that personifies the best of what makes the Finger Lakes a great place to be, those attributes being family, friendship, community, and great wine. That family is the Stamps and the winery is Lakewood Vineyards and 20 years ago Monty and Bev Stamp started their winery on the west side of Seneca Lake.


Lakewood fans from near and far gathered for Lakewood Vineyard’s 20th Anniversary Celebration and tasted our way through 20 years of wine with the Stamp family. Library wines from 1989 forward were on hand to taste and to purchase at the original prices, many in very limited quantities. For some of the wines, time has not been an ally but many have aged very well especially the Meads and I was able to procure several bottles of 1996 Mystic Mead that have developed luscious ice wine like qualities.
On a personal level, when I first started writing about Finger Lakes wine, Liz and Chris Stamp were one of the first to welcome me, and everyone at Lakewood Vineyards portrays that welcoming attitude to all of their customers on every visit. A large part of their success is built on customer service at a personal level and, when you visit, you become more than a customer - you become a friend. I raise a glass and toast Lakewood Vineyards and wish them many more decades of great wine and great friendships! See photos of the event below.

















Sunday, March 01, 2009

Finger Lakes Wineries Do Well at Grand Harvest Wine Competition

The Grand Harvest Wine Competition took place in California last week and Finger Lakes wineries did well. According to the Grand Harvest website, it is the only wine-judging event in North America that is based on terroir - a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine making savoir-faire, which contribute to give its specific personality to the wine. In other competitions, this factor is ignored. At the Grand Harvest, judges taste wines with other wines of the same appellation. Thus, with cross-regional competition removed, the inherent quality of wines can be seen without the influences that sometimes eclipse even a wine of very high quality. Heron Hill, Anthony Road, & Hazlitt were multiple Gold medal winners. Here are the top Finger Lakes award winners:

New York
Gold
Heron Hill , Heron Hill Winery, 06 Riesling, Dry , 1.7% rs, 1600 cases produced, $12.99
Heron Hill , Heron Hill Winery, 07 Riesling, Semi Dry , 2.5% rs, 3900 cases produced, $12.99
Anthony Road , Anthony Road Wine Company, 07 Riesling, Martini Vineyards, Dry , 0.6% rs, 715 cases produced, $15.99
Anthony Road , Anthony Road Wine Company, 07 Riesling, Martini Vineyards, Martini-Reinhardt, 2.1% rs, 102 cases produced, $22
Anthony Road , Anthony Road Wine Company, 07 Cabernet Franc Dry Rose, Martini Vineyards, 0.6% rs, 233 cases produced, $12.99
Damiani Wine Cellars, 07 Merlot, Barrel Select , 0% rs, 108 cases produced, $35
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, 07 Riesling, Semi Dry , 2% rs, 2345 cases produced, $12.99
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, 07 Chardonnay, 0% rs, 994 cases produced, $9.99
Ventosa Vineyards, 07 Toca ice, 16.5% rs, 90 cases produced, $28.95

Silver
Belhurst Estate Winery, Belhurst Estate Winery, 07 Chardonnay, New York State, 0% rs, 125 cases produced, $18.95
Heron Hill , Heron Hill Winery, 07 Riesling, Semi Sweet , 3.4% rs, 1050 cases produced, $11.99
Damiani Wine Cellars, 07 Cabernet Franc, 0% rs, 110 cases produced, $23
Dr. Kostantin Frank, 07 Riesling, Dry , 0.7% rs, 3100 cases produced, $16.99
Dr. Kostantin Frank, 07 Riesling, Semi Dry , 2% rs, 3300 cases produced, $14.99
Dr. Kostantin Frank, 07 Rhatsiteli, 0.7% rs, 2001 cases produced, $17.99
Fulkerson Winery, 07 Riesling , Reserve, 0% rs, 124 cases produced, $16.49
Glenora Wine Cellars, 07 Merlot, 0% rs, 258 cases produced, $18.99
Glenora Wine Cellars, 07 Riesling, Dry , 0.95% rs, 1500 cases produced, $17.99
Glenora Wine Cellars, 07 Riesling, 3.1% rs, 2000 cases produced, $15.99
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, 07 Cabernet Franc, 0.2% rs, 475 cases produced, $19
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, 07 Riesling, Homestead, 0.8% rs, 839 cases produced, $17.99
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Red Cat, 7.5% rs, 76526 cases produced, $7.79
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, 06 Syrah, 0% rs, 318 cases produced, $18.99
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, White Stag, 4.4% rs, 2342 cases produced, $8.99
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, White Cat, 5.3% rs, 11298 cases produced, $7.79
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Brambleberry, 5.8% rs, 2092 cases produced, $8.99
Knapp Winery, 07 Chardonnay, 0.3% rs, 196 cases produced, $11.95
Treleaven, King Ferry Winery, 07 Gewurztraminer, 0.4% rs, 182 cases produced, $19.99

For complete results, click here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Finger Lakes PALATE Event Wrapup

I have just returned from the Finger Lakes PALATE Event and boy are my tastebuds tired!!!
This weeklong event included over 20 wine events including seminars, tastings, and winemaker dinners. I'd like a to give a Special Thanks to Morgen McLaughlin & Finger Lakes Wine Country for their hospitality and hard work that went into this event. Here are my News & Notes from some of the events:

- I presented a seminar on Hybrid Grape Wines of the Finger Lakes which was attended by about 20 wine enthusiasts. My presentation included the history and characteristics of these hybrid grapes along with a tasting of 7 Finger Lakes wines made with hybrids - Rooster Hill Silver Pencil, Lucas Blues, Fulkerson Traminette, Standing Stone Smokehouse Vidal, Red Newt White, Imagine Moore Change and Lakewood Vignoles - and I believe that a majority of the attendees were impressed with the quality and value of these wines. I will be posting more on these wines at Finger Lakes Wine Country shortly. If anyone is interested in a copy of my Powerpoint presentation, just email me at the email address in the header above.

- Mrs. Wino & I braved the cold to walk the Gaffer District in Corning on Friday night to taste wines from over 20 Finger Lakes wineries in the shops along Market Street. There were several hundred other winos out with us and we had a lot of fun and we had a sensational dinner at Tony R's. If you want to take someone special out for a special meal, I highly recommend Tony R's, fabulous service and exceptional cuisine.

- I co-hosted a special wine tasting with Steve Shaw at Shaw Vineyard on Saturday (He is closed until probably May 1st, unless us Shaw fans can convince him otherwise. So it was a rare winter opportunity to sample his current and upcoming wines). Shaw is perhaps the hottest up and coming producer in the Finger Lakes and tasting barrel samples of what he has in the works only confirms this. The highlight for me was a barrel tasting of his 2007 Pinot Noir - when this wine is released, (probably not until 2010 because Steve believes that wines should not be released until they are ready), this wine is going to change many peoples opinion of Finger Lakes Pinot Noir- Yes, it's that Good already!!!

- And finally, Mrs. Wino & I attended a winemaker dinner hosted by Fred Frank (one of the nicest people you'll ever meet), featuring Chateau Frank & Dr. Frank Wines paired deliciously and elegantly by the Corning Radisson's Grill 1-2-5 staff. Fred made several announcements during the dinner including:
- He is lowering the prices on all Dr. Frank wines because of the economic crisis
- Dr. Frank Rkatsitelli is being placed on the wine lists of some top restaurants including Gramercy Tavern in NYC
- And perhaps the most exciting announcement is that Dr. Frank will be producing a Trockenbeerenauslese Riesling (Botrytised grapes are allowed to shrivel until dried almost to raisins, yielding a very decadent highly prized dessert wine) from the '08 vintage. 400 cases will be produced and it is scheduled for release in the Fall of this year. Looking forward to that!!!

In all, it was an amazing event and a great way to start 2009 off!!!
Also, My Finger Lakes Wine Preview article will be out in the March issue of Mountain Home magazine. Look for it to drop March 1st in wineries and retail locations in the Finger Lakes and Northern PA.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

New Finger Lakes Weekend Wino Articles & Upcoming Events

Just a quick update. The February issue of Mountain Home magazine is out and, in tribute to Valentines Day, my column in this issue is about Darlynne Overbaugh and her Life’s So Sweet Chocolates in Trumansburg NY.

I have also started writing a wine column for the Finger Lakes Wine Country website called "Wine Notes from the Weekend Wino" and my first one is about Lamoreaux Landing Chardonnay.

Upcoming events with the Weekend Wino:

Friday, February 20th, 3pm, Raddison Hotel Corning - I will be presenting a seminar and wine tasting as part of the weeklong PALATE wine event in Corning NY. The seminar is titled "New Wines of The Finger Lakes - Welcome to the Wonderful World of Hybrids" and will feature award-winning Finger Lakes hybrids such as Traminette, Vidal Blanc and others. This event is Free for PALATE ticket holders.

Saturday, February 20th, 11am, Shaw Vineyard - I will be co-hosting this event with owner Steve Shaw. Shaw Vineyard earned my 2008 Finger Lakes Winery of The Year. Stop by and taste some truly exceptional wines and get a sneek peak of the exciting unreleased wines that Steve has in the barrels. This event is Free for PALATE ticket holders.

Morgen McLaughlin and Finger Lakes Wine Country have come up with an excellent array of events for the PALATE wine event with multiple wine tastings, seminars, and winemaker dinners each day of the weeklong event, February 16-22. You could literally attend 15 to 20 great wine events during the week for only $50 for a PALATE weeklong ticket!!! Visit the PALATE website for more information.

Saturday, March 14th, Dr. Frank Wine Cellars - Myself and Mr. Tom, The Finger Lakes Weekend Winos start out our 2009 performance season at Dr. Frank's for the Spring Break event. Come on out as we perform Classic blues, rock, and jazz as well as songs from my CD "Songs From The Finger Lakes".

Well it's already starting out to be a busy year and it's only February. Gotta love that!!!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Finger Lakes News & Notes - February 1, 2009

- 3 Finger Lakes Rieslings were awarded Gold medals last week at the prestigious Riesling du Monde competition in France out of over 500 Riesling entries from around the world:
Shaw Vineyard's 2006 Dry Riesling, King Ferry's 2006 Late Harvest Riesling, and Fox Run's 2007 Dry Riesling. Congratulations to those 3 wineries!!! See the complete results here

- For those of you wanting to visit Shaw Vineyard, my 2008 Winery of The Year, you will have to wait until Spring. I visited with Steve Shaw for a barrel tasting of some of his impressive but not yet released '05 and '07 reds and he informed me that he will be closed probably until March or April.

- Finger Lakes writer struggles with wine and food pairings

- Nice interview with Johannes Reinhardt, winemaker at Anthony Road Winery, from James Molesworth at winespectator.com

- The Wine Guy Jeff Richards reviews Pompous Ass Winery

- Have your own Wine Tasting event at home

- Everything you need to know about Riesling is now at http://www.drinkriesling.com/

- Finger Lakes vines survive 18th coldest winter

- Senator Aubertine states support for NY Wine & Grape Foundation

- A big 93 rating for Hazlitt 1852 2007 Finger Lakes Homestead Riesling Reserve and Sheldrake Point 2007 Finger Lakes Riesling Ice Wine from Wine and Spirits magazine.
I wrote about the Hazlitt '07 Homestead Riesling in my April 8, 2008 post: "In my travelings, I tasted Hazlitt's 2007 Homestead Reserve Riesling, which needed to bring a lot to the table to live up to the multi-award-winning '06 version. And it does keep up, but in a very different way. This '07 is a mineral powerhouse. If you love that 'banana belt' mineral like I do, then this wine is for you. It's actually a bit overwhelming at first. I drank it over 2 days and the 2nd day, I finally got the hang of this powerhouse. Wave after wave of mouthwatering clean slate mineral with a touch of spice and solid acidity on the finish. Very clean but bold mineral, excellent."

- The Peterson trio of wineries continue their award-winning ways in 2009. See the complete awards list for the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition here

- Check out some nice work from Finger Lakes painter Holly Knott

- Carlo DeVito comments on new Finger Lakes wine scores

- Peggy Haine comments on Finger Lakes chefs at the James Beard House

- Cookin in The 'Cuse posts on her top ten food and farm experiences of 2008

- Knapp Winery has released several wines Valentines Day labels

Lots of Finger Lakes wine events coming up in February including yours truly, The Weekend Wino, hosting a seminar and wine tasting on "New Wines of the Finger Lakes" at 3pm on Friday, Feb. 20th at the Radisson - Corning during the weeklong PALATE event in Corning NY from 2/16 to 2/21. Visit the PALATE website for more information on this great event.

>>> Chocolate and Wine Weekend
Date: 2/6/2009-2/8/2009
Seneca Lake Wine Trail 877.536.2717
With no better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, this consistently popular event combines wine and chocolate-themed dishes.
Friday 1:00 PM–5:00 PM, Saturday & Sunday 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM

>>> Truffles and Tastes
Date: 2/14/2009-2/15/2009
Keuka Lake Wine Trail 800.440.4898
On Valentine's Day weekend, enjoy the warmth of Keuka's wineries and the romance of the region's finest wines, paired with a range of delicious foods, from savory to sweet. Receive a different chocolate truffle at each winery and display them all (if you can resist sampling along the way!) in a gift box that you'll receive at your starting winery. A great get-away and treat for wine lovers and Valentines of all ages. Tickets $25 per person in advance; $30 per person at the door

>>> PALATE, A Wine, Food, and Art Showcase
Date: 2/16/2009-2/22/2009
Various venues in Corning & Finger Lakes Wine CountryCorning, NY 800.813.2958
This weeklong showcase will take place in Corning’s Gaffer District February 16-22, 2009, and feature special tastings and educational seminars by local wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Many of the region’s top wineries will host winemaker dinners at the district’s leading restaurants and local celebrity chefs will host cooking demonstrations and wine-pairing seminars. PALATE will provide visitors to the region a myriad of wine, culinary, and art experience. The event will feature gallery receptions, music performances, and movie screenings throughout this cultural and entertainment district. Visit the PALATE website for details.

>>> 7th Annual Mardi Gras
Date: 2/21/2009-2/22/2009
Cayuga Wine Trail 800.684.5217
February 21 & 22 2009 is Mardi Gras on the Cayuga Wine Trail where you’ll receive a string of Mardi Gras beads, a wine glass, exciting prizes, plus a wine and food pairing at each of the wineries. Each participant is eligible to win one of our Three Grand Prizes from the A Wicher Garden Bed & Breakfast , Aurora Inn and a wine refrigerator stocked with a sampler case of wine. Costumed guests who visit the wineries on Mardi Gras weekend will be eligible to be chosen as King and Queen of Mardi Gras. The new royal couple will be “crowned at a reception in early spring, receive free tickets to our other Cayuga Wine Trail events, tickets to the Finger Lakes Wine Festival in Watkins Glen, NY plus an overnight stay in a King Suite at the Latourelle Resort and August Moon Spa. Advance tickets: $20.00 per person plus handling fee and sales tax. Designated Driver tickets: $15.00 per person plus handling fee and sales tax. At the door: $25.00 plus sales tax. Advance tickets: $ 20.00 per person. Tickets at the door: $ 25.00 per person. Designated Driver: $ 15.00 per person.

>>> 1st Annual New York Ice Wine Festival
Date: 2/8/2009-2/27/2009
Casa Larga Vineyards 585.223.4210
The 1st annual New York Ice Wine Festival will be held throughout February at Casa Larga in Fairport. This festival is the first of its kind in the country, and will bring together New York’s top Ice Wine producers. Events throughout the month of February are expected to draw in wine enthusiasts from across the region. Tickets for each event can be purchased at http://www.nyicewinefestival.com/.
FESTIVAL EVENT LINE-UP
February 8th, Noon-5pm - Fire & Ice Festival at Casa Larga Vineyards
February 12th, 6:30pm - An Evening with the New York Ice Wine Makers
February 16th, 7pm – “It’s an Ice Wine World” Seminar
February 27th, 6:30pm - Fiori Gala Dinner