As many of you know, my loves are wine, husband, bulldog, and tattoos–not necessarily in that order. The following are gratuitous photos of my old English bulldog (daughter) Madison Mae Molina, (also known as Princess Peanut Wigglebottom the first) in the pumpkin patch with her momma and daddy. Fall is my favorite time of year, and Maddie was relatively cooperative, considering this was AFTER a vet appointment. Enjoy her splendor
This past weekend, I went out of my normal local zone and a few hours away into the Hudson River Valley of New York. October 12th started Drink Local Wine Week, (DrinkLocalWine.com ) and a few hours downstate is still a local ride for yours truly! In honor of Drink Local Wine, I was lucky enough to participate in TasteCamp 2014 hosted by Lenn Thompson (of New York Cork Report) and Carlo DeVito (author of over two dozen books, and owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery). There will be tons more about this jam packed weekend I was a part of, but just this little jaunt made me rethink a few things. What is local? And, how far away are you willing to go to see what your state is really producing?
My drive was less than five hours south and east (still pretty local in my book), but it was eye-opening to say the least. I had lived in NYC (less than fifty miles away), and never really taken the time to adventure up. Don’t make that mistake if you’re in the city! I saw things at a new distillery that had me in absolute awe. Even if you’re not a BoozyLife wine nerd like me, you will find a spot to sit in nature, listening to birds while watching the leaves drop. Recharge your soul for a bit – the city drains your energy.
Lefty and I travel quite a bit, and it always surprises me that the locals sometimes don’t know about local wineries and distilleries in their own back yards. They often research them just to take ME for a visit, oddly enough, then end up really enjoying the time spent touring close to home. As a lifelong New Yorker, I’m almost ashamed of myself to say this was my first real trip to the Hudson Valley to sample local wines and spirits.
I had no idea how many incredible, young, up-and-comers were in the area, and I will most certainly be back soon. The area shares a passion for the process that I often see in young, new wine makers in the Finger Lakes.
The Hudson Valley area wineries often work with Cornell, as well as with Finger Lakes grape growers, to help with growing issues and cold weather concerns. There is a decent amount of overlap within our wine communities, which is how my now very Upstate self ended up on this tour. I took a few bottles from the Finger Lakes, my back yard, to share with the other writers and wine makers. A few favorites from Boundary Breaks, Goose Watch, and Keuka Spring went along and were a small addition to the amazing spread of BYOB bottles for our final dinner.
I am very fortunate to have had the introduction to another incredible local wine area, from one of it’s best winery owners! Carlo’s passion for his area translates easily, as does the pride he feels in the drink local movement. I can’t wait to go on another trip to NYC– there will be a few stops in the Valley, no mistake! Friends and tattooers all want to hear more about this amazing distillery we toured…it was really a special place. More soon, and in the mean time–what are you drinking local this week?
Ah, Cornell. We in the Finger Lakes have often heard of cold temperature tolerant grapes, created hybrids by Cornell Agriculture. Some of these hybrid grape varieties, such as the Seyval and Vignoles, have become stapes while on our wine trails. The hybrid grapes are less delicate, can withstand our growing climate, and often need less pesticides to be protected.
With that in mind, I’ve heard the Finger Lakes described as the Wild West, where anything can still happen, and the risks are taken along with gains and losses. Dave Peterson, owner of Sweedish Hill, Goose Watch, and Penguin Bay wineries, decided to take one of those risks in 2005. He planted Aromella in one of his Cayuga Lake vineyards–and it took eight years for those vines to produce fruit, plus another year in production before the wine would be released. The Aromella release is a limited two hundred cases, and can be found ONLY at Goose Watch Winery on Cayuga lake. Great reason for me to take a quick drive up the lake! I love trying things that are out of the mainstream, and what better wine to try than one that is made exclusively in one place?
Just so you, reader, know what we’re dealing with, Aromella is a white hybrid grape, and parents are also hybrids-Traminette (of Gewurtztraminer lineage), and Ravat 34. It is similar to a Moscato, but less sweet and as more grapefruit and spice characteristics from the Traminette parentage.
The 2013 Aromella from Goose Watch run down: 2.7 percent RS (residual sugar), 11.5 percent alcohol. ONLY available at Goose Watch, 200 cases limited run. Tasting-Aromella was light, with notes of peaches and lychee (I’ll say tropical fruit because I am slightly lychee obsessed!). I was surprised that at 2.7 RS, the wine still wasn’t sweet, and the balance of the wine was crisp and pleasant. A really nice sipper, actually. I love my dry wines, but Aromella has enough Traminette influence to take the fruity notes and mellow them with spice and citrus. Quite lovely, and I’m very glad we took the little adventure. A few bottles came home with us, along with another favorite of mine-Dry Cabernet Franc Rosé, because, well….wine.
Living in a fast growing wine area like this is exciting, and there are new grapes and experimental wine creations happening all over the Finger Lakes area. These vinters have talent, balls (especially the ladies, ahem) and are ready to take risks to forward the craft. How could you not think that the tattoo and wine worlds are very complimentary to one and other? Gotta love the risk takers, they’re the ones that really make strides.
Read more about Aromella on Syracuse.com, Aromella is the Newest Finger Lakes Wine. If you get the chance to try it, let me know what you think in the comments below! Enjoy
Last week, the New York Times posted an article that really caught my attention. Article link: Sips from a Cider Spree in New York State. The local hard cider scene has been jumping since we moved to the Ithaca area eight years ago-what’s different is that people are more open minded and willing to taste local creations.
Local hard ciders have a special place in my heart. Personal boozy story: On a visit home to the upstate NY area almost ten years ago, my mom wanted to take me to a new winery that had opened relatively close to our neck of the woods. Black Bear Winery is a spot off of the beaten path and ‘wine trails proper’, but they specialize in hard ciders, meads, and fruit wines. After a tasting, I concluded that I liked the ciders, and particularly the Cracklin’ Maple Hard Cider was delicious. Hard apple cider, blended with house made maple syrup. Tart, mellow, slight sweetness, autumn in a glass. I bought a couple of refillable growlers, and have refilled them several times since. Black Bear has grown from a by appointment and event farm rental spot, to open year round and quite successful! At least five years after that first tasting at Black Bear, I married my husband at the end of September, here in Ithaca. We served Black Bear’s Cracklin’ Maple Hard Cider for the toast at our wedding, instead of the traditional champagne. The cider had more meaning, and it was so reminiscent of the fall in upstate NY that I wanted our guests from all over the world to experience that flavor; champagne was too formal for our outdoor waterfall ceremony, and the cider was truly a hit!
In the NY Time’s article I mentioned, the author Freda Moon tours the Upstate NY Apple growing areas about five hours from NYC. She hit several local cider stops, and even gave a quick run down of her time spent in Ithaca:
“Ithaca was a decadent couple of days in which cider seemed to appear in every possible form. We had a cider flight with dinner at the too-popular Just a Taste tapas restaurant, where our wait was over an hour. The next day, at Maxie’s Supper Club and Oyster Bar, I ordered a Cider Sidecar of Maker’s Mark, Cointreau, a Finger Lakes Distilling’s Maplejack liqueur and an unspecified local cider before a spectacular three-course cider pairing dinner at Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg.”
The guys at Finger Lakes Distilling are also making some incredible products, and I was glad to see she sampled some of their wares at Maxie’s Supper Club, one of our favorite spots in Ithaca. The Cider Sidecar is a drink that is an anxiously awaited seasonal cocktail, signaling that fall has officially arrived. Sweet and tart, with a mellow maple kick, sitting in Maxie’s listening to live music on the outdoor deck, watching the world go by. I love living here in fall.
Fall in the Finger Lakes area of Upstate Ny is magic. Leaves change colors against perfect blue skies, fall harvests of grapes, apples, and pumpkins showcase the bounty of the area, and the vintners can be found along with crews in the rows of grapevines.
It was a tough winter, with well below average temperatures, a late and chilly spring, a few freak hail storms in late summer, and now one of the sunniest and warmest September grape ripening seasons ever. Insane but inspiring: The 2014 grape harvest might be light due to damages along the way, but what DID make it through looks to be pretty damn spectacular!
October looks to be busy at BoozyLife, so keep checking in-lots of harvest info, talks with a few vintners, tours of a few press pads, and a trip down to the Hudson Valley for Taste Camp 2014 (NY Cork Report) . THIS is why I love living in the Finger Lakes…
Don’t forget –TONIGHT is the worlds largest virtual Riesling Tasting, to celebrate the release of the 2013 Riesling vintage of the Finger Lakes! Finger Lakes Riesling Hour is officially from 7-9pm on social media. Don’t miss out–all the instructions on how to join in below! See you there