Found Lehigh Wine Trail Bubbles during Skindustry Tattoo Expo

Skindustry 2013, Allentown PA

Skindustry 2013, Allentown PA

Tattoo conventions mean different things to different people. For tattoo collectors, it’s an exciting weekend (or sometimes just a day) of new tattoos, entertainment, hot tattooed ladies, and tattoo contests. For tattoo artists and vendors, it’s stressful and work, time to see old friends, network new ones, and show their skills to potential new clients. And then, there is the tattoo spouse. We’re usually either walking circles into the convention floor after three hours of hanging out, siting glassy-eyed in the booth while folks stroll on by, or sitting in the hotel room. Let’s be honest, it’s mostly number three. Especially if the room has a hot tub. But, now that HIS work is YOUR time away, don’t waste it sitting in a room. Grapes grow damn near everywhere, and where there are grapes….there is wine.

Skindustry Tattoo Expo 2013 was held this weekend, and our shop had a great time. Busy show, lots of great artists, and close enough to home that I could commute without a stay over! I had a very busy Saturday in Canandaigua (more on that in another entry), so Sunday was tattoo wife day at the show for me. I promised to spend most of Sunday at the expo, so I left Ithaca early. I had to have a little time to explore the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Pennsylvania’s fast growing wine region. They have even claimed Chambourcin as the official grape of the area…it’s a hearty hybrid red that makes delicious wines, from dry to sweet. I stopped at three wineries closest to the expo, all within fifteen miles of the show. Always have a DD with you, or in my case (this time), go alone, SPIT–NO SHAME, and buy bottles for home!

First stop, Pinnacle Ridge and Winery, housed in a renovated bank barn structure and I was happily shocked to see sparkling wine made, in the traditional method, on site! They use locally sourced and estate grapes, vinifera and hybrids, and make more styles of wine than I could list (click on them to check out their website. They ship, I’m just letting you know!). I brought home a bottle of the Brut Rose, and another of the Blanc de Blanc. Don’t judge me, I’m a sucker for bubbles.

Next, I swung by Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery, a few miles closer to the show. More bubbles! Traditional dry reds, a few fruity sweets for the kids…a blackberry sparkler wine sounds right up some of y’all’s alley!! I don’t judge, the best wine is the wine you like the best. Life is short, try them all!

Last winery I had time for, and closest to the show, Vynecrest Vineyards & Winery had a beautiful view of the vineyard and deck for warmer weather. The tasting room was busy, but everyone was accommodating. It’s a small vineyard, so vintages run out and change depending on sales. The selections were slightly limited, but I tried more whites than reds. They do have a beautiful wine bar in the tasting room to take advantage of, if you have time to linger. I could have! But….

Show time! Made it to Skindustry by 2pm, not too shabby and with bubbles in a back seat cooler (hot trunk is bad for wine…don’t do that!!) I met Eddie at the front entrance. Great show, tattooers, caricature artists that could turn you into a cartoon zombie for a small fee, Eddie even won a trophy for 1st place BLACK & GREY TATTOO! It was a successful weekend for our entire clan. BIG Thank You to Steve Lemak and The Quillian Tattoo crew for putting on another great tattoo weekend in Allentown, PA!

**Follow highlighted links for websites and info 🙂

Earth Day in the Finger Lakes

Cayuga Lake from Goose Watch Winery

Cayuga Lake from Goose Watch Winery


My husband, proudly digging!

The start of our raised beds

It’s ALWAYS Earth Day in Ithaca, NY. We live surrounded by vineyards and waterfalls, have the ability and space to garden our own soil, and live much more sustainably. Last year was our first as official home owning gardeners, and my husband’s tomatoes were monsters. There were a few make it yourself experiments with bat guano tea fertilizer, and  jokes about plants crawling out of the garden and vines extending to the road! Rather than tell you all about why it’s such a great place, how wonderful the waterfalls, the hiking, the summers, the vineyards are…enjoy the views!! (The last pic is from our wedding…seriously.)


Lower Enfield Falls, our wedding by a waterfall spot

A group of our friends at Fall Creek, day after our vows

A group of our friends at Fall Creek, day after our vows


Vines at Six Mile Creek Winery

Our Fairytale Bridge pic- Photo Credit: Alex Solla Photography

Our Fairytale Bridge pic- Photo Credit: Alex Solla Photography



My 38th trip around the sun :)

So, today is my thirty-eighth birthday. I am blessed with an amazing husband and best friend, a great start to a killer tattoo collection, four of the cutest dogs on the planet, and a slot to pursue a wine degree! Not too shabby for a tiny town gal…
Thank you to everyone that has supported me through it all…especially my mom, who I was lucky enough to have with me for thirty two of those years. She gave me the backbone to do what I do, no matter WHAT that is. She hated my tattoos, loved me unconditionally, and always spoke her mind. When she was very ill, she liked to rest on the enclosed porch of her house. There was a robin & her nest, set up in the bushes right off of the deck. She told me every time i saw a robin when she was gone, that I should think of her. I had one bounce around on the window sill first thing this morning, a happy spring hello for mom’s little pixie!
I’m a lucky woman all around…See you on the road!!!


A Tattoo Wife’s boozy journey to a Wine Diploma

On April 27th, I will be taking the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 1 class and certification exam at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, NY! The WSET is an international training program specifically geared to those in the wine and spirit industry. This is the first level of certification, and I hope to continue. Finally, higher education that I will enjoy!  The program is a one day, eight-hour class, followed by a written test. I already have my study guide thanks to iBook and email, so the studying (and tasting) has begun in earnest.  A HUGE Thank You to my dad, almost always my supporter, and patron of this latest venture in honor of my thirty-eighth birthday!

My husband and I relocated to the Finger Lakes area in 2007, and I started my winery career soon thereafter. I have spent several grape harvests in the field, shears in hand, lug at my feet. It is tiring labor, and you are at the mercy of the elements. There is a romantic element to the vines for the first hour, which then gives way to an ache in your lower back and a crick in your neck. The accomplishment is in completing the tasks at hand, which are often time sensitive and on a strict deadline. Getting dirty in the fields also gives you an invaluable certainty and comfort behind the tasting bar. You develop a relationship with the wine from grape through bottling, something that can only be experienced. The knowledge is not learned, but gained through memory. My first harvest is something I will never forget. I even have a tattoo to mark the occasion! Grapes, of course…from my husband.

The WSET will be my first formal certification in wines. I can’t wait to build on the knowledge that I’ve acquired, mostly by working closely with local wine makers. It’s sure to be an adventurous path, learning and drinking wine as I go!


Six Mile Creek Vineyard creates a locally distilled, Gold Medal Gin!

20130406-143235.jpgSix Mile Creek Vineyard is an often overlooked boutique winery & distillery, located close to downtown Ithaca on Route 79. Beautiful grounds reveal over six acres of white grapes on gently sloping fields, backed up to the Six Mile Creek Gorge. I will say, first off, that I worked at SMC for years, and it is a place close to my heart. The Spirits by Battistella line of production expanded in my time there, and I admit my (now) husband had to retrieve me after a few nights of Gin sample tests. Celler Master and all around awesome wine maker Paul King was most often the caralyst for my blind tastings, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of highlight and elimination.

Gin by Battistella is made with finished Chardonnay wine as the distillate base. The wine is processed through a small copper pot still, creating a small yield of a very high alcohol product. The pot still method is historical, laborious, and allows for complete quality control by the distiller. A little mini-still is displayed in the tasting room below.

This high proof base is then infused with a carefully selected recipe of ingredients, ranging from traditional juniper berries to Italian herbs and botanicals. I have had afternoons of working in the winery, with the scent of that Gin wafting up from the cellar below. It’s a clean nose, with hint of citrus, a touch of violet. I miss those afternoons….

Recently, The Fifty Best held a blind tasting of 36 International gins. Battistella was in one of the three flights, of seven gins, each round. I attached the link below so you can investigate as you would like…Six Mile Creek Gin by Battistella was awarded a Gold Medal! Congrats to our local Ithaca boutique distillery!

Gin by Battistella was reviewed by the site as having a palate of “lemongrass, citrus, orange blossom” but also “butterscotch and creamy vanilla.” The use of a finished Chardonnay creates this buttery vanilla character with citrus notes. It is a rare and elegant gin.

Does it sound like you need to try this delicious treat? It’s only sold out of the SMC tasting room, with very little distribution locally. These small batches of gin are produced in a very labor intensive and time consuming process, creating a small amount of product each run. Local distilleries are springing up all over, and even more wineries are starting to invest in running a tandem distillery. Have you tried any locally produced spirits? What are YOUR favorites?

Check out the full Gin Tasting HERE: The Fifty Best-gin