FLX Rosé in SLO, CA

Something wonderful showed up in SLO, California for me the other day…a box. A box from the Finger Lakes. A box for me, full of wine! A delivery of happy from Ian Barry and family, proprietors of Barry Family Cellars in Burdett, NY…Grapes that I helped hand harvest, the fall before we left the Finger Lakes, now bottled and ready to drink….Chardonnay, Riesling….and of course, the 2016 Rosé of Cabernet Franc…because Rosé is my JAM, and Ian knows that! Lucky Boozy woman that I am…

Barry Family Cellars 2016 Rosé of Cabernet Franc is a light, dry, slightly floral, herbaceous, fruity delight. Pairs beautifully with flavors of tart juicy strawberry and red fruit, bright acidity, and a clean crisp finish. Lovely with a picnic by the pool, at the beach, or on the lake.  It was absolutely a perfect match to my spicy Thai Green Curry with chicken–tempered the heat and still held up with a lovely finish. This is a smaller batch wine, so, if you’re in the Finger Lakes, get thee to Barry! You won’t be sorry, and say hi for me…I miss those crazy guys! 3821 Main Street, in tiny Burdett, NY…garagiste winemaking at its best 🍷

Harvest in the Finger Lakes 2016

Well, that’s pretty much it! Harvest 2016, for the Finger Lakes wine area of upstate NY, is in the bag. Winemakers are busy in the cellars, but the backbreaking labor of bringing in the fruit is over. 

Watkins sunset on Seneca


The drought of summer 2016, along with hot late summer temperatures, created a harvest situation different than in years past. Usually, whites ripen first, and there is a window of staggered time to pick the grapes. This year, almost every variety was ready to pick at once, creating a push for helping hands–as well as a more aggressive grape seller’s market. Winemakers that buy grapes had to make fast decisions or be priced out to the next highest bidder. ‘Time crunch’ was the big term of this year’s harvest. 

riesling ready to go


I had the opportunity once again to get my hands dirty and hand pick for a few different, local, smaller FLX grape growers. First-hand knowledge of grapes and fields make for a more educated taster and pourer of wines, so I take the chance where and when I can. 


I exclusively hand picked on Seneca Lake this year-Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. As always, I learned so much from the people I worked with, the experience alone was worth the labor put in. Long hours, little pay (mostly), but you really get out of it what you put into it, and the access you get to the winemakers will absolutely change how you think about making (and drinking!) wine.

Even Master Somm’s sort grapes in the FLX


Look for 2016 vintage FLX reds as well to be exceptional–the extensive drought and heat really created an intense, smaller crop of beautiful fruit. I’ll be back in NY from California next year to try some of the Rieslings, Cabernet Francs, and Gewurtztraminers, that I helped pick, for sure…

Wild Brute Winery in Arkport-Going Rogue off the Trails

Wild Brute Winery

Wild Brute Winery

This summer, I was a part of the Wine Blogger Conference –this year located in the Finger Lakes region, or my back yard. I felt like I needed to go because it was so close to home…however, I unexpectedly ran into some incredible local winemakers that were doing things their own way. I made a point of it to explore this back yard of mine in earnest! Arkport, NY just kept coming up, over and over. There are incredibly interesting things happening off the lakes, about an hour away from Corning, NY.  I took the ride, and it was totally worth it.

The Lineup at Wild Brute

The Lineup at Wild Brute

The French were the first to use the term ‘Gagariste’ in terms of winemaking–these were the mavericks, making wines off the grid and outside of a very regulated system. Although they were not in the system, the French had to agree that the small batch, artisanal products coming from these tiny producers were interesting, and sometimes ground breaking. Justin Recktenwald and his startup, Wild Brute Winery in Arkport, NY, fit the definition of garagiste winemaking perfectly–right here in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate NY. Justin has the pedigree -Graduated Cornell Viticulture program, worked and learned under Dr. Constantine Frank sparkling masters, and has travelled extensively to learn, and apply the knowledge at home.

Justin, me, Kyleigh, Wendy, and Mark--the Wild Brute Crew

Justin, me, Kyleigh, Wendy, and Mark–the Wild Brute Crew

Wild Brute Winery (follow the link for their website) is a family affair. Justin Recktenwald is the owner and winemaker, along with a crew of many-fiancé Kyleigh, mom Wendy, dad Mark, and brother Cody all have a hand in the production process. This family knows farming, and Arkport, and Justin’s knowledge and winemaking skill has turned family farm property into a wine bar and production facility. Currently, aside from publicized weekend events and music shows, the Arkport tasting room is by appointment (although during the nicer weather there is an outside open tasting bar.)

Wine pairing with chocolates

Wine pairing with chocolates

I was invited up to do a tasting, and I really can’t say enough about the feeling I left with. I brought my husband, and we were met by Justin, his family, and a beautiful spread of artisanal chocolate bonbons from Angelica’s Sweet Shop-about fifteen minutes away! I was already a fan of Wild Brute’s 2013 Unfiltered Cabernet Franc…but this time, we got to sample the entire lot…and it was quite a showing of what’s happening beyond the wine trails on the lake shores!

 

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*Wild Brute 2014 Chardonnay–Bright acidity and a balanced oak finish, vanilla, caramel, green apple, smooth mouthfeel. Grab it if you see it!

*Wild Brute 2013 Unfiltered Cabernet Franc–Dark plum color, red fruit, figs, warm oak, light warm acidity. One of my favorite Cabs in the FLX…seriously. It’s special because it’s so different from anything else.

*Wild Brute 2013 Unfiltered Single Barrel Reserve–Super Limited, dark jammy red fruit, a bit younger bite of acidity. Gorgeous dark plum color, lasting finish. Oak adds a warm rounded depth without overpowering the fruit.

*Wild Brute 2013 Off-Dry Riesling–Bright nose, floral, pear, peach, honey, green apple. Light acidity is balanced with hint of sweetness and a lasting honey finish

*Barrel tastings of WB Hard Apple Cider (YUM), wild ferment, heirloom apples.

If you see a bottle of Wild Brute, grab it. If you’re headed through Horse Heads/Corning and want a bottle, they have a limited stock in the general area. This coming spring, I forsee LOTS of events starting up through the he summer at the Wild Brute wine bar–here’s their FaceBook Wild Brute Business Page–Wild Brute Winery on FaceBook–go give them a Like, and know what events are coming up…music, wine, and local flavor, Finger Lakes style…off the lakes! Make an afternoon drive that you won’t regret! #goingrogue

Wild Brute Wines

Wild Brute Wines