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 🍷
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.
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.
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.
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…
The last few months of our lives have been insane, and that is absolutely why the husband and I needed a day trip out of Ithaca! Thanks to Lenn and New York Cork Report, I was gifted a pair of tickets for a day at the Adirondack Wine and Food Festival in Lake George (ADK FEST LAKE GEORGE LINK)–excellent opportunity for a day trip, so we hit the road on a sunny Finger Lakes Saturday morning for a three hour escape to Lake George and the Adirondacks.
Lake George, NY is a quaint, picturesque town in the Northeast of NY that comes alive Memorial Day-Labor Day: cottages, restaurants, boaters, and mini golf are the main things I recall from my youth, I spent a bit of time in elementary school at a friend’s lake cottage in the village–bbq’s, lake swimming, and dock jumping, mostly…but I randomly remember a Paul Bunyan mini golf course, and rainy days of complete, excruciating boredom.
My first reaction to a Food and Wine fest in Lake George was initially surprise; would that little town attract enough wine lovers to make it an actual festival, or more of a little gatherings? There were over 60 vendors in attendance, from wineries, distillers, cideries, breweries, food trucks, and local artisans selling products ranging from goat milk soap and local cheeses all the way to fresh cut, organic potato chips and baked goods. Saturday looked like a sell out, and the crowds were enjoying the weather, the fresh air, and everything that the vendors had to offer. Long lines were friendly, and almost always worth the wait.
Right through the gate, we saw the booth pouring for Hudson Chatham Winery. I met winery co-owner Carlo DeVito at a Taste Camp event in the Hudson Valley two years ago, and am always on the lookout for their fantastic Old Vine Baco Noir. I had a chance to taste the 2014 vintage, which was absolutely one of my favorite wines of the afternoon…dark berry color, lots of body, and a smooth, lingering finish.
Finger Lakes wineries pouring included Americana Vineyards, Sweedish Hill, Goose Watch, Tug Hill, Miles Wine Cellars, and Three Brothers. Long lines and hot sun kept me from tasting many FLX wines, considering how close we are to the lake trails. I definitely had a great time tasting things that are harder to find at home.
Nine Pin Ciderworks out of Albany had some fantastic dry hard ciders; I really enjoyed the Signature Cider Blend, as well as the Ginger Hard Cider (infused with ginger and orange peel) and Blueberry (sparkling blush color, and infused with tart blueberries) for a surprisingly dry, but fruity cider. Really nice on such a hot, sunny day!
Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery is located just east of the Hudson River and situated on a 290 acre apple farm. Along with AppleJack and Vodka made with their own apples, they produce Core Black Raspberry Vodka, an incredibly light, fresh, and dry raspberry infused vodka. It would be incredible as a mixer, or standing on its own over ice, with a splash of seltzer. I need to make an effort to tour their distillery before we head for the West Coast. I love craft and local farm distilleries.
All in all, the festival was large enough to enjoy, but the crowds were manageable (except for a few food trucks) and everyone was really about enjoyment. I was very surprised at how many people in attendance were heavily tattooed, as well! Definitely not something I remembered about Lake George, but I was definitely asked for business cards, more than once!
Side note, the gal at the ID gate exclaimed our tattoos looked so ‘hardcore’ and asked if husband and I had any matching tattoos (which we do, but I had a momentary lapse of memory) which almost got me into trouble 😂 yes, we have matching Eiffel Towers that we had done at the Paris convention, two years ago!
The Roc City Tattoo Expo is Upstate NY’s only high end tattoo convention, drawing an impressive roster of international artists each year to our beautiful area.
2016 saw the 8th annual Roc City Expo in a different venue, the addition of more local artists and vendors, and a focus on artwork as opposed to entertainment and contests.
The Hand of Fate has attended every one of these eight years of shows, starting with the first event right after we had opened our business, and relocated to the Finger Lakes. Jet and his crew at Love Hate Tattoo have always focused on bringing the best artists in tattooing, to an area that is often overlooked for larger markets and cities.
Rochester is a fantastic town, larger scale than Ithaca, with an artsy, young, downtown crowd and a flourishing dining and entertainment scene. Due to local Finger Lakes wine trails, breweries, and distilleries being less than an hour away, the locavore movement is strong here, and local vintners and brewers are represented along side menu items, sourced from area farms.
Iron Smoke Whiskey, a small batch distillery located close to home in Fairport, NY, saw the opportunity to join in on the Roc City Expo fun! FINALLY, a local booze producer that saw the potential marketing frenzy that a tattoo convention crowd offers: exposure to an absolute rainbow selection of adults, from all walks of life, that enjoy quality luxuries. A whiskey tasting at a tattoo convention? YES. SO MUCH YES.
Let me say, the whiskey tasting was VERY well received, pouring staff were knowledgeable and answering questions, and I’m sure three days of sales reflected that!
Iron Smoke also seem to have a growing distribution to bars and restaurants in the Upstate area, so make sure to keep your eyes open, or request it by name at your favorite watering hole. Iron Smoke Distillery is run by a contact that goes by the name of Skully, and their labeling and merchandise feature a distinguished skeleton, in a suit, smoking a pipe. Very well suited to a tattoo crowd, to say the least. Lots of teeshirts went out the door with that whiskey….
Back to the actual whiskey tasting and my own impressions. Iron Smoke brought two products with them- Iron Smoke small batch Apple Wood Smoked Whiskey, and their Rattlesnake Rosie’s Apple Pie Whiskey. Both were surprising, and I was shocked that as a local booze hound I had never had the pleasure! Jet and the Roc City crew must have known I was coming, and planned the whiskey accordingly. 🙂
Iron Smoke Apple Wood Smoked Whiskey: small batch, locally sourced grain is mashed and smoked with an apple wood smoking process, before distillation and aging for years in charred, American white oak barrels. With a hint of sweetness on the nose, this smooth amber colored whiskey has a light, smoky, vanilla and apple flavor with a nicely rounded, deep oak finish. Lovely small batch spirit.
Rattlesnake Rosie’s Apple Pie Whiskey: Forbidden Apple Pie recipe of small batch house distilled corn whiskey, blended with all natural upstate NY apple cider, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Slightly sweet, with the tang of fresh apple cider and a bite of corn whiskey, this potion is delicious on its own, or as a mixer for some beautiful cocktails. Slightly sweet, bright, and luscious long finish. According to their Iron Smoke website, Apple Pie was the winner in the San Fransisco World Spirits Competition–for those of you that follow the medals and events scene!
Watercolor by Kevin Berube of Sharktank Tattoo
Once again, huge thank you’s go out to Jet and the entire Love Hate Tattoo Rochester crew for all of the hard work and hoop jumping it takes to have such a great show turnout in this area! Hand of Fate has enjoyed the journey since the beginning, and there is always something surprising to enjoy, along with world class tattooing and artwork. This year, BoozyLife felt especially loved! Want to buy your own bottles of Iron Smoke Whiskey? Check out their website here : Iron Smoke Whiskey website –there are awesome cocktail recipes for your newly aquired local whiskey!
It’s rosé release season in the Finger Lakes! You would never know that from our spring weather, as we currently have very unseasonably frigid temperatures and five inches of snow on the ground for this first week of April. Despite the cold, spring has sprung, and the dry rosé events are kicking off all around the lakes in earnest. Finally!
Full disclosure–I love dry rosé. Last year, my husband and I attended an exclusive tattoo event in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, an area that lives for rosé, in France. By the time we left that summer for our trip, I had developed a love for several local Finger Lakes rosés as well. It took the Finger Lakes wineries a little while to catch on to the dry rosé craze, but once local winemakers realized the demand–they were off and running the bottling lines!
In just a year’s time, rosé release season in early spring has become a flurry of events and tastings in our area. This last weekend, the first Saturday in April, I attended a lovely seated blind tasting at Sheldrake Point Winery. Six of the new favorite FLX 2016 dry rosés were chosen and arranged from driest to sweetest (although all quite dry, happily), and all FLX lake wine trails were represented.
Sheldrake owner Chuck Tauk, head winemaker Dave Breeden, and assistant winemaker Julia Hoyle led us in the tasting. The wines were paired with a light, springy food plate to help enhance and distinguish the flavor differences in each glass.
Asparagus, fresh greens with strawberries, cheddar bacon scones, and a rosé peppercorn goat cheese from Lively Run Goat Dairy in Interlaken were served, not knowing which we wines were trying until the end! ANY ONE of these rosés were gorgeous, food friendly, and stunningly different. We all certainly had our favorites, but truly, the hard eliminations and decisions had already been made for us. It was a delightful representation of FLX rosés–and so, without further ado–the rosés we tasted, and my tasting impressions, from L-R…
1- McGregor Vineyard-100% Cabernet Franc–light acidity, pale salmon blush color, rose (flower) on the finish, 12.1% Alc., cold soak of 24 hours on skins
3-Red Newt Cellars for Kelby James Russell Wines-100% Cabernet Franc–beautiful deep color, definitely more heft and sharper tart, crispness with a light delicate pepper and floral flavor. A lot going on in this one, 11.8%Alc, cold soak on skins FOR 72 HOURS(!!) the longest time in this tasting
4-Damiani Wine Cellars-100% Pinot Noir–deep pinky berry blush color, fruity cherry, strawberry, light fruitiness, and very balanced despite the highest alcohol content, super food friendly, 13.3% Alc, cold soak on skins 14 hours
5-Sheldrake Point Winery-100% Cabernet Franc–very pale salmon color, well rounded flavors of berries and floral notes, nice light bite and very clean finish, 12.5% Alc., cold soak on skins 12-18 hours
6-Atwater Estate Vineyards-81% Cabernet Franc, 19%Pinot Noir–lightest salmon color, slightly higher sugar to balance alcohol and tart acidity, 12.5% Alc., cold soak on skins 4 hours
A big thank you to the entire crew at Sheldrake for putting on one of the most informative and enjoyable tastings I’ve attended so far–and to my tasting partner in crime Melissa B, for
stepping out of the comfort zone and agreeing to come with this blogger for the afternoon of rosé!
Start your own comparison tastings, and let me know which new releases are your favorites! Keep checking back, I’ll be covering as many Finger Lakes Rosés as we can…looking forward to the Rose Soiree in Geneva, June 4th!
Living in the Finger Lakes, I have the advantage of being close to the action. I’ve been around enough crews of our local FLX winemakers to understand what drives so many of them to work the crazy hours, blast through times of backbreaking labor, and essentially do whatever they have to do. Passion, and maybe a little bit of good crazy, seem to be common threads.
Winemakers and tattoo artists are similar animals; they are artists working with a living palette, creatives, and once they have mastered the foundation rules, they might just knowingly and happily bend them. Sometimes, that’s when fun things happen, and I get involved whenever and wherever I can!
Barry Family Cellars is a family affair, with winemakers (and brothers) Ian and Brian establishing as one of the first micro-wineries in New York State, according to their BFC website. The focus is on minimally invasive, small batch wines, sometimes unfiltered and unrefined-which are turning out to be some of my favorite styles!
While creeping the interwebs today, I saw that Ian was in the process of bottling what he was calling ‘weird wine’-a SPARKLING, light cherry colored Cabernet Franc blend! I was running around Ithaca getting husband ready for a tattoo trip, and happily Ian and his assistant kiddo Declan were also in our neck of the woods! They were nice enough to swing by Hand of Fate with a bottle of the goods for me to try out. WHOOP!!
A Sparkling Cabernet blend is what happens when two winemaker brothers are sitting, tasting their goods…and one says he’s “not sure what to do with it” (Ian talking about this lighter, almost fruity Cab Franc they had) and in response, (Brian) “This might sound crazy, but….sparkling?” And there we have it!
So, my preview bottle! Dry, tart, yet fruity for a Cabernet Franc-lighter, pretty cherry red color and of course, bubbles. Lots of cherry, pomegranate, strawberry-think jammy, but not weighty or heavy. I put a light chill on the bottle, and we had a very quaffable, different, fun and enjoyable style of red! Husband mused it almost reminded him of a dry hard cider from the long finish.
It would be a fantastic warm weather (think picnic) wine, easily pairing with pizza, appetizers, especially delicious with chocolate. Elegant but unassuming. When you want something with a little more ‘oomph’ and heft than a rosé, this would do the tric nicely!
I believe Ian said BFC will be releasing this bad boy in May, so keep checking their website link above for updates…small batch wineries are a jewel of the Finger Lakes, but you can’t sleep on it when new releases appear! Those in the know, know…and good wine in small batches sells fast.
Thank you for meeting up, Ian! The wine, and the visit, were a pleasure as always…stop by the tattoo shop, anytime. 🙂
Occasionally, worlds collide in the smallest, yet most impactful of ways. The lives of incredibly tiny, but unquestionably strong individuals, and the actions that they cause, can touch so many.
I recently had the opportunity to get a preview tasting at Damiani Wine Cellars for a very special limited release Riesling – totaling only 192 cases. The wine is made from Riesling grapes from a single field, that survived difficult conditions, but produced something incredible. A hail storm damaged much of the crop, but what was left hanging had truly unique character.
From Damiani notes– SPECIAL NOTE: In late July of 2014 our DWC Riesling vineyard was struck by hail, badly bruising more than half of the fruit, but we were determined to do our best to save the damaged grapes. After fermentation with native yeasts, we found that not only did the fruit survive a seemingly catastrophic event, but the juice thrived and became something truly different and unique. In deference to this miraculous transformation and as a heart-felt thank you to the countless medical professionals who had a hand in the healing of our winemaker’s young son Rhys, who was born with a congenital heart defect, a portion of the proceeds from each bottle sold will be donated to help fund children’s cardiac research.
The wine truly is something special, with such elegant floral and peachy notes that sing through, and a beautiful golden color. I was very impressed with the delicate structure, as well as the sentiment. It was the perfect Finger Lakes wine to share with another very special part of our extended tattoo family in Canada, that also had a pediatric cardiology journey of their own!
Lucas and Jayme Ford are an incredibly visually talented couple, he a tattoo artist/ machine builder and she a photographer in Red Deer, Alberta Canada. They are the owners of Classic Tattoo Co. and also the proud parents of beautiful boys. Recently, their little guy Hudson went through his own cardiac journey…and the folks around him rallied, came together, and created the Hudson Heart Project. Classic Tattoo Red Deer –Hudson Heart Project blog post excerpt from mama Jayme’s 2015 event, that raised over $30k–
Hudson is a very special little boy and he would not be here had it been for the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. I stood back a few times during the event and was completely overwhelmed by how much everyone put into this…how much time the volunteers put in to set up, how far some of them drove (up to 4 hours one way), the incredible tattooers that drove long distances and donated their talent & 15 hours their time (one of whom had just got back from France, slept and then drove up from Calgary to help), the volunteers that took time out of their weekend, the local businesses that donated food, coffee, snacks, hair cuts, etc….just completely overwhelmed with love. Haylen’s Ice-Cream Shop raised over $250 selling $2 popsicles for the Ronald Mcdonald House here in town, bringing his total to $1255!and last but absolutely not least….YOU. All 180 of you that got tattooed & the ones that simply donated out of the kindness of your hearts. To everyone that got up early, drove hours, waited in line patiently, you ALL are just so incredible, the vibe at the shop was so happy and every one was there for the right reasons. There was not one complaint.So again, I want to express my gratitude to everyone involved. We did it…..$30,459!!!!!!- Jayme Ford and the CTC CREW
These two little boys have brought so much love, fight and support to this world! Rhys and Hudson are responsible for helping many other children and parents, in two different countries, on separate coastlines–and will continue to bring hope to others on the same road. I absolutely had to grab a couple of bottles of Dry Rhysling from Damiani…which are now on their way to Red Deer, and the Ford crew! Perfect way to connect my love of the Finger Lakes wine community, and our international tattoo family….they have more in common than I ever could have realized.
NY hard Apple ciders are finally getting the recognition they so deserve, and once again the Finger Lakes area is a leader the trend towards producing dry, heirloom sparkling (and still or no bubble) hard ciders. Autumn Stoscheck, of Eve’s Cidery here in the Finger Lakes, was recently featured as a NY Tastemaker for her incredible, hand made adult ciders! Check out her question and answer with Lenn Thompson of New York Cork Report here: http://newyorkcorkreport.com/blog/2016/02/02/new-york-tastemaker-autumn-stoscheck-eves-cidery/
Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend a very special tasting at Dano’s Heuriger overlooking Seneca Lake. The restaurant is a lovely space, despite the easily missed exterior of the seemingly smaller building-naturally modern, with a warm feel and unassumingly elegant decor. The breathtaking lake views are the main attraction, aside from the traditional Viennese cuisine. Don’t miss Dano’s if you visit the area–it’s a local gem, owned by Dano Hutnik and his wife Karen. Both are accomplished chefs (she in pastry), and Dano’s experience living as a ballet dancer in Vienna adds to the authenticity of the locally sourced menu.
Dano’s menu board
The concept behind this tasting event was a very exciting one–a tasting of two wines, one white (Grüner Veltliner), one red (Blaufränkisch aka Lemberger). Several different wineries from the Finger Lakes, along with producers from Germany, Spain, and even Washington State US were represented. Both grape varietals are native to Austria, and both grow exceedingly well in our cooler, Finger Lakes climate. Grüner wines are white, and tend to have a light, floral, citrus or peachy flavor, highlighted often by a peppery or even white pepper notes. Blaufränkisch (Lemberger) wines are red, and have a red, ripe, jammy character–think red currants and dark, ripe cherries. Oak aging can help tame acidity and tannins, but many retain their bright flavors.
All the while, Dano’s had a beautiful array of appetizers and light bites to go with the Austrian themed wine pairings. The menu included artichoke tarts with a delicate pastry, asparagus wraps, smoked fish spread, hard salami, sausage and schnitzel bites over homemade sour kraut, and smoked fish
So, let the tasting notes begin! I really enjoyed having the opportunity to taste several Grüners in a row, something I have never had the chance to do, let alone with several Finger Lakes wineries in the mix. My limited palate knowledge on this grape is that it’s white, fruity, and light, often peppery, and is usually made in a dry style very complimentary to delicate foods. I had no idea how different the wines produced in the Finger Lakes would be, especially from each other.
The 2013 Grüner from Hazlitt was soft, had a light acidity, peachy and a bit of time on the lees. Very different, the 2014 Grüner from Anthony Road was tart, dry, and had a balanced structure with lemons and tropical fruits. Dr. Konstantin Frank Grüner 2014 came with the 2015 Jefferson Cup that they had recently been awarded–with good reason. This beautiful Grüner has a peachy nose, beautiful, bright acidity, and a dry but lasting finish of subtle honey and light spice.
Lamoreaux Landing 2013 Grüner is very light and dry white, food friendly, with hints of white pepper. Bloomer Creek 2013 Auten Vineyard was a HUGE surprise after the others, with a yellow gold color, crazy and long lasting finish of honey, right from the comb. The honey finish had me grabbing my tasting friends, and forcing them return to it by holding my glass under their nose….sometimes, I get excited over a sampling, and decorum goes out the window. No apologies!
Over to red! A few of my favorite FLX wineries brought their Lembergers, which was exciting since I am such a red wine lover. I definitely had more knowledge on this side of the room on what to expect going in. Herman J. Wiemer 2013 Lemberger – cherry nose, dark red fruit, currant, bright acidity, light and rounded tannins. Lip smacking, tart finish. Fox Run Vineyards 2013 Lemberger had a bit of heat on the nose, red fruit, clove spice, nicely balanced, and very quaffable indeed. Red Tail Ridge 2013 Blaufränkisch was a bit more oaky tannin focused, with higher acidity, and leaner structure.
Damiani Wine Cellars 2014 was also lean, with baland dark fruit, oak, and a still crunchy acidity. To round out the tasting, I also tried Glatzer Blaufränkisch 2014 from Austria–chewy, tannic red, much lower acidity and jammy ripe red fruits. Not crazy about Schatz 2006 Acinopo Lemberger Ronda, Spain–a bit higher RS, licorice, smokey oak and finish. Very different than others, and not my favorite by a long shot.
All in all, a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the Finger Lakes. I took away quite a bit of information about two grapes that I was relatively unfamiliar with, and tasted several different styles of wines made with them. For me, the best part was meeting the winemakers and having them answer questions about their wines, process, and craft — along with the commeraderie of the afternoon! Get out of your comfort zone, say yes to trying new wines, and you’ll be genuinely surprised at what you find you might love.