Category Archives: I love NY

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

Harvest in the Finger Lakes 2015

Fall in the FLX

Fall in the FLX

I’ve been off the grid! Gentle readers, sometimes business takes it all out of you for a bit, and quite frankly being business owners was rough for a patch. I’m happy to report things are currently fantastic at our tattoo shop, and I’ve been able to once again turn my attentions towards the fields and this year’s harvest bounty.

It’s finally October first, which means lots of the grapes have already been harvested and pressed around the Finger Lakes, and one of the busiest times of year is here! Tasting rooms will be extremely lively on beautiful fall weekends, so if you’re visiting, be civil and expect crowds of other tasters. The good news is, the views are heading towards incredible – enjoy, and don’t be in a rush. The Finger Lakes are all about taking a breath and enjoying some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Pick some apples, peep the fall leaves, hike a waterfall, taste some locally made wines, ciders, beers, spirits…chocolates….cheese…

Beauties in the sunlight

Beauties in the sunlight

Harvest 2015 is in full swing, with lots of grape picking, pressing, and cellar happenings currently in the works, area wide. My Instagram feed is currently full of grapes being pressed, yeasts going in and fermentation starting, and lots of rain gear the last twenty four hours! It’s been dry and warm the last two weeks, so many growers got their grapes in before rains started in earnest. Our local weather called for over three inches of rain into today, with more over the weekend. Hopefully it dries out so that everyone gets their remaining crops in!

It’s also fun to see the apple farmers harvesting for their upcoming vintages of hard ciders. The movement is growing nationwide,  and the Finger Lakes area is at the center of high quality, heirloom farmed fruits, classically made, dry to off-dry, sometimes fermented in bottle, hard apple and pear ciders. This coming weekend (October 3rd and 4th) is the Apple Festival in Ithaca, with FLX Cider Week also kicking off. I’ll be attending some local happenings on that front, so stay tuned! October is going to be fun, and fall is the best time of year to be in this area, in my humble BoozyWife opinion…that’s why we tend to stay local until the snow flies again….

Cider Maker’s Afternoon with Autumn of Eve’s Cidery — Finger Lakes Cider House

Eve's Cidery flight

Eve’s Cidery flight at Finger Lakes Cider House

The Finger Lakes area is a special place, and a majority of that feeling comes from the people that live and work here, love the land and enjoy sharing their creations and joys. Artists come in many shapes and styles, from winemakers to painters and potters, and are often on hand to share their creations. Due to a love of sharing hand crafted beverages and information, local artisans often take time out of the creation of product to meet and pour for their public.

There is a movement towards farming, the ‘old ways’ of doing things, hand crafted goods, and knowing where things were grown and sourced. Heirloom fruit trees are the base for incredible ciders, and we were lucky enough to attend Cider Maker’s Afternoon with Eve’s Cidery at Finger Lakes Cider House. The beautiful new tasting room area (located near Ithaca in Interlaken) is located at Good Life Farm and is definitely worth checking out if you have the chance. Orchard ciders, along with a gorgeous view (and yummy food pairings) made for a beautiful excursion up the lake on a Sunday afternoon. Awesome cider craftswoman extraordinaire Autumn, of Eve’s Cidery (checkout their website for notes and purchases–they ship!) took a day away from the orchard and tanks to pour a selection of their still, sparkling, and ice ciders. Served with each step of the flight was a special local tasting spread–check out the ciders and pairings we tried! The menu really illustrated the food friendliness and drinkability of dry, champagne style ciders…

Scatterseed

Scatterseed Sparkling Dry Cider

Eve’s Cidery Tasting Menu w. Pairings

Summer Blend. Still and Dry. Lemon-lime nose. The mid-palette is airy, tart and juicy, Kumquat, bitter orange peel and chalk. (7.5% ABV, <1% RS) Paired w. Smokey Baba Ganouj, housemade

Scatterseed. Estate grown. Dry. Champagne Style. ML fermentation vintage ’12 blended with ‘13 and bottled with a tirage. Dry, chewy, sparkling cider with aromatic layers of rich earth and ripe fruit. (8.1% ABV, 0.06% RS) Paired w. Peach Salsa, housemade

Darling Creek. Estate grown. Semi-dry. Champagne style. A blend of English and French bittersweets and bittersharps, fruity American cider apples and seedling varieties. The aroma is a play between sweet- honeysuckle, apple blossom and red apple; herbal gin, licorice, and allspice; and green tomato and sapling. The mouthfeel is big and thick with a soft but dry, velvety texture. The finish is full and balanced with lingering notes of sweet sour apricot. (8% ABV, 1.5% RS) Paired w. Rye Bread w. Butter, Wide Awake Bakery, Kriemhild Dairy

Essence. Estate grown. Ice Cider. Aromas of caramel, baked apple, and all spice. A heavy bodied and viscous mouth feel are balanced by a succulent acidity. Sugar and acid find equilibrium in the finish. (10 % ABV, 15.5% RS) Paired w. Ginger Ice Cream, Good Life Farm and housemade.

The Summer Blend was a delicious thirst quencher, aptly named for afternoons at the lake or on the deck. The acidity cut through the richness of the baba ganoush and added to the tanginess. Tough pairing, eggplant can be, but it was quite lovely and bright. I went home with a bottle of the Champagne style Scatterseed, a very dry and velvety sparkling cider with full tannins and a long finish.

Eve’s Ciders are served in NYC at Wassail on Orchard St. as well as scattered retailers in the know at the moment. Check out the website for a full list of shops that carry Eve’s in NYC as well as in the Finger Lakes! You’ll be glad you did, they truly are creating something special with every bottle. Eve’s Cidery Website

Rosé Soirée 2015 – The Finger Lakes Through Rosé Colored Glasses

The Rosé Lineup! (Photo by David Diaz)

The Rosé Lineup! (Photo by David Diaz)

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It truly was the perfect night for a Rosé Soirée in Geneva, NY on Saturday evening. A warm summery day gave way to a coral and light pink sunset, and Finger Lakes wine lovers sipped rosé, sampled foods and local culinary temptations (including incredible hotdogs, sausages, and goodies from Fingerlakes Wienery!!), and socialized under strung carnival lights. The atmosphere was light, jovial, and oh so pink!

Blurs of pink and coral

Blurs of pink and coral

Over twenty local vineyards and winemakers were on hand to pour their dry rosé wines and talk shop. The event was a great introduction to several new dry rosé wines that I had not tried yet, and also a nice chance to meet the men and women that are the vino creators themselves! it’s always fun and interesting to be able to talk to individuals that are so proud of their wines.

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Me n Ronata

There were so many different flavors and variations to the wines, it was incredible. Many were made from Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, or a blend of the two. Lemberger often made an appearance in the blends, and Dr. Constantine Frank’s Rosé was a blend that included Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc as well.

I tried to make it to as many tables as I could, and I had a good head start on the Finger Lakes rosé tasting as it is. I’m already a fan of a few: Damiani’s Pinot Noir Rosé is killer, Sheldrake Point has a lush Cabernet Franc Rosé, and Lamoreaux Landing’s Rosé is always my bottle for home (I pour in the tasting room at Lamoreaux a couple of days a week…how could I not want to work in a winery?). Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard Rosé is always a hit for the table, the blend has a hint of Chardonnay that adds another level of depth. Hosmer didn’t bring my favorite rosé that they made, Rosé of Merlot, but if it’s not sold out yet I’m sure it will be soon!

Action shot of rosé colored roses!

Action shot of rosé colored roses!

As the night went on...with the Barry crew

As the night went on…with the Barry crew

There were also definitely a bunch of wines that were new to me. I finally got to try Ian Barry’s (of Barry Family Cellars) Cabernet Franc Rosé, which was absolutely dry, with a bright acidity and ripe cherry. I also really liked his Gamay Rosé, a lightly sparkling petillant wine that brought out an earthy fruitiness. The end ferment in bottle, with the unfiltered Gamay, creates a very unique wine. August Deimel, head winemaker for Keuka Springs Vineyards, brought his delicious, bone dry Cabernet Franc and Lemberger Rosé that had the most beautiful, light color and fragrant nose. Also on the list for lightest color and dry, herbal notes was Knapp’s Rosé of (mostly) Cabernet Franc and (a bit of) Pinot Noir. Head winemaker for Knapp Winery (and Glenora), Steve DiFrancesco has created a very food friendly and easy drinking wine. The Italians always score when it comes to wines that are great with foods! When is a rosé ever difficult? Barnstormer Winery’s Rosé was also quite a surprise, mostly Sangiovese with a touch of Cabernet Franc-savory and herbal, with strong notes of mint on the nose.

The evening was intimate, informative and delicious.  This is one of the reasons we live here in the Finger Lakes! Keep an eye out for most of these wines on the trails, or in your local wine store. Also a big thank you to Microclimate Wine Bar, for letting us buy the last bottle of Local bubbles from Wiemer 🙂

Atwater Estate Vineyards Rosé of Merlot and the first day of Ithaca Farmers Market

Rosé of Merlot

Rosé of Merlot

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imageI made a special trip up Seneca Lake (after a visit to the first outdoor Ithaca Farmer’s Market of the year) specifically to taste Atwater Estate Vineyards 2014 Rosé of Merlot. I had a haul of root veggies and sunchokes (also called Jerusalem Artichokes, they are the tuber roots of a type of sunflower. Taste just like artichokes, roast or use just like you would potatoes), and was finally starting to readjust to real life and post Europe jet lag and exhaustion. My husband was home, in between a month long tour and going back to work at our home tattoo shop The Hand of Fate Tattoo Parlor, and I felt like making a nice meal and having a lovely bottle of vino to go with the return to our local reality. Pork loin, veggies, and a bottle of rosé…and I already had one in mind. The joy of living in the Finger Lakes! Hop in the car for a quick trip to one of the hundreds of local wineries…

I love the Merlot grape, I always have, and the more styles I try, the more hooked I am. Atwater’s 2014 release of the Rosé of Merlot has taken Double Gold at the 2015 Rosé Competiton at Simi Winery in California, which is a nod for the Finger Lakes area as well! According to the tasting notes: “The first vintage from our young Merlot block, planted in 2011 on the south farm, just above the water’s edge. Hand picked and cold soaked on the skins for two hours before pressing off. Limited to 38 CASES.” I heard from the tasting room that this very first harvest of merlot was almost blended into another wine, and that the rosé was a very happy accident, and incredibly limited in production to thirty-eight cases (twelve bottles per case, people. That’s it!) While I tasted the Rosè of Cabernet Franc (which I enjoyed the very delicate acidity and fruitiness) and their Pinot Bubble (which was fun with strawberry and raspberry notes and slightly sparkling), I left with a bottle of the Rosé of Merlot, even though it wasn’t available at the tasting bar. Limited release doesn’t always afford for pre-tasting! So glad I grabbed one, will be back soon for more. Very soon, considering it’s such a limited bottling! Sometimes the best wines come in th smallest batches, especially in the Finger Lakes. Winemakers here often take risks that would only happen in an up-and-coming area like this, which is still a bit on the wild side….which is more than fine with me. This merlot rosé might just be one of my new favorites!

Veggietastic

Veggietastic

My farmers market goodies

My farmers market goodies

A very simple oven roasted pork loin over fresh root veggies (and lots of garlic) was a great meal with the rosé. The Merlot was a drier rosé wine than others I had tasted at Atwater, but the light cherry/red fruit flavors and bright acidity was balanced and very complimentary with our meal. It showed very nicely with both the pork and roasted veggies-even the sunchokes! I’m glad I gave it a shot, the best experiments often happen at home around here. Perfect springtime coral pink color against a blue sky, this is a bottle of wine to grab if you have the very limited chance! (BTW Right after I went and tasted, the crew at Atwater refinished the tasting room original wood floor. I’m sure it looks spectacular-make sure to look down next time you’re there!)

TasteCamp 2014 -the Hudson River Valley Tour

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Tomorrow, I’m headed to TasteCamp! Check out the link for more info! TasteCamp New York Cork Report

Our starting point tomorrow is Millbrook Winery , so keep your eyes peeled for BoozyLife posts here, and of course on FB, Twitter, and Instagram! Hasta mañana kids

New York Apples and the Hard Cider Revolution (and how BoozyLife was ahead of the curve)

Harvest season

Harvest season

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!

Cracklin' Maple Hard Cider from Black Bear for our toast

Cracklin’ Maple Hard Cider from Black Bear for our toast

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.

I’ve Gone Gewurz at Keuka Spring Vineyards 2014!

Wine goes here

Wine goes here

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View from the Tasting Room View from the Tasting Room

This past Saturday, I attended a very fun and interesting special tasting at Keuka Spring Winery , focused on tasting different styles of Gewürztraminer and the differences between the 2012 and 2013 growing seasons. Keuka Spring’s head wine maker August Deimel and assistant winemaker Meg Tipton led the tasting, which was intimate and outside, away from the tasting room in a tent overlooking Keuka Lake. This winemaking team is also holds the coveted Govenor’s Cup Award for the BEST WINE in New York State with their 2012 Riesling! Not too shabby.

Medals, medals, everywhere....

Medals, medals, everywhere….

I met August and his lovely wife Sara through the Finger Lakes wine industry a few years ago, and am proud to say his talent has not gone unnoticed in our area and beyond! August called our Going Gewurz session “…everything you wanted to know about Gewurz but we’re afraid to ask”–and our group of tasters were very inquisitive about growing, the winemaking process, and we were given a first hand look at the creation of one of the Finger Lakes most underrated, and unique wines.

August and I Go Gewurz

August and I Go Gewurz

Everyone knows about Riesling, and in the Finger Lakes area we make fantastic Riesling wines. The Gewürztraminer grape is also a cold hearty variety, and does very well in our area. It is also extremely reflective of the location in which it is grown, weather, and conditions of the season. Gewurz is still “the Wild West” according to August, and with winemakers not held to certain industry standards, wines are very different from winery to winery. The process of making Gewürztraminer differs from most white production in that the grape must is held in a cold soak of fifty degrees for around eighteen hours. The winemakers at Keuka Spring actually use dry ice to drop the grapes to temperature and maintain the temperature integrity throughout. That essentially means that the grapes need to be picked at exactly the right time, because the skins hold most of the phenols that will be leeched out and give the wine it’s character. what the hell is a phenol? According to Wiki, and this is cool–

“The phenolic content in wine refers to the phenolic compounds—natural phenol and polyphenols—in wine, which include a large group of several hundred chemical compounds that affect the taste, color and mouthfeel of wine. These compounds include phenolic acids, stilbenoids, flavonols, dihydroflavonols, anthocyanins, flavanol monomers (catechins) and flavanol polymers (proanthocyanidins). This large group of natural phenols can be broadly separated into two categories, flavonoids and non-flavonoids. Flavonoids include the anthocyanins and tannins which contribute to the color and mouthfeel of the wine.[1] The non-flavonoids include the stilbenoids such as resveratrol and phenolic acids such as benzoic, caffeic and cinnamic acids.” ….essentially, tannins and flavors that are held in the skin of the grape.

So, pick too soon, and you get underripe grapes that will release phenols that might be bitter or tannic. Too late, and you end up with rot, yeasts, and unclean grapes. Hours can make the difference between the two, and wine makers are often found in the fields babysitting their Gewurz until it’s agreed that they are ready for harvest. Once they’re harvested, it’s up to the wine makers to handle the winemaking process, from timing, to yeasts added, and all steps in between. Some vintners prefer a rustic, almost rugged style of wine; others enjoy a more refined presentation of the grape. Both are perfectly good wines, just different and whichever you prefer, you will find one you like.

Our tasting sample plate

Our tasting sample plate

We tasted the Gewürztraminer 2012 and 2013 side by side, very different growing seasons, as we’re the flavors. 2012 was a great season for growers, and the Keuka Spring 2012 Gewürztraminer won BEST Gewurz in New York State at the Food and Wine Classic. It was the vineyards earliest Gewürztraminer harvest in its history, with the grapes coming in on September 11, almost a month earlier than usual. The 2012 has a smooth, balanced acidity, apricot and lychee, a soft finish. Now, 2013 was very different for growers. It was difficult weather, colder and less ripening, and the wine is quite a bit different. There is more of a citrus, a spiciness (I even got a little bit of anise), less of the mellow flavors that we’re present in the 2012, and it even tasted a little sweeter- which was due to a higher alcohol content.

We also compared the 2012 and 2013 Pre-Emption Vineyard Gewürztraminer, which came solely from one vineyard and one harvest with no blending. There were only 150 cases each of these wines made, and the vineyard was chosen for their location, with cross breezes helping to keep the ripening grapes clean of unwanted yeasts as an added bonus. The 2012 was ripe with passion fruit, lychee, and a slight acidity that would make it delicious with a spicy Asian meal, like Thai food. Always hard to pair with takeout, but try it and you will thank me. Promise! 2013 was a bit less sweet, but more crisp with citrus notes and a slight sparkle. It was quite the tasting, because each of us had a preference, and no one was wrong!

Our last sample was labeled with ??? And here is the announcement: Keuka Springs is releasing small lots of a SERIES of EXPERIMENTAL wines, under the heading KSV RND– Keuka Springs Vineyard Research And Development. Our preview tasting was of the first oak barrel aged Gewurtztraminer in the Finger Lakes! It was very young at six months in the barrel (August equated it to a ‘screaming infant’ as to its age) and still needed to be filtered and ‘cleaned up’. As for the preview taste? Spicy, smooth, a hint of the oak, but still held fruity character, unlike many Chardonnay. So cool! Quantities of these wines will be limited to fifteen cases (15!!!), so if you’re not a local, check out the Keuka Spring Vineyard KSV Wine Club for access to special releases as well as lots of other goodies delivered right to your door!

The screaming infant of Gewurz

The screaming infant of Gewurz

Our tasting also featured a lovely tasting plate (menu posted with local farms) with local cheeses, asparagus, radishes, pork tenderloin, and even a mango chutney! The idea is that wine exists with food, and therefore trying different styles of Gewürztraminer with different foods helped really taste the wines. Food always adds a different dynamic to wines, especially depending on the flavors. Great opportunity to pair Gewurz with pork, sweet chutney, and asparagus which is often a difficult flavor to match wines to. Overall really a fun experience, even if I did eat almost all my cheese curds before the second wine was poured–it was an early lunch time, after all 🙂

Tasting Plate menu and local producers

Tasting Plate menu and local producers

A huge thank you goes out to August and Meg, along with the entire Keuka Spring Vineyard crew! It was a fantastic morning for Going Gewurz, and your winery is a beautiful location, along with an exciting spot to develop new wines. Don’t miss KSV if you’re in the Finger Lakes, these folks really focus on their product–and love what they do!