Roc City Tattoo Expo and Iron Smoke Whiskey: Local Finger Lakes Love 2016

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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.

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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.image

 

 

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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.

imageLet 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….

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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. 🙂

imageIron 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.

imageRattlesnake 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!

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!

Rosés of the Finger Lakes at Sheldrake Point Winery

 

imageIt’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!

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Provence is Rosé

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.

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Chuck, Julia, and Dave leading our tasting

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.image

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…

image1- 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

2-Fox Run Vineyards-41% Lemberger, 39% Pinot Noir, 20% Cayuga White–tart acidity, salmon color, floral, lilac, grassy notes, 11.9% Alc, cold soak on skins 1-6 hours

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

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Melissa B. and me, loving our Rosé 

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!

 

 

Celebrate Valentine’s Day With Bubbly From The Finger Lakes

 

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BoozyLife Visiting the Champagne caves in Reims, Champagne France –2015

Frigid February is here, and the Finger Lakes have you covered for celebrating romance (and everything else) with bubbles! Champagne can only be truly CALLED Champagne unless it’s made from certain grapes, and produced in a regulated area in the region of Champagne, France. Anything made here in the US will be called sparkling wine–however, the methods in which the bubbles are created are sometimes different.

A bottle of Finger Lakes or local bubbly might be marked with Méthode Champenoise, which translates to the traditional Champagne Method of hand turning bottles while aging (called riddling), aging the wine in the bottle on the lees (left over or dead yeasts), or the traditional, natural way to create the bubbles! In regular, or ‘still’ winemaking, carbon dioxide escapes when fermentation occurs. In traditional champagne making, they add a little and sugar to the yeast  fermentation is in the bottle, trapping the bubbles–that’s where the ‘POP’ comes from when you pop the bottle! On the other hand, cheaper or non-traditionally created sparkling wines are often simply injected with a little bit of carbon dioxide gas, similar to a bottle of Coca-Cola soda…not quite as fancy a process.

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A selection of Finger Lakes Bubbly

While we can’t call sparkling wine Champagne locally, the Finger Lakes are producing some fantastic bubbles for all of your celebrations, romantic or otherwise. I stopped into our local liquor store in Ithaca, Triphammer Wines and Spirits, to see what they had on hand from Finger Lakes producers. You should be able to find several of these in the NY State area, including Manhattan wine stores in the know–have a look!

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Chateau Frank– Bubbly house producers from Dr. Konstantin Frank on Keuka Lake. They make a couple of different styles of bubbles–easiest to find will probably be their Blanc de Blanc (made all of Chardonnay grapes) or Brut (means dry or raw in French). Both are lighter, crisp flavors, quite dry. The Célébre from Chateau Franc is a sparkling Riesling that’s a fun change from the usual! Price points go from mid $20’s with the Riesling just under $20 retail.

imageHerman J. Wiemer– Cuvée Brut 2011– the cuvée is a French term for the tank, and often refers to the best juice from a grape pressing. Brut is on the dryer side, and this is a beautiful representation of a traditionally crafted Finger Lakes sparkling wine in a very traditional style. Retails for @$30 per bottle.

imageRed Tail Ridge Estate Bubbles– Blanc de Noir and Sparkling Rosé –Blanc de Noir means essentially “white from black” in French, and is usually a white sparkling wine, made from RED Pinot Noir grapes. No skin contact keeps the wine clear, or not colored. A sparkling rosé can be made from several different red grapes, usually Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc. This one is drier, with a lovely fruity, strawberry nose and blush color. Retail @ $35 per bottle.

Sweedish Hill 2006 Brut, Blanc de Blanc, Riesling Cuvée– winery on the north end of Cayuga Lake. Dry traditional Brut, and a very popular semi-sweet sparkling Riesling. Retails From $25 to under $20 for the sweeter sparklers.

Glenora Winery–vintage and Non-vintage Brut produced on Seneca Lake. Non-Vintage is a great value retails around $18 per bottle or less! Also produces a sweeter fruit (peach and raspberry) sparkling Spumante for a fun spritzer.

Lamoreaux Landing Blanc de Blanc and Brut–dry, traditionally produced champagne style bubbly, lovely delicate bubbles. Estate grown and bottled. Priced at mid $30 range retail.

Hazlitt White Cat Fizz–sweet, fruity, sparkling style white wine. Not champagne, but very popular and well distributed! Picnic wine.

It’s getting easier to find Finger Lakes sparklers for every occasion! Have fun looking for your next taste, and shoot me a comment with your favorites–the Finger Lakes is a beautiful place to Taste NY ❤️ Enjoy your Valentines Day!

 

 

 

 

 

Grüner and Blaufränkisch– Austria Abroad in the Finger Lakes

imageLast 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.

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.

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Dano’s

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.

 

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Stephanie & Damiani

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.

 

 

 

2016 Refocus: My BoozyLife in the Finger Lakes

Happy New Year, dear wine and tattoo aficionados! 2016 is starting off with a MUCH MORE local (for me) focus. My husband and I live and have a business in Ithaca, NY, home to Cornell University, Ithaca College, and centrally located in the heart of the Fingerlakes wine region. We did a LOT of international travel last year, and I ran into quite a bit of excitement and interest about our little nook of Upstate NY.

We live in the land of Finger Lakes bounty; this January I’ve decided to refocus and explore more wineries, vineyards, winemakers, distillers, and cider producers in the Finger Lakes area. Winter is a fantastic time to hit the trails and do some tasting, as long as the weather is cooperative– lots of one on one time at tasting bars, minimal crowds, and a beautiful change in the summer landscape. Wine trail events are plentiful, as winemakers get out of the cellars and enjoy time with their fans (yes, fans…winemakers are like rock stars to some of us).

image.jpegTomorrow, we’re headed up to Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca for a first of its kind in the FLX tasting! Austrian grape varietals grow quite well in our area, and some of our best winemakers are producing wines from them. Two of these grapes will be highlighted–Grüner Veltliner (white grape), and Blaufränkisch (red grape, also called Lemberger…which seems a less terrifying spelling, due to the lack of umlauts…). Check out the event breakdown flier–I’ll be live tweeting and spamming social media along the way, before the full wrap up post here! You can follow along on Twitter at @boozylife, on my FB BoozyLife page, or on Instagram as @missusmolina…..

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….

#WBC15 WineBloggers Invade the Finger Lakes! A Brief Overview of #WBC2015

imageAfter a long week of jumping through hoops as a tattoo wife and shop owner, it was a pleasure to attend the Wine Boggers Conference 2015 in the Finger Lakes area of NY, or as I like to call it, ‘home.’

Over two hundred and fifty wine writers and bloggers would be participating in a three-day weekend (plus some pre and post excursions!) of wine tasting, exploration, seminars, and networking. I’m an old pro at the tattoo convention scene— but a wine blogger convention? What was that going to be like? I had a few notions, but seeing that it was to be held in our backyard of viticulture in the Finger Lakes area, I couldn’t miss it! This area is exciting, vibrant, and on the cusp of great things…I wanted to see what the OTHER bloggers thought, as a way to see our area (and my ‘hood) through fresh eyes.

All three days were pretty heavily scheduled with events, some as writing workshops, mentoring, and pro panels, excursions to several different wineries and events, and LOTS of wine tasting.

Karen MacNeil and women in wine

Karen MacNeil and women in wine

Keynote presenter Karen MacNeil, wine goddess and author of The Wine Bible, was as inspirational as she was fierce. HERE is a woman to idolize, ladies….strong, professional, and absolutely taking no shit from anyone. Honestly, if that was all the conference had for me…Karen’s words would have been enough. She’ll get a post all of her own, because Karen is an incredible spirit– that the women in the wine industry MUST recognize — as a door opener and trail blazer. She may be in Napa now, but she has the heart and fire of a New Yorker. One of my favorite quotes that she dropped on women in the industry during the weekend was, in relation to sexism in the wine industry: “the barrier has never been sex, it is mediocrity. The door is open, walk through it.” ABSOLUTELY!

a few of my favorites

a few of my favorites

Tastings were a huge part of the event, and I counted over seventy-three wine tasting notes over two days that I took–not too shabby! LOTS of spitting, kids….don’t try to be a hero. You will fail and quite possibly make an ass of yourself.

The tastings ranged from the normal table and pour, to a “speed dating” version of a tasting (wine makers came to your table with their bottle, gave some wine notes, and had five minutes with you, then it was off to the next table!), to a mystery bus excursion….get on the bus, go to a secret location, have an AMAZING TIME, return later to hash out where we all ended up!

Element Winery is taking things to a new level in the Flx

Element Winery is taking things to a new level in the Flx

BoozyLife ended up on the bus headed to Element Winery in Arkport, vision of the incredibly talented and hard-working Master Somm Christopher Bates-whose  dinner and wines will get their own post as well, because I saw things happening there that DEFINE what the Finger Lakes can and will be to the wine industry, in the near future and beyond.

In short, the weekend was exactly what I was hoping it would be, and it opened my eyes to magic happening right under my nose! BoozyLife can’t wait to share some of the wine makers and their creations with you all, because the Finger Lakes are where it’s all happening right now in New York State.

Now, just let me sort out all of these tasting notes…