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…

Sunday Double Header: Rosé Brunch Plus Vine, Wine and Swine

Anyone for a rosé brunch and a pig roast?? You can follow along tomorrow with updates here, on my Facebook page, on IG as @missusmolina, or with Twitter @BoozyLife….

Tomorrow’s festivities–Rosé Brunch at The Rook in Ithaca, followed by a vineyard pig roast at Lamoreaux Landing in Lodi 🍷


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!


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.


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


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!



Weird Wonderful Wine with Ian Barry


Sparkling red on the line ! -Ian Barry

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!

imageWhile 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!

imageimageSo, 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. 🙂


Damiani Dry RhyS-LING *special release

imageOccasionally, 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.image

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.

BoozyLife is Heading to Whiskey 101


Happy National Drink Wine Day! I’m going to Whiskey School tonight 🙂 One of the best things about living in the Finger Lakes, especially in the winter, is the ability to take advantage of incredible local resources while the crowds are in hibernation!

A number of our local wineries, entire wine trails, and distilleries run programs to attract guests during the cold weather lull. Last year, while we were in Paris for work, I saw advertised a series of whiskey classes at Finger Lakes Distilling on Seneca Lake, but obviously couldn’t make it. This year, we’re staying more local for the beginning of the tattoo convention year–so it’s the perfect time to broaden my boozy knowledge before hitting the tattoo convention travel road again!

I have always had a keen interest in the process of distillation and whiskey making, maybe because of my Scotch-Irish roots…and a few spots the Finger Lakes region are making incredible spirits! Finger Lakes Distilling is a pioneer FLX distillery that makes a selection of aged whiskey, spirits, and liqueurs. Locally sourced ingredients are distilled using old school, traditional methods,  with an imported 350 gallon copper potstill imported from Germany.

Check out their website above, and follow along tonight live on Twitter @BoozyLife, Instagram as @MissusMolina, and FaceBook on my BoozyLife page 🙂

Celebrate Valentine’s Day With Bubbly From The Finger Lakes



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.


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!


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!