Here’s a short video worth a watch! How our cooler climate helps to create the wines we are best known for in the Finger Lakes area. What are some of your favorites? Which ones do you WANT to try? Cheers! 🙂
Here’s a short video worth a watch! How our cooler climate helps to create the wines we are best known for in the Finger Lakes area. What are some of your favorites? Which ones do you WANT to try? Cheers! 🙂
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to visit our tattoo family at Good Point Tattoos in Oakville, Canada for more work! The shop is owned by our good friend and tattooer Cory Ferguson, who specializes in dotwork, blackwork, and a continual assault of puns. I was there as a client this time, for the continuation of my sleeve, and for collaboration background of my phoenix backpiece. Cory’s geometric work on my left arm now extends across my shoulders, and will eventually scatter my chest as well. My husband Eddie Molina is collaborating with him, and added the smoke tendrils that swirl through the geometric pattern in this last session. I had two incredible artists work on me for several hours this weekend, and I’m so excited to show off their progress! Everything is really starting to tie together, and I dare say I look like a heavily tattooed woman…at least, from the back!
After all of that tattooing, I needed a DRINK! The weather screamed for an Ice Wine tour, so after two days of needle poking sessions, I grabbed my purse (NOT over my shoulder….OUCH) and we hit a few wineries on the way home to the States.
First stop, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. The beautiful tasting room has high ceilings and an elegant feel, and I’m struck by the views. I really love grape fields, and they are no less stunning in winter. The tasting bar crew was friendly and helpful, even during a slow Monday afternoon. I tasted their Vidal Icewine 2006, as well as the Cabernet Franc Icewine 2011. The Vidal was an Ontario Wine Awards Bronze winner, silky apricot and pineapple, sweet with a bright acidity. It was fresh and crisp, with a finish of honey. The Cabernet Franc 2011 was a very different ice wine. Aged in Stainless and French Oak, the red was much less sweet, and had a lot of smokey character. Oak balances with strawberry, honey, and even a touch of currant and citrus on the end. Paired beautifully with a sample of 70% dark chocolate.
Next, we hit Fielding Estate Winery and their Wine Lodge tasting room, complete with fireplace and furry blankets in the loungers. Recognized as one of Canada’s Top 10 Wineries in 2013 according to their press, owner Curtis Fielding was named 2012 Grape Grower of the Year by the Grape Growers of Ontario Association. The view of their fields includes wind turbines, used to help warm the vines with moving air. The bar was pouring tastings of their 2012 Riesling Ice Wine. Aged in stainless steel and neutral French Oak, the color was a lovely medium gold. A sweet intensity was followed by a much softer light mouthfeel, the lingering finish was quite delicate.
Our last Canadian stop was Rosewood Estates Winery – Home. This is essentially where I dropped the ball and the Ice Wine tour became the Merlot stop. What can I say? I LOVE REDS. I tried to stick with the plan. I did. But then, I saw the 2010 Merlot Reserve on the tasting menu. I asked for a pour. “We’re sold out, but I still have a bottle to taste. Would you still like to…?”
“YES PLEASE,” was my answer. Ohhhh, yes.
Winemakers Notes 2010 Merlot RESERVE: Picked by hand from low yielding vines, sorted first in the vineyard and then at the winery selecting only the very best clusters. The clusters were gently destemmed then separated into small fermentaiton totes. The intact berries were cold macerated for 5 days then were warmed up to allow the natural yeasts to start fermentation, which lasted 3 1⁄2 weeks. Manual punch-downs were perfromed twice daily. Select French oak barrels were chosen for this Merlot, spending 15 months in both new and seasoned barrels, each barrel taking on unique characteristics. Final filtration was completed the day of bottling.
I LOVED it. I was sad there was no more, and it had sold out. I have told countless tasters from behind the bar-“get it while we have it, once it’s gone it’s gone.” Then, something amazing happened. Our taster started pulling tasting boxes apart in the back room, looking for ONE bottle for yours truly. SHE FOUND ONE! I took it home happily, and I ended up with a bottle of Merlot on the Ice Wine tour. Great customer service, on top of a beautifully made wine. We made a break for the US border, it was getting late and I was feeling fine.
We made it into the States and off of the Thruway, and I decided to drive down Route 89 along Cayuga Lake for our last stretch of the journey. It was almost closing time, but I made one last stop-Sheldrake Point – Sheldrake Point Vineyards. I love their winery, I love the tasting staff, their wines are delicious…it’s a local jewel. I had also heard fantastic things about their 2013 Late Harvest Ice Wine, and had to make that the grand finale of our trek. I’m SO glad that we DID–that was our favorite Ice Wine of the day! The best description is ‘winter sunshine in a glass’. Fruity, acidic, sweet, balanced…but MORE. Bright. Gorgeous mouthfeel, silky and lasting intensity. It won BEST AMERICAN RIESLING at Canberra International Riesling Challenge 2013, and was awarded Double Gold from the New York Food & Wine Classic 2013…just in case you don’t trust this palate of mine. Nice to know it’s less than 45 minutes from beautiful Ithaca, NY…or as we call it, HOME. It’s so easy to drink Local here…Ithaca really is Gorges. 🙂
Our journey to Halifax started with a nineteen hour drive, putting us at our hotel roughly seven hours before our room would be inhabitable. Glam. Thankfully, tattoo family is a compassionate family, and we crashed for hours at the apartment of another tattooer located in town. (Matt O shout out!! Thank You for taking us in!) Much later, we checked in to our hotel, went to the hall to drop things off, and I went back and collapsed into what looked like a partial coma. Woke up after a few much needed, quality sleep hours and worked on finding local things to keep me well occupied into the weekend ahead. The first thing I noticed was how much more there seemed to DO in Halifax than in the past. Lots of local boutiques and interesting little bistro style eateries now inhabit the area. Neighborhoods that were depressed a few years ago have been rebuilt and showcase trendy coffee shops and boutiques. The artists are taking their space back, and the locals are enjoying the resurgence.
We have a couple of amazing clients & friends, that will always steer is into the perfect location for whatever we want to see or do while in the area. Mary, Ghandy, Bruce & Joseph, thank you for your unbelievable hospitality! Too short of a visit this year, we’ll be back…
Our first morning in town when we could function was Saturday, so we hit the showers earlyish and drove to the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market. Local produce, meats, cheeses, and artisnal vendors are located inside a very modern structure, but maintain a very locavore feel. I tried a few locally produced wines, and even a single malt whiskey, without leaving the second floor! Great place for either a quick bite or to waste away an afternoon while he works. Saturday morning was packed, but that is also when there are the most vendors available. Growing season had just really started, and the early produce selection of asparagus, beets, greens, and garlic scapes were plentiful already.
Back to the second floor! Saturdays feature local wine and spirit tastings, so I was excited to get in there and taste a few things. Blomidon Estate Winery is located on the shore in Annapolis Valley. The scenic oceanside vineyard is committed to growing grapes and producing wines that are 100% Nova Scotia sourced. While I didn’t have time to go tour the vineyard, it looks to be in an absolutely beautiful spot, nestled by the sea. I tried the 2011 Seyval Blanc, a clean, grassy off dry white that would be delicious with local seafood. The 2011 Ridge Reserve is a red blend, utilizing Baco and Sangiovese. Cooler climate grapes I’m very familiar with, to be sure!
Glenora Distillery are the proud makers of Glen Breton Rare Canadian Single Malt Whiskey, the only single malt produced in Canada. Located in Cape Brenton, NS, the distillery recreates traditional Scottish style Scotch production using copper pot stills, then they age the whiskey over ten years in oak barrels. Smooth, silky, and caramel colored, this luxurious mouthfeel lingered long after a sip. Gold medal award winner, 95points, 2011 International Review of Spirits, Chicago. The distillery also features a beautiful inn, award winning menu, and traditional pub on property, so there would be no need to leave the Celtic music and revelry behind!
Closer to the event, Relish Gourmet Burgers was close and a pre show takeout score. Just a few doors down from the Atlantica Hotel, the popular gourmet burger spot uses quality ingredients and cooks your burger to order. Names like L.A. is my Lady (avacado, goat cheese, and roasted peppers) for specialty burgers are corny to order, but we were the envy of the show. Nothing like walking in with fresh burgers while everyone else eats arena food-hot dogs, nachos and beer will only keep you alive for so long, and happy even less of a measure of time.
The Maritime Tattoo Convention is a show we try to do every year. The Halifax tattoo community is a dedicated bunch that treat this weekend as second only to Christmas. These folks are serious about their tattoos, artists book up, tickets sell out. VIP weekend passes include three days of admission plus a ticket for the evening VIP booze cruise around Halifax Harbor-always a guaranteed shitshow. This year, most of our group sat on the outside deck, happily watching the rowdy (and slightly desperate) antics of a TV ‘freakshow’ act. I saw too many parts of the tail wearing Belladonna this weekend to ever want to voluntarily make eye contact; while shooting darts out of your pussy is a trick that will get TONS of attention, flashing titties on a boat and making out with other tattoo fans is a little high school desperate. Maybe she was trying to inspire us, the weather was chilly, and our group was pretty low key. Either way, cell phones took titty pictures, we made it back to dock, and another year if the boat was in the books. One final day of tattooing, and my husband could have what he really wanted-an end of the convention, banging steak dinner.
We chose Cut Steakhouse as our after show celebration spot, called in our reservations, and made it on time; no small feat for a group of roughly twenty five tattoo artists and a couple of friends and spouses.
Once drinks were ordered, the steak carts were introduced to the table, and our server gave us the low down on beef selection-Alberta free range, USDA, locally pastured Nova Scotia, or Austrailian Waygu (similar to Kobe). I went for NS strip loin, trying to stick with the local theme.
Our meal was very good, and although I’ve had comprable steaks for much less money, I’ve also had worse for way more. Our starters were all over-the oysters Rockefeller appetizer was a disappointment, but the beef marrow served in bone was a hit. I was disappointed that the bones were cleared before I could order shots of whiskey…Bourdaine had recently done a segment wherein the finished bone was used as a booze’luge’ server for a liquor shot. I had several volunteers willing to give it a go, too….maybe next time!
The wine list was well rounded, but nothing specifically local was featured. I tasted a Pinot from British Columbia, an Argentinian Malbec, and an Aussie Shiraz. All three were delicious, but we settled on the Barrel Select, Norton 2009 Malbec from Argentina. Something about Argentinian reds, they really make wines built to handle a beautiful piece of beef. Cowboys know. It paired wonderfully with our steaks, just enough pepper and heat. Post-convention steak happiness had been achieved.
Our last day in town, we tried to eat lobster for every meal. Lobster omlettes were followed by lobster rolls for lunch. We filled a cooler with fiddleheads for the freezer, and hit the ground with the wheels spinning. See ya soon, Hali!
Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market
Maritime Tattoo Festival 2013
High end tattoo artists, as a community, are the most well traveled people in the world. Premiere conventions are located world wide, and more appear every year. Milan, London, NYC, Paris, Amsterdam, Montreal…all have an annual tattoo convention, and reputable artists are often extended an invitation to travel. Networking, recognition, and reputation are all created and maintained through working select shows.
Tattoo Conventions are often a three day event, spanning a Friday-Sunday weekend. Artists flood into town, set up at the venue, tattoo for three days, and tear down. The marathon of work often ends with a celebratory Sunday night steak dinner; a chance for artists and their significant others to socialize, imbibe, and talk shop. And now, a view from the table:
*Tattoo artists will wear black tee shirts and cargo shorts to any restaurant. They might get disapproving looks from other guests. They will not care. Three eighteen hour days have all lead up to the meal ahead. Stare if you would like, just feed us.
*We sit late, so be prepared to stay. Some of us only see each other once a year, so this time together is precious and short. If you’re our server, you’re in for the long haul…BUT WE GUARANTEE THE TIP WILL BE WORTH IT. Have fun with us, you can tell the stories to fellow servers for months. There WILL be stories. Promise.
*Tattooers at this level love to enjoy the finer things, especially in food and drink. WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT. Don’t let the body art fool you, most of our crew have
pretty refined palates. Most would rather drink an Argentinian Malbec with dinner, than do tequila shots off a party girl at the bar. Not that that doesn’t happen occasionally, but it’s time and place appropriate…of course.
*We’re loud. Not rowdy, flip the table and punch someone in the face loud, but jovial. There will be laughter, calls between tables, and musical chairs so everyone gets a chance for very valuable face time. Sorry again to the servers, if you bring food we’ll figure out where it goes. Again, worth the hassle. Promise.
What I’ve learned in my few short years with my tattooer husband? Don’t judge a book by its cover, artists are comfortable everywhere and anywhere, and the best compliment to fine dining is enjoying the company of those you’re with.
Tattoo conventions mean different things to different people. For tattoo collectors, it’s an exciting weekend (or sometimes just a day) of new tattoos, entertainment, hot tattooed ladies, and tattoo contests. For tattoo artists and vendors, it’s stressful and work, time to see old friends, network new ones, and show their skills to potential new clients. And then, there is the tattoo spouse. We’re usually either walking circles into the convention floor after three hours of hanging out, siting glassy-eyed in the booth while folks stroll on by, or sitting in the hotel room. Let’s be honest, it’s mostly number three. Especially if the room has a hot tub. But, now that HIS work is YOUR time away, don’t waste it sitting in a room. Grapes grow damn near everywhere, and where there are grapes….there is wine.
Skindustry Tattoo Expo 2013 was held this weekend, and our shop had a great time. Busy show, lots of great artists, and close enough to home that I could commute without a stay over! I had a very busy Saturday in Canandaigua (more on that in another entry), so Sunday was tattoo wife day at the show for me. I promised to spend most of Sunday at the expo, so I left Ithaca early. I had to have a little time to explore the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, Pennsylvania’s fast growing wine region. They have even claimed Chambourcin as the official grape of the area…it’s a hearty hybrid red that makes delicious wines, from dry to sweet. I stopped at three wineries closest to the expo, all within fifteen miles of the show. Always have a DD with you, or in my case (this time), go alone, SPIT–NO SHAME, and buy bottles for home!
First stop, Pinnacle Ridge and Winery, housed in a renovated bank barn structure and I was happily shocked to see sparkling wine made, in the traditional method, on site! They use locally sourced and estate grapes, vinifera and hybrids, and make more styles of wine than I could list (click on them to check out their website. They ship, I’m just letting you know!). I brought home a bottle of the Brut Rose, and another of the Blanc de Blanc. Don’t judge me, I’m a sucker for bubbles.
Next, I swung by Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery, a few miles closer to the show. More bubbles! Traditional dry reds, a few fruity sweets for the kids…a blackberry sparkler wine sounds right up some of y’all’s alley!! I don’t judge, the best wine is the wine you like the best. Life is short, try them all!
Last winery I had time for, and closest to the show, Vynecrest Vineyards & Winery had a beautiful view of the vineyard and deck for warmer weather. The tasting room was busy, but everyone was accommodating. It’s a small vineyard, so vintages run out and change depending on sales. The selections were slightly limited, but I tried more whites than reds. They do have a beautiful wine bar in the tasting room to take advantage of, if you have time to linger. I could have! But….
Show time! Made it to Skindustry by 2pm, not too shabby and with bubbles in a back seat cooler (hot trunk is bad for wine…don’t do that!!) I met Eddie at the front entrance. Great show, tattooers, caricature artists that could turn you into a cartoon zombie for a small fee, Eddie even won a trophy for 1st place BLACK & GREY TATTOO! It was a successful weekend for our entire clan. BIG Thank You to Steve Lemak and The Quillian Tattoo crew for putting on another great tattoo weekend in Allentown, PA!
**Follow highlighted links for websites and info 🙂
Six Mile Creek Vineyard is an often overlooked boutique winery & distillery, located close to downtown Ithaca on Route 79. Beautiful grounds reveal over six acres of white grapes on gently sloping fields, backed up to the Six Mile Creek Gorge. I will say, first off, that I worked at SMC for years, and it is a place close to my heart. The Spirits by Battistella line of production expanded in my time there, and I admit my (now) husband had to retrieve me after a few nights of Gin sample tests. Celler Master and all around awesome wine maker Paul King was most often the caralyst for my blind tastings, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of highlight and elimination.
Gin by Battistella is made with finished Chardonnay wine as the distillate base. The wine is processed through a small copper pot still, creating a small yield of a very high alcohol product. The pot still method is historical, laborious, and allows for complete quality control by the distiller. A little mini-still is displayed in the tasting room below.
This high proof base is then infused with a carefully selected recipe of ingredients, ranging from traditional juniper berries to Italian herbs and botanicals. I have had afternoons of working in the winery, with the scent of that Gin wafting up from the cellar below. It’s a clean nose, with hint of citrus, a touch of violet. I miss those afternoons….
Recently, The Fifty Best held a blind tasting of 36 International gins. Battistella was in one of the three flights, of seven gins, each round. I attached the link below so you can investigate as you would like…Six Mile Creek Gin by Battistella was awarded a Gold Medal! Congrats to our local Ithaca boutique distillery!
Gin by Battistella was reviewed by the site as having a palate of “lemongrass, citrus, orange blossom” but also “butterscotch and creamy vanilla.” The use of a finished Chardonnay creates this buttery vanilla character with citrus notes. It is a rare and elegant gin.
Does it sound like you need to try this delicious treat? It’s only sold out of the SMC tasting room, with very little distribution locally. These small batches of gin are produced in a very labor intensive and time consuming process, creating a small amount of product each run. Local distilleries are springing up all over, and even more wineries are starting to invest in running a tandem distillery. Have you tried any locally produced spirits? What are YOUR favorites?
Check out the full Gin Tasting HERE: The Fifty Best-gin