WineBloggers Conference 2016, Lodi, California 

I’m currently sitting in Syracuse airport, starting the journey to Lodi, California! Hundreds of wine and lifestyle writers will be spending this weekend exploring local wines, farm to table foods, and networking–and BoozyLife will be one of them! 

WBC2016 looks to be a very informative and fun weekend….you can follow along right here, live time on Twitter @boozylife, on my FB BoozyLife page…and look for some Periscope videos on @BoozyLife, because why the hell not 🍷😎🍾 #SeeYouInLodi

#DrinkLocal #Wine Week–October 12, 2014 Kickoff #TasteCamp

 

Lucky Row 13 :)

Lucky Row 13 🙂

This past weekend, I went out of my normal local zone and a few hours away into the Hudson River Valley of New York. October 12th started Drink Local Wine Week, (DrinkLocalWine.com ) and a few hours downstate is still a local ride for yours truly! In honor of Drink Local Wine, I was lucky enough to participate in TasteCamp 2014 hosted by Lenn Thompson (of New York Cork Report) and Carlo DeVito (author of over two dozen books, and owner of Hudson-Chatham Winery). There will be tons more about this jam packed weekend I was a part of, but just this little jaunt made me rethink a few things. What is local? And, how far away are you willing to go to see what your state is really producing?

 

Recharge your soul.

Recharge your soul.

My drive was less than five hours south and east (still pretty local in my book), but it was eye-opening to say the least. I had lived in NYC (less than fifty miles away), and never really taken the time to adventure up. Don’t make that mistake if you’re in the city! I saw things at a new distillery that had me in absolute awe. Even if you’re not a BoozyLife wine nerd like me, you will find a spot to sit in nature, listening to birds while watching the leaves drop. Recharge your soul for a bit – the city drains your energy.

Colors of fall in the Finger Lakes-my favorite

Colors of fall in the Finger Lakes-my favorite

Lefty and I travel quite a bit, and it always surprises me that the locals sometimes don’t know about local wineries and distilleries in their own back yards. They often research them just to take ME for a visit, oddly enough, then end up really enjoying the time spent touring close to home. As a lifelong New Yorker, I’m almost ashamed of myself to say this was my first real trip to the Hudson Valley to sample local wines and spirits.

Be Still my heart

Be Still my heart

I had no idea how many incredible, young, up-and-comers were in the area, and I will most certainly be back soon. The area shares a passion for the process that I often see in young, new wine makers in the Finger Lakes.

Finger Lakes represent!

Finger Lakes represent!

The Hudson Valley area wineries often work with Cornell, as well as with Finger Lakes grape growers, to help with growing issues and cold weather concerns. There is a decent amount of overlap within our wine communities, which is how my now very Upstate self ended up on this tour. I took a few bottles from the Finger Lakes, my back yard, to share with the other writers and wine makers. A few favorites from Boundary Breaks, Goose Watch, and Keuka Spring went along and were a small addition to the amazing spread of BYOB bottles for our final dinner.

Hudson-Chatham Winery

Hudson-Chatham Winery

I am very fortunate to have had the introduction to another incredible local wine area, from one of it’s best winery owners! Carlo’s passion for his area translates easily, as does the pride he feels in the drink local movement. I can’t wait to go on another trip to NYC– there will be a few stops in the Valley, no mistake! Friends and tattooers all want to hear more about this amazing distillery we toured…it was really a special place. More soon, and in the mean time–what are you drinking local this week?

Boundary Breaks Vineyard-Outstanding Rieslings, Sunchokes, and a Locavore Celebrates the Arrival of Spring

20140421-171931.jpg

20140421-164444.jpg

Saturday morning was one of my favorite anticipated days living in this area-first nice Saturday to visit Ithaca Farmers Market on the waterfront of Cayuga inlet. It was chilly down by the water, but the sun and blue sky gave enough promise for spring, so we bundled up and headed downtown.

20140421-101932.jpg Our new friend Kees Stapel, vineyard manager for Boundary Breaks Vineyard in Lodi, NY, had his table set up and was all ready to pour their vast array of Rieslings. They focus on and produce only Riesling wines, from drier styles to the sweeter, and even a silky late harvest. Check out their gorgeous website here: Boundary Breaks Vineyard Their web presence is only surpassed by the quality of the wines produced. The crew at BB take an amazing amount of pride in their vines, fruit, and creative process…and the hands on knowledge shows, along with the dedication they pour with. I went back after the tasting and grabbed the Ovid Line 2012 Riesling. It’s a semi-dry made from a blend of different Riesling grape clones, and is the only blended source wine they make. Bright apple, apricot, lychee favors, with a slight acidic complexity and sweetness make this a very food friendly, flexible wine; the acidity is well balanced and the sweetness not at all overpowering. I am an admitted dry wine drinker, but living in the Finger Lakes has helped to open my mind (and palate) to all of the hidden gems sourced from our area. I recommend checking them out, Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast sure have!

20140421-162523.jpg

Excitingly, spring has sprung and some of our local farmers braved the chilly air to bring the first of their veggies as well. A time ago I read an article about foraging in the wild, and recalled fiddleheads and sunchokes mentioned as springtime delicacies. I’ve had the opportunity to taste (as well as bring back) fiddleheads from Nova Scotia, and we use them from the freezer stock throughout the year. Sunchokes (also called Jerusalem Artichokes) are the tuber root of a type of sunflower, and a cousin to the artichoke most of us are familiar with. WiKi sunchoke info It looks a bit like a potato or ginger root, and the skin can be peeled but is edible. Raw, the consistency was that of a sweet water chestnut. They can be roasted, added to salads raw, or cooked into a multitude of soups. I excitedly grabbed a pound of the sunchokes in various sizes (along with a bag of kale for roasted kale chips), my bottle of wine, and looked forward to a creative night in my kitchen!

Had to open the bottle of wine first, of course, but the actual dinner prep was a breeze. I treated the sunchokes like simple potatoes-washed of dirt and chopped, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and roasted in a 375 degree oven until they were browned (about half an hour, 45 minutes). I added F. Oliver’s white truffle oil to finish the dish–I love that stuff way too much. I also roasted my kale with the same ingredients (minus the truffle oil), for about 15 minutes in the same 375 oven. Keep your eye on kale, chips become cinders quickly if you’re not paying attention!

20140421-164514.jpg

The results? A locally sourced, adventurous and delicious meal! Once roasted, the sunchokes had the flavor of a sweet, nutty roasted artichoke minus leaves–maybe think just the stem, with a bit more potato-y density and starch. The flavor is mild and quite delicate. The wine was a lovely accompaniment to the flavor. Now, I was made aware that some people have digestive issues with the sunchoke, and the reaction can be the same as too much dairy or fiber…(the nickname ”fartichoke” came up once I did a bit more….ummm…research). I had no major noticeable issues, but this might not be the dish to impress a first date with 🙂 On that note, get out to your local farmers market, grab a veggie you’ve never tried, and experiment–you’ll be glad you did! Enjoy locavore adventures in your area!

20140421-171022.jpg

The Winery in SoHa NYC knows where the Finger Lakes are!

20130801-113246.jpg

Recently, hubby and I took a quick weekend jaunt to the big city to take care of family obligations. It was HOT. New York City, garbage smell hot. Upper nineties, where the little squiggle lines come of of the pavement and your mandatory iced coffee is losing ice rapidly, condensation water dripping to your elbow. Many former New Yorkers are reading this, and starting to feel that homesick twinge. We all must be insane to love the place!

Headed to visit friends, we made our way to the newly revitalized area now referred to as SoHa (South Harlem, or as husband kept repeatedly, and loudly, announcing over his friend, FORMERLY SPANISH HARLEM! Lifetime New Yorkers also do not enjoy change of neighborhood names). The area is enjoying quite a renaissance at the moment, and there has been so much development! Coffee shops, sushi restaurants with outdoor cafe tables, and boutiques line the sidewalk. We felt quite melty walking down 116th St…and then, I saw it, through the heat squiggles….The Winery. (Follow the link here: The Winery : We sell the wines that we like to drink..)

The Winery is a small, boutique wine store, with a focus on artisanal producers and vineyards. Their staff is very knowledgable about the wines and spirits they carry, and my questions were met with a very friendly and informed attitude. We were welcomed, asked if we needed any direction, and it was brought to my attention that there would be a free tasting later that evening (every Friday, from 6-8). The interior was simple, elegant, and air conditioned. Bottles were easily displayed, and my first hunt was for Finger Lakes wines on shelves. Riesling, Riesling, Riesling…?!? Dr. Frank was represented….by the 2010 Rkatsiteli? WOW! Lakewood Vineyards 2012 Vignoles? Reeeaaaally!! Ravines 2012 Pinot Rose, excitably AVAILABLE!! Owner Nobu Otsu is a certified member of the American Sommelier Society, as well as belongs to the WSET. (Learn more about his journey here: Q&A with Nobu Otsu, Owner of The Winery | MORNINGSIDER.) His knowledge has created an oasis in Harlem, and the shop is a beautiful representation of hand crafted, lower to moderately priced, every day drinking wines. Beautiful shop, friendly staff, and a fantastic selection of local wines. Finger Lakes producers, take note…this Harlem wine shop should carry your best products! Check out the shop when in the area, or peruse their extensive website…visit SoHa!

A Tattoo Wife’s boozy journey to a Wine Diploma

On April 27th, I will be taking the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 1 class and certification exam at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, NY! The WSET is an international training program specifically geared to those in the wine and spirit industry. This is the first level of certification, and I hope to continue. Finally, higher education that I will enjoy!  The program is a one day, eight-hour class, followed by a written test. I already have my study guide thanks to iBook and email, so the studying (and tasting) has begun in earnest.  A HUGE Thank You to my dad, almost always my supporter, and patron of this latest venture in honor of my thirty-eighth birthday!

My husband and I relocated to the Finger Lakes area in 2007, and I started my winery career soon thereafter. I have spent several grape harvests in the field, shears in hand, lug at my feet. It is tiring labor, and you are at the mercy of the elements. There is a romantic element to the vines for the first hour, which then gives way to an ache in your lower back and a crick in your neck. The accomplishment is in completing the tasks at hand, which are often time sensitive and on a strict deadline. Getting dirty in the fields also gives you an invaluable certainty and comfort behind the tasting bar. You develop a relationship with the wine from grape through bottling, something that can only be experienced. The knowledge is not learned, but gained through memory. My first harvest is something I will never forget. I even have a tattoo to mark the occasion! Grapes, of course…from my husband.

The WSET will be my first formal certification in wines. I can’t wait to build on the knowledge that I’ve acquired, mostly by working closely with local wine makers. It’s sure to be an adventurous path, learning and drinking wine as I go!

20130410-172253.jpg