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…
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….
Tattoo Conventions are a huge business, and show numbers are growing exponentially worldwide. Promoters compete for the best weekends, and to host the biggest names in tattooing. Larger cities and markets often have the highest regarded shows- Paris and London are long running, premiere events that artists try to plan their schedules around. Serious tattoo collectors often follow favorite artists on social media, and travel hundreds of miles for a sitting with an artist they might not otherwise have access to. Sites like Facebook and Instagram help artists to gain exposure internationally, and connect first hand with potential clients. So, what happens at these things? Why would a tattoo artist go out of their comfort zone and hit the road?
NETWORKING- Conventions are a great place to expand your circle. The best of the best choose only particular shows- if you’re good enough to get in, you’re hanging with the top percentage of artists practicing the craft.
Meeting other artists and connecting on a personal level sets up future growth potential. ‘Guest spots’ are essentially invites to work at another shop for a small amount of time, which enable artists to learn from each other and work in a different space. Give and take to build and grow within the circle.
TATTOOING- YES, tattoo artists tattoo at tattoo conventions. Seems like common sense, right? Artists pay for a booth that has all of the necessities to work,- tables, chairs, electricity, and basic supplies are provided (paper towels, electricity, etc.). Artists vary in setup: some bring a banner and their equipment, others can enjoy more showmanship and decorate the booth with a bit more flare. Convention promoters for high end shows focus on safety, for clients as well as artists. If you want to get tattooed by a particular artist, it’s always a good idea to communicate with them first! Email usually works best, and setting up an appoint will guarantee that you’re not left out of getting tattooed. Saturday is usually the busiest day of any show, so plan accordingly.
EXPOSURE- Getting out there builds a tattoo artist’s name as well as client base. The more people that see you on the road (artists and clients alike), the more familiar you become within the tattoo industry. Magazines and media cover larger shows, and now it’s pretty common to see TV cameras too. Nothing like a good freak show! 🙂
TRAVEL- If you had a job that allowed you to see the world, and it required your dedication and energy and study to continue to improve and grow? Would you? Tattoo artists take advantage of these opportunities, absorbing reference and details from touring like sponges. Artwork is a living process, and the work these artists produce is even more so. Seeing this great big world adds a level of a different consciousness, and a tie to the world history of tattooing.
LOCATIONS- So, where the hell are these tattoo conventions? Damn near everywhere! If it’s a major city, there is at least one major show. If there are no shows near you, chances are you’re not living in a metropolitan area! Want to go to one? TRAVEL!! Drive, fly, however….don’t stagnate and wait for one of these shows to come to you in the stix. Make a weekend of it, spend a day at the show, and then enjoy the area you’re in! That’s where I came up with the BoozyLife–conventions are fun, but unless you’re getting tattooed CONVENTIONS ARE BORING AFTER A FEW HOURS. YOU CAN ONLY WALK SO MANY LAPS AROUND THE FLOOR BEFORE YOUR EYES GLAZE OVER. Head to a city, catch a convention, and see what that particular city has to offer! I focus on mostly wineries and booze, but tattoo artists LOVE to eat at the highest rated gourmet restaurants– also a tradition for Sunday night dinner at the wrap of the show. If you see a gang of heavily tattooed, usually slightly loud men and women headed into your restaurant after eight on a Sunday night? LET THEM IN. They will make it worth your while (servers LOVE these guys!)
Now that you have all that info, where is a show near you? Well, we landed in Ithaca because it’s rural, but about four hours central to several hubs we use a lot. (NYC, Toronto, Montreal). Rochester is now home to the Roc City Tattoo Expo, best upstate NY convention by far– this year May 1st-3rd! http://www.roccitytattooexpo.com
We also use the website http://www.worldtattooevents.com This comprehensive calendar lists conventions in the US, Europe, Canada, and damn near everywhere else in the world. No matter where you are, Waldo….there’s a show (and probably a winery or two) worth checking out. Keep reading BOOZYLIFE to see where we end up next…catch you soon kids!
I love distilleries and spirits. I’ve worked babysitting a still at more than one winery as the cellar rat, and there is something so old school about the process. A few weeks ago, I was tasting through the Hudson Valley with TasteCamp 2014. We were lucky enough to have one of the largest distillery tastings ever in NY, with over fourteen local distillers representing their products and specialties. The tasting was set at Hillrock Estate Distillery, about two hours north of New York City. Worth the trip if you can escape the city for a day, this place is special-and so is everyone involved with it.
Hillrock Estate Distillery is an incredible facility that is focused on showcasing the unique terroir of the area, using estate grown grains that are FLOOR MALTED in their on site malt house, the only one in NY.
Owner Jeff Baker toured historic Scotland malt houses in order to create a functioning, traditional malt house for his dream distillery. Master Distiller Dave Pickerell (formerly the Head Distiller at a little place called Maker’s Mark) was intrigued by the commitment to small batch quality, traditionalism, and history, and joined on to add his impressive skill set to the Hillrock team.
Throughout the tour and tasting, it was evident that these craftsmen are one hundred percent invested in the crafting of the highest quality whiskey, bourbon, and rye. The Solera Aged Bourbon and Single Malt Whiskey were an incredible treat for a whiskey lover such as myself, and the price points were completely justifiable considering the quality of the product. Cinnamon and clove are very prominent flavors reflected in the terroir, and the slow hand crafting process creates a silky, smooth sipping delight. Seriously, some of the best I’ve ever had, hands down, kids.
So, what the HELL is floor malting? Tradition, that’s what. The barley is germinated in the traditional fashion, turned and raked by HAND every six hours on the stone floor, to control the temperature and moisture. Fellow Taste Camper Todd Trzaskos took an AWESOME video of the floor malting, distilling, tasting fun we were a part of at Hillrock. He was nice enough to let me post it–Check it out HERE: Hillrock Distillery TasteCamp Video
Hillrock is open for tastings and tours by appointment only! I would LOVE to get a group of tattoo folks together that might be interested for a BoozyLife field trip. Intrigued? Leave your comments below!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?