Wine Blogger Conference 2017 Santa Rosa, CA

I’m here in Santa Rosa this weekend for my third –and most attended–Wine Blogger Conference in Santa Rosa, California!

Keep your eye on my social media channels, including Instagram and Twitter (@BoozyLife), lots of wine tasting and meeting of the minds will be happening, along with writing workshops and networking galore…always fun to meet new bloggers–or, you might know me as the tattooed lady, or as the blue haired girl (it’s platinum at the moment) from the last three years. If you’re here this year, please stop me and say hello!

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!

 

 

Wild Brute Winery in Arkport-Going Rogue off the Trails

Wild Brute Winery

Wild Brute Winery

This summer, I was a part of the Wine Blogger Conference –this year located in the Finger Lakes region, or my back yard. I felt like I needed to go because it was so close to home…however, I unexpectedly ran into some incredible local winemakers that were doing things their own way. I made a point of it to explore this back yard of mine in earnest! Arkport, NY just kept coming up, over and over. There are incredibly interesting things happening off the lakes, about an hour away from Corning, NY.  I took the ride, and it was totally worth it.

The Lineup at Wild Brute

The Lineup at Wild Brute

The French were the first to use the term ‘Gagariste’ in terms of winemaking–these were the mavericks, making wines off the grid and outside of a very regulated system. Although they were not in the system, the French had to agree that the small batch, artisanal products coming from these tiny producers were interesting, and sometimes ground breaking. Justin Recktenwald and his startup, Wild Brute Winery in Arkport, NY, fit the definition of garagiste winemaking perfectly–right here in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate NY. Justin has the pedigree -Graduated Cornell Viticulture program, worked and learned under Dr. Constantine Frank sparkling masters, and has travelled extensively to learn, and apply the knowledge at home.

Justin, me, Kyleigh, Wendy, and Mark--the Wild Brute Crew

Justin, me, Kyleigh, Wendy, and Mark–the Wild Brute Crew

Wild Brute Winery (follow the link for their website) is a family affair. Justin Recktenwald is the owner and winemaker, along with a crew of many-fiancé Kyleigh, mom Wendy, dad Mark, and brother Cody all have a hand in the production process. This family knows farming, and Arkport, and Justin’s knowledge and winemaking skill has turned family farm property into a wine bar and production facility. Currently, aside from publicized weekend events and music shows, the Arkport tasting room is by appointment (although during the nicer weather there is an outside open tasting bar.)

Wine pairing with chocolates

Wine pairing with chocolates

I was invited up to do a tasting, and I really can’t say enough about the feeling I left with. I brought my husband, and we were met by Justin, his family, and a beautiful spread of artisanal chocolate bonbons from Angelica’s Sweet Shop-about fifteen minutes away! I was already a fan of Wild Brute’s 2013 Unfiltered Cabernet Franc…but this time, we got to sample the entire lot…and it was quite a showing of what’s happening beyond the wine trails on the lake shores!

 

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*Wild Brute 2014 Chardonnay–Bright acidity and a balanced oak finish, vanilla, caramel, green apple, smooth mouthfeel. Grab it if you see it!

*Wild Brute 2013 Unfiltered Cabernet Franc–Dark plum color, red fruit, figs, warm oak, light warm acidity. One of my favorite Cabs in the FLX…seriously. It’s special because it’s so different from anything else.

*Wild Brute 2013 Unfiltered Single Barrel Reserve–Super Limited, dark jammy red fruit, a bit younger bite of acidity. Gorgeous dark plum color, lasting finish. Oak adds a warm rounded depth without overpowering the fruit.

*Wild Brute 2013 Off-Dry Riesling–Bright nose, floral, pear, peach, honey, green apple. Light acidity is balanced with hint of sweetness and a lasting honey finish

*Barrel tastings of WB Hard Apple Cider (YUM), wild ferment, heirloom apples.

If you see a bottle of Wild Brute, grab it. If you’re headed through Horse Heads/Corning and want a bottle, they have a limited stock in the general area. This coming spring, I forsee LOTS of events starting up through the he summer at the Wild Brute wine bar–here’s their FaceBook Wild Brute Business Page–Wild Brute Winery on FaceBook–go give them a Like, and know what events are coming up…music, wine, and local flavor, Finger Lakes style…off the lakes! Make an afternoon drive that you won’t regret! #goingrogue

Wild Brute Wines

Wild Brute Wines

Turkey Day Boozy Beverage Options

Groceries are grabbed, baking is (mostly) finished, and our free range turkey from Autumn’s Harvest Farm is dry brining away. Now it’s time to focus on the booze–what to drink with a meal that includes a LOT of different flavors? So many booze choices, none of them wrong…..

Thanksgiving is a perfect occasion to serve a bunch of different beverages. They are so many foods and textures, there is no single right or wrong wine style to pair. Sparkling wines like Champagne or Prosecco are great for serving during appetizers and lighter nibbles, such as cold shrimp or cheese plates.  Bubbles are also fabulous with dessert.

Wild Brute Cabernet Franc

Wild Brute Cabernet Franc

I am a big wine drinker, and I love my dry, bold reds, so I will have a selection of bottles Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir to serve during the main event.  One of my favorites is from Wild Brute Winery, who readers will hear more about VERY soon. But wait,  isn’t turkey a bird, so you need to drink a white wine with it? Nope! Rules are made to be broken in this case. The richness will hold up against bolder flavors-go ahead and try that NY State, cool climate Pinot Noir with your turkey. Delicious! As for white wines, local Finger Lakes Rieslings are world-famous–and heavily publicized at the moment. Fox Run just made the Wine Enthusiast 100 for 2015 for their Fox Run 2011 Reserve Riesling–but at number 47, Herman J. Wiemer shows up on the SAME LIST for their 2012 Magdalena Vineyard Cabernet Franc (at 94 points, TELL ME AGAIN HOW NY STATE CAN’T MAKE QUALITY, INCREDIBLE RED WINES). Sorry, back from the rant–not all Riesling is sweet, which is a common misconception….but if you’re looking to try something different, go for a Gewurtztraminer. This German grape has a floral, almost hoppy fragrance, and the taste is spicy, fruity, and different than any other. It pairs well with lots of different flavors, without overpowering lighter foods. Give your guests a chance to try something they might not be brave enough to sip on their own!

Eve's Cidery flight

Eve’s Cidery flight

Lastly, Hard Cider is one of my favorite drinks to have with large, family style meals….especially during the fall, and harvest season. Hard apple and even pear ciders are currently enjoying a popularity swing, and several local New York State producers are making high-end artisanal, traditional styles of sparkling and still ciders (with or without bubbles). Some of my favorite local cider products are from Eve’s Cider, Bellwether Hard Cider, Redbyrd Orchard Cider, and Naked Flock Cider out of the Hudson Valley.

I’ll be posting cooking and pairing updates throughout the day tomorrow–post YOUR FAVORITE BOOZE pairings in my comments, on BoozyLife FB, or follow along live on Twitter @boozylife 🙂

Awesome FLX Reblog: article from BinNotes: FLX Wine Region-Beyond ‘Crappy’ Hybrids

FLX Wine Region-Beyond ‘Crappy’ Hybrids by L.M. Archer

A few weeks ago, I attended WBC15, a conference dedicated to wine writers and bloggers checking out the Finger Lakes wine region.  It was incredible insight for me personally, as a Finger Lakes local, to hear what others had to say about our wine region. We are pretty isolated here in the FLX, and a group of wine writers from all over the world would only help to spread the word.

We were taken on ‘secret’ bus excursions one afternoon, and I ended up on a bus headed to Arkport, NY and Element Winery. Also on our bus was writer L.M. Archer, creator of the Red Thread, BinNotes blog, and several other wine and travel publications. She was also a LOT of fun, and we spent a lovely weekend enjoying and comparing notes, especially on Kelby Russell’s rosé. I believe a bottle was grabbed from table 15 at the dinner, but no proof remains….

A gorgeous Rosé by Kelby Russell

A gorgeous Rosé by Kelby Russell

Her article is a great overview of who was there, what we drank, and what she took away from the weekend in the FLX.  I’m listed in her Thank You’s as a ‘partner in crime’ for the weekend, which makes me blush–it was my pleasure! Have a read, the link is embedded here~~~>FLX Wine Region — Beyond ‘Crappy’ Hybrids

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….