Tag Archives: Finger Lakes

2016 Refocus: My BoozyLife in the Finger Lakes

Happy New Year, dear wine and tattoo aficionados! 2016 is starting off with a MUCH MORE local (for me) focus. My husband and I live and have a business in Ithaca, NY, home to Cornell University, Ithaca College, and centrally located in the heart of the Fingerlakes wine region. We did a LOT of international travel last year, and I ran into quite a bit of excitement and interest about our little nook of Upstate NY.

We live in the land of Finger Lakes bounty; this January I’ve decided to refocus and explore more wineries, vineyards, winemakers, distillers, and cider producers in the Finger Lakes area. Winter is a fantastic time to hit the trails and do some tasting, as long as the weather is cooperative– lots of one on one time at tasting bars, minimal crowds, and a beautiful change in the summer landscape. Wine trail events are plentiful, as winemakers get out of the cellars and enjoy time with their fans (yes, fans…winemakers are like rock stars to some of us).

image.jpegTomorrow, we’re headed up to Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca for a first of its kind in the FLX tasting! Austrian grape varietals grow quite well in our area, and some of our best winemakers are producing wines from them. Two of these grapes will be highlighted–Grüner Veltliner (white grape), and Blaufränkisch (red grape, also called Lemberger…which seems a less terrifying spelling, due to the lack of umlauts…). Check out the event breakdown flier–I’ll be live tweeting and spamming social media along the way, before the full wrap up post here! You can follow along on Twitter at @boozylife, on my FB BoozyLife page, or on Instagram as @missusmolina…..

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 🙂

Local Turkeys Hang Out at The Piggery

Well, it’s that time again. Time for obligatory Thanksgiving blog posts! What to cook, what wine to serve, and how to survive the holidays abound. Me and the tattooer are staying local this year, and that means we’ll be putting on the traditional dinner at Casa Molina for family and friends that want to swing in. We try to keep it simple, local, and delicious….but this year we are going really LOCAL.

Turkeys roaming at Autumn's Harvest Farm in Romulus, NY

Turkeys roaming at Autumn’s Harvest Farm in Romulus, NY

First up, the turkey. In the past, my dad has had the fresh turkey hook-up from having owned a restaurant for twenty years. This year, I’m super excited to bring the bird! Today, we grabbed a little thirteen pound turkey from our friend Heather Sandford, who with husband Brad Marshall own and operate local pig farm and butcher shop The Piggery (follow the link for their beautiful blog and website). Incredibly, my husband and I were lucky enough to score a REAL PERNIL from them last Christmas, which was rated as ‘absolutely divine’– that came from Puerto Ricans that KNOW their pork, and it is VERY serious business.

The Piggery, Ithaca NY

The Piggery, Ithaca NY

The Piggery has a retail space in Ithaca (423 Franklin St, down by Red Feet Wine Store) that has a fantastic selection of their far raised pork-plus goodies from all over the Finger Lakes, from cheeses, breads, spreads and oils, plus beef and poultry sourced from Autumn’s Harvest Farms in Romulus, NY. Our little Thanksgiving turkey guy lived a happy, pasture life, wherein he roamed free and ate certified organic grains, bugs, and all the good stuff turkeys eat in real life. No factory farming here, kids. This is how our great-grandparents did it….no antibiotics or chemicals, just quality meats from well lived and cared for animals on local farms. Here is a pic of the star of the show…

The star of turkey day 2015

The star of turkey day 2015

Next up, what booze I’ll be bringing to the table…local wine, hard cider, brews, and cocktails to enjoy with your holiday spread and beyond!

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….

#WBC15 WineBloggers Invade the Finger Lakes! A Brief Overview of #WBC2015

imageAfter a long week of jumping through hoops as a tattoo wife and shop owner, it was a pleasure to attend the Wine Boggers Conference 2015 in the Finger Lakes area of NY, or as I like to call it, ‘home.’

Over two hundred and fifty wine writers and bloggers would be participating in a three-day weekend (plus some pre and post excursions!) of wine tasting, exploration, seminars, and networking. I’m an old pro at the tattoo convention scene— but a wine blogger convention? What was that going to be like? I had a few notions, but seeing that it was to be held in our backyard of viticulture in the Finger Lakes area, I couldn’t miss it! This area is exciting, vibrant, and on the cusp of great things…I wanted to see what the OTHER bloggers thought, as a way to see our area (and my ‘hood) through fresh eyes.

All three days were pretty heavily scheduled with events, some as writing workshops, mentoring, and pro panels, excursions to several different wineries and events, and LOTS of wine tasting.

Karen MacNeil and women in wine

Karen MacNeil and women in wine

Keynote presenter Karen MacNeil, wine goddess and author of The Wine Bible, was as inspirational as she was fierce. HERE is a woman to idolize, ladies….strong, professional, and absolutely taking no shit from anyone. Honestly, if that was all the conference had for me…Karen’s words would have been enough. She’ll get a post all of her own, because Karen is an incredible spirit– that the women in the wine industry MUST recognize — as a door opener and trail blazer. She may be in Napa now, but she has the heart and fire of a New Yorker. One of my favorite quotes that she dropped on women in the industry during the weekend was, in relation to sexism in the wine industry: “the barrier has never been sex, it is mediocrity. The door is open, walk through it.” ABSOLUTELY!

a few of my favorites

a few of my favorites

Tastings were a huge part of the event, and I counted over seventy-three wine tasting notes over two days that I took–not too shabby! LOTS of spitting, kids….don’t try to be a hero. You will fail and quite possibly make an ass of yourself.

The tastings ranged from the normal table and pour, to a “speed dating” version of a tasting (wine makers came to your table with their bottle, gave some wine notes, and had five minutes with you, then it was off to the next table!), to a mystery bus excursion….get on the bus, go to a secret location, have an AMAZING TIME, return later to hash out where we all ended up!

Element Winery is taking things to a new level in the Flx

Element Winery is taking things to a new level in the Flx

BoozyLife ended up on the bus headed to Element Winery in Arkport, vision of the incredibly talented and hard-working Master Somm Christopher Bates-whose  dinner and wines will get their own post as well, because I saw things happening there that DEFINE what the Finger Lakes can and will be to the wine industry, in the near future and beyond.

In short, the weekend was exactly what I was hoping it would be, and it opened my eyes to magic happening right under my nose! BoozyLife can’t wait to share some of the wine makers and their creations with you all, because the Finger Lakes are where it’s all happening right now in New York State.

Now, just let me sort out all of these tasting notes…

Cider Maker’s Afternoon with Autumn of Eve’s Cidery — Finger Lakes Cider House

Eve's Cidery flight

Eve’s Cidery flight at Finger Lakes Cider House

The Finger Lakes area is a special place, and a majority of that feeling comes from the people that live and work here, love the land and enjoy sharing their creations and joys. Artists come in many shapes and styles, from winemakers to painters and potters, and are often on hand to share their creations. Due to a love of sharing hand crafted beverages and information, local artisans often take time out of the creation of product to meet and pour for their public.

There is a movement towards farming, the ‘old ways’ of doing things, hand crafted goods, and knowing where things were grown and sourced. Heirloom fruit trees are the base for incredible ciders, and we were lucky enough to attend Cider Maker’s Afternoon with Eve’s Cidery at Finger Lakes Cider House. The beautiful new tasting room area (located near Ithaca in Interlaken) is located at Good Life Farm and is definitely worth checking out if you have the chance. Orchard ciders, along with a gorgeous view (and yummy food pairings) made for a beautiful excursion up the lake on a Sunday afternoon. Awesome cider craftswoman extraordinaire Autumn, of Eve’s Cidery (checkout their website for notes and purchases–they ship!) took a day away from the orchard and tanks to pour a selection of their still, sparkling, and ice ciders. Served with each step of the flight was a special local tasting spread–check out the ciders and pairings we tried! The menu really illustrated the food friendliness and drinkability of dry, champagne style ciders…

Scatterseed

Scatterseed Sparkling Dry Cider

Eve’s Cidery Tasting Menu w. Pairings

Summer Blend. Still and Dry. Lemon-lime nose. The mid-palette is airy, tart and juicy, Kumquat, bitter orange peel and chalk. (7.5% ABV, <1% RS) Paired w. Smokey Baba Ganouj, housemade

Scatterseed. Estate grown. Dry. Champagne Style. ML fermentation vintage ’12 blended with ‘13 and bottled with a tirage. Dry, chewy, sparkling cider with aromatic layers of rich earth and ripe fruit. (8.1% ABV, 0.06% RS) Paired w. Peach Salsa, housemade

Darling Creek. Estate grown. Semi-dry. Champagne style. A blend of English and French bittersweets and bittersharps, fruity American cider apples and seedling varieties. The aroma is a play between sweet- honeysuckle, apple blossom and red apple; herbal gin, licorice, and allspice; and green tomato and sapling. The mouthfeel is big and thick with a soft but dry, velvety texture. The finish is full and balanced with lingering notes of sweet sour apricot. (8% ABV, 1.5% RS) Paired w. Rye Bread w. Butter, Wide Awake Bakery, Kriemhild Dairy

Essence. Estate grown. Ice Cider. Aromas of caramel, baked apple, and all spice. A heavy bodied and viscous mouth feel are balanced by a succulent acidity. Sugar and acid find equilibrium in the finish. (10 % ABV, 15.5% RS) Paired w. Ginger Ice Cream, Good Life Farm and housemade.

The Summer Blend was a delicious thirst quencher, aptly named for afternoons at the lake or on the deck. The acidity cut through the richness of the baba ganoush and added to the tanginess. Tough pairing, eggplant can be, but it was quite lovely and bright. I went home with a bottle of the Champagne style Scatterseed, a very dry and velvety sparkling cider with full tannins and a long finish.

Eve’s Ciders are served in NYC at Wassail on Orchard St. as well as scattered retailers in the know at the moment. Check out the website for a full list of shops that carry Eve’s in NYC as well as in the Finger Lakes! You’ll be glad you did, they truly are creating something special with every bottle. Eve’s Cidery Website

Repost: 5 Best Finger Lakes Wineries to Visit on Seneca Lake

Check it out! I posted a link to an article on newyorkupstate.com: 5 Best Finger Lakes Wineries to Visit on Seneca Lake. On a personal note, I’m behind the bar pouring at the Lamoreaux Landing tasting room a couple of days a week–the view is not to be missed, and the wines are all of a high quality that I enjoy being a part of! Enjoy the read and start planning your next trip to the Finger Lakes 😊

Rosé Soirée 2015 – The Finger Lakes Through Rosé Colored Glasses

The Rosé Lineup! (Photo by David Diaz)

The Rosé Lineup! (Photo by David Diaz)

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It truly was the perfect night for a Rosé Soirée in Geneva, NY on Saturday evening. A warm summery day gave way to a coral and light pink sunset, and Finger Lakes wine lovers sipped rosé, sampled foods and local culinary temptations (including incredible hotdogs, sausages, and goodies from Fingerlakes Wienery!!), and socialized under strung carnival lights. The atmosphere was light, jovial, and oh so pink!

Blurs of pink and coral

Blurs of pink and coral

Over twenty local vineyards and winemakers were on hand to pour their dry rosé wines and talk shop. The event was a great introduction to several new dry rosé wines that I had not tried yet, and also a nice chance to meet the men and women that are the vino creators themselves! it’s always fun and interesting to be able to talk to individuals that are so proud of their wines.

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Me n Ronata

There were so many different flavors and variations to the wines, it was incredible. Many were made from Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, or a blend of the two. Lemberger often made an appearance in the blends, and Dr. Constantine Frank’s Rosé was a blend that included Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc as well.

I tried to make it to as many tables as I could, and I had a good head start on the Finger Lakes rosé tasting as it is. I’m already a fan of a few: Damiani’s Pinot Noir Rosé is killer, Sheldrake Point has a lush Cabernet Franc Rosé, and Lamoreaux Landing’s Rosé is always my bottle for home (I pour in the tasting room at Lamoreaux a couple of days a week…how could I not want to work in a winery?). Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard Rosé is always a hit for the table, the blend has a hint of Chardonnay that adds another level of depth. Hosmer didn’t bring my favorite rosé that they made, Rosé of Merlot, but if it’s not sold out yet I’m sure it will be soon!

Action shot of rosé colored roses!

Action shot of rosé colored roses!

As the night went on...with the Barry crew

As the night went on…with the Barry crew

There were also definitely a bunch of wines that were new to me. I finally got to try Ian Barry’s (of Barry Family Cellars) Cabernet Franc Rosé, which was absolutely dry, with a bright acidity and ripe cherry. I also really liked his Gamay Rosé, a lightly sparkling petillant wine that brought out an earthy fruitiness. The end ferment in bottle, with the unfiltered Gamay, creates a very unique wine. August Deimel, head winemaker for Keuka Springs Vineyards, brought his delicious, bone dry Cabernet Franc and Lemberger Rosé that had the most beautiful, light color and fragrant nose. Also on the list for lightest color and dry, herbal notes was Knapp’s Rosé of (mostly) Cabernet Franc and (a bit of) Pinot Noir. Head winemaker for Knapp Winery (and Glenora), Steve DiFrancesco has created a very food friendly and easy drinking wine. The Italians always score when it comes to wines that are great with foods! When is a rosé ever difficult? Barnstormer Winery’s Rosé was also quite a surprise, mostly Sangiovese with a touch of Cabernet Franc-savory and herbal, with strong notes of mint on the nose.

The evening was intimate, informative and delicious.  This is one of the reasons we live here in the Finger Lakes! Keep an eye out for most of these wines on the trails, or in your local wine store. Also a big thank you to Microclimate Wine Bar, for letting us buy the last bottle of Local bubbles from Wiemer 🙂