Wednesday, September 9, 2009
A Day In The Finger Lakes 2
Can't think of a better way to start a 2 week vacation then to spend it at some fantastic wineries in the Finger Lakes. My wife Shirley and a best family friend Donna set out to taste some great wines, enjoy some great scenery, have a delicious diner and spend a little cash in one of the most beautiful regions of New York. I don't know where to rank the day's events. What was better, the scenery, the food, the wine, the tasting rooms or the company. I have to say it was the folks we met.
The day actually started, after a one hour drive, as we drove into the parking area of Ventosa Vineyards on the east side of Seneca Lake. The newly constructed building of Tuscan design was maybe the highlight of the tour. A large ballroom with beautiful murals, a bistro and a large deck over seeing the vineyards and the lake made this the most gorgeous stop I have ever been to on a wine tour. Our server, Lynn, gave us a short tour of the building before pouring some of my favorite Finger Lakes wines and some new wines I haven't tasted before. I also liked the bistro, and had wished we scheduled Ventosa for later in the day when the hunger pains started rolling in. After leaving Ventosa we headed for the west side of the lake.
Our first stop on the west side was the White Springs Winery. Our friend Donna has raved about the wines here since our trip the the Wine Fest in July. I actually enjoyed my first Gewurztraminer from White Springs. Our server today was Joe and his presentation of the wines was all class. This is another of the new wineries in the region that is producing some of the Finger Lakes best. Donna was right about the whites and I found some terrific reds, including their new Row House label. My faves here were the Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio blend, along with the Rieslings and both the Row House red and white.
Just a short distance away was the Billsboro Winery owned by Vincent and Kim Aliperti since 2007. Vincent is also the head winemaker for the Atwater Estate Vineyards across the lake.
The best whites tasted today were at Billsboro. The Sauvignon Blanc was the best I tasted outside of New Zealand and the dry Riesling was also at or near the top of my list as best ever.
Diane, our server, was friendly and knowledgeable and Kim Aliperti was delightful and enthusiastic about her family winery. She has good reason to be so enthusiastic, they produce very excellent high quality wines.
Still heading south along rte. 14, we came upon our next stop, Fox Run Vinyards, a farmer friendly sustainable winery with aggressive ownership poised to become one of a handful of great producers in the Finger Lakes. We were honored to have owner Scott Osborn pour and impart his knowledge of his winery and wines as we tasted the best red wines of the day. His reserve Riesling and the dry Riesling were also among the best of the whites on this day. Shirley also had a blast in the gift shop. I had given her Carte Blanche for being the designated driver, but the biggest payoff was yet to come. Darn! I mean Damn! I mean O sh*t.
One more stop was scheduled. I just reviewed the 2008 semi-dry Riesling from Anthony Road Wine Company and knew if anywhere near the area I would have to visit. Good move Joe!
This was a treat. Our server was Meagan, polite, courteous, delightful to talk to, young and still learning. Also got to talk with owner Ann Martini and learn a bit about Anthony Road, along with tasting the best overall tastings on today's tour. I was impressed with all the Rieslings and the Martini-Reinhardt Cabernet Franc. The Martini's are blessed to have one of the finest winemakers in the region, Johannes Reinhardt. After all, he did produce the best New York wine for 2009. His semi-sweet Riesling was also fantastic and could have also won that title over his semi-dry.
Before heading to diner, we stopped at the Shaw Vineyard. Their tasting room opened in 2007.
Another of the many new wineries that has created a line of quality hand crafted vinifera wines.
Especially noted were the 2003 Pinot Noir reserve, the 2005 Cabernet Franc reserve and the 2005 Merlot reserve. Shaw still needs a more modern tasting room, but I believe that will come in time as the winery grows.
Last on today's itinerary, was Belhurst Castle for diner. This is were I should have put a limit on Shirley's carte blanche spending. We did not taste any wines here, but the gift shop was fabulous. The food at Edgars, the castle restaurant, was pricey, but the service excelled and the meal was delicious. Shirley chose the wine, a fine Brunello de Montalcino from Italy. One of her favorites, so I did not press any issue about where we were and why I would have chosen a local wine. It was a wonderful way to end the day.
Now, an hour drive home and unload a trunk full of wine. Later, I must chose which one's to review. That will be tough but fun.
Among the favorites were:
Ventosa Vineyards: Saggio Series V and VI and NV Vino Rosso
White Springs: Row House Red and White, '07 Riesling
Billsboro: '08 dry Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, '07 dry Riesling, '07 Cab/Sauv
Fox Run: '08 dry Riesling, '06 reserve Chardonnay, '07 Merlot, '08 reserve Riesling, '07 reserve Pinot Noir
Anthony Road: '08 semi-sweet Riesling, Tierce, '08 Gewurztraminer, '07 Martini-Reinhardt Cab/Franc
Shaw: '03 Pinot Noir reserve, '05 Merlot reserve