Always nice to return to the Finger Lakes with Shirley and friends for a day of wine tasting and stocking up the wine fridge for the holidays.
This time it was our first visit to the "Deck the Halls" event on Seneca Lake. 30 participating wineries offering a food pairing and an ornament for a Xmas wreath made from grape vines.
We received the wreath at our first stop and then spent the next seven hours attempting to visit as many of the wineries as possible to try their special food pairing with one or two of their wines and also taste the new releases and some old favorites before heading onto the next stop.
Shirley acted as designated driver for me and two good friends and passed her time in the shops buying Xmas presents while we tasted, compared notes and bought wine.
We were able to visit 16 of the 30 participating wineries. On the downside, this really did not
give us a lot of time in each to meet the staff and talk wine. But, it was enough to come away with a trunk load of wine and gifts, enjoy the company of friends and make many new friends in the tasting rooms.
The day started when we arrived at Lamoreaux Landing at 10 a.m. to sign in and pick up our wreaths, first ornament and our first food and wine pairing. We tasted some of their reds and brought home a nice Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was here I decided that with winter now here I was only going to taste the red wines today. That did not last long and by days end I had a few good white wines in my bag.
From Lamoreaux we went on to visit Wagner Vineyards, Penquin Bay Winery, Red Newt Cellars and Atwater Estate Vineyards on the east side of Seneca Lake before heading up the west side.
It was at Atwater that I found the best wine of the day, the 2007 Syrah. I also got to meet and talk a bit with owner Ted Marks. It was a very busy day for Ted and I appreciate the fact that he took a little time to chat.
The rest of the day we traveled north on Rt. 14 (the west side).
The first two stops were at Casacata Winery at the Professors' Place and Lakewood Vineyards.
At Lakewood I found my new favorite Riesling and a nice recipe for a Christmas salad. From there we traveled to Fulkerson Winery, Glenora Wine Cellars and Villa Bellangelo. I am always looking for something new in wine and at Fulkerson I tasted a Dornfelder. A Beaujolais style German wine that is produced in the Finger Lakes by only Fulkerson Winery. A very nice wine and a 1/2 off price for second bottle. I took advantage of that offer and brought home two.
Still heading north we were able to stop at Torrey Ridge Winery and Prejean Winery before making a must stop at Anthony Road Wine Company. A fabulous swedish style meat ball over egg noodles was served with the Anthony Road 2008 semi-sweet Riesling. What a great pairing.
Best pairing of the day. Also very busy in the back and at the cash register was owner Ann Martini. Lovely lady, very gracious and very proud of her wines.
Again just a short chat and off we went to Fox Run Vineyards and White Springs Winery, two of my picks as best of the Finger Lakes wineries. I left Fox Run with a collection of their fine red wines and headed to White Springs for some of my favorite whites. But, at White Springs I got my surprise of the day! For those that know me, I usually will not try any wine that may even suggest sweetness. On the recommendation of tasting room manager Jan Van Allen, I tried a wild blend called Happenstance. Cab/Sauv, Cab/Franc, Merlot and Gewurztraminer produced a very elegant semi-sweet red wine with lots of very dark plum and black cherry and a velvety smooth finish. Thank you Jan for the recommendation.
Still early after leaving White Springs, we had time to head over to the north-east side and visit Ventosa Vineyards. A great way to finish our tour, at the most elegant structure on the Lake.
One of the newer wineries, Ventosa is producing some of the best wines in the region. I especially like the Tocai Friulano and the Saggio VI white blend and Saggio series 5 red blend.
What a great day on the Finger Lakes. Next year we hope to plan the entire weekend for this event. Until then I will just keep the wine fridge filled with with great wines and greater memories for our first "Deck The Halls."