Registration began on Thursday night at 7 so I decided to drive over from Vermont, about 4 hours, early to hit a vineyard or two locally. I was able to get to one, I didn’t realize that most close at 5 pm, and it was fantastic. My first stop was Ravines, in Hammondsport, NY. The driveway passed through beautiful vineyards under a perfect blue sky and led to a large, open air structure with large sliding wood doors open and welcoming. Phillip, the tasting room manager and brand ambassador, welcomed us with a big smile and offered a highly educational tasting.
What did I drink
Dry Riesling 2013 paired with baby swiss
Dry Reisling is probably the most common style of white found in the Finger Lakes and is worth a try. I’m normally not a Reisling fan but this wine didn’t score 91 Points from Wine Spirits Magazine for no reason. The tasting notes perfectly describe the selection: fine aromatics, distinct minerality, and a delightfully dry finish.” A fine introduction to Ravines and a style I have had a LOT to drink here in the Finger Lakes.
Keuka Village White 2014 paired with blue
A beautiful, light blend of Cayuga and Vignoles with a taste that is distinctly finger lakes, the tasting notes nail it with “delightful tree fruit flavors of Bosc pear, green apple, and honeydew melon.”
Chardonnay 2013 paired with a salty rind brie
Barreled in French Oak this exceptional Chardonnay paired beautifully with the earthy brie – do yourself a favor and be sure not to skip the rind, the salt brings out all of the complexities of the wine which is “a crisp and minerally Chardonnay with complex aromas of citrus, pear, apple and fresh nutmeg.” The wine is barrel aged using French Oak.
Keuka Village Red 2014 paired with onion cheese
Amazing how flexible a wine can be and this is one of those wines. While delicious on its own with red fruits and black pepper, the cheese rounded it out beautifully.
I could really taste the cedar and loved it along with the beautiful color of this wine. Tasting notes include “aromas of plum, cherry, cedar and cloves.” This wine is barrel aged and then cellared to soften tannins and increase complexity.
I’ve been on a Gewurztraminer kick since tasting Brooklyn Oenology’s Orange Gewurztraminer which is also made with Finger Lakes grapes so I couldn’t skip this one. Perfect from nose to finish! “Beautiful aromas of rose peta, citrus, and lychee fruit with a bright acidity and spicy finish.”
Pinot Noir 2012
A very light Pinot Noir with “ripe cherry and plum, sultry spices, and earthy aromas.”
My final taste and the one I had a glass of with a cheese plate, this was another interesting wine. “Semi-sparkling, semi-dry, Prosecco-style Valvin Muscan. Aromas of orange blossoms, spice and white peach, a crisp acidity, refreshing effervescence and a touch of sweetness.” Indeed!
All of the wines were excellent but I would recommend, if you’re not spitting or can’t handle a ton of tastes without serious palette cleansing, trying the distinctly Finger Lakes styles. Although all of the wines were a unique interpretation while staying true to the styles.
Around 7 pm the Conference kicked off with registration, gift bags and a beautiful reception. Laury Poland, President of The Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association, was there with hugs and welcomes for all, and the phone number to text or call with technical issues. Then it was a quick walk to a beautiful park where various vineyards were set up for tastings and local restaurants provided food. I drank selections from Dr Konstantin Frank, Heron Hill, and Vineyard View. My favorite of the welcome was the Blaufrankisch from Heron Hill – a new grape to me. It’s also known as Lemberger and found quite a bit in the region.
Because I was swapping local wines with some bloggers from all over the place I was invited to the Canadian tasting after hours party.
I couldn’t tell you what I drank but it was all good and I greatly enjoyed networking with other bloggers including The Drunken Cyclist. Special thanks to Bethany Harpur for the invite and my first bottle of Canadian Wine!
Stay tuned for a recap of the first full day which included tasting 28 (yes, 28) wines, learning about Lambrusco (go buy a bottle), and an amazing excursion into wine country for a tour and dinner.