Roll Out the Barrel, or Two!

I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my email last week to find an invitation to a special barrel tasting event at Standing Stone Vineyard

I’ve done a lot of wine tastings where you belly up to the bar, but I’ve never tasted wine straight out of the barrel (with the exception of the glass carboy we use for making wine at home).  Since this sounded like a unique opportunity, and a great learning experience, I  eagerly accepted the invite.  

Now, please keep in mind that I am a regular Josephine where wine is concerned.  I am not a wine snob, nor will I ever be one.  I’m just a non-biased taster.

Standing Stone Vineyards is located on St. Route 414 on the East side of Seneca Lake in the Town of Hector, NY.  The winery is perched just high enough on the hill to give folks that visit there a beautiful birds eye view of the lake.

Upon arriving at Standing Stone, hubby and I, along with four others, met up with  Marti Macinski.   Marti and her husband Tom are the owners of this 21 year old winery.

Just prior to starting our tour Marti armed each of us with a rather large piece of baguette (from Tribeca Oven), an empty wine glass, and a clip board that held the list of wines that we would be tasting.  She then lead us off to the “Old Steel Barn” to get down to some serious tasting.

The brisk, unheated barn was indicative of a great wine making environment.  And it’s there that we found rows of oak barrels marked with the type and year of deliciousness that each one contained. 

Marti was a great tour guide. She explained the varieties of grapes, the conditions in which they strive, and in some cases, the conditions that they don’t. She talked wine, and shared personal experiences as a grape grower and wine maker, and she filled the tasting with interesting facts. For example, did you know it costs about $20,000.00 to plant one acre of grapes. I had no clue! 

For this specific event we  tasted a total of five wines.  A 2010 Reserve Chardonnay (available this summer), a 2011 Reserve Chardonnay (available this summer), a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2010 Merlot, and a 2011 Petit Verdot which may be Standing Stones one and only.  The three later wines are currently available for purchase and will be ready to pick up in May of 2013.   My favorite wine in this selection?  The 2010 Reserve Chardonnay.  So good!

Also as a bonus, we got six additional tastes of  Standing Stone’s 2012 Pinot Noir and Saperavi in a yeast trial.

Once we finished tasting the five wines in the “Old Steel Barn” we headed to the basement of another barn.  This is where we got to be part of the yeast trial.  It sounds kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-ish doesn’t it?

A yeast trial  is the winemakers way of searching for  unique and individual tastes in their wines.  Each  yeast  offers different characteristics and works differently from one another. 

Yeast (natural or otherwise) plays a very important role in the fermentation process of winemaking.  When added to grape juice (must) it converts the sugars to alcohol.

I recognized that some yeasts gave the wine a smooth finish, while others gave the wine a much more acidic finish.  And while I liked the flavor and finish from the first barrel  of the Pinot Noir, my husband’s favorite came from the second barrel.  All of the tasters were all able to identify subtle flavors and characteristics in each of the wines that we tasted.  

Following the barrel tastings we were  offered some tasty snacks including Muranda Cheeses before heading back to the tasting room for yet, more wine.  It couldn’t have gotten any better than this.  Great wine, great bread,  great cheese, and great company.

I couldn’t help but notice that while everyone was busy tasting till their little hearts content, the ducks just outside of the tasting room were having a little fun all of their own.

Before leaving Standing Stone Vineyards we found a few more things to sample – a  great  variety of delicious local dipping and barbecue  sauces, and salad dressings. 

This was a super fun event.  It’s not your typical wine tasting.  If you’re looking for something completely out of the ordinary in wine tasting – this is definitely a must do! 

My suggestions for barrel tasting.  Dress warm and comfortable, go in small groups, listen up because there is a lot to learn,  and as always, have a designated driver with you.

Information on Standing Stone Vineyards can be found at this link, or by calling (607)582-6051.

Please note that while I did receive a complimentary barrel tasting, I was not compensated to write this post, and the opinions expressed here are my all my own.








Calling All Foodies from the Finger Lakes and Beyond

How would you like a chance to win some very awesome prizes? Taste an array of great foods, wines and beverages? And help stock the shelves of area food pantries?   Here is your chance.

The  2nd Annual Finger Lakes Cork & Fork  is slated for the weekend of September 16th & 17th this year at the Rodman Lott & Sons Farm in Seneca Falls, NY. This event is a foodies and wine lovers paradise where partial proceeds from the event, along with non-perishable food donations (donated by those attending) will help support the Food Bank of the Southern Tier and the House of Concern.

The C&F(Cork & Fork) kicks off on Friday evening with the VIP Event – “Partners & Pairings”  The VIP Event runs from 6:30 – 9:30PM.  16 area chefs and culinary experts will awaken your taste buds with tapas made with local ingredients that will be paired with great Finger Lakes wines and beverages.  And while everyone is tasting,  Cool Club of Hector will be providing live Jazz music for everyone’s listening pleasure.

This years “Partners and Pairing”  is in honor and memory of Chef Deb Whiting of Red Newt Cellar Winery and Bistro.  Deb helped establish The Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty, an organization supporting and nurturing  local farms, restaurants and producers in the region.

Tickets to Friday nights VIP event are only available in advance,  they are limited in number, and will allow purchasers entry into The Saturday Main Event. 

The Saturday Main Event is a Regional Showcase and Sales Event that runs from 10:00am – 5:00 PM.  It will feature more than 60 Finger Lakes Farms, food producers, chefs, and wineries.  Each  will offer samples of some of their best products. These products will be available for purchase, many at bargain prices. If tasting and buying isn’t enough, you can also experience live cooking demonstrations and short seminars with topics like “Proper Wine Tastings”, “Pairing Principles”, “CSAs”, “Eating for Allergies” and more.

Saturday’s tickets can be purchased in advance, or at the door.

To purchase your tickets for the Finger Lakes Cork & Fork visit: and click on Get Your Tickets Now, or go to 

To order by phone, call 1.888.71.Tickets, or call the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce at 1.315.568.2906 (and don’t forget to thank Carol Fingar for spearheading this great event!)

Check out some of the highlights from last year.

Hope to see lots of new faces, and old friends at the 2011 Finger Lakes Cork & Fork.  If you’re planning on attending – leave a comment saying so!

To plan your weekend in the Finger Lakes visit Finger Lakes Wine Country. They do a perfect job informing you of all the great attractions, places to eat, stay, and play!