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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holiday Wine Tasting at Americana

If  Santa were to fill my stocking with Finger Lakes wine this year I’d be a very happy girl.   Of course, I’d need a much bigger stocking than the one I  already have.   The choices of wines here in the Finger Lakes are endless. 

I recently took a very short drive (like almost in my backyard kind of drive) to Americana Vineyards.  Their winery is one of my favorites, and I love to stop in there from time to time.  I thought I’d  share my visit with you.

Americana’s tasting room is situated in a tastefully decorated old barn that has a neat story behind it.   On my visit, I was greeted at the door by  one of  their two chocolate labs  – Max or Rubie.   Aside from the dogs, the winery also has a huge friendly cat that roams around the place and manages to look more like the wineries watch dog than the dogs do – go figure.

Aside from the tasting room at Americana, you will also find the Crystal Lake Café which serves (so I’m told) delicious food that is made in-house daily with the freshest local ingredients;  a gift shop with a great selection of specialty food items, among other unique treasures; the biggest variety, and some of the most delicious homemade fudge that you’ve ever seen or tasted in one place.  I had intentions of trying their red velvet fudge and forgot to once  the wine started flowing.  Oh well, I guess that gives me an excuse to go back soon.

Behind the winery is a  large pavilion that plays host to concerts and other events when weather permits.  And when weather doesn’t permit, the upstairs of the barn does the job.  Americana has concerts scheduled every Friday from 6PM-8PM, and every Sunday from 4PM-6PM.

As for wines, Americana’s got them all.  Dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet –  in red, white, and blueberry.   If my calculations are correct, I counted 27 different wines in all.  For $3.00 you can taste 6 wines of your choice, and for $1.00 more you can taste their 2 of their limited edition wines, or 3 of their blueberry wines.  My favorite Americana wine?  Their Semi-Dry Riesling – amazing!

And to think that I almost forgot to mention the hot mulled wine that I  sampled.  It was delicious and would certainly add a little cheer to any holiday party.  I’m adding their mulling spices to the list that I’m getting ready for Santa.

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Looking for something fun to do this month?  I suggest fitting in a wine tasting,  meal, concert, or a little shopping at American Vineyards. If you’re not from the Finger Lakes; add this trip to your “bucket list” and visit a fun winery in your area.

If  you’re a fan of  Finger Lakes foods and beverages don’t forget to nominate them for the Finger Lakes Foodie award in the Finger Lakes Food Revolution – time is running out!

* I have not been compensated for this post.  It’s simply me sharing one of my great Finger Lakes adventures with you.  If you are a Finger Lakes business and happen to be looking for a freelance writer or photographer – let’s talk!

In The Finger Lakes–Bully Hill Vineyard

The Finger Lakes Region of New York has some of the most magnificent wineries.  Most are situated in close proximitry to the regions beautiful (Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga) lakes. During a recent trip to Bully Hill Vineyard I decided to document our trip to share with you.  Here are some of the highlights.

In order to get to the winery we had to pass through Hammondsport, NY.  This year, Budget Travel announced that Hammondsport, New York and Beaufort, North Carolina tied as 2012’s America’s Coolest Small Towns.  Hammondsport sits at the south end of Keuka Lake, and my description of this small town is;  quaint, nostalgic, and welcoming.

The winery is situated on the west side of Keuka Lake.  This photo below was taken from the parking area at Bully Hill.

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This building in the photo below is the wineries restaurant.  There is indoor and outdoor seating.  If you visit on a nice day be sure to ask for the patio seating.  The view from the patio is beautiful as it overlooks the lake. 

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The restaurant serves up some pretty good food.  Lunch is offered 7 days a week from 11:30AM–4PM, and dinners are offered Friday and Saturday night from 5PM-8PM.  Their menu offers tons of great choices, along with daily specials. Wine is offered the bottle or glass, and it’s  very reasonably priced.

We decided on indoor dining this visit.

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For lunch, I opted for a glass of Grower’s Riesling and a tasty sandwich dubbed Rebecca. The sandwich was stuffed with turkey breast, Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing, and homemade slaw on whole grain bread. Delicious! 

See their menu here.

After lunch we browsed their gift shop

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I loved the scenes created with painted ceramic tiles on the gift shop walls.

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After browsing the gift shop we headed toward the tasting room.  The winery grounds are filled with beautiful flowers and I stopped to take a few pictures of them along the way.

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Their tasting room is shown below.

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Below, is just a small section of an amazing painting located on the tasting room wall.

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And of course there’s wine, and lots of it.  Bully Hill has the largest selection wines I’ve ever seen at one winery.  With their wide variety there is something for everyone.  I particularly like that every bottle of wine has a scale on each label showing how sweet or dry the wine is.  You can taste 5 pre-selected wines for $2.00, or choose to taste 1 oz. samples of your choice for $1.00 each.

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Looking at the tasting room from the parking area.

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On our way home I had to take one more picture.  This photo is of the Keuka Maid.  It’s no longer in service, but it use to paddle it’s way up the lake while passengers enjoyed cocktails, dinner, and the beautiful sights.

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What is your favorite winery?  And where is it?