We started with an non-winery activity that was a bust (paddleboard rentals…the guy never showed…sent angry emails to me about being at the site 35 minutes after our agreed upon meeting time…told me I was unreasonable for only waiting 30 minutes) but I did manage to get a 4 mile run in around Hammondsport. While normally I wouldn’t run back and forth covering every block of a town, Hammondsport is a nice place, with nice homes and buildings, so I just ran every street!
After enjoying coffee downtown, reading the paper and visiting with the hotel owners, we headed toward Cayuga Lake, about an hour away (38 miles) and the Copper Oven at Cayuga Ridge Winery. There was a time when getting something to eat while touring the wineries was actually pretty challenging. Most wineries did not have cafes and restaurants are still not very plentiful. Now, it’s more common to find a tasting room combined with a cafe and we planned our days based on their hours so as to ensure we ate a proper lunch. The Copper Oven primarily serves pizza, focusing on local and seasonal toppings. We arrived at 11:45 and found the cafe just getting ready for the day. In fact, they didn’t have any pizza dough yet and the servers weren’t sure how long it would take!! We opted to order a bottle of wine and cheese board while we waited. Not much later the dough arrived and we had two thin crust pizzas for lunch.
A common theme of travel in the FLX is forgiveness for service that we would not appreciate in other areas. There just isn’t a huge pool of customers or employees and sometimes this is reflected in lack luster service (or missing pizza dough). That said, Copper Oven is a lovely place, with friendly waitresses and an excellent porch that overlooks another winery and Cayuga Lake. I suspect there is better dining in Trumansburg (not to far south) or Ithaca (at the southern end of the lake) but this is RIGHT HERE, good, reasonably priced, and easy.
After lunch we visited the tasting room and picked up two bottles of riesling. In truth, I found the wine fine, drinkable, enjoyable, but just not that exciting. However, I appreciate their tasting room, family owned status, and enthusiastic staff. I’d stop here again, but probably for the pizza!!
Our next two stops were found wanting: Thirsty Owl and Hosmer. Thirsty Owl suffered from poor service; the person doing our tasting didn’t know anything about any of the wines and seemed not to even know the names of them. It’s tour group friendly, sells quite a bit of merchandise, and doesn’t seem to be too dedicated to producing the better wines we’ve had at Ravines, Fox Run, and Kueka Lake Vineyards. We moved on to Hosmer without buying anything. Hosmer was better, in the sense that the tasting room staff was helpful and engaging. But again, we left without purchasing anything.
But all was not lost!! We made an impromtu stop at Standing Stone our way back toward Hammondsport and ended up buying the Saperavi. I’ll admit by the time I got to the fourth winery, after the bottle we had at lunch and three tasting room rounds, my ability to taste the wine was pretty shot. But Jake was convinced that this was worth the high price point for FLX wine ($30) and we recently drank it with some weber-grilled strip steaks: he was right. A great wine for a well seared steak!
We decided to return to the hotel, sit on the sunporch with some wine and cheese and enjoy the rest of the rainy afternoon. After a quick stop at the Hammondsport grocery (more variety than you would expect in a small town store, but less than a wine region should support, especially in the summer) we were relaxing in the rocking chairs listening to the rain.
The true gem of the trip comes in Day Three and I can’t wait to tell you about it!