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Three Days of Finger Lakes Wineries-Day One

AKA How to not to bruise your palate, get a DWI, and have enough energy for dinner.

Jake’s 40th was supposed to be grander than this. Afterall, my 40th was spent at Victoria and Albert’s eating and getting proposed to; how does one top that? Well, initially I’d planned a few days in Sonoma. We’d never been and in my typically self-serving fashion figured what was good for me was good for Jake! However, some health concerns for my parents meant that we couldn’t be sure Adam would have a place to stay. It seems the authorities and mommy bloggers frown on leaving your four year old alone for several days and get even more angry if you suggest taking them to wineries.

So I revised and decided to spend two nights in Hammondsport on Keuka Lake visiting wineries and restaurants we hadn’t been to before. This post is about the wineries, how I selected them and what we liked and did not like.  The full itinerary is on a weebly site I made for Jake’s birthday–this keeps the links to each destination and daily plan organized in a way that (in a perfect world) would allow me to add content, reviews and pictures. Let’s chuckle about the best laid plans…we both know I never bother with that nonsense!! You want pictures? Go to instagram!

We visit the wineries on the northwestern side of Seneca Lake often; Ravines, Billsboro, Fox Run, Red Tail Ridge and sometimes Hermann J. Wiemer. These are with 60-90 minutes of our house and can be done in day trip while Adam is at daycare or with a babysitter. But we never make it further, mostly because further requires over night or much longer day, and if we’re going to be gone past Adam’s bedtime, we might as well be gone all night, amirite? So my plans were to take us further south and east than we typically go, basing my choices on award winners, interesting stories, and Evan Dawson’s Summer in a Glass.

Our first day started with lunch at the New York State Wine and Culinary Center, where we were able to sit outside and enjoy a bottle of Boundary Breaks Riesling (more on that winery/vineyard later!), a pork belly app, and summer squash pizza. My brief review: I like the dedication to NYS wine, the interesting menu, the good food, and the building; I dislike the amateur service (it’s not bad, but it’s not up to the menu), the view of the parking lot/marina, and the regular ‘we’re out of X’ every time I order something.

The only two wineries on our list today were Dr. Konstantin Frank and Keuka Lake Vineyards. Dr. Frank has a long history in the Finger Lakes, has won many awards and has a breath-taking view. And yet I never really find myself in love with their wine. I’m sure it’s just me, as my palate pretty much stinks, I can’t ever tell you what I smell or taste, and all those somms can’t be wrong. In any case, I will tell you that Keuka Lake Vineyards is AMAZING. Tiny, no view, limited amount of wine but what we tasted we bought (in fact, I just ordered more). I’d recently read Lenn Thompson’s (of the New York Cork Report) brief instagram review of their Vignoles:

Fascinating take on vignoles… Chilled it was just too harshly structured and lacking fruit. At room temp it blossomed with dried pineapple and apricot… Not for everyone. And not going to impressed within 30 seconds. Take your time and tease out the layers and complexity.

Damned if he wasn’t right. We tasted this after it had been opened earlier in the day and at room temp and it was just as he described; we liked it so much we bought a bottle. But what really impressed us was the Leon Millot Fournier 2014, a red that had no business in the FLX, with its deep inky color (picture grape jelly, really) and incredible roundness. Just really impressive. We bought one and ordered two more the other day. Must be those 70-year-old vines…

And that was that for wineries that day. We made our way to our hotel (McCorn Winery Lodging-more later!) and a lakeside dinner (I’ll write about that another day too!) and shamelessly went to bed around 9:30.

Day two, coming up.

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