Friday, July 2, 2010

New York, New York!

So what are the wineries in NY’s Finger Lakes like? Wow, as you might guess, they are as varied and wineries anywhere else. As mentioned in the last post, their buildings were a variety of shapes and sizes, but by far the most common were simple metal-sided buildings that the owners had often enhanced with a fancy entrance, a garden walk, a large fountain, or a bit of décor to add a bit of distinct character.

The interiors were pretty nice, for the most part. There were a few that were simple concrete floors with typical retail furniture and a tasting bar, but many had very attractive interiors with a theme even beyond just being a winery.

The wine was good, as with any full day of wine tasting we found a lot of good, some very good, and a few really great wines. We found some high priced wines and a few real bargains. We (four people) spent most of the week drinking a case of Casa Largo’s Tre Blanc, a semi-dry white made with 57% Muscat, 33% Traminette, 10% Gewürztraminer, and paid $59 a case (not a typo) for it. Yes, that’s less then $5 a bottle and when I asked why, the staffer said it was an ’08 vintage and they wanted to clear it out because the ’09 was about to bottle. Wow, what a good wine at a great price.

We ran into something I did not expect, a meadery, along Seneca Lake. It was a division of another large winery that specialized in fruity honey wines, yet they also had some great off dry meads worth a taste. Their slightly sweet pear mead was good, but their sparkling mead, “Twinkle” was fabulous!

As I have said, the problem with this area is the short distance between the wineries allows no “recovery time” and without much trouble you start feeling the accumulated tastings quickly. So you have to research and pick and choose which wineries to visit in advance. Our tasting room staffer, Chris, had spent some time doing such and gave us six great wineries to stop at. Problem #2 is most of the wineries have extensive wines lists offering 20 or more wines. How to choose which to taste?

The wineries have developed a method for handling this problem, they charge for tastings (!) and they limit your tastings, typically to six. Now, you know from reading my earlier blogs I do not ‘believe’ in paid tastings. I think in these folks case, I agree with their thinking. This region is nationally famous, like Sonoma or Napa in California, and thousands come here to tour and taste weekly. There are people, the staffers told me, who do pay, taste, and leave; it’s what they do. I must admit I would not hesitate to leave without buying if nothing struck my fancy and paying allows me to leave without any guilt about their time or samples provided.

But here’s what won me over in the Finger Lakes, every winery we visited applied your tasting fees ($1-$5 per person) to your purchases. Several were “sloppy” about collecting these fees with us and most gave us more then the five or six taste limit. I still feel paid tastings are a bad idea for Indiana, but I think these people have the right idea for their situation.

BUS TOUR DEADLINE: a reminder that the all deposits for the August 28/29 southern Indiana bus tour must be in by July 10!

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