Navigating a Healthier Lifestyle & My Wine Appreciation

Greetings all! I have been M.I.A. and I don’t like that I’ve been away from doing two things I love – writing and wine appreciation! But, that’s neither here nor there.

My goal for 2018 was to lead a healthier lifestyle without giving up some of the things I love. Like wine, for instance. And, we can’t forget about cheese now, can we? What I’ve discovered this past month and a half is how to find a balance. It was just a matter of navigating my way through a routing and finding a balance.


I also wanted to be realistic. With a fervor and appreciation for wine – I was going to limit my consumption to weekends. To some, that might sound easy. To me… it was not. Wine appreciation is in my family and has kind of become part of my brand. One or two glasses on Fridays or Saturdays would be a challenge! Shout out to a former professor who I know loves wine with dinner (she may or may not be reading this). But regardless, she goes to the gym every morning at 5 a.m. – she’s a fitness fanatic. I envy her drive and ability to “wine appreciate” and be fit. I will continue to strive to get to her level.

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Mid-January, I started a 42-day program called Metro42 right at my gym, Metro Fitness in downtown Syracuse (there’s one other location). Boy, let me tell you… It is definitely a challenge! But, I love it and I’m already down nearly nine pounds. Now that more than three weeks have passed, it has now become part of my routine/regimen/etc.  I think I can officially categorize it as a habit. While I’m going to the gym 4-6 times a week (3 of those days for the challenge), I have found that the best thing I’ve done for myself is the “diet,” if you can even call it that.

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It really was a lifestyle change for me with meal prepping and eating vegetables at every meal. I also had to program my body to eat 6 times a day and drink LOTS of water. I would like to emphasize LOTS of water again… like two gallons a day. It’s no joke. You’re not supposed to drink on this program, but like I said, I wanted to be realistic. I feel better, my skin is clearer, and the best part is, I have finally found a healthy way to manage my diet, exercise and wine appreciation.

I also can’t give up wine when I will be enjoying it in Italy in just a few months! Shout out to my mans for this trip of a lifetime. Stay tuned – more information to come on my progress in this program!

Black Friday Became Red & White Friday


My boyfriend, Jordan’s, family and I share loathsome feelings toward the hustle bustle of Black Friday. We decided to optimize our day off by visiting wineries along Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes and, my oh my, it was such a good decision! Instead of a shopping-filled and overcrowded Black Friday, we enjoyed a calm and relaxing Red & White Friday throughout some of the Finger Lake’s wine trails.

Our tour stops included:

  1. Hunt Country
  2. Bully Hill
  3. Heron Hill Winery
  4. Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars
  5. Hazlitt’s Red Cat Cellars
  6. Stever Hill

The view at Heron Hill was mesmerizing. Jordan and I were able to snag a picture, and, yes, he really is that tall of a human.

What a view, right?

Ahem, I meant the vineyard…


Here are some photos from inside Heron Hill:

Disclaimer: A glass was shattered here, but that’s good luck, right?

One of my favorite things about doing tastings is that you have the ability to open up your palate to a variety of wines for a low, low price. If you don’t prefer one of the wines you’re tasting, you are welcome to dump the wine (without being judged) into a wine spittoon.

While I generally don’t sample whites at restaurants and, who am I kidding, I don’t really do it at home either – I can sample a small portion at the wineries offering white wine. And, I have the spittoon just in case I need it.

At Hunt Country, we enjoyed one of our samples so much that we took two home with us. The Alchemy red wine on the website is described as, “…the medieval predecessor to chemistry: a search to perfect certain substances and to create a magical ‘elixir of life.’ The closest thing we’ve found to a universal cure is a phenomenal wine…  Our Alchemy is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This dry red wine has black cherry notes, firm oak and hints of pepper. Enjoy a glass on its own or with a wide variety of hearty meat dishes, rich cheeses, and tomato-based Italian cuisine.”


Various sites have also given Alchemy good reviews where it is commonly priced very reasonably at $15.99/bottle.


We appreciated the goofy decor and the warm and welcoming atmosphere at Hunt Country. The bathroom signs especially provided us with a laugh.

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After a humorous discussion with the group, we decided our favorite winery stop was Dr. Konstantin Frank. Unlike most winery stops, you don’t select the wines you will be tasting at Dr. Konstantin Frank. You go by the suggestions of the wine sampler. Ours was a gentleman named Bill. He was both goofy and knowledgeable and had lots to tell us about the history of wine. We appreciated his input. But more importantly, we appreciated his quick pouring abilities. 🙂



Bill has been recommending the 2015 Saperavi, which we were all eager to sample. With Bill’s accurate description and chronological detailing of the history of Saperavi, we understood it as having one of the oldest wine grapes known to man. A Saperavi grape,  “…originated in Georgia (the country) – is one of the only grape varieties in the world with red pulp and red skin. As a wine, Saperavi is complex, and heavy bodied with leather, red berry, earthy and spicy notes,” according to Dr. Konstantin Frank’s website. A red wine we all loved… I am guilty again of favoring a red wine.

Here is Jordan modeling a $430 bottle of wine… in case you were wondering how expensive some bottles can get.

Our final stop was Stever Hill. This was a fan favorite because we paired the wines with some delectable cheeses… YUM! If I had to pick a diet that I didn’t gain any weight from for the rest of my life, it would be one of wine and cheese. It is samplings like the one at Stever Hill that remind me how much I appreciate pairings.

With national recognition of the Finger Lakes, we are fortunate to be a short drive away. We have the ability to access them and their surrounding vineyards year-round! I hope to continue my explorations along Seneca Lake next time – hopefully before next year’s Black Friday!


Starting Our Health Kick (Without Forgetting the Wine)


It is that day of the week again! It is time to wine and dine on this fine Wednesday. Too much? Never, when it is in the spirit of wine. This week, we dined with a variety of tastes on our palate. My mother and I wanted to start our health kick this week (especially with how the weekend went) and in an effort to cleanse our bodies, we decided to ease our way into this next stretch. We also decided to stray away from our favorite and familiar, dry red.

For our healthy side dish, we grilled broccoli, tofu and a few dashes of various seasonings getting it crispy enough to provide a little bit of a crunch. Once it was cooked through, we drizzled honey balsamic dressing over the top to give it a tinge of sweetness. For our main course, we went with Wegmans pre-made chicken fajita mix. YUM! So delicious. If you’re not into pre-made mixes, which I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be, Wegmans has crafted a video for customers to make them from scratch with their pre-seasoned chicken, pork and steak. Personally, with our busy schedules, we love this. It takes less than five minutes and it is perfect for a delicious and quick weeknight meal.

The weather has proven to be warm this week and we thought what is the best way to enjoy these last summer-like days? By savoring a light and fruity wine to rinse the palate of course. We opted for the Schmitt Söhne Riesling, described as crisp and fruity. It paired perfectly with our side and entrée. According to the label, it is considered a ‘Best Buy’ by Wine Enthusiast. I definitely recommend!


An Afternoon at Anyela’s


One thing I can always count on in my wine experimentation is my mom. She is MORE than willing to come along for the experience. And, best of all, she shares my love of dry reds. Well, she is kind of the reason and enabler for it too.


Our most recent endeavor took us to a town just outside of Syracuse, Skaneateles, New York. My mom grew up in Skaneateles and became excited to take the 30-minute drive back to her roots. Disclaimer: thank you, dad, for driving.

Along the west side of the lake where there are million dollar homes and gorgeous scenery, sits a charming winery atop a hill called Anyela’s Vineyards. Even though we visited on a rather cloudy day, the views and the vineyard were still striking. The rows and acres of vines and grapes provided a setting that was, in one word, breathtaking. I would soon find out that there was a reason for placing the vines along the drive up to the winery.

Before we ventured out into the rows of vines and grapes, we stopped into the winery purchasing a bottle of Overlay (mom’s favorite) and cheese and crackers (dad’s favorite). Overlay, according to Anyela’s website, is described as, “A blend of 50 percent Cabernet Franc, 25 percent Pinot Noir, 25 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is very smooth with berry characteristics and a bit of spiciness.” The “bit of spiciness” is what I really enjoy. The horseradish cheese acted as a perfect counterpart to the smooth wine, especially because we were able to snag a corner table outside overlooking the lake.

Anyela’s Vineyards opened in the early 2000s by Patti and Jim Nocek, preserves its wines a little differently than other wineries across the Finger Lake region.  Its story dates back three generations to Eastern Europe to the land that is now spread out along Skaneateles Lake. Patti Nocek speaks of the uniqueness of the vineyard. “Jim and I are very hands-on, even after 10 years. We like to be involved because of our passion and the knowledge that goes into wine production,” says Patti. Their passion trickles down to their staff, which is evident in the welcoming and knowledgeable atmosphere present at Anyela’s. Upon entering the property, they immediately wanted to grab the attention of patrons, provoking curiosity, by lining the drive up with vines of grapes. Well, this tactic works.

According to the website, Anyela’s works to preserve the vines from the fall and winter cold by removing each vine from its designated trellis and burying them in the earth, “to insulate the sensitive primary buds, which eventually become the fruit. In spring, we re-trellis the vine for maximum sun exposure.” This provides for a riper and more flavorful fruit come springtime.

I can say with certainty, this technique is working! 10/10 would recommend taking the trip to Skaneateles and stopping in town to shop and play.

Must Visits on Seneca Lake’s East Side

5.  Ventosa Winery


Image taken from @ventosavyds

Ventosa Vineyards borders the northern end of Seneca Lake for all vistors to experience great views on the vast 23 acres of land. The vineyard, according to its website, is known for producing dry reds while still incorporating the well known and award-winning Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and other Italian varietals.

4. Hazlitt Vineyards


Image taken from @hazlitt1852vineyards

In 1852 David Hazlitt bought 153 acres of land consumed by fruit trees. From there, Hazlitt Vineyards has grown to be a well-known and prestigious winery located a few miles north of Watkins Glen. Situated along the east side of Seneca Lake, you will find this vineyard is still being run by David Hazlitt’s family six generations later. Come here to try an award-winning wine varying from the 2014 Grüner Veltliner and to the 2014 Homestead Reserve Riesling.

3. Penguin Bay Winery

Image taken from @PenguinBayWine

Located JUST below Hazlitt Vineyards, Penguin Bay is more of a casual, fun and fast-paced stop on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Here, you can sample the Penguin Bay Humboldt Red, Moscato or the Gewürztraminer. Drink here and help save the penguins!

2. Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars


Image taken from @LamoreauxWine

Looking for fancy, glamorous and a little pizazz? Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars is the place to stop and taste with your girlfriends and boyfriends. Winery & Spirits Winery of the year in both 2010 and 2012, the vineyard does very well for itself attracting a breadth of wine lovers. One of the vineyard’s best qualities? That would be using only “sustainable viticultural practices,” according to their website.

1. Three Brothers Winery


Image taken from @three_brothers_wineries

A crowd and personal favorite, Three Brother Winery is the place to head to for some fun. Located at the northeast tip of Seneca Lake, Three Brothers Winery has FOUR wine and beer stops to choose from . A 25th birthday gift to myself, a bunch of us wine toured here and loved it. I can attest that the $60 Bourbon Barbara is delightful. It’s worth the few extra bucks for a tasting of it and one of these days I will be opening the bottle (yes, I bought the bottle) for a special occasion.