Black Friday Became Red & White Friday

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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.
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What a view, right?

Ahem, I meant the vineyard…

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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.”

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

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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. 🙂

 

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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.
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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)

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

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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
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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

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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

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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.

Owera Vineyards, A Must Taste and See

Through a gorgeous wrought iron and heavily wooded gate off of Owahgena Road, you will find Owera Winery built atop the hill in front of a skyline of trees. Owera Winery, located in Cazenovia, New York, just 25 minutes outside of East Syracuse, creates a warm and inviting atmosphere for its customers. Upon entering, we were immediately greeted by our wide-smiling host and waitress, Jess.

With minimal patrons and slightly dimmed lights, it was the perfect atmosphere for a relaxing and appetizing girls’ night out. We were excited to get seated, peruse the menu and get to wining down on Wednesday. After all, every day leading up to hump day can be tough!

In my first blog post, I originally said I wanted to stray from dry red wines however, I couldn’t resist. To be fair, we discussed the whole wine menu and ended up ordering the broad spectrum of wine.

Owera’s wine menu works to hit each category from sweet reds and whites, to dry reds and whites. We chose to test our taste buds by ordering a wine flight and sampling a semi-sweet blush, a semi-dry Riesling, a well-rounded dry red and a chilled semi-dry red. While all four were flavorsome, two of us were in favor of the dry and two in favor of the sweet. We chose to order one bottle of the semi-sweet blush and one bottle of the well-rounded red. They are each staple wines of Owera.

The semi-sweet Cazenovia blush is described as a wine that, “features aromas of strawberries and violets with luscious fruit flavors,” according to Owera’s website. The Owahgena dry red is described as, “a nicely rounded finish from a blend of dry varieties; notes of cherry, boysenberry and walnut flavors.” Yum!

To strategically pair the wines, we ordered an artisanal cheese board for our appetizer. The cheese board included an arrangement of delicious cheeses, drizzled honey over assorted nuts and just the right number of crackers. It was divine and the perfect amount for a shareable portion between four women. Because of the variety of cheeses, both the sweet and dry wines paired nicely.

So completely distracted by the arrangement and mouthwatering tray in front of me, I had forgotten about the food order we placed. Our wide-smiling waitress happily carried over our shared beef sliders and spicy meatball pizza. Dee-light-ful. They nailed it. I especially loved the spicy meatball pizza with the dry red (of course). If there was a rating system, I would give this place a five out of five.

Overall, it was an incredible experience and one I was able to spend with my mother as well as two of my very good friends. If you ever find yourself in Central New York, Owera Vineyards is a must-visit stop.