Spring is here. It's time to lighten up our wardrobes, menus and beverages.
If you're a red wine drinker in the winter and a white wine drinker in the summer, it's time to bridge the gap and drink the pink. By that I mean dry Rose from the Finger Lakes region. This is the season the pink- and cherry- and salmon-hued wines are released and celebrated. There are plenty of new choices each year, as more and more Finger Lakes winemakers embrace this style of wine and put their best red wine grapes into it -- Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Lemberger, Merlot and others.
Finger Lakes dry Rose doesn't threaten to topple Riesling from its throne any time soon, but it is gaining momentum and appreciation. The Discover Dry Rose promotion was introduced in 2013 with just over a dozen participating wineries. This year, 30 wineries are represented -- from Anthony Road Wine Company, near Penn Yan, to Zugibe Vineyards, in Geneva. Click here for participants and visit the individual websites for promotions and deals.
I visited the New York State section of one of our neighborhood liquor stores (Liquor City) recently to see what they had in the way of Finger Lakes dry Rose. Unfortunately, the answer is: not enough! They did have dry roses from Fox Run, Anthony Road and -- happy surprise! -- the signature label dry Rose by Kelby James Russell, the winemaker at Red Newt Cellars.
The best place to find these wines is at liquor stores with excellent regional selections, like Ryan's Wines and Spirits, in Canandaigua, and directly at the wineries. Spring is a great time to hit the wine trails -- there's elbow room in the tasting rooms and the busy tourist season is just gearing up. Billsboro Winery, five miles south of Geneva on the west side of Seneca Lake, offers a rose of Merlot and rose of Pinot Noir. Silver Thread Vineyard, on the east side of Seneca Lake, has an off-the-beaten path location and tasting room that is well worth a visit. Through the end of April, enjoy a complimentary sample of Silver Thread's rose of Pinot Noir, paired with a local cheese.
If you think white zinfandel when you think of pink wine, think again. Dry Rose from the Finger Lakes isn't sweet. These wines are crisp, refreshing, fruity and a friend of all foods. Try them with cheeses, cured meats, salads and vegetables, poultry, shellfish, seafood, pizza, pasta, paninis, fruit desserts -- just about everything.
They would be perfect for a picnic. Don't forget the corkscrew.
Many people come to Seneca Falls to visit the National Women's Hall of Fame, the Women's Rights National Historic Park and the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Many more pass through on their way to the wineries that make up the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail and the Seneca Lake Wine Trail -- and to their camps, cottages and homes in the Finger Lakes.
Sauders is a destination for food adventurists, "a unique country store'' that has grown from 10,000 square feet to 40,000-plus square feet -- the size of an Aldi or small Tops store. It's not a restaurant, but it ranks No. 1 on a Trip Advisor list of top restaurants in the Seneca Falls area, perhaps for its over-stuffed subs and deli sandwiches.
We've been hearing and reading about Sauders' expansion for a year now and stopped to check it out on our way to Seneca Lake. There's more parking, a covered drop-off and entry area and wide spacious aisles. If you're using a shopping cart, you'll no longer clog the aisles and bump into your fellow shoppers.
You might find yourself thinking the new Sauders reminds you of Wegmans. The store is big and more glossy, for sure, but still quaint and charming.
Sauders, open since 1978, was founded by Mennonites who moved here from Lancaster County, Pa. John Sauder, one of the owners, told the Finger Lakes Times last year the family has been wanting to expand the store for about five years and decided the time was right.
Basically, you'll find all the things you loved about the original Sauders -- on a larger scale.
You're greeted by a display of seasonal, local produce when you walk in the door. Next stop is a greatly expanded produce department.
There's an in-store bakery and an eat-in cafe called the Country Cookin' Cafe. The cafe also offers ice cream.
Grandma Sauders Candy Shack department has dozens of choices of bulk and packaged chocolate and candies, including every kind of "gummy" treat imaginable.
In the market for grains, pasta, rice, cereals and spices? You've come to the right place.
There's an expanded meat/deli department and cheeses galore, including local favorites like Muranda Cheese Co. and Yancey's Fancy cheeses. We spotted cheese curds and yogurts from Stoltzfus Family Farm, in Vernon Center.
Like to bake? There's an entire aisle of flour, sugars, sanding sugars, cookie and cake decorations in a kaleidoscope of colors, as well as candy-making supplies.
Are you "putting up summer"? There's canning and preserving gear and supplies galore.
No Mennonite store would be complete without jams, jellies, pickles, mustards, sauces, condiments and more -- Sauders has them all, including specialty items like pickled eggs.
Maple syrup, honey, nuts, dried fruit, trail mixes… the odds are good you'll go home with a thing or two NOT on your shopping list.
The "Book Nook" has Mennonite, Amish and community cookbooks.
The check-out area runs smoothly and is staffed by friendly young Mennonite women in their traditional white caps and calico print dresses. The store accepts debit and credit cards.
If you're in the Seneca Falls area and need some food/grocery items -- or even if you don't -- Sauders is worth a detour.
Sauders is at 2146 River Road, Seneca Falls. The store is open Monday to Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. Information: 315-568-2673
Note: East of Syracuse and also worth checking out is the Troyers Country Store, 5518 Nelson Road, Cazenovia. The store offers meats, cheeses, baking supplies, bulk foods, nuts and a popular DIY nut butter grinding machine. The store is open Monday to Saturday. Information: 315-655-0346
In a region where Riesling is king -- and red wines are fickle, due to the short growing season and cruel winters -- it's surprising to come across a vineyard that specializes in red. And red only.
Welcome to Shalestone Vineyards, on the east side of Seneca Lake. We've driven by the picturesque tasting room and vine-covered production room overlooking the lake many times, but had never stopped in until recently.
Owners Rob and Kate Thomas established their vineyards in 1995, in the area known as the "Banana Belt'' of the Finger Lakes, which is said to be warmer than other areas. They now have about six acres near the lake, devoted to grapes like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Lemberger and Pinot Noir.
When we arrived on a Sunday in August, Rob Thomas was putting the "open" sign out by the road and Kate was setting up in the tasting room. For a minute or two, we had that feeling one gets when one arrives a little early for a party, and finds the host not quite yet ready for guests. But as the room began to fill, everyone got to chatting.
Our tasting ($3 each) included five wines -- none of them with the usual descriptions, like "big," "bold," "jammy" and "juicy.''
Consider this description for the 2011 Lemberghini (a blend of Lemberger, Merlot and Syrah): "Like a ride at an amusement park that you get back in line for. A scenic drive to the state of ZING." And the 2012 Pinot Noir: "Oh, the fickle femme fatale! Some are like a cold shower and others give you multiple orgasms. They are always worth a try.''
We liked the Harmony, "an inter-vintage blend'' of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot "that sings with pleasure from balance and understanding, helping to elevate the quality of your life.''
We found something to like about all the wines we sampled. They made us think about fall and winter nights and warming meals. The Harmony would work well with a steak off the grill or a pot roast. The Red Legend would pair nicely with pasta or pizza -- who knows, maybe even barbecue. We left with a bottle of 2013 Beyond Rose (Zwiegelt and Lemberger). We've grown to love dry Roses from the Finger Lakes -- they seem to go with everything. This one had deeper color, flavor and body than others we've tried. Kate recommended serving it at room temperature (a surprise) or chilled.
I was tempted to get a bottle of the Synergy ($25; Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) but it was our first stop of the day and I didn't want to spend all of my allotted wine allowance in one place.
We're close enough to come back, we told ourselves. I'm sure we will.
Asked why they do only red, Kate said they like the complexity of red wine, they wanted to do something different and they don't like Riesling.
Their philosophy: "Tune into nature, go with the natural ebb and flow of life. Red wines best reflect the complexity of life as they are built in layers, much like experiences and relationships.''
Shalestone isn't one of those loud, raucous wineries with a carnival atmosphere. It's small and intimate and you get to talk and learn from the people who grow and harvest the grapes and craft the wine. Groups of more than eight are discouraged from visiting. Visitors are asked to shut off their cell phones and enjoy the moment, the view -- and of course the wine.
The dry red wine. Red is all they do.
Shalestone Vineyards is at 9681 Route 414, Lodi. The tasting room has limited hours: Fridays in October (noon to 5 p.m.) and Saturdays in November (noon to 5 p.m.), plus Friday, Nov. 23 (noon to 5 p.m.). Information: 607-582-6600.
is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the…
Eremita Winery is located in the
former Reformed and (later) Presbyterian Church, which stood vacant for years,
in the village of Lodi, Seneca County (Seneca Lake East). The church dates to
Josh Parker, a native of the Utica area who previously worked as a construction
project manager in Florida, purchased the building in 2010 after seeing it
is restoring and repurposing the building in increments, putting reclaimed
materials and his own design and construction skills to use. He lives there, as
well, and his dog, Matouk, greets visitors.
Parker were to say his winery is one of the most unique in the Finger Lakes, he
would be justified. I can’t think of another winery in a former church, with
light streaming in through stained glass windows. The church’s original wood
Stand at the tasting bar and admire the colorful collection of
wine bottles housed in the space that once held the church’s organ pipes. The
space is beautiful and has a great vibe.
makes and cellars Riesling, unoaked Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, a
blush wine called Goddess and others on the premises, using grapes from Wagner
Vineyards and other growers.
small in terms of staff and volume – about 1,500 cases a year. Stop in Eremita for
a tasting and the chances are good you will find Parker working solo, pouring
wine, answering questions and making and closing sales.
welcomes groups, but it’s a good idea to call ahead.
Speaking of small Finger
Lakes wineries: About five miles south of Eremita, and off the beaten path (Route 414),
is Silver Thread Vineyard. The
vineyard produces small quantities of premium vinifera
wines, including Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and
Gewurztraminer that have gained notice well outside the Finger Lakes. The winery
is rated among the top six Finger Lakes wine producers in the latest Robert
Parker Wine Guide.
Silver Thread is a hidden gem, offering a secluded setting, gorgeous
views of Seneca Lake and a small tasting room built into a hill, where co-owner
Shannon Brock pours samples. Buses and recreational vehicles aren’t allowed on
the gravel road that leads to the winery. Groups of eight or more must call in
advance to make arrangements to visit.
There are advantages to visiting a small winery. When the
owner pours, you learn things. Such as: Veraison – that’s the term used to
describe the point in the growing season when grapes soften and change color.
And that Gewurztraminer is a pink grape that yields a straw-colored wine.
Eremita Winery is at 2155
Church St., Lodi. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, noon
to 5 p.m. on Sunday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday. For information, call
607-474-5002. A website is under construction. Click here
to visit Eremita on Facebook.
Silver Thread Vineyard is
at 1401 Caywood Road, Lodi (about a mile off Route 414). The tasting room is
open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday (through November). For
information, call 607-582-6116 or visit the website.
If you don’t mind
a little dust and construction, you can now sample wines at DeWitt’s first
Greenwood Winery, at 6475 Collamer
Road (Route 298), opened to the public several weeks ago. Construction of a bar
and bistro, adjacent to the tasting room and wine-processing building, will
winery? A winery in the suburbs? It’s not as strange as it sounds. Grapes are
now being grown in an estimated 80 percent of New York’s counties.
And wineries are
popping up all over New York State: along Lake Ontario, in the Thousand
Islands, near Watertown, on the Tug Hill Plateau, near the Adirondacks and Lake
Greenwood Winery is
an artisan winery owned and operated by local real estate developer Tom
Greenwood. Wines are made from grapes grown in DeWitt and in the Finger Lakes. The
tasting area shares space with sparkling new storage tanks and crush pads.
Most of the
grapes Greenwood is growing are cold-hardy varieties developed by developed by
Cornell University and the University of Minnesota: Traminette, Noiret,
Chancellor, Marechal Foch and others.
In a Riesling
rut? Looking to branch out from your nightly Merlot? Eight wines are available
for tasting: four whites, a blush wine and three reds. Our $5 tasting included
our choice of five wines and came with a souvenir glass.
I’m no wine
expert, not by a long shot, but I do know what I like. I particularly enjoyed
the Traminette, a crisp white wine that reminded me of the sunny
Gewurztraminers I’ve enjoyed in the Finger Lakes, as well as two reds, the
Noiret and Enthusiasm (Chancellor). The reds are dry but not bone dry. They’re
full-bodied and flavorful, with a clean, smooth finish.
have a place at home, as we transition from light summer meals to heartier fall
and winter fare, like soups, stews and braised meats.
They also have a
place right at the Greenwood Winery, which has tables and Adirondack chairs on
a patio overlooking the small vineyard. Wines are available by the glass, and
bottles range in price from $10 to $14.
There’s also a
small market section with local and regional food products, like Thousand
Island River Rat cheeses and mustards, artisan breads, olives and cured meats –
and other items that pair nicely with wine. A small farmstand holds tomatoes,
cucumbers, summer squashes and other produce for sale, all from Greenwood’s
nearby farm, we were told.
Stroll around the
vineyards and you’ll lose awareness of the car and truck traffic on Route 298.
Enjoy a glass of wine and a little picnic on the patio.
you’re in wine country instead of the wine suburbs.
Note: Greenwood Winery won a Gold medal for its Baco Noir at the recent
New York Wine and Food Classic, considered the Oscars of New York State wine.
It was not available to taste when we visited – one more reason to visit again.
Greenwood Winery is at 6475 Collamer Road (Route 298),
DeWitt, a couple miles east of Carrier Circle. Tasting room hours are 11:30
a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday,
noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For information call