Keuka Lake wineries host Viva Italia!

(An Examiner.com post, 3/30/12)

The eight wineries of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail will hold their second event of the year, with the Italian-themed “Viva Italia!” on March 31 & April 1.

According to a Keuka Lake Wine Trail representative, “Event attendees will sample a delicious variety of dishes prepared with high-quality ingredients and wineries will make recipes available to enjoy at home. A preview of the event menus includes pasta e fagioli, gorgonzola tortellini, roasted red pepper polenta, zuppa di scarola, pistachio biscotti and lemon-almond cookies.”

Hunt Country Vineyards will feature a Tuscan-style penne pasta with their Classic Red.

Hunt Country Vineyards, for example, will be serving Tuscan-style Penne Pasta with their Classic Red, bread with a fig almond spread from The Gracious Gourmet, and almond cookies made by local baker Cheryl Zimmerman (Branchport, NY) featuring locally-made apricot jam from Los Gatos B&B (Penn Yan, NY)

Down the road at Heron Hill Winery, visitors will enjoy a dish featuring the Emilia-Romagna/Bologna from the northern Italy region in a Penne Bolgnese recipe created by Blue Heron Café Director Mike Oliver paired with Heron Hill’s Game Bird Red.

Tickets for the event can be purchased at any of the participating wineries for $30 for both days or $24 for Sunday only.  Each ticket holder will receive a souvenir wine glass.  Event hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

For additional information, contact the Keuka Lake Wine Trail at 1-800-440-4898 or info@keukawinetrail.com.  Or visit them online at www.keukawinetrail.com.

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Organizing Your Facebook Life

(A Ready. Set. Share. contributing post on www.handmadeinpa.net)

Feel like you’re spending your life tracking down fellow artists or favorite sites onFacebook?  Create Lists – a practice I already use in Twitter (where it’s called “Searches”) to get a quick overview of the chatter on specific topics or by specific groups. The idea, and knowledge, to do this on Facebook came to me today in a Social Media Examiner post shared by fellow communications pro, Carol FingarSocial Media Examiner is a great site to follow for social media tidbits.

Creating Lists on Facebook is a good way to group Pages or Friends so you can take a quick look at their status updates without scrolling through your main news feed. It also helps ensure that you will see the post, since your main news feed uses Facebook’s mysterious algorithm to populate your news feed.

If you’re like me and have clients or customers related to a specific region or topic, you can sort those folks out as well. To keep my sources for generating stories related to the PA Wilds together, I created a list to include the following folks:

• Olga Gallery, Café & Bistro
• Yorkholo Brewing Company
• Revitalize Mansfield
• Curt Weinhold Photography
• Pennsylvania Wilds Artisan Trails
• Flemish House Art Gallery
• ECCOTA

And if you have Friends and Pages that you want on one list – you can do that too! Just create the list from Friends and then add Pages, or vice versa. There is also an option in the top right of the list page to add individual Friends or Pages, rather than choosing from a list. Also in the top right corner of the List page, you can manage your list by adding/removing friends/pages, deleting the list, renaming the list, and even choosing which types of status updates are shown on the list.

And don’t worry, you’ll still have your normal news feed!

Relaxing at the Wine Salon

Each January my husband and I plan a trip up to the Finger Lakes – typically Seneca and/or Cayuga Lakes – to do some wine tasting and shopping.  The trip originally started out as an Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event, since it was a holiday for both of us.  This year, however, it was not a holiday for me, so we decided to go on Sunday.

It was Bargain Bash Week and Pasta & Wine Weekend along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, but it was still a relatively quiet day in most of the tasting rooms.  We started out at Silver Springs Winery, then headed on to J.R. Dill Winery, Atwater Vineyards, Red Newt Cellars, Kings Garden Vineyards, Wagner Vineyards, and Damiani Wine Cellars.  Our main mission for the day was to take advantage of the quiet tasting rooms and Bargain Bash specials, but I was also set on having lunch at the Red Newt Bistro and trying their Wine Salon, which I had heard so much about.

We did a quick tasting at Red Newt with a very pleasant and knowledgeable staff member (whom we kept staring at because he could’ve been my nephew’s twin; they even have the same name!) before heading in to the Bistro.

We ordered the Wine Salon menu option and our server, Emma, walked us through the choices of food for the Tasting Plate and wine selections.  It was a simple process: choose 3 entrees from a list on the blackboard, then choose three wines from a list of 20 Red Newt reds and whites.  The meal also came with a signature salon salad, crostini and concord chèvre.  If you’re not sure what to pair with what, don’t worry.  We relied on Emma for some suggestions and she did a great job.

For my three food items, I chose the Maple Smoked Trout, Flat Bread Pizza (with roasted garlic spread, artichokes, spinach and “Dilly Girl” Cheddar) and the Fresh Pasta (crab, chèvre, and carmelized shallot ravioli with roasted garlic cream sauce).  My wines were 2008 Pinot Gris – Curry Creek Vineyard, Red Eft, and 2010 Pinot Noir.

Kip, who loves to fish but isn’t a big fan of trout as a food, chose the Manchego, Flat Bread Pizza, and Fresh Pasta.  His wines were the 2007 Gewürztraminer – Curry Creek Vineyards, Red Eft and the 2010 Pinot Noir.

Combined with the Signature Salon Salad (hydroponic greens, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, white beans, and balsamic vinaigrette), the crostini and concord chèvre, it was a very filling meal in a very relaxed atmosphere.   And keeping with Red Newt’s focus on local, many of the items in our meal were sourced from local growers and producers: 

We talked, shared food and wine samples, and enjoyed the fantastic view of Seneca Lake.   It was the perfect meal for a great day on the lake.  I highly recommend stopping in and giving the Wine Salon at Red Newt Bistro a try.  Or, if you’d like a full meal, try their Winternet Cafe or dinner at the Bistro (serving again for the season beginning February 9th).

Fall Brings Changes of All Sorts

The leaves have changed and are starting to fall.  Television commercials are starting to change from schooltime ads to holiday ads (I’m not quite ready for those lovely snowflakes streaming down my screen!).  And life has changed as we decided to move and buy a new house in September!  It has been a crazy fall as we made some minor fixes to our old house, found new tenants for our old house, searched for a new house, bought a new house and are now in the process of moving in to the new house!  All in about a month’s time!  Crazy, I know.  But all for the good and towards our long-term plan of downsizing, placing more value on the things that really should matter (family, food, wine and culture!) and really putting our money in to fewer, but higher quality things.

So, thanks for your patience and look for new blog updates on a regular schedule again soon!  Topics on the burner include:  Sheldrake Point Winery’s new Seneca Lake Tasting Room; New York Wine & Culinary Center; the National Arts Marketing Project Conference; and a new series of contributor blogs to Handmade in PA.

Shopping the PA Heritage Festival

This past weekend I helped out at the PA Heritage Festival in Troy, PA.  The event, in its 6th year, features a Heritage Village with demonstrations and activities based in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s and an Artisan Marketplace featuring more than 40 juried artisan vendors.

This year’s event included many return vendors like Barb Sargent of Glass Jewelry Shack, Mike Wysocki of Sassy Albert Soaps, Marie Bauman of Shades of Country and Ed Hammond of E.M. Hammond Glass Designs.  And it saw several new vendors like Amy Jackson of Blissful Fiber, Joan Davis – jewelry artist, and Bob Moss – carver.

Bob Moss, carverBob Moss has been carving for about 10 years.  He first got interested after attending a craft show with his mother. After seeing some scroll work by an artist at the show, Bob figured he could do that work, went home, bought the needed equipment and got to work.  Scroll work eventually turned in to work with the lathe which eventually turned into work carving.  He carves in antler, golfballs and cottonwood bark.  He uses the lathe to create fantastic pieces from antler, corian and wood.Santas by Bob Moss

And he’s a fast learner, not just at his artwork.  After just a few years of selling at shows, Bob has become a master at the retail shows from watching others and observing traffic flow.  He sets his booth up with purpose, and often shares his insights with others.  Find Bob on Facebook and on Etsy.

Celebrating Food, Wine and Deb Whiting

The late Chef Deb Whiting

On Tuesday night, my husband and I made our way up to Elmira to Bistro223, a new-to-us restaurant on Water Street touting “world flavors,” the area’s largest selection of Finger Lakes wine and lots of local beer .  The purpose of our trip:  to watch the FoodNetwork’s episode of “Chopped” featuring Deb Whiting, the visionary chef and co-owner of Red Newt Cellars who was killed in a June 30 car accident.   The episode had been filmed last November, and was just now airing for the first time.

We arrived at Bistro223 about an hour and half before the show and were greeted by fellow viewers already gathered including Brandon Seager, assistant winemaker at Red Newt Cellars.  We settled in to our seats around the bar, placed our order for Black Bean Hummus and Traditional Hummus, and delved in to conversations with the others….mostly about Deb, her husband Dave and their Red Newt…as we sipped Red Newt wines.

“She loved being in the kitchen,” said Seager of Deb.  “She would gladly come out and meet the patrons in the Bistro, but she loved being in the kitchen.”

Seager has worked at Red Newt alongside the Whitings since 2007.  After earning his degrees in viticulture and enology from nearby Cornell University, he met Dave Whiting and was soon making wines alongside the winery co-owner.

“Its really a perfect fit,” says Seager of his job at Red Newt.  “It’s a collaborative effort – we work together and we taste together.”

Red Newt Verjooz

About that time, Bistro223’s staffer Liz Treffeisen, delivered our hummus.  In addition to the two that we had ordered, she presented us with a third hummus dish prepared specially for the evening with Red Newt’s Verjooz, a verjuice made from green Vinifera grapes harvested at veraison or “onset of ripening.”  According to the Red Newt web site, verjuice has been “around since the middle ages” and is often used in sauces and dressings to “add a zippy yet complex element that complements wine, instead of detracting from it like a too acidic vinegar.”  In the case of our hummus, the Verjooz was used in place of lemon juice and it paired nicely with the Red Newt Circle Riesling that I was drinking.

Also at Bistro223 was Shane Searfoss, former Red Newt Bistro Manager who had also owned Charlie’s Café in Elmira for a time.

“Dave & Deb had their anniversary dinner at Charlie’s,” said Searfoss when asked how he had met the Whitings.  “And they asked if I would be interested in working with them at the Bistro.”

“Deb met some great people at the Bistro,” reminisced Searfoss. “She cooked for some very important people, too.  She cooked for Senate Farm Days.” (New York Farm Day is an annual event hosted in Washington, D.C., highlighting the producers of New York’s award-winning wines, farm-fresh products and seafood, as well as leading restaurateurs)

Liz Treffeisen, Brandon Seager & Shane Searfoss watch "Chopped" featuring the late Chef Deb Whiting

Then as the Chopped episode began, Treffeisen turned up the television volume and those gathered focused their attention on the screen.   Deb’s love of food, especially Finger Lakes food, was evident with every dish she prepared.   As the contestants cooked and competed on the television, in Bistro223 there were cheers for Deb, good-natured scoffs at the other contestants and applause for Deb as she said her farewell after being eliminated in the second round.  Although I never had the opportunity to meet Deb Whiting, it was hard to believe that this vibrant, beautiful woman with an infectious smile was no longer with us.

“I thought I would be crying my eyes out,” said Seager.  “But I’m so proud.  I’ve never been so proud of Debra.  She was very confident and she put food on the plate that she knew was good.  Every time she talked, she mentioned the Finger Lakes.  Did you notice how many times she mentioned the Finger Lakes?”

Searfoss agreed, “She was fantastic!  She did a hell of a job.  The Finger Lakes should be proud!”

And proud the Finger Lakes are to have had, for even a short time, a woman whose passion and commitment helped build a movement that will continue on long into the future.

The Deb Whiting Foundation has been created to “carry on Debra’s vision and commitment to wine, food, farms, families and community.”  Those interested in Deb’s work and that of the Foundation, can sign up for the Foundation’s mailing list at www.debwhiting.org.

Navigating the Social Media Jungle

The world, it is a-changing…..and at a pace I find mind-boggling! The new reliance on social media and mobile technologies is forcing a lot of folks to re-evaluate their business practices – whether they like it or not.

I recently read a blog post “Dear Restaurant Owners – Having a Website is no longer OPTIONAL!,” and while it was targeted at restaurant owners, the same should be said to any small business. The days of avoiding a website are gone and every small business needs to have their presence on the web locked in.   It is now the first place people go to look for information.   I understand that you’re probably a one-person shop, and I’m not saying you need something fancy – but just to have your basic contact information, store hours if you have a physical storefront, a few photos, bio and artist statement are critical. That’s the base.

But there are so many other platforms out there – TwitterFacebookYelpFourSqaure, Blogs (I use WordPress for the NTCA web site and for my own blog) and now Google+to name a few.   How do you know which ones to use?  Not every social media option is for everyone, but you should definitely check out what each one offers and decide which will work best for you and your business.   My recommendations for a small, artisan business (as of today, because there will be something new tomorrow) include a minimum use of:

  • Website – of course.  As a promoter of the arts and someone who works with tourism groups, I cannot stress this enough.  A web site, even a basic one, is so key especially as more and more promotion is done through mobile apps that allow shoppers to find you while on the road.
  • Facebook: It is so simple (and free) to have a Page for your business. If you’re just starting out on Facebook – make sure you create a Page for your business, not a Profile (meant for individuals). It’s actually against Facebook’s rules to use a Profile for a business or organization and you risk having the Profile shut down. You can (and should) have a personal Profile plus a Page for your business. And once you get to 25 Likes, make sure you register your “vanity” URL or username.
  • Twitter: While it can take a little bit more to get into Twitter, it is a great source for sharing information and news. A good rule of thumb for using Twitter is: 70% of your tweets should be about sharing information, 20% should be spent “chatting” with those you follow and who follow you; and 10% is about self-promotion.

There are programs out there, like HootSuite and TweetDeck, that can help you manage multiple social media sites in one simple location. But be careful how you use them – the uses and accepted practices for Facebook and Twitter are different, so a message that works on Twitter might not work on Facebook..

Here are some examples of sites and folks to check out (you do not need to be a Twitter or Facebook user to see the sites):