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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Finger Lakes wineries greet Spring with March events

Check out my latest article posted on Examiner.com:  Finger Lakes wineries greet Spring with March events!  Tons of fun events around the Lakes in March! Enjoy Trail events on Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga Lakes plus lots of event on the wineries.    Check it out!

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).

Finger Lakes Wineries Gear Up for January Events

Check out my latest article posted on Examiner.com:  Finger Lakes Wineries Gear Up for January Events!  Tons of fun events around the Lakes in January!  And, in my mind, one of the best times to visit the wineries.  My husband and I will be headed up this coming weekend for our annual Bargain Bash trip to Seneca Lake.  Another of our favorite events is Between the Lakes.  Check it out!

Sheldrake Point on Seneca

What a crazy fall it has been.  September brought not only cooler temperatures, but also torrential downpours and flooding throughout the area.  Everyday life was pushed to the back burner as families, organizations, businesses and communities throughout the Twin Tiers struggled to deal with the damage left by the flood.  Many are still dealing with the aftermath.

Thankfully my family was not severely affected, but the community and organizations that I work with did sustain damage.  So, it was a bit of a break when I traveled to Seneca Lake on Thursday, October 20th for the latest meeting of the Academy of Wine Communications – Finger Lakes Chapter.  And of particular interest – the meeting was being held at Sheldrake Point Winery’s new Seneca Lake Tasting Room.

Sheldrake Point Winery & Simply Red Bistro are located along the shores of Cayuga Lake, the longest of the Finger Lakes.  Founded in 1998, Sheldrake Point’s vineyards and original tasting room sit on a 155-acre farm about 100 yards up from the edge of Cayuga Lake.  With 43 acres of grapes planted, the Winery offers a wide variety of Estate wines including award-winning Rieslings, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Dry Rose, and Ice Wines.

Sheldrake Point on Seneca Tasting Room

On September 26, 2011, the Winery opened a tasting room along the east side of Seneca Lake in Hector.  The entrance to the tasting room can be accessed via State Route 414 or Fauswold Road.  Outside the tasting room building, visitors are greeted with plenty of parking, drive-up access (for loading in those cases of wine!), and a building-long porch overlooking Seneca Lake.  Inside, the new space includes a tasting bar, a small meeting space, restrooms, gift shop and of course, a generous supply of Sheldrake Point wines.

“Since Simply Red Bistro will be closing its doors to customers on Cayuga lake the decision was made to add a second tasting room location on Seneca Lake which is a much busier wine trail,” states Christine McAfee, Sheldrake Point on Seneca Tasting Room Manager.    “The opportunity arose with Busca Books on Route 414 in Hector to establish a second tasting room location and with the help of Schickel Architecture in Ithaca, NY, construction began in Spring 2011. “

Visitors have a large selection of Sheldrake Point wines to choose from at the new tasting room.

According to McAfee, the same Sheldrake Point wines will be available at both locations, although currently, the Seneca Lake Tasting Room has Cabernet Sauvignon and Gewurztraminer, which the Cayuga Lake Tasting Room no longer has in stock.

The Winery will celebrate the opening of its new tasting room with a Grand Opening Party on Thursday, November 17th from 6-8pm.  The evening will feature work by local artist Helena Cooper, music by Richie Stern and food catered by Sam of Simply Red Events.  Tasting Room staff will also be pouring a pre-released 2010 Gamay Noir.

The tasting room along Seneca is open Daily from 10am-5:30pm, April-October and Daily from 11am-5pm, November-March.  The tasting room is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  For more information, visit www.sheldrakepoint.com, email: contact@sheldrakepoint.com, or call 866-743-5372.

Ready, Set, Share – New Blog Series on HandmadeinPA.net

Being an artist in today’s world means much more than making and selling your work from your studio or gallery.  Today’s world is all about Sharing – the story about you and your work, your thoughts, and just general information.  And the way you share that story can make all the difference in the world for sales and the success of your business.

Case in point:  As I was writing this blog, the following came across Twitter from a friend and social media colleague, Melissa Dobson:

@copperoven @cayugaridgewinery just met #socialshareroc attendee who visited you for 1st time because she likes how you engage on social

In case you don’t read Twitter, she’s letting the folks know at The Copper Oven andCayuga Ridge Winery that she met someone at the Social Share Summit (Rochester, NY) who made a visit to their physical retail sites because of the way they engaged with friends and followers on social media.  That’s pretty convincing testimonial for getting on the social media bandwagon.

In this new Blog Series, Ready, Set, Share, we’ll take a look at the various ways to get your story out there, how to engage your fans and followers, and some of the resources that are there to help you.  For a quick refresher on some of your options, check out this past post: Navigating the Social Media Jungle.

And in the meantime, did you know about the National Arts Marketing Project?  Check it out online:  artsmarketing.org or www.facebook.com/artsmarketing.  I’m headed to their annual conference, November 12-15, and I’ll be reporting on some new trends and tools when I get back!

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.