Thursday, July 21, 2016

'Merlot & Mignon' coming up at Keuka Spring

Red meat and red wine. Mmmmmmm!

They're an annual specialty combo at Keuka Spring Vineyards, and this year's "Merlot & Mignon" event is scheduled for Friday-Saturday, August 12-13.

Visitors will be able to sample the vineyard's library of Merlots -- and celebrate the release of the 2015 Merlot -- along with a filet mignon slider, with winemaker August Deimel hosting a series of hour-long tastings. The event will be the only days the library Merlot wines are available for tasting and purchase.

Sessions are scheduled for 3 and 5 p.m. on Friday, and noon and 3 p.m. Saturday. The tasting fee is $20, or $15 for Vista Wine Club members. Reservations are required for the small-group sessions, and made by phone or online.

The Finger Lakes facility is located at 243 East Lake Road (Route 54) in Penn Yan. Phone: (315) 536-3147.

Introducing, an audacious little blue from Spain

A quiz for New York State's winemakers:

Let's examine the basics of the grape wine color spectrum: Red and white. Oh, and pink. And, sometimes yellow, or even a little bit light green.

And, blue.

Blue? Yep. A bright cobalt blue wine recently introduced in Spain and rolling out across Europe under the less-than-appetizing brand name Gik will begin appearing in the U.S. in October, priced at $16 a bottle.

Curiously, the young winemakers behind Gik (run "gik" through a Spanish-to-English translator and it still comes out "gik") are not claiming any great product, just a different one. Their stated manifesto: "Gik represents the innovative side of life, because that’s how we are. We believe in the creative rebellion, we build new things, break with the past and create our future. We are Gïk and we will change the world."

The wine, bottled at 11.5% alcohol by volume, is a blend of red and white wines -- yes, they've managed to mix red and white to get blue -- from vineyards in Spain and France.

What is it like? Says company co-founder Artiz Lopez, "It tastes sweet and fresh and has no heritage. Surprisingly, when we did a blind tasting, just one of 15 people said it was a wine. Among the reactions we found some people even saying it was a soft drink!"

Sunday, July 17, 2016

'Read & Feed,' and drink, at Basilica Hudson

The event at the Basilica Hudson is called "Read & Feed." However, it also includes wine, but perhaps no one could find a word for that to rhyme with the rest of the title.

It's a festival-style mashup covering literature and food, and will include food and wine tastings, panel discussions, readings, demos, and access to the marketplace space.

Tickets, available online for the 4 p.m. Saturday, July 30, event, are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Both prices cover a $5 voucher that can be used toward any book or magazine purchase at the event. Basilica Hudson and the Community for Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) organization are projecting "Read & Feed" as an annual event bringing together artisanal makers of food and artisanal makers of literature.

Among the panels on the schedule:

"Two Best Friends and a Bottle of Wine" -- Authors Lydia Davis ("Can't and Won't: Stories") and Lynne Tillman ("What Would Lynne Tillman Do?") will engage with each other and the audience over a wine tasting. Moderated by Michael Albin.

"Food, Farming, and Spirituality" -- Chef Zak Pelaccio (Fish & Game restaurant in Hudson, "Eat With Your Hands"), author Marie Mutsuki Mockett ("Where the Dead Pause" and "The Japanese Say Goodbye"), and organic farmer Sarah Chase (Chaseholm Farm) join cookbook author and panel moderator Rozanne Gold ("Radically Simple," "Cooking 1-2-3") to discuss how spirituality manifests itself in the culinary arts.

"Reading, Drinking, Eating, Writing" -- Rosie Schapp (New York Times “Drinking” columnist and author of "Drinking with Men"), Kimiko Hahn (president of the Poetry Society of America Kimiko Hahn and author of "Brain Fever: Poems"), author Ava Chin ("Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal"), and true crime writer Harold Schechter ("Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal") explore food as a language.

Demonstrations with tastings:

"Cooking with the Muse" -- Myra Kornfield and Stephen Massimilla, authors of "Cooking with the Muse: a Sumptuous Gathering of Seasonal Recipes Culinary Poetry, and Literary Fare."

"The Belle Reeve" -- Marianne Courville of The Hudson Standard will demonstrate how to concot and taste this quintessentially southern cocktail made with bourbon, ginger liqueur, lemon and Hudson Standard’s Peach Lavender Shrub.

Other details are available on the event website. Basilica Hudson is located at 110 South Front Street in Hudson, Columbia County. It is a non-profit multidisciplinary arts center supporting the creation, production and presentation of arts and culture while fostering sustainable community. It was founded in 2010 by musician Melissa Auf der Maur and filmmaker Tony Stone.

Missing in England: an entire wine region

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Missing areas in green, yellow
 When it comes to wine, not a lot of Americans immediately think about England. Beer, yes, but wine not so much. Apparently some people in England have that same attitude.

According to The Drinks Business, "A post titled ‘All About English Wine’ published on the Wine Folly blog this week includes a 'Wine Map of England' which highlights the winemaking regions of Hampshire, Sussex, Surry, Kent, East Anglia and -- that’s it.

"Several observers noted the omission of the entire South West of England, home to ... around 139 vineyards ... around half of which are of a 'medium to large' size, according to English wine marketing group English Wine Producers."

Was this just a faux pas by some ill-informed hobbyist writing a weak little blog? No, says the report. "The award-winning Wine Folly site is run by Madeline Puckette, a former graphic designer and qualified sommelier whose wine infographics have helped many thousands, if not millions, of wine novices to better understand the subject since its launch in 2011. The site has also led to the publication of a New York Times best-selling book."

So, what happened, and why the mysterious omission of an entire wine-producing region in a country that isn't all that large to begin with? Go here for the rest of the story.

Wine & Culinary Center? There's an app for that

Wine & Culinary Center (Photo by Bill Dowd)
Wine & Culinary Center (Bill Dowd photo)
The New York Wine and Culinary Center, located on the waterfront in the charming Finger Lakes city of Canandaigua, has an interesting item in its lineup of communications tools.

A new app, available for free downloading from the iTunes App Store, provides recipes, special events schedules, class information, and push notifications featuring the ability to have special offers for app subscribers. The app also gives users access to the center's Upstairs Bistro menu plus staff picks and recipes from the in-house kitchen.

It's 50.5 MB, requires iOS 7.0 or later, and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

“We’re excited about push notifications capabilities, especially with our 20 new tap handles,” said Christine Maguire, NYWCC food and beverage manager. “Users will be notified of featured beers and changes to the taps via the app."

The Wine & Culinary Center opened in 2006. It contains a large, hands-on kitchen, a demonstration theater, a tasting room, a private dining room, a culinary boutique, and the locally-sourced Upstairs Bistro. Its emphasis is on education and showcasing of New York State food and beverage products.

The facility is located at 800 South Main Street. Phone: (585) 394-7070.

Making wine without grapes (or any other fruit)

In the Ava wine cloning lab
In the Ava cloning lab
Sometimes people create things because there is a demand for them. Certain medications or machines, for example. Sometimes they create things because they can created a demand. Certain smartphone apps, for example.

And, sometimes they create things just because they can. This may fall into the latter category.

Bioengineer Alec Lee, founder of the Ava Winery wine cloning lab in San Francisco, tells TechCrunch, “We create the wine without any grapes, yeast or any kind of fermentation.”

The startup company currently is concentrating right now the startup is focused on replicating three wine clones -- a Moscato d’Asti, a Dom Perignon, and a Pinot Noir. Says TechCrunch, "The claim to make wine from a group of bonded atoms sounds a bit like alchemy, but Lee swears his products are the real deal."

Are they really? You can make up your mind after reading the full story by clicking here.

Fall tip: Apple & Wine Festival in Altamont

Screen shot 2016-07-14 at 4.51.27 PMFor those who actually plan ahead, here's another entry for the fall food-and-drink events calendar:

The annual Capital Region Apple and Wine Festival, scheduled for the weekend of September 17-18.

The event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, will be held at the Altamont Fair Grounds, 129 Grand Street in Altamont. Admissions is $8 for anyone over the age of 15, otherwise no charge. Tickets will go on sale at Price Chopper stores closer to the event. And, parking will be free. Those who donate a nonperishable food item or make a monetary donation to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York will receive a $1 off their next purchase of $10 or more at the Altamont Orchards Farm Market.

The rain-or-shine festival will include wine and food samplings, cooking demonstrations, a car show, a farmers market, and more than 100 crafters from throughout the Northeast on hand to participate in a juried craft show. Products that are part of the Pride of NY program will be featured throughout. To emphasize the family atmosphere, kids will be treated to non-stop entertainment including a kids circus, haunted house, face and pumpkin painting, clowns, stilt walker, juggler, and pony rides.

New 'Saratoga Uncorked' a multi-venue event

Screen shot 2016-07-14 at 2.43.12 PMIf you'd like to get a smattering of much of what makes Saratoga Springs tick in the summer, "Saratoga Uncorked" may be just the thing.

This new, multi-venue event will run from next Wednesday, July 20, through Sunday, July 24, showcasing wine, food, and entertainment as a prelude to the thoroughbred horse racing season at Saratoga Race Course.

Tickets, and event details, are available on the event website at various prices.

Event highlights:
  • Wednesday, July 20 -- Shakespeare in the Park 
  • Thursday, July 21 -- Nine & Wine at Saratoga National Golf Course 
  • Thursday, July 21 -- International Wine Tasting at Saratoga National Golf Course 
  • Friday, July 22 -- Veuve Clicquot Night at Saratoga Polo Association 
  • Saturday, July 23 -- VIP Paddock Tent Wine Tasting at Saratoga Race Course

Fall tip: The Merlot World Classic on LI

Screen shot 2016-07-13 at 4.00.01 PMMany of us probably have our summer wine-events calendar filled up, but if you're looking for some good dates for the fall, here's one on Long Island that is worth the drive from anywhere.

The 28th annual Merlot World Classic is scheduled for 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, September 17. More than 60 different merlots from around the globe will be available for sampling at The Lenz Winery, located on the North Shore of Suffolk County.

Participating domestic wineries and organizations to this point include:

The Lenz Winery 
The Long Island Merlot Alliance 
Bedell Cellars 
Gramercy Vineyards 
The Grapes of Roth 
Lieb Cellars 
Martha Clara 
Mattebella Vineyards 
The Old Field 
Race Wines 
Raphael Sherwood House Vineyards 

Admission to the event is $50 at the gate. The Lenz Winery is located at 38355 Main Road (Route 25) in Peconic Bay. Phone: (631) 734-6010. Reservations may be made by phone.

4 NY entries take Double Gold in major wine test

Screen shot 2016-07-13 at 3.35.21 PMNew York State wines continue their relentless collection of major medals at major competitions. The latest is a four Double Gold haul at the recent prestigious 36th annual San Francisco International Wine Competition.

Double Gold medals are awarded when the panel tasting a particular wine are unanimous in awarding it top marks. A single Gold comes from a majority opinion of the panel.

The DG awards for New York entries:

• Penguin Bay 2015 Pinot Grigio (98 of 100 possible points) 
• Coyote Moon's 2014 Semi-Sparkling Moscato (96) 
• Goose Watch's 2015 Pinot Grigio (96) 
• Castel Grisch's 2013 Riesling Ice Wine (94)

In the overall results:

• Best in Show Red • Best Pinot Noir 
Crū 2014 Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, CA 

• Best In Show White • Best White Rhône Varietal 
McPherson Cellars 2015 Piquepoul Blanc, Timmons Ranch, TX 

• Best in Show Sparkling • Best Blanc de Noir 
Gloria Ferrer Winery NV Blanc de Noirs, Carneros, Sonoma, CA 

• Best in Show Dessert • Best Port 
Kopke 1957 Colheita Port, Porto DOC, Portugal

Gold medals, with scores from 89 to 91, went to 12 New York entries:

• Penguin Bay's 2015 Riesling, its Percussion, and its 2013 Vidal Ice Wine 
• Coyote Moon's Fire Boat White and its 2014 Cherry Bomb 
• Humphreys Vineyard's 2015 Semi-Sweet Riesling and its 2015 Gewurztraminer 
• Belhurst Castle's 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon 
• Castel Grisch 2013 Vidal Ice Wine 
• Keuka Spring's 2015 Riesling 
• Lamoreaux Landing's 2015 Vidal Ice Wine 
• Whitecliff's 2013 Sky Island

There were more than 4,600 entries blind tasted by 50 international judges. You can access the full results by clicking here.

California vintners want tougher fed labeling rules

A Brooklyn Winery label notes grape source
Label denotes grape source
From the Santa Rosa (CA) Press Democrat

At the behest of the [California] wine industry, a new proposal would toughen federal labeling standards on a bottle of wine, controlling more tightly wineries’ claims of vintage dates, varietals and geographic region where the grapes are grown.

Local vintners have complained that exemptions currently allowed by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau are misleading consumers and hurting the reputation of their local wine regions.

“This was our baby,” said Rex Stults, who heads up government relations for the Napa Valley Vintners trade group. “We are such passionate advocates for the integrity of the Napa name.”

The Brooklyn Winery, for example, has made a name for itself in New York by crafting boutique, small-batch wines that appeal to affluent consumers around the New York metro region. It sources grapes from New York State, but also reaches beyond, even to Sonoma County, CA, trucking grapes in a refrigerated truck almost 3,000 miles to make its wine. About 40% of its grapes come from the West Coast. Its 2012 Pinot Noir from the Carneros region sells for $45 and, because of federal rules, can be sold only within New York State.

Go here for the full story.

Man who debunked 'killer wines' theory dies

Screen shot 2016-07-12 at 2.23.23 PM
Gilbert Stowesand
Gilbert Stoewsand, a Cornell University food scientist who helped rescue New York’s fledgling wine industry from "killer wine" charges in the early 1970s by debunking shoddy science and malicious rumors that attributed health risks to drinking wine made from hybrid grapes, has died. He was 83.

As reported in the Cornell Chronicle:

"In what may seem absurd to today’s enologists and wine drinkers, French and German scientists in the early 1960s attributed physiological deformities in animals to drinking wine made from hybrid grapes. Hans Breider, director of the Bavarian State Institute for Wine, Fruit and Horticulture in Germany, purportedly verified French research in 1965 that showed liver damage to chickens when hybrid wines were fed to them, according to the Cornell University Press book 'Wines of Eastern North America,' by Hudson Cattell. By 1967, Breider reported that wines made from hybrid grapes fed to chickens produced malformed legs and feathers."

The controversy was perpetuated by the then-popular syndicated newspaper columnist Jack Anderson, who picked up the charges wholesale and reported them under the headline "Wines cause deformities." Go here for the full, fascinating story.

New cafe at Hunt Country Vineyards on Keuka Lake

Mary Campberll
If, like so many people, you're planning a jaunt around Finger Lakes wine country this summer, here's a new venue to be aware of.

Hunt Country Vineyards has announced the opening of its new Café at Hunt Country, serving a range of appetizers, sandwiches, quiches, cheeseboards, and desserts, five days a week throughout the summer.

All foods are prepared by chef Mary Campbell from Finger Lakes-sourced fresh ingredients, including organic vegetables from Jonathan and Caroline Hunt's Italy Hill Produce. (Jonathan, who is director of winemaking, and his parents Art and Joyce, who founded the vineyard, are Hunt Country co-owners.) House wines are available in the cafe by the glass ($5 to $7, and $10 for ice wine) and by the bottle, along with coffees, teas and other beverages.

A few examples of the menu: Mediterranean Flatbread (marinated beef tips, chicken breast, or crispy falafel patties on housemade flatbread with seasonal greens, veggies, feta cheese, choice of dressing); Grilled Ham & Camembert (meat and cheese with Dijon mustard and Los Gatos apricot jam on sourdough bread); Charcuterie Plate (selection of local cured meats, Yancey’s Fancy XXX Cheddar, pickles, olives, organic black mission figs, sliced baguette), and Cornmeal Pound Cake (with gingered lemon curd and fresh seasonal fruit).

Campbell, who teaches BOCES culinary arts classes locally, owned and operated the cafe Medley's for two decades in Prattsburgh, Steuben County, and includes restaurant and catering experiencing with Marriott International on her resume.

The Café at Hunt Country is located on Keuka Lake at 4021 Italy Hill Road, Branchport, Yates County. Phone: (800) 946-3289. It is open Thursday through Monday (closed Tuesday-Wednesday) throughout July and August. Fall hours will be announced later.

Controversial LI winery fined, license suspended

Screen shot 2016-07-10 at 3.11.42 PM• From The Suffolk Times

The liquor license of controversial Cutchogue winery Vineyard 48 was suspended for three weeks ... as part of a State Liquor Authority ruling over complaints from neighbors and local police. But, that suspension and the $10,000 fine that followed is over already, having began on April 5 and ended on April 26. And, town officials and neighbors say the punishment didn’t go far enough.

“The $10,000 fine is nothing more than the cost of doing business for the Vineyard,” said Mary-Beth Shipman, who lives across the street from Vineyard 48 and has been a witness in proceedings against them. “It’s a slap on the wrist. Quite honestly, after four years worth of work by the SLA attorney to bring this case to fruition, to have that be the end result, with all the evidence there was, boggles my mind.”

The winery -- which neighbors say is more of a nightclub than a winery -- is located at 18910 Route 48 in the Long Island community. It had gone back on the SLA’s agenda on March 1 as a result of numerous state Alcohol Beverage Control law referrals by Southold Town. 

The complaints, which date back to 2012 in some cases, ranged from loud music to overcrowding to people urinating on neighboring properties, and even cases of people having sex outside the establishment or on neighboring properties.

Go here for the full story.

Continued U.S. wine market growth projected

Screen shot 2016-07-09 at 5.06.16 PMExclusive from Shanken News Daily

The U.S. wine market is expected to continue its long-term growth streak in 2016, albeit at a modest 1.1% projected increase to nearly 327 million nine-liter cases. 

The market is expected to add over 3.5 million cases this year, according to the current edition of "The U.S. Wine Market: Shanken’s Impact Databank Review and Forecast."

While the U.S. has been the world’s largest wine-consuming nation since 2013, growth has been sluggish the past four years due to lackluster economic conditions. Before the latest recession, the wine market rose by an average of 3.1% annually for the five-year period from 2003 to 2008, but after solid 3.3% growth in 2011, annual volume gains were well under 1% in each of the next four years hence. Still, consumption has increased by over 70% in the past two decades, despite two recessions in that time span.

... Looking ahead, the U.S. wine market is projected to continue expanding, reaching over 344 million cases by 2020 ... .

Click here for the full story on the analysis.

What kind of glasses do you prefer, and why?

Screen shot 2016-07-09 at 3.06.16 PMI must confess that when I drink any beverage, what I drink it from affects how I feel about the contents, or at least the experience.

Even as a college student I didn't enjoy drinking beer from bottles or cans. While I didn't mind drinking a Coke or Orange Crush (remember that?) from the bottle, for some reason I only liked beer from a mug or a pilsner glass.

With wine, the properly shaped glass is important to me, be it the taller, more slender ones for whites or more bowl-shaped style for reds. For non-alcoholic beverages, I prefer a thinner glass that allows the frostiness to reach my hand. Something refreshing about that.

So, I found a post on The Chive website from Friday about what sorts of glasses people prefer for their beer, and why. It contains some interesting infographics for both beer and wine glasses, complete with explanations for the shape of each. You can access it by clicking here.

Wölffer reds' hot summer hits the 90s

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Part of the Wölffer lineup of reds
A Long Island winery that often gets good ratings from wine critics and judges usually doesn't get terribly celebratory because it's used to praise. But, the renowned Robert Parker's latest judgment plus comments from other critics are making the folks at Wölffer Estate Vineyard do figurative backflips.

"EPIC SCORES FOR WÖLFFER REDS" blares the headline on its announcement of how well the North End winemaker's 2013 lineup of red wines did in Parker's latest Wine Advocate ratings.

The scores for the Wölffer White Horse Collection of 2013 reds:

• Christian's Cuvee Merlot -- 94+  
• Caya Cabernet Franc -- 93 
 Fatalis Fatum Red Blend -- 93 
• Landius Pinot Noir -- 92 
• Coeur Cheval Petit Verdot -- 92 
• Lambardo Merlot -- 91 
• Cassango Cabernet Sauvignon -- 90

The Christian's and Cssango will not be available until later this summer.

Wölffer winemaker Roman Roth says the 2013 crop "was a year that can be compared to what 1945 was for Bordeaux. It has brought forth one of the most interesting and amazing collections of Long Island wines that can compete with the best in the world."

Noted wine critic critic Mark Squires concurs, saying, "Who can deny that New York is doing a great job of proving how fine winemaking has become in the East in the last generation? You have no more excuses. No more snobbery, no more stereotypes. That is no longer allowed."

The vineyard and winery was founded by the late Christian Wölffer. Since his 2008 death, his children, Joey and Marc Wölffer, and partner Roth have been operating the business.

According to the company, "the original parcel of land was a potato farm with an old farmhouse in what now is the middle of the estate. Over the years, as more acres were acquired, paddocks and stables were added and, in 1988, the vineyard was founded. The 55-acre vineyard is part of a 175-acre estate with boarding stables, 39 paddocks, an indoor jumping ring, and a grand prix field. Both the stables and winery have a European character and, from these former potato fields, world-class wines have come forth. Wölffer Estate Vineyard is an American winery in the classic European tradition."

Wölffer Estate is located at 139 Sagg Road in the Suffolk County community of Sagaponack. Phone: (631) 537-5106.

Yono's wine list repeater on best list

Screen shot 2016-07-08 at 6.20.23 PMThink you have to travel to New York City to find a restaurant with a wine list ranked among the world's best? Think again.

As those in the know .... uh, know, the 900-label wine list at Yono's in downtown Albany fits the description. For the second consecutive year, a three-star award, the highest honor, comes with its inclusion in the recently-disclosed "World’s Best Wine Lists" from The World of Fine Wine, a wine quarterly published in London.

Yono’s wine list was largely created by, and is overseen by, Dominick Purnomo, co-owner of the Indonesian-Continental restaurant founded by his parents, Yono and Donna Purnomo. The honor was bestowed after judges reviewed more than 4,500 wine lists around the world. Only about 130 other U.S. restaurants received the award this year.

Yono’s is located at 25 Chapel Street, at the Hampton Inn & Suites, alongside its casual sibling DP: An American Brasserie. You can get a look at the complete wine list online. Phone: (518) 436-7747.

'Bounty of the Hudson' prepping for its 21st edition

Screen shot 2016-07-06 at 4.34.08 PMDriving through the various wine regions of New York State is a wonderful way to pass the time, from seeing the vast grape fields of the western flat lands to the waterside vineyards of Long Island's North Fork.

My favorite, however, is the Hudson Valley region, which offers both the soaring palisades and mountains and the majestic Hudson River.

A great way to drink in the region's scenic views and its products is the annual "Bounty of the Hudson" celebration by member wineries of the Shawangunk Wine Trail. This year, the 21st annual rain-or-shine event is scheduled for the weekend of July 30-31 at the Applewood Winery in Orange County. It will offer tasting of wines of the Hudson Valley, fresh local produce, cheeses, baked goods and foods from local restaurants, as well as live music.

"Bounty of the Hudson" tickets, available online, include a souvenir Shawangunk Wine Trail wine glass, sampling at each of the attending wineries, and an afternoon of live music. It will run from noon to 5 p.m. each day. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door: $38 for tasters, tax included. Each ticket is valid for one day of the event. Only people age 21 and over will be admitted. A general admission ticket designed primarily for designated drivers will be available at the gate for $10, tax included. Attendees with a general admission wristband will not be served alcohol. No pets will be allowed on the grounds.

Applewood Winery is located at 82 4 Corners Road in Warwick. Phone (845) 988-9292.

The 15 members of the Shawangunk Wine Trail, listed alphabetically:

Adair Vineyards 
Applewood Winery 
Baldwin Vineyards 
Benmarl Winery 
Brimstone Hill Vineyard 
Brotherhood, America’s Oldest Winery 
Brunel & Rafael Winery 
Clearview Vineyard 
Demarest Hill Winery & Distillery 
Glorie Farm Winery 
Palaia Vineyards & Winery 
Robibero Winery 
Stoutridge Vineyard 
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery 
Whitecliff Vineyard

Putnam County Wine & Food Fest more than that

Screen shot 2016-07-06 at 3.48.20 PMWant to get away from the kids for a bit? The 6th annual Putnam County Wine & Food Fest is less than four weeks away, and it will be open only to people 21 and older.

The two-day festival -- which is not limited to the beverages in the title -- will be held the weekend of August 6-7 at the Beaver Creek Equestrian Center, running from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Among the wine and spirits merchants lined up so far are the Adirondack Winery, Pazdar Winery, Awestruck Hard Ciders, Kas Spirits, and the Jewel of Russia distillery. Throughout the weekend, they will be showcasing their goods through tastings, and selling by the bottle or the case. A variety of food and crafts artisans also will be on hand. And, a beer garden will be open.

In addition to sampling foods and adult beverages, attendees will be able to experience cooking demonstrations from local chef Johnny Ciao also will join the Dean Shot Band for a live music performance. Also performing will be the Jim Marrone Trio, along with other bands that will be announced over the next few weeks. The performances will feature musical genres from pop, country, R&B, and reggae.

Tickets are available online at various prices. A portion of the proceeds will be going to Dutchess/Putnam REACT, an organization providing Safe Radio assistance for community events.

The event venue is located at 683 Route 311 in Patterson, about an hour and 45 minute drive from downtown Albany via the Taconic State Parkway.

New law covers more than brunch cocktails

Legislation SmallWhen the New York State Legislature passed a bill last month changing various aspects of New York's beverage control regulations, most of the news media zeroed in on an amendment to one of the cobweb-covered "Blue Laws" left over from the puritanical days of governance.

That changed Sunday alcohol sales for restaurants from a noon to a 10 a.m. start, promoting some people to refer to it as the "Brunch Bill" since the industry made much about wanting to allow restaurants to serve bloody marys, bellinis, etc., with their breafast fare.

Here are a few things in the bill that got little notice:

• The sales tax on samples of wine, cider, and spirits will be lifted to make them the same as beer sampling which is not taxed.

• Wineries will be allowed to sell wine in reusable "growlers" to be refilled at the winery.

• Tasting room customers will be allowed to take home partially finished bottles of wine, similar to the way they can from restaurants.

• Fees for a solicitor's permit for craft manufacturers, and of a bond requirement for all manufacturers will be eliminated.

• A new application form will allow combining craft manufacturing licenses (e.g., for wine, beer, cider, and spirits production) rather than requiring separate applications for each one.

So, now you know.

Taste NY coming back to Saratoga track

TasteNYlogoThe New York Racing Association (NYRA) today announced the return of the Taste NY at Saratoga series for its third season at the Saratoga Race Course.

The initiative is from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. At this venue, it will provide patrons opportunities to sample and purchase such items as craft beers, wines, spirits, and ciders from New York State providers, along with a wide variety of products made exclusively in New York. The offerings will include wines, spirits, and ciders on Thursdays, craft beers on Fridays, and New York foods and artisan crafts on Sunday throughout the season.

The series will take place on-track at the Saratoga Pavilion, with the Thursday and Friday editions from noon to 5 p.m., and the Sunday market opening at 10:30 a.m.

"We are proud to have been one of the first organizations to embrace the Taste NY program, beginning at Saratoga Race Course in 2014 and subsequently expanding the partnership to include Belmont Park," said Chris Kay, NYRS president and CEO. "NYRA has played an important role in introducing all that is great about this signature program to others, especially the many out of state tourists that visit Saratoga for the world's finest horse racing meet, and we intend to do so again."

There is no admission charge for the Saratoga Pavilion. Wines, ciders and spirits will be available in increments of five samples for $5 on Thursdays, while selections of craft beer will be available for the same on Fridays. There is no sampling fee for foods on Sundays. Not all vendors will be present each week.

Participating vendors in the Thursday cider, wine and spirits tasting:

Albany Distilling Company, Albany Awestruck Premium Hard Ciders, Sidney Benmarl Winery, Marlboro Brotherhood Winery, Washingtonville Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery, Valatie Heron Hill Winery, Hammondsport Kaneb Orchards, Massena Nine Pin Cider Works, Albany Saratoga Courage Distillery, Greenfield Center The Saratoga Winery, Saratoga Springs Slyboro Cider House, Granville Thirsty Owl Outlet & Wine Garden, Saratoga Springs Thousand Islands Winery, Alexandria Bay

Participating breweries in the Friday craft beer tasting:

Adirondack Brewery, Lake George Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn Browns Brewing Company, Troy Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, Elmsford Druthers Brewing Company, Saratoga Springs Empire Brewing Company, Syracuse Good Nature Brewing, Hamilton Ithaca Beer Company, Ithaca Keegan Ales, Kingston Lake Placid Brewery, Lake Placid Olde Saratoga Brewing Company, Saratoga Springs Saranac Brewery, Utica

The summer meet at Saratoga Race Course will begin on Friday, July 22, and run through Labor Day.