Tuesday, August 30, 2016

North Country wine and chocolate pairing

Screen shot 2016-08-30 at 12.41.56 PMSeptember 13 is a big day in Upstate New York. It's the anniversary of the day in 1609 when explorer Henry Hudson and his crew found their way into what became known as the Hudson River.

Oh, and it's International Chocolate Day.

I don't know whether anyone will be celebrating Hudson's arrival, but I do know a number of wineries will be marking the day with wine and chocolate pairings. One example is at the Adirondack Winery which is teaming up with Barkeater Chocolates to offer a special wine and chocolate flight in the tasting room from Friday, September 9, through Tuesday, International Chocolate Day.

The flights will include five Adirondack Winery samples paired with five different chocolates from the North Creek candymaker, and a souvenir wine glass to take home. Flights are $14 per person. While no reservations are required, you can purchase flight tickets in advance online.

Adirondack Winery is located at 285 Canada Street in Lake George. Phone: 668-9463.

Monday, August 29, 2016

What packaging works? Ask the experts

From Forbes magazine
In an article covering Wines & Vines Magazine’s Packaging Conference [held on] August 17, Paul Franson wrote, “One of the most popular sessions…featured three wine retailers discussing what wine packaging worked for them – and what didn’t.”

The three panelists: Gary Fisch, owner of Gary’s Wine and Marketplace in New Jersey, Debbie Zachareas, the co-owner and partner of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants in San Francisco and Oxbow Mann stressed that producers ought to seek feedback regarding wine packaging from the frontline: retailers.
Go here for the full story.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A NY grape stars in a Wisconsin award winner

Screen shot 2016-08-28 at 4.42.25 PMHere's an interesting take on New York State's iconic Concord grapes that were integral to a Wisconsin winery winning major praise this week at the Wisconsin State Fair Professional Wine Competition.

What particularly caught my attention was this passage in the heart of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story:

" ... River Bend’s Sunset ... topped all the other wines in this year’s competition, which included just over 125 submissions from just over 20 different wineries. What’s surprising here is that this sweet red is made with Concord grapes purchased from New York State. Yes, the kind of grapes that go into the jelly you put on your peanut butter sandwich."

Hector wineries top NYS Fair Competition

NYS Fair Wine AwardsA Penguin Bay Winery entry has received "Best of Show" honors in the annual Great New York State Fair Wine Competition.

The awards were made public today at the fairgrounds' Empire Theater although the judging was done last month.

Penguin Bay's 2013 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine took the top prize, and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards was named "Best Winery of the Year." Both wineries are located north of Watkins Glen in Hector, Schuyler County.

Other awards:

• Best White Wine (other than Riesling): Busted Grapes Winery's 2015 Diamond 
• Best Riesling: Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards' 2014 Dry Riesling 
• Best Red Wine: Keuka Spring Vineyards' 2014 Millers Cove Red 
• Best Sparkling Wine: Goose Watch Winery's Golden Spumante 
• Best Dessert Wine, Non-Fortified: Penguin Bay Winery's 2013 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine 
• Best Dessert Wine, Fortified: Goose Watch Winery's Classic Cream Sherry 
• Best Fruit Wine: 1911 Established's 2015 McIntosh Sweet Wine 
• Best Mead: 810 Meadworks' Sweet Devotion 
• Best Blush/Rose Wine: Fulkerson Winery's Centennial Pink Moscato

In addition, Knapp Winery won the "Best Distilled Spirit" award for its Cucumber Vodka.

The full list of awards in both the commercial and amateur divisions is available online.

Finger Lakes Wine Alliance picks new head

Tracey DelloStritto
Tracey DelloStritto
A former Herman J. Weimer Vineyard executive has been selected to head the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance.

Tracey DelloStritto, who had been communications and marketing manager for the Yates County winery, this week was named executive director of the trade organization. The Wine Alliance, founded in 2004, has 29 members and 15 affiliated businesses and vendors, guided by a board of directors representing all four wine trails as well as non-trail wineries in the Finger Lakes. It is headquartered at 500 Technology Park Drive, Geneva.

DelloStritto's hiring was announced by Erica Paolicelli, chair of the Wine Alliance board of directors and a partner in Three Brothers Wineries and Estates in Fayette.

DelloStritto said the Finger Lakes wine region is “on the cusp of greatness,” winning many national and international awards and recognition. “I know many of the wineries and owners," she said, " and this gives me an opportunity to promote Finger Lakes wines to a broader audience. ... Wine Alliance members make such phenomenal wine, and together we will see that the mission of the alliance, to increase the visibility and reputation of those wines, and the region as a whole, is achieved."

The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance offers its members such services as coordinating submissions to wine trade publications for reviews, presenting seminars on best practices in social media outreach, and hosting online events such as virtual wine tastings. The next major event on the calendar is "Riesling Month," with events scheduled in September throughout the state to promote that varietal that has become the region's signature wine.

And, now there are 10 (AVAs, that is)

© 2014 Esn. DeLorme
© 2014 Esn. DeLorme
New York State, and by extension the United States, is getting a new American Viticultural Area (AVA).

The appellation "Champlain Valley of New York" was approved this week by the federal Tax and Trade Bureau and will take effect on September 21, according to the Federal Register. It covers about 500 square miles of Clinton and Essex counties ranging from the Canadian border to Ticonderoga.

The AVA system is designed to recognize distinct grape-growing areas and help consumers identify the origins of different wines. Wineries in such areas are allowed to use the AVA terminology on the labels of any of their wines made from at least 85% of grapes grown in the region.

The new Champlain Valley New York AVA is planted with extremely cold-hardy "Minnesota" grape varieties, a term that refers to hybrids developed by researchers in Minnesota but also in New York. Among them are Marquette, Frontenac, and LaCrescent.

The inclusion of "New York" in the AVA title is to differentiate it from that part of the valley that extends into neighboring Vermont.

Colin Read
Colin Read
The Lake Champlain Grape Growers Association is crediting Colin Read for the bulk of the work in securing the appellation, which was filed for last summer. Read and Natalie Peck own the Champlain Wine Company. Its tasting room and store is located in downtown Plattsburgh, and sells wines made from grapes grown in their vineyard in Mooers. They also recently added a line of products under the Adirondack Coast Oil & Vinegar Company brand.

Champlain Valley New York is the 10th AVA in the state. The others are, from east to west: Long Island, North Fork of Long Island, and The Hamptons Long Island; the Hudson River Region; the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake, and Cayuga Lake; the Niagara Escarpment, and Lake Erie.

Most, if not all, of the wineries covered by the new appellation are members of the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail, established in 2013.

The application for a Champlain Valley of New York AVA designation contained some interesting descriptive material. Here's one example, as cited by the Federal Register:
"According to the petition, the distinguishing feature of the proposed Champlain Valley of New York AVA is its short growing season, which is conducive to growing cold-hardy North American hybrid grape varieties (such as Frontenac, La Crescent, and Marquette) but not the Vitis vinifera grapes that are grown in the surrounding areas.

"The petition provides information comparing the length of the growing season within the AVA to those of the surrounding areas. In South Hero, Vermont, to the east of the proposed AVA, the growing season is four weeks longer than that in the proposed AVA. In Whitehall, New York, to the south of the proposed AVA, the growing season is two weeks longer than that in the proposed AVA. The growing season in the Adirondack Mountains, to the west of the proposed AVA, is too short for commercial grape growth. The proposed AVA also has a later last-frost date and an earlier first-frost date than the areas to its east and south. TTB notes that the area directly north of the proposed AVA is in Canada and, therefore, is not eligible to be part of an AVA."

Hudson Valley faces make Wine Enthusiast cover

Screen shot 2016-08-25 at 4.42.48 PMThe September issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine may have a familiar look to some people familiar with the Hudson Valley.

Among the featured faces on the cover are Carlo DeVito of the Hudson-Chatham Winery, as well as some folks from Chatham Brewing and Harvest Spirits, illustrating the inside story headlined "Host a Harvest Party."

Also in the same issue: "Pair Wine in Cheese & Refresh Classic Cocktails," "Legendary Hearst Castle Parties" (having attended a few I can vouch for the wonderfulness of events there), and a bunch of other good reading such as "Ancient Vessels/Modern Wine" and a look at "California's Grand Crus," and reviews of more than 550 wines.

Goose Watch releases an 'alternative' to sangria

Screen shot 2016-08-24 at 4.06.22 PMTired of sangria, but looking forward to something refreshing in the remaining days of warm weather? Goose Watch Winery certainly hopes so.

The 30-year-old Finger Lakes winery has just released a new product it calls "Two to Mango," billed as "an amazing alternative to sangria -- a grape wine blended with natural mango and pomegranate flavors, creating a taste of the tropics wherever you serve it." The winery suggests serving Two to Mango well chilled or over ice. It is priced at $11.99 per bottle.

Goose Watch Winery is part of the Romulus, Seneca County, company that also makes wine under the names Swedish Hill and Penguin Bay. Their wines are available at the Romulus complex on the shore of Cayuga Lake, as well as at the Swedish Hill tasting room locations at 441 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, and 5730 Cascade Road, Lake Placid.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

NY Wine & Culinary Center in the gin business

NY Wine & Culinary Center (Bill Dowd photo)
NY Wine & Culinary Center (Bill Dowd photo)
If the New York Wine & Culinary Center continues its present inclination, it may have to modify its name.

The NYWCC facility, located on the shore of Canandaigua Lake in the picturesque Finger Lakes city of Canandaigua, opened 10 years ago as a showcase for New York State wines and foods. Since then, it has maintained a busy wine-centric pace while steadily increasing its involvement with tastings and special events involving New York beers and spirits.

Its latest project is a collaboration with Black Button Distilling of Rochester to launch Garden Gin, a collaboration spirit that will be released next Tuesday at the the center's 4th annual "Garden Party," according to an announcement made Tuesday. It is an herbaceous London Dry-style gin with herbs and licorice notes and a strong juniper nose, according to officials.

Proceeds from the sale of Garden Gin will go to NYWCC’s "Culinary Camps for Kids" program and other educational programming.

“We love what the NYWCC does to bring unique New York products and educational programming to the community,” said Jason Barrett, president and head distiller of Black Button. “This collaboration presented us with an opportunity to develop a ... gin with tastes and inspiration from NYWCC’s garden."

The new product will be available at Black Button Distilling, at NYWCC, and at select retailers.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Travers Wine Tasting nears the homestretch

Screen shot 2016-08-15 at 11.48.19 AMThe 18th annual Travers Wine Tasting is coming up fast.

The fundraiser for Senior Services of Albany is set for 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, August 26, at the Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs.

This is one of the summer Saratoga season's major charity events, and offers specialty beers in addition to wines, food, and both live and silent auction.

As to admission, don't believe everything you read. The official event announcement says admission is $135 per person, even though the Capital Region Chamber's online calendar lists it as free. (See below.)

The Canfield Casino is located in the 17-acre Congress Park off Broadway. It was the site of the Congress Spring Bottling Plant and the former Congress Hall, a large resort hotel, which together brought Saratoga Springs international fame as a health spa and gambling site. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Screen shot 2016-08-15 at 11.40.28 AM
The erroneous post

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Billsboro’s Syrah wins NY best-in-show award

NY Governor's Cup
The Governor's Cup
A pair of Finger Lakes wineries took top honors in the 31st annual New York Wine & Food Classic competition that concluded Thursday in Watkins Glen.

Billsboro Winery of Geneva was awarded the highest honor, the Governor's Cup denoting the best wine in the competition, for its 2013 Syrah. And, Keuka Spring Vineyards of Penn Yan was named “Winery of the Year.”

This year saw 951 entries in the New York-only event, including 893 wines, 38 craft spirits, and 20 hard ciders. Billsboro's Syrah won "Best Red Wine" and "Best Syrah" en route to the Governor's Cup. Keuka Spring entries won "Best White Wine" and "Best Overall Riesling" in addition to several "Best of Class awards." The "Winery of the Year" is selected based on the level and number of awards in relation to entries.

The awards were based on blind tastings by panels of judges from across the U.S. and one from England. The event is sponsored and organized by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.

Winners in the "Best of" categories that made them eligible for Governor's Cup consideration:  

Best Sparkling Wine
Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery's 2013 Brut, Methode Champenoise  

Best White Wine
Keuka Spring Vineyards' 2015 Gewürztraminer  

Best Blush or Rosé Wine
21 Brix Winery's Ellatawba  

Best Red Wine
Billsboro Winery's 2013 Syrah  

Best Dessert Wine
Wolffer Estate Vineyard's 2015 Descencia Botrytis Riesling/Chardonnay

The "Best of Class" awards:  

Best Oaked Chardonnay
Whitecliff Vineyard's 2014 Reserve Chardonnay  

Best Unoaked Chardonnay
Lieb Cellars' 2015 Bridge Lane Chardonnay  

Best Gewürztraminer
Keuka Spring Vineyards' 2015 Gewürztraminer

Best Dry Riesling
Keuka Spring Vineyards' 2015 Humphreys Vineyard Riesling, Single Vineyard Series  

Best Medium Dry Riesling
Dr. Konstantin Frank's 2015 Riesling, Semi-Dry  

Best Medium Sweet Riesling
Keuka Spring Vineyards' 2015 Semi Sweet Riesling  

Best Sweet Riesling
Wagner Vineyards' 2013 Riesling Select, Estate Grown & Bottled  

Best Overall Riesling
Keuka Spring Vineyards' 2015 Semi Sweet Riesling  

Best Pinot Grigio
Duck Walk Vineyards' 2015 Pinot Grigio  

Best Other Vinifera White Varietal
Palmer Vineyards' 2015 Albariῆo  

Best Vinifera White Blend
Bedell Cellars' 2015 Taste White  

Best Vinifera/Hybrid White Blend
Keuka Spring Vineyards' Celebrate  

Best Cayuga
Swedish Hill Winery's 2015 Cayuga White  

Best Seyval
Benmarl Winery's 2015 Seyval Blanc  

Best Traminette
Seneca Shore Wine Cellars' Traminette, Estate Bottled, DeMarco Vineyards  

Best Vidal
J.R. Dill Winery's 2015 Vidal Blanc

Best Cold Climate White Varietal
Coyote Moon Vineyards' Brianna  

Best Hybrid White
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyard's White Stag

Best Niagara
Americana Vineyards' Crystal Lake  

Best Catawba
21 Brix Winery's Ellatawba  

Best Native Varietal
Coyote Moon Vineyards' Fire Boat Red  

Best Vinifera Rosé
Wagner Vineyards' 2015 Rosé of Cabernet Franc  

Best Cabernet Sauvignon
Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards' 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve  

Best Merlot
Clovis Point Vineyard & Winery's 2013 Vintner’s Select Merlot  

Best Pinot Noir
Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards' 2014 Pinot Noir  

Best Cabernet Franc
Kontokosta Winery's 2013 Cabernet Franc  

Best Other Red Vinifera Varietal
Influence Wines' 2015 Malbec  

Best Syrah
Billsboro Winery's 2013 Syrah  

Best Vinifera Red Blend
Harbes Vineyard's 2014 Red Blend, Proprietor’s Reserve  

Best Cold Climate Red Varietal
Tug Hill Vineyards' White Out, Estate  

Best Fruit Wine
Coyote Moon Vineyards' Razzle Dazzle  

Best Port
Goose Watch Winery's 2015 Finale White Port  

Best Late Harvest
Wolffer Estate Vineyard's 2015 Descencia Botrytis Riesling/Chardonnay  

Best Ice Wine
Sheldrake Point Winery's 2014 Riesling Ice Wine, Wild Ferment, Estate Bottled  

Best Vinifera Sparkling White
Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery's 2013 Brut, Methode Champenoise  

Best Vinifera Sparkling Pink
Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery's 2013 Topaz Imperial, Methode Champenoise  

Best Hybrid Sparkling White
Swedish Hill Winery's Blanc de Blancs

Other awards:  

Specialty Wine Champion -- Coyote Moon Vineyards' Razzle Dazzle, recognizing consistent quality among wines made from fruits other than grapes, or honey.

Best Limited Production Wine -- Finger Lakes Community College Viticulture & Wine Tech Corp's 2015 Gather, Dry Riesling, in competition among wines produced with fewer than 100 cases.

Best Spirit -- Finger Lakes Distilling's McKenzie Bourbon.

Best Cider -- Brooklyn Cider House's Half Sour.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

State Fair attractions for thirsty visitors

Last year at the fair
Last year at the Fair.
New York produces a huge variety of craft beverages and foods, but getting an opportunity to sample many of them is next to impossible because they tend toward being just regionally distributed.

That's where the Great New York State Fair can come in handy. The annual extravaganza again this year will feature, among a gajillion other things, a strong presence from Taste NY, a state program linking consumers to products made and grown by their fellow New Yorkers.

Free samples of beverages and foods will be available in the Horticulture Building from many of the people behind those products. Products also will be available for purchase there, and because the vendor lineup changes daily, people who attend the fair more than one day will find a continually changing scene. In addition, the Taste NY Marketplace, which will be located across from the main gate, carries even more products from around the state.

The fair is scheduled to run from Thursday, August 25, through Labor Day, September 5. Details, schedules, and more are available online.

The fair has its roots in the 1832 founding in Albany of the New York State Agricultural Society by a group of farmers, legislators, and others to promote agricultural improvement and local fairs. The first fair was held in Syracuse in 1841. In the ensuing years it moved to various sites around the state -- Albany, Auburn, Buffalo, Elmira, New York City, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse, Utica, and Watertown. Its present site was selected in 1889 when the Syracuse Land Company donated a 100-acre tract in Geddes, just outside Syracuse, as a permanent venue.

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that the Wade Shows Midway at the fair will be the largest in the event's history as a result of the $50 million project to revitalize the fairgrounds. The improved 15-acre Midway will offer at least 70 rides, many of them new to the fair, and feature wider and safer aisles as well as more covered seating areas. The new rides include one of the largest traveling roller coasters in the country, a new Ferris Wheel, and many thrill rides with new LED lighting.

As part of the revitalization, the Midway relocated most of its electrical services underground to offer far fewer obstructions for people pushing strollers or using wheelchairs or walkers. The Midway was paved using special heavy-duty asphalt designed to stand up to the extreme weight of large rides such as a roller coaster, which arrives in more than a dozen tractor trailers and can weigh as much as 175 tons.

Last year, the Midway generated a record $1,544,506 in revenues for the fair, a number expected to rise this year as a result of the improvement project.

Meanwhile, since this is a drinks blog and I pay attention to such things, here are the beverage suppliers who will be appearing there, according to fair organizers:

3 Leaf Tea
Adirondack Pub & Brewery
Albany Distilling Company
Awestruck Hard Ciders
Barber's Farm Distillery / 1857 Spirits
Black Button Distilling
BlackBird Cider Works
Brown's Brewing Company
Catskill Clear
CB Craft Brewers
Coyote Moon Vineyards
Empire Brewing Company
Enchanted Mountain Spirits
Glenrose Spirits
Honeoye Falls Distillery
Iron Smoke Distillery
Kaneb Orchards
Lakeland Winery
Last Shot Distillery
Neversink Spirits
New Dutch Water Company
Pazdar Winery
Pleasant Valley Wine Company
Raymor Estate Cellars
Sababa Beverages
Skewed Brewing
Southern Tier Brewing Company
That Indian Drink
The VB Brewery
Yankee Folly Cidery

New reserve tasting room at Dr. Frank

Inside the new reserve tasting room
Inside the new tasting space
The structure may be 130 years old, but its latest use is brand new.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery has opened a new space called the 1886 Reserve Tasting Room, named for the year the stone house that houses it was built on the south end of Keuka Lake.

The space is in repurposed storage rooms above the cellars that follow a design by Meagan Frank, a fourth-generation member of the wine family. In the space, visitors are able to sample specific Frank wines paired with hors d’oeuvres created by the nearby Snug Harbor Restaurant.

Frank's inspiration? “In Australia, they have quite a few wineries that offer these upscale VIP tasting experiences with wine and food pairings and special cellar and vineyard tours where you can really get to learn more about wine and the whole process," she says.

Tastings are by reservation only, priced at $35 per person. Seatings are Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. For August, visitors will be given an in-depth tour of the sparkling wine cellars of Chateau Frank, followed by sampling six sparkling wines served with a new set of pairings from Snug Harbor. In September, "esoteric varietals" will be featured, followed by "cool climate reds" in October.

The August pairings:

• Chateau Frank 2011 Blanc de Blancs; grilled stonefruit and fried sage, balsamic reduction • Chateau Frank 2009 Blanc de Noirs; cherry-coriander roulade, Parmesan cream • Chateau Frank 2009 Brut; cremini mushrooms with lemon ricotta, almond pesto • Chateau Frank 2010 Brut Rose;brie and red raspberry, thyme drizzle on crostini • Chateau Frank Célèbre Ros; strawberry-sorrel choux à la creme • Chateau Frank Célèbre; apple and aged cheddar tartlet

The Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery is located at 9749 Middle Road, Hammondsport. Phone: 800-320-0735.

NYS wines score major medals in Indy International

Screen shot 2016-08-07 at 2.16.04 PMNew York State wines took 102 medals in the prestigious 25th annual Indy International Wine Competition this week, with five of them earning Concordance Golds.

The competition, held at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, is the largest independent wine contest in the United States, with participants ranging from small private winemakers to large commercial wineries.

This year, more than 2,000 entries were grouped into 79 classes and each wine tasted by several of the 55 professional judges on the panel. A unanimous gold medal rating by a panel equals a Concordance, or Double Gold, award; a majority rating by a panel equals a Gold medal.

The Concordance Golds for New York entries were:

Swedish Hill Winery (Finger Lakes) -- Riesling Cuvee and 2015 Pinot Grigio
21 Brix Winery (Lake Erie region) -- Thirsty Elephant
Lakewood Winery (Seneca Lake) -- Long Stem White
Wagner Vineyards (Finger Lakes) -- 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling

Gold medals for two or more New York wines:

Thirsty Owl Winery (3) -- 2015 Diamond, 2015 Snow Owl, and 2015 Traminette 21 Brix Winery (2) -- Ella's White and Ella's Red Barrington Cellars Winery -- 2015 Riesling and 2011 Dry Rose Hazlitt 1852 Wines -- 2013 Gewurztraminer and Solera Sherry Lakewood Winery -- Sparkling Catwaba and 2015 Valvin Muscat Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars -- 2014 Semi-Dry Riesling and Estate Red Cuvee Wagner Vineyards -- 2014 Riesling Caywood East Vineyard and 2013 Riesling Select Estate

Single Gold medals:

Demarest Hill Winery -- Spicy Apple Kaneb Orchards -- 2015 Apple Cranberry Hard Cider Silver Springs Winery -- Majestic Ice Swedish Hill Winery -- 2015 Blue Waters Riesling

The "Best of Category" winners (Sparkling, White, Rose, Red, and Dessert) were from California, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Virginia. The entuire list of medal winners is available here.

Update: 'Wine & Rails' adds to its drinks makers

Screen shot 2016-07-27 at 2.16.03 PMUPDATE (8/7/16): The Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail's "Wine & Rails" event, scheduled for August 20, has added several more beverage makers to its vendor lineup. They include Adirondack Brewery, Common Roots Brewing, and High Rock Distillery.

(Originally published 7/27/16)

The Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail, a fairly new organization that has been doing some imaginative marketing, has come up with something called the "Wine & Rails" festival, taking advantage of member wineries and a short-line railroad.

The event is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, August 20. Participants will have the option of taking a scenic train ride on the Saratoga and North Creek Railway that culminates at the festival (and return on the same travel mode), or they can go directly to the station for the farmer's market-style festivities.

In addition to sampling a diverse line of locally-made wines from souvenir tasting glasses, ticket holders will be able to sample a variety of locally made foods. Wines and foods will be available for purchase at the festival site inn North Creek. Details about where to catch the train and other pertinent items such as ticket prices are available online.

Members of the Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail:
• Adirondack Winery
• Amorici Vineyard
• Fossil Stone Vineyards
• Galway Rock Vineyard & Winery
• Johnston's Winery
• Ledge Rock Hill Winery & Vineyard
• Oliva Vineyards
• Saratoga Winery
• Swedish Hill Winery
• Thirsty Owl Saratoga
• Victory View Vineyard

Friday, August 5, 2016

Review: 'Grapes of the Hudson Valley' is top shelf

GRAPES OF THE HUDSON VALLEY, by J. Stephen Casscles, Flint Mine Press, 272 pages, illustrated, softcover.

As I worked my way through this heavily-researched, intensely-detailed work by a renowned Hudson Valley viticulturist and winemaker, it occurred to me that I never again will need another book on the topic.

Steve Casscles has crammed a virtual lifetime of interest, energy and expertise into a 272-page guide that should appeal to drinkers of wine, makers of wine, sellers of wine, and growers of wine grapes. And, it’s not a bad little history book as well, chronicling the grapes and wines from the first days of European settlers in the Hudson Valley right through to the emergence of the region as a major modern wine producer.

Casscles is uniquely qualified to address this topic. He has worked in the field in one way or another for more than three decades, beginning in the 1970s in Middle Hope, Orange County, and Marlboro, Ulster County, when he planted his first vineyard and produced wine as a home winemaker. He has worked at Benmarl Winery, but since 2008 has been the winemaker at Hudson-Chatham Winery in Columbia County, and for the past 25 years has tended his heirloom variety vines in a four-acre vineyard called Cedar Cliff in nearby Athens.

Along the way, he has, become an expert in heirloom grape varieties that were first developed in New York in the 1800s, and as a lawyer working for the State Senate has had a hand in crafting numerous laws related to wine, spirits, beer and cider.

His book is replete with charts, maps, photos, biographies, diagrams, historical nuggets … even an illustrated how-to portion that can help a reader become a winemaker. Of particular interest is a rating system defining the hardiness, disease resistance, productivity, rigor and wine quality of each type of grape, must-have information for anyone hoping to succeed in the field.

The subtitle of the book, “and Other Cool Climate Regions of the United States and Canada,” is an important one because this is not a book of use only in the Hudson Valley. As the planting of cold-hardy grape varieties continues to increase in Upstate New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, southern Canada and other such areas, and the number of wineries using them continues to increase, having such a body of information in one place is priceless.