Saturday, February 25, 2017

Imbibeable Cartoonery

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New Michigan wine shipping restrictions open old wounds

What some governments might see as protectionism other entities see as restraint of trade. That is the case in Michigan where the state legislature passed a law last month that as of March would bar out-of-state retailers from shipping wine into the state.

That did not sit well with a group of Michigan residents and at least one wine retailer in neighboring Indiana who filed suit in federal court to challenge the law which lets in-state retailers buy a "specially designated merchant license" that will allow them to ship wines to in-state consumers. Out-of-staters are not permitted to buy such a license.

Baylen Linnekin, a lawyer specializing in food law-and-policy and an adjunct professor at George Mason University Law School where he teaches on that topic, wrote an interesting commentary on the situation for Here's how it begins:
"If you ... looked up at the date stamp on this column because you thought this might be a reprint of some classic article from 2005, you'd be forgiven. Wasn't Granholm v. Heald, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court a dozen years ago, a case about a Michigan law that barred out-of-state wineries from shipping wine into the state? And didn't the Supreme Court rule that Michigan's law was unconstitutional?

Yes and yes. And yet, here we are.

Indeed, the new Michigan law and lawsuit raise startlingly similar dormant Commerce Clause and 21st Amendment questions that many assume were settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in Granholm. Three years after Granholm, a federal court ruled against Michigan in another wine-shipment case that was even more on-point.

Just what the hell is Michigan doing?"
Go here to read what the hell he thinks is going on.

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Hazlitt's ice wine wins 'best of show' in California test

The "Best in Show"
The Northeast's current warm spell may be conducive to thinking "ice wine." That certainly is the case at the Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards.

The Schuyler County company's, 2014 Vidal Ice Wine just took "Best of Show" honors at the International Eastern Wine Competition/East Meets West in Sonoma, CA.

En route to that accolade, the wine won Double Gold (unanimous vote of the tasting panel), "Best of Class," and "Best Dessert Wine" awards.

Earlier awards for the same wine, bottled in September 2014, include Double Gold in the New York State Fair Commercial Wine Competition; "Best of Show," "Best Late Harvest/Dessert Wine," "Best of Class" and Double Gold in the International Eastern test. It retails for $45 for the 375ml bottle.

In addition, Hazlitt's Schooner White earned Double Gold, and its 2014 Homestead Riesling, 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, White Cat, and Light Port. each won a Gold medal.

Other major New York State entries: winners: Black Willow 2015 Diamond (Gold and Best of Class) and 2015 Trilogy Red (Gold); plus, Golds for Chateau Lafayette Reneau's 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Owner's Reserve; Torrey Ridge's 2015 Baco Noir; Glenora's 2015 Vidal Ice Wine, 2015 Pinot Blanc, and 2015 Chardonnay; Hosmer 's2015 Pinot Gris; Lamoreaux Landing's 2015 Estate Riesling Round Rock Vineyard (Double Gold and Best of Class);

Also, Liberty Vineyards' Fredonia; Penguin Bay's 2015 Dry Riesling, 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve, and 2015 Riesling; Swedish Hill's 2015 Dry Riesling, and 2015 Riesling; Thirsty Owl's 2015 Pinot Noir, and 2015 Riesling; Wagner's 2014 Riesling Ice (Double Gold and Best of Class), and 2015 Semi-Dry Riesling; and Whitecliff 's 2013 Petit Verdot.

Go here for the full list of award-winners in all categories.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Hudson-Chatham Winery unveils renovated tasting room

(Photo provided)
The Hudson-Chatham Winery has unveiled the results of a spruce-up effort -- a new-look tasting room at the Ghent facility.

The tasting room originally opened in 2007. Says co-owner Dominique DeVito, "We thought we'd put in a large bar along the back wall. We were the first winery in the area, and we didn't really know what to expect. The response over the years has been so much greater than we thought, and we realized we needed more room -- and more light -- for people to enjoy our tasting experience."

The winery is located at 1900 State Route 66 in Columbia County, about midway between its two namesake communities. Tasting room hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Phone: (518) 392-9463. It also has a Greene County satellite tasting room at 6036 Main Street in Tannersville, at the foot of Hunter Mountain.

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Villa Bellangelo continues its upgrading efforts

The deck at Vila Bellangelo
News about new wineries is commonplace in New York State, where the industry is continually expanding. But, not everything is about new companies. Sometimes  revitalizing old ones is newsworthy.

Take the Villa Bellangelo winery, located on the west side of Seneca Lake. A winery that had operated on the property for about two decades in the late 20th Century went belly up, and Michael Litterio purchased it around 2001. The business largely flew under the radar  until 2011 when Litterio sold it to the Missick family.

What they purchased was an existing, operational winery, but when it came to cellar equipment a lot of TLC was required to get it up to standard. That began very quickly, with acquisition of a new de-stemmer, crusher, must pump, tanks from Vance Metal Fabricators in Geneva, NY, and a used press were in place for the 2012 vintage. After that, a new chilling system and forklift were added.

Now, in anticipation of the 2017 vintage, the Missicks have made a series of additional  investments -- an additional forklift, an Armbruster Rotovib destemmer, a mechanized hopper, a new Willmes Merlin Press, and a new GAI bottling line, with other equipment and infrastructure improvements to be announced shortly.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

NY'S craft beverage branch shops top the 100 mark

Coyote Moon Vineyards branch in  Clayton
The growth in the number of wineries, distilleries, breweries and cideries in New York State in recent years has been well documented. But, news of one niche in the industry has often gone unnoticed. Governor Andrew Cuomo took care of that today.

Speaking in New York City, the governor announced that the number of craft beverage manufacturers operating off-site branch stores has increased to 105 locations in 35 counties statewide, 32 of them in just the past year.

“The demand for New York’s world class beer, wine, cider and spirits continues to grow, and by supporting the expansion of craft beverage businesses, we are able to connect locally grown products to more customers than ever before,” Cuomo said. “These off-site stores are allowing these small businesses to enter new markets, create new jobs, and increase revenues to support the growth of local communities across the state.”

Under Cuomo, the state has overhauled its Alcoholic Beverage Control laws, including provisions to expand branch store privileges to all farm-based beverage manufacturers and permit craft beverage businesses to open up to five additional retail locations outside their manufacturing facility with no additional licensing fees.

The law now allows farm-based beverage producers to sell any farm-produced wine, beer, cider and spirits by the bottle and by the glass, host tastings, open restaurants, operate gift shops, and manufacture and warehouse their products at these branch locations.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “The agricultural industry has seen an incredible boost from our state’s craft beverage producers who are proudly sourcing their ingredients from New York farms and meeting their customers’ demands for a unique and diverse selection of beverage products that are locally made. Thanks to the Governor’s continued commitment to this sector, we’re clearly seeing more businesses open and expand, which is helping to grow our local economies and spotlight New York agriculture.”

New York now has more than 600 farm wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries, an increase of more than 65% since 2010.

A chart showing branch shops statewide is available online. The 10 branches in the Greater Capital Region and their locations include:

Save the date: Wine dinner fundraiser for students of French

Amorici Vineyard, located in the countryside on the border of Washington and Rensselaer counties, is reaching far beyond that region to assist students studying French.

Owner-winemaker Joe Messina will host a wine pairing event for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29. Reservations are $60 per person, limited to 28 seats. Proceeds will go to help support area students studying French as part of an annual program from La Fédération Franco-Américaine du New York.

The buffet dinner menu: a glass of wine, French bread, salad, coq au vin, beef Bourguignon, quiche with seasonal vegetables, haricots verts, scalloped potatoes, fresh fruit for dessert, coffee and tea. Additional wine will be available for purchase.

Reservations may be made by calling Yvette at (518) 272-5061. Checks, payable to FeFANY, should be sent to FeFANY, P.O. Box 354, Cohoes, NY, 12047.

Amorici Vineyard is located at 637 Colonel Burch Road, Valley Falls. Phone: (518) 469-0680.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump wine sells out during VA boycott attempt of Wegmans

RICHMOND, VA -- A call by a women’s organization to boycott the popular Wegmans grocery chain for selling Trump wine seems to have resulted in its stores selling out of the wine.

The Washington Post reported the Prince William County (VA) National Organization for Women planned to protest Wegmans in Northern Virginia over its refusal to remove Trump wine from its shelves. “Certainly if Wegmans is carrying Trump wines, I personally will not shop there,” Terry O’Neill, president of the NOW.

A Wegmans spokesperson said the Upstate New York-based grocer sells five varieties of Trump wine in its 10 Virginia stores. Wegmans, which sells 237 different wines from 58 Virginia wineries, began carrying Kluge Winery products in 2008 and continued when Trump bought the winery in 2011. Wegmans commented that its role as a retailer is to offer customers a choice.
Go here for the full story. And, go here for another report on the same topic.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Report: Taste NY program helped triple sales in 2016

The state's Taste NY program created to promote the state's food and beverage industries is three years old. So, how is it doing?

Sales of those items nearly tripled in 2016, according to an analysis just released by Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, surpassing what it says was his goal of doubling sales of participating businesses in one year.

Total gross sales of New York products from Taste NY stores, cafés, bars, concessions and events topped $13.1 million last year, the highest annual sales in the program’s brief history.

“Taste NY continues to connect New York’s world-class farmers and food and beverage producers with New Yorkers hungry for locally made goods, as well as those across the nation and around the world who crave the high quality of Empire State-made products," Cuomo said. “These sales numbers are proof positive of Taste NY's success and we will continue investing in this program to help create jobs and spur economic growth in businesses and communities across New York."

The sales increase in 2016 was supported by the addition of four new Taste NY stores and cafés. In addition, the first-ever Taste NY Bar was opened at Barclays Center, home to the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and the New York Islanders hockey team. A second later was opened at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.

New York products also are offered on 13 Amtrak trains and at five minor league baseball stadiums in the state, and at dozens of major events around New York. Cuomo's 2017-18 Executive Budget proposes support for Taste NY at new welcome centers across the state.

The budget proposal also includes expanding the sale of alcoholic beverages in certain venues, such as movie theaters, an effort to provide a boost to the state’s craft beverage industry, although Cuomo's message does not limit that to New York products as an earlier speech seemed to indicate.  In addition, Cuomo has proposed the launch of a first-ever "New York

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

'Locavore Weekend' planned at Adirondack Winery

Adirondack Winery's annual "Locavore Weekend" is scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday during the Lake George Winter Carnival.

Admission is $20 per person, with reservations available online, although advance purchase is not required.

Attendees will be able to try samples of mulled wines and foods from several local food producers. All food products will be for sale at a 10% discount. In addition, a special tasting flight featuring Adirondack wines will be available, featuring:

• Gil's zesty lemon olives with Sauvignon Blanc or Syrah
• Saratoga Cracker cheese crackle with Merlot or Blue Twilight
• Eagle Ridge pepper sauce with Semi-Dry Riesling or Prospect Mountain White
• JM Farm maple glazed nuts with Pinot Noir or Amethyst Sunset
• Barkeater caramel candy with Fireside Reserve

Adirondack Winery is located at 285 Canada Street in Lake George Village. Phone: (518) 668-WINE.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Imbibeable Cartoonery

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Millbrook Winery offering hands-on 'boot camp' experience

Lollipop Hill at Millbrook Winery
If you're interested in getting deeper into wine -- well beneath the uncorking and tasting -- Millbrook Winery’s "Vine to Wine Boot Camp" offers is an insider’s experience for the adventurous.

As the management team says, "Become part of our winemaking team this season as we challenge you to roll up your sleeves and plunge into grape growing and wine making during our eight-part experiential series. Participants will learn the art of grape growing in the Hudson Valley and tend to their own part of our vineyard, learning hands-on grape growing techniques from a true master, Millbrook's winemaker and vice president, John Graziano."

The class is limited to 20 students. Participants will receive lunch, including a glass of wine, at Millbrook’s Vineyard Grille after each seminar session.

"The program also includes a seat at our annual Tocai Celebration luncheon on May 20 and Harvest Party luncheon on October 14. A final closing luncheon will occur in March 2018 to celebrate the bottling of our 2017 Lollipop Tocai Friulano." Participants also will receive a 12-bottle case of the custom-labeled wine after bottling is completed.

The first session is scheduled for April 8, The cost is enrollment is $795 or $700 for PSR Club members, plus tax. Reservations may be made by calling (845) 677-8383 extension 17. The winery is located at 26 Wing Road in Millbrook, Dutchess County.
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Saturday, February 11, 2017

An updated guide to the beverage trails of New York State

Cover image of the beverage trail website.
The recent news that the fledgling Rochester-Finger Lakes Craft Beverage Trail is getting close to official designation by the state was just the latest example of the burgeoning number of tourism trails dealing with more than wineries.

There are 21 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries on the trail, an informal entity since 2014 but now awaiting an OK by the state Assembly before going to the governor's office for signature.

Keeping up with the many possibilities to visit, with more than 20 trails and hundreds of members spread from Lake Erie on the far west of the state to Montauk Point on the far eastern point of Long Island, can be a daunting task. But, never fear, there is a handy guide to cut through it all.

My recently-updated and redesigned New York State Beverage Trails site offers a complete list of the trails and their members, with live links to individual websites and contact information. Bear in mind, some companies belong to more than one trail, depending on their geographic or product overlaps.
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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Grape Discovery Center gets license to expand sales

Front row: manager Christina McKane, president Patricia Hathaway, board member Bob Patterson holding the new farm winery license. Back row: board members Deb Philips, Helen Baran, Bob Green, John Piper, Carolyn Bills, and Phil Baideme.
The Grape Discovery Center in Chautauqua County has moved another step toward being a full-service visitor center. It has just been issued a farm winery license by the state, which allows it to sell New York State-made wines, spirits, beer and cider by the bottle for off-premises consumption. Previously, it had been limited to selling beverages by the glass for on-premises use only.

"It's been quite a journey for the Center to be able to achieve this goal, but with the support of Senator Cathy Young and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, our license has arrived," said  Christina McKane, manager of the three-year-old facility. "Thanks to their help in obtaining this license, visitors will be able to make a purchase and enjoy these locally made beverages in their hotel rooms or homes."

In addition to gradually building its wine inventory, the Center has added to its events calendar. For example, next Thursday, February 16, Bob Green of the Mercyhurst North East Wine & Culinary Institute from nearby Erie, PA, will conduct a "Tasting Series for Wine, Spirits and Craft Beer."

Also on the calendar, on March 24 the "Grape Discovery Center Wine & Culinary Dinner Experience with Pairings from the Tasting Series" is planned. And, on April 15, A "Children's Happy Easter Party" inclding an egg hunt is planned.

Other events such as a bonsai gardening workshop, a classic cars show, wine parties, live music and so on are scheduled right through the end of summer. Details are available on the facility;s website and its Facebook page.

The Center is located at 8305 West Main Road (Route 20) in the Village of Westfield. Phone: (716) 326-2003.

Arrow shows location of Westfield, Chautauqua County.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

NYers continue success in Florida wine competition

New York State entries historically have done well in the Florida State Fair International Wine Competition, and this weekend's event in Tampa was no exception.

Wines from New York collected a best-of-show, seven Double Golds, eight Golds, 28 Silvers, and 22 Bronzes.

The top individual showing was by Liberty Vineyards & Winery of Chautauqua County. Its 2016 Dry Riesling won "Best of Show White Wine" to go with Double Gold medals for its Fredonia and its 2015 Riesling.

Other Double Gold medals went to Earle Estates Meadery's Strawberry Shadows, Keuka Spring Vineyards' 2015 Millers Cove Red, Lakewood Vineyards' 2015 Full Monty Riesling and its 2015 Sparkling Catawba, and Swedish Hill Winery's 2015 Pinot Grigio.

Gold medals went to Lamoreaux Landing's 2015 Gewurztraminer and its 2015 Red Oak Vineyard Riesling, Swedish Hill's 2015 Riesling and its Blanc de Blanc, Lakewood's 2016 Abby Rose, Liberty's White Side of the Moon, Torrey Ridge's Emmy Lou, and WortHog Cidery's Hard Cider.
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Niagara County winery makes its mark in international test

A Niagara County winery-meadery walked away from a major international competition with an impressive array of awards.

Black Willow Winery, located in the little community of Burt, racked up a Platinum award and three Gold medals at the Winemakers Challenge in San Diego, CA.

The Platinum was for its Classic Diamond NV ($12.95), while the Golds were awarded to its Trilogy Red NV ($16.95), Black Widow Berry NV ($11.95), and Odin's Nectar Traditional Mead Honey Wine, Valhalla Meadery NV ($17.95). 

In addition, Woodbury Winery & Vineyards of Fredonia won a Platinum and "Best of Show Rosé " for its Foxy Blush Renard ($10), a Gold for its 2013 Cabernet France ($24) and a trio of Silvers for other entries.

Go here for the full list of awards in all categories.

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