Thursday, April 27, 2017

Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 

• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A proposal for a true 'Upper Hudson Valley Beverage Trail'

A rough outline of a proposed beverage trail
When do efforts to capitalize on local pride and promotion fall short of what could be achieved by broadening one's scope? We may find out if two state lawmakers from the Greater Capital Region are successful in getting state help to promote craft beverage production in a small slice of the area.

The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce is working with State Sen. Elizabeth Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) on just such an initiative. They would like to designate a regional craft beverage and winemaking trail for Warren and Washington counties under a state Department of Transportation (DOT) program. What it would entail is placing signs along state roadways directing motorists to craft breweries, wineries and distilleries, as well as including such a trail in the state's advertising and marketing of the craft beverage industry.

The effort is being buoyed by Travelocity and The American Distilling Institute recently putting the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area in its new index of top 10 small U.S. metro areas for craft spirits tourism.

All of which looks fine at first glance. But, at second glance the plan could be considered myopic.

The area already is covered by the Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail, a collection of  more than a dozen wineries and tasting rooms plus affiliate businesses in Warren, Washington, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties. That existing cooperative venture could become so much more with the right vision and support.

New York State has long labored under the financially redundant and often conflicting burden of having too many school districts, stand-alone fire and police departments, hamlets-within-villages-within-towns, and on and on. Perpetuating such a failed organizational model by championing such cumbersome constructs in an alcoholic beverage industry that is undergoing a boom in all categories seems quite unwise.

Consider, around the state we already have beverage trails that bump up against each other, sometimes creating some confusion when promoting cooperative events. Do we need more of that? I suggest the lawmakers might expand the scope of their current intent. Rather than simply adding another entity to the mix, they could seek DOT and state marketing assistance to go beyond the small area now being targeted and helping the Upper Hudson Wine Trail become the Upper Hudson Beverage Trail and attracting as many wineries, breweries, distillers and cideries as  possible in the true "Upper Hudson" area.

The idea is not far-fetched. Whereas New York once had just a handful of wine trails, today it has 21 -- 15 that are wineries-only, 6 that include brewers and distillers under the "beverage trail" rubrick.

Most beverage trails have partnerships with a variety of hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants, tour vehicle companies, and craft food artisans that offer enticements to tourists. Imagine the promotional clout available to a well-formed beverage trail that stretches a manageable 60-plus miles from Albany and Rensselaer counties to the south to Lake George to the north.

So, Senator Little and Assemblywoman Woerner, care to discuss?

• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Monday, April 24, 2017

25th Cayuga 'Wine & Herb Festival' covers 2 weekend

Except for opening day, all 16 members of the Cayuga Wine Trail will be participating in the next two weekends' 25th annual "Wine & Herb Festival."

Each weekend, the event will open on Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. at four member wineries -- Treleaven, Long Point Winery, Montezuma Winery, and Six Mile Creek Vineyard. Then on both Saturday and Sunday they will be joined by Americana Vineyards, Bellwether Hard Cider & Wine Cellars, Buttonwood Grove Winery, Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery, Goose Watch Winery, Hosmer Winery, Knapp Winery, Lucas Vineyards, Swedish Hill Winery, Thirsty Owl Wine Company, Toro Run Winery, and Varick Winery & Vineyard.

The tour will allow home gardeners to get started on their own plots by purchasing potted herbs and vegetables that will be featured in all 16 food samples, along with the matching recipe collection. Visitors will be offered wine samples that complement that dish, and will be offered three additional wine tastings. Herbs and vegetables will include jalapeno peppers, marjoram, iceberg lettuce, cilantro, parsley, Sweet 100s tomatoes, oregano, celery, dill, sage, Roma tomatoes, lavender, sweet banana peppers, meatball eggplants, basil and chives.

Potential visitors can reserve tickets and their preferred starting point online. Prices vary depending on the package selected. For those unfamiliar with the Cayuga Lake-centric trail, the organization recently release a downloadable app.
• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Long Island Wine Press spring edition now available

Randee Daddona photo,Moka Graphics layout
The spring edition of the Long Island Wine Press is hitting the newsstands this week.

The publication, produced by the northforker, features a photo history of the early days of Long Island Wine Country. Some of the region’s oldest vineyards, including Pindar Vineyards, Paumanok Vineyards, Palmer Vineyards and Bedell Cellars, submitted old pictures for the photo essay.

Other features include an interview with 1943 Pizza Bar owner Matt Michel; a profile on Kontokosta Winery, an East End facility; the story behind Channing Daughters Winery’s VerVino vermouth; an interview with Jacqueline Malenda of Madiran the Wine Bar in East Setauket; and a letter from Long Island Wine Council president Roman Roth.

Copies are available at wineries, restaurants, newsstands and other businesses around the region. Some of the material will be posted on the northforker website.
• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Brooklyn Crush's spring edition is in the works

The Brooklyn Crush Wine & Artisanal Food Festival is becoming a major player in the state's pantheon of such events. The "spring edition" of the biannual event is set for Saturday, May 13, at Industry City in the borough's Sunset Park.

The tasting will feature more than 175 wines, ciders and other adult drinks, as well as light fare and hors d’oeuvres, plus numerous artisan food tables offering samples of charcuterie, baked goods, olive oils, vegan selections, cheeses, non-alcoholic beverages, salsas and spreads, chocolates, and other specialty foods. Providers will offer full-sized items for patrons to purchase.

Old, new and emerging wine regions will be showcased, including varietals from the U.S. -- with several New York State wineries to be featured, Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. Vendor and winery lineups will be regularly updated on the festival website.

Tickets now are on sale, priced from $59 to $120, depending upon ticket level and time of purchase. Additional details of the event and ticket purchasing are available online.
• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Winery shares step-by-step guide to care of a vineyard

Photo courtesy of Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail
As you might imagine, the care and nurturing of wine grapes is a tedious task that requires  year-round care even though one might think growers can take the winter off.

The Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail has just shared a great guide provided by The Fossil Stone Vineyards on just what steps are a "must" for anyone hoping for a great harvest, favorable weather permitting. Click here to view it.

Fossil Stone is located in Greenfield Center about five miles north of Saratoga Springs on a farm dating to 1802.
• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hobby winemakers conference set for Cornell University

Reservations now are being accepted for the annual WineMaker Magazine Conference, set for  June 1-4 at Cornell University in Ithaca.

The four-day event targeting hobby winemakers will include dozens of seminars and other events. Organizers are cautioning anyone contemplating attending that the last time the conference was held in the Finger Lakes it sold out several months early.

Among scheduled speakers are Kathy Arnink, who teaches enology courses in Cornell's enology and viticulture program in the Food Science Department; Peter Brehm, owner of Brehm Vineyards in California where he has been helping amateur winemakers for more than 45 years, and Meaghan Frank, fourth generation of the Frank family to manage Dr. Konstantin Frank's Winery in the Finger Lakes.

A downloadable conference brochure and registration information are available online.
• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Friday, April 14, 2017

Pennsylvania a step closer to broadening wine sales

• From the Meadville, PA, Tribune
HARRISBURG, PA -- A plan proposed by House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, would allow shoppers to buy their wine where they get their pasta and sauce -- in the normal grocery aisles instead of a segregated café area of the store.

The measure is part of a series of new privatization bills House Republicans have rolled out to further dismantle Pennsylvania’s government-run liquor system. Other measures would allow grocers to sell spirits as well as beer and wine, and a separate bill to allow privately-run liquor stores.

There are about 220 grocery and convenience stores in Pennsylvania selling wine and beer in cafe settings. Pennsylvania has about 600 state-run liquor stores. Turzai’s bill would allow any grocery store to sell wine in the main store area by paying the state a $250,000 application fee per store. The House Liquor Control Committee has scheduled a vote on the measure for next Tuesday April 18).

• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bill would allow out-of-state wine shipments to New Yorkers

From The Business Wire

ALBANY -- With the introduction of Assembly Bill 5991, New York State is poised to open the door for the state's wine consumers to enter the 21st Century.

The bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Amy Paulin of Westchester County -- a graduate of UAlbany -- would give New York wine consumers the right to receive wine shipments from out-of-state wine stores, internet retailers, wine-of-the-month clubs and wine auction houses.

The National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) today announced its support for her bill. In addition, a number of the state's major wine retailers endorsed the legislation along with its commitment to free and fair trade.

NAWR also has established a new website that provides New Yorkers with access to a variety of tools for supporting the change to the laws governing how the state’s consumers access the wines they want.

“Consumers of fine wine in New York State are slowly learning that it is currently illegal for them to receive shipments from out-of-state wine stores. They cannot fathom why these shipments would be illegal, while out of state wineries, New York state wineries, and New York state retailers are legally able to ship them wine.” said Tom Wark, NAWR executive director. “A5991 would give New Yorkers access to nearly every wine available in the American marketplace and that is a privilege that they should have had years ago.”

The bill also would increase tax revenue by requiring that out-of-state retailers remit sales tax to New York. Protections against minors obtaining the wine are also in the bill and mimic the same requirements for adult signatures at the time of deliver that are required of wineries that ship wine into the state.
• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Update 2: Cuomo moviehouse drinks plan bites the dust

Beer and wine are sold in this California theater where clip-on trays also holds food items.
UPDATE 2 (4/12/17): Governor Andrew Cuomo's push to allow all movie houses in the state to sell alcoholic drinks failed to get enough support in the Legislature to become reality. Neither the Republican-led Senate nor the Democrat-led Assembly included it in their budget proposals, and the final budget passed over the weekend did not include any provisions for the measure. Current state law prevents movie theaters from selling such beverages unless the venue also serves restaurant-style food and has tables to go with every seat.

UPDATE (1/20/17): In one of his budget speeches this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would propose granting approval for movie theaters to serve wine and beer, as well as incentives to encourage them to be sure those are New York State products. The catch -- and isn't there always a catch with government? -- is that Cuomo's actual paperwork reveals that such service would NOT be restricted to wine and beer, and there is no provision for incentives for using state products.

(Originally published 1/18/17)

In New York State you can sip a beer or a glass of wine while watching a standup comic perform live, listen to a lounge singer-pianist or a jazz quintet, or even stroll through a gallery to see an art collection or hear a speaker. If alcohol-friendly Governor Andrew Cuomo has his way, you'll be able to enjoy the same beverages while taking in a movie.

There is a small handful of movie houses in the state allowed to sell such beverages now, a result of a succesful 2011 lawsuit filed by Nitehawk Cinemas seeking such a privilege, but they must have table seating and offer a full restaurant menu. Hardly the same as sitting in your neighborhood moviehouse and sloching back into a comfy overstuffed seat while you take in the latest version of the "Hunger Games" franchise, and hardly a sufficient-sized venue to handle crowds for first-run films.

During his budget address delivered publicly on Tuesday, Cuomo said that in addition to dozens of revenue and regulation recommendations, "We also had a proposal that would allow alcohol and beer to be sold in movie theaters. And, it would be joined with an incentive program, to incentivize the movie theaters to sell New York wine and beer."

If successful, the proposal would be just another step in a long series of moves by the governor to aid the state's wine/spirits/brewing industry by simplifying regulations, expanding tax credits, creating promotional programs, and speeding up licensing.

“It is a very big industry for us," Cuomo said. "We have developed it, it’s going gangbusters, anything we can do to encourage it. It’s especially successful in Upstate New York."

• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beak & Skiff emerging as an Upstate multi-spirits producer

Kombucha is ever-so-slowly staking a claim to a small slice of the adult beverage market in New York State. The latest company hoping to make the fermented tea product a substantial part of its business is the Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards and its spirits line called 1911 Establishment.

The Lafayette, Onondaga County, operation is in the midst of a push that potentially will make it a major player in the overall spirits industry. It is constructing a $3.5 million, 20,000-square-foot juice facility adjacent to its apple-pressing building on the south side of Route 20, just east of Route 80.

Across Route 20, a 2,000-square-foot rickhouse will be built next to the 1911 Distillery, which opened in 2009. Eventually, the  barrel-aging facility will hold as many as 600 barrels. As part of the local emphasis, the barrels are made by Adirondack Cooperage of Remsen, just north of Utica.

While the various spirits will need to spend some time being barrel aged before going to market, Beak & Skiff will gain revenue from products of the new juice facility. It expects fresh apple cider this fall, and natural drinks such as kombucha ready for market in 2018. In an interview with, Beak & Skiff general manager Ed Brennan said the kombucha likely will be produced at Beak & Skiff for another company, using that company's brand name.

"We don't want to rush things," Brennan said. "We want to differentiate ourselves, have something that stands out." Joe Bergan, 1911 distiller, concurs. "We're not going to hustle something out just to get it out," he said.

Beak & Skiff is anything but a newcomer to Upstate New York. It began, according to the company's official history, in 1911 "when George Skiff, an onion farmer on the North Side of Syracuse, and Andrew Beak, a dairy farmer, met at the farmers market and decided it would be fruitful to join forces and enter the emerging apple business. They found that the hillside area along Route 20 provided the perfect conditions for growing apples and began planting that very year."

The company is located at 2708 Lords Hill Road, Lafayette. Phone: (315) - 696-6085.

• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Monday, April 10, 2017

Clinton Vineyards tasting room reopening with tax-free days

Clinton Vineyards' intimate, attractive tasting room is always a warm-weather treat, so it's good news that owner Phyllis Feder today announced it will open for the season on Saturday.

To mark the occasion, as well as the winery's 40th vintage anniversary which will introduce the latest version of its signature seyval blanc, Feder notes: "The celebration begins with our tasting room opening  on April 15. That's the day people usually pay their taxes. However, not for friends of Clinton Vineyards. We are offering tax free shopping this Saturday and Sunday between 1 and 5 p.m. So, no worries about the tax on your wine purchase. We'll pick up that part of the bill."

Clinton Vineyards is located at 450 Schultzville Road in Clinton Corners, Dutchess County. Phone: (845) 266-5372.

• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Notes On Napkins
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail

Friday, April 7, 2017

Mio Posto to remerge in new city, in place of Lark + Lily

Danny Urschel
Sylvia Lilly
This a tale of two restaurants with a definite twist. Or two.

Mio Posto, which Danny Urschel had owned for about two years before it was destroyed by a fire last Thanksgiving that also wreaked havoc on several adjoining restaurants in Saratoga Springs, will be reopening, although not in Saratoga.

The Lark + Lily Wine Bar & Kitchen on Albany's Lark Street, which Silvia Lilly created after purchasing what had been The Wine Bar and Bistro On Lark, will disappear before it even reaches its second anniversary.

Here's the deal, as reported by the Times Union's Table Hopping blog:

Danny Urschel, who has said he would reopen Mio Posto but wasn't sure where, says he has reached an agreement with Lily to take over her restaurant and rename it Mio Posto. With 44

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Villa Bellangelo unveils a new 'bench' series of wines

"I'm obsessed with texture," winemaker Chris Missick said as he poured the latest wine in the series of wines by Villa Bellangelo called "Bench" at a tasting in the winery's new library tasting room. The title, short for "bench trial," refers to a limited run series that allows the Bellangelo winemaking team to seek out experimental, textural expressions of the wines it crafts each vintage. The newest wine in the lineup is a 2015 Riesling.

Bench emerged from a collection of barrel projects that started at the winery some years ago. The lineup of current releases includes the 2013 Fifty 50, a hal- white Pinot Noir and half-Chardonnay blend aged in neutral oak for two years, and three separate 2014 skin fermented white wines from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Seyval Blanc grapes. 

The new release, to be made this month, will be a very different take on Riesling. The 2015 Bench Riesling was uninoculated for its primary fermentation, aged in neutral barrels, and permitted to go through malolactic fermentation. The results, says winemaker Chris Missick, "are a striking change for the person familiar with Finger Lakes Rieslings. Combining citrus with a softer acidity than is typical for the region, and perhaps closer in line with a cold climate Chardonnay than a typical cold climate Riesling, the 2015 Bench Riesling offers an exciting curiosity to the 2015 line-up of Rieslings produced from Bellangelo."

The 2016 Bench wine, still in the barrel and that will not be availablr until 2018, is composed of Gewurztraminer that underwent a carbonic maceration and a late harvest cluster select Gewurztraminer fermented to dryness.