Thursday, May 25, 2017

Info absent on burning question about wine ice cream

Dragonfyre slushy machine (Facebook photo)
Some time ago, I attempted to get an update on pending legislation involving the serving size of wine ice cream in New York, apparently a matter of the usual governmental nanny state restrictions. I was unable to get any information from the members of both houses of the New York State Legislature supposedly trying to amend the rules. More on that in a bit.

Apparently there are no rigid restrictions on using whiskey in another type of food, if one considers slushies actual food. The Dragonfyre Distillery in Marathon, Cortland County, today announced it will be making and selling whiskey slushies this summer.

"BREAKING NEWS! The slushy machine is here!!! ," trumpeted Dragonfyre's Facebook message. "We will be serving whiskey slushys from now on! What's your preference?
Strawberry Daiquiri
Arnold Palmers
Pina Cola da
Blueberry pomegranate
Prohibition Moon
Apple Moon
Let us know what you want, this is just the "short" list!"

Now, back to the topic of wine ice cream.

Back on March 22, I reported that "The State Senate today approved S4265, a bill introduced by Sen. Joseph Griffo (R-47), to allow a change in the portion size of wine ice cream. The current minimum container size is one pint. Griffo, the deputy senate majority whip, seeks to meet what he says is consumer demand for smaller containers of wine ice cream for weddings, fundraisers, recreational tours, etc. A companion bill that needs to be passed next is being introduced in the Assembly by William Magee (D-121), chairman of the Agriculture Committee. New York is the only state with minimum size requirements."

Since then, I have tried to find out the status of the proposal. A call to Griffo's office was unproductive because the staffer who answered my call had no idea what I was talking about, even though it is his boss's legislation. Even worse at Magee's office, where a promised return phone call has not materialized and an emailed inquiry has been ignored.

Which leads me to suspect that, even though this is a small matter in the larger universe of governance and therefore beneath the legislators' purportedly pushing it, we will see during the next election cycle some reference to this "consumer friendly" effort that both legislators suddenly will remember they have attached their names to.
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Long Island work force brain drain? Put a cork in it!

Russell Hearn chats with visitors at
Mattituck's Premium Wine Group
From Innovatelli 
Don’t whine when you can wine. That was one of the big ideas ... when a select group of educators, hospitality professionals and economic-development experts - each with a particular interest in addressing Long Island’s infamous “brain drain” –- [recently] toured several East End winemaking facilities.

Arranged by the Long Island regional office of the Workforce Development Institute, the field trip was designed to help insiders understand the workforce needs and career opportunities inherent to the Island’s burgeoning wine industry –- information they can share with students and others who might not know that hundreds of good-paying jobs are available in eastern Suffolk County right now, with hundreds more ripening on the vine.

To be sure, the tour was not focused only on low-hanging fruit. While eastern vineyards do need farmhands to harvest grapes and otherwise maintain crops -- “especially with the political climate right now,” noted one winemaker -- there are career paths aplenty in the rapidly expanding wine business, with needs ranging from HVAC mechanics to accountants to chemists, and salaries flowing well into the six-figure range.

“There are jobs here that require no degree, and jobs that require advanced degrees,” noted Workforce Development Institute Regional Director Rosalie Drago. “This industry is literally for everyone.” 
Go here for the full story.
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Study: Wine consumption may raise breast cancer risk

The only sure thing about a study is that another study will come along to refute it ... until another comes along to refute the refutation.

The latest pronouncement concerns wine and health. For years now, we've been told that some consumption  of red wines will impart good health via the chemical resveratrol they contain. Now, a study just released by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund says a daily glass or more of wine, or any other alcoholic beverage increases the chances of contracting breast cancer.

It's a fairly thorough study that reviewed  and analyzed 119 studies that used data from 12 million women worldwide. It  found that 10 grams of alcohol per day, the equivalent of one small glass of wine, beer or other alcohol, is linked to a heightened breast cancer risk of 5% for pre-menopausal and 9% for post-menopausal women.

Anne McTiernan, a cancer-prevention researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and one of the report’s lead authors, said, "This suggests there is no level of alcohol use that is completely safe in terms of breast cancer. If a woman is drinking, it would be better if she kept it to a lower amount.”

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival this weekend

Thirty makers of wine, spirits, ciders, meads and beers from New York and Massachusetts will be featured at the 5th annual Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival this weekend.

The event, sponsored by the Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail, will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Columbia County Fairgrounds. In addition to the beverage samplings, vendors will offer tastings and sale of cheeses, baked goods, jams, jellies and other regionally produced foods. Exhibitors and artisans will have booths, and seminars will be presented by experts from all parts of the craft beverage industry.

A one-day tasting ticket, available at the gate or online for $25, includes admission, souvenir tasting glass and unlimited wines, ciders and spirits. Non-tasting tickets are $10, and children 12 and younger are admitted free.

The fairgrounds are located at 182 Hudson Avenue, Chatham, with the festival entrance on Route 66.

The beverage vendors:
  • Adirondack Winery
  • Awestruck-Gravity Ciders
  • Brookview Station Winery
  • Cascade Mountain Winery
  • Furnace Brook Winery
  • Helderberg Meadworks
  • Hudson-Chatham Winery
  • ​Hummingbird Hills Winery
  • ​Idol Ridge Winery
  • ​Ledge Rock Hill Winery
  • ​Les Trois Emme
  • Milea Estate Vineyard
  • Montezuma Winery
  • Pazdar Winery
  • Sun Dog Cider
  • ​Tousey Winery
  • Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery
  • Whitecliff Winery
  • ​Yankee Folly Cidery
  • ​Warwick Valley - Docs Draft Cider
  • Berkshire Mt. Distillers
  • ​Blackdirt Distilling
  • Dutch's Spirits
  • Harvest Spirits
  • ​High Rock Distillery
  • Hillrock Estate Distillery
  • Hudson Valley Distillers
  • Lake George Distilling Company
  • ​Olde York Farm Distillery
  • Old Klaverack Brewery

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New alcohol study: Other studies full of flaws

From the New York Daily News
There’s no shortage of studies claiming that moderate wine drinkers have healthier hearts. Same goes for light consumption of other sorts of alcohol. But a new deep research dive into the topic basically says to put a cork in it. Investigators found little evidence to support the earlier booze-is-good-for-you findings.

That’s the takeaway of a new study in the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs. Researchers sifted through 45 previous studies and found flaws in the methodology.
Go here for the full story.

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Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 



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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

'Bounty of the Hudson' festival coming up in June

Fans of Hudson Valley wines, or anyone looking for a first exposure to them, will find more than 20 wineries represented at the annual "Bounty of the Hudson" next month.

The rain-or-shine, festival style event is set for Saturday and Sunday, June 10-11, at the Ulster County Fairgrounds.

In addition to wine tastings, it offer samplings of fresh local produce, cheeses, honey, baked goods and foods from local restaurants.

Tickets, available online, cover a souvenir Shawangunk Wine Trail glass, sampling at each of the attending wineries' booths, and an afternoon of live music. The event, open only to persons 21 or older, will run from noon to 5 p.m. both days. A one-day tasting ticket, good for either Saturday OR Sunday, is $30 purchased in advance, plus fees. A limited number of tickets will be available at the gate for $40, including tax. A general admission ticket for designated drivers is available in advance for $10, plus fees and at the gate for $15, including fees. Each ticket is valid for one day of the event.

The Ulster County Fairgrounds is located at 249 Libertyville Road in New Paltz.
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

'Harvest East End' late-summer event already in the works

A typical sight on Long Island's East End. (photo provided)
While most of the state's wine regions are just getting out the word about their summer events, Long Island Wine Country just sent out a save-the-date reminder for its "Harvest East End" event in August.

Proceeds from the Saturday, August 5, bash hosted by Martha Clara Vineyards, say the organizers, will "support cooperative initiatives dedicated to progressing viticulture, sustainable agriculture and community relations. It will feature wine tastings, passed hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction offering "curated experience" packages, local artisanal food items available for purchase. and live music. Only those 21 or older will be admitted to .

Tickets are on sale now on two levels:

Winemaker Experience ($125) -- 2 p.m. admission. Includes exclusive meet-and-greet opportunities with Long Island winemakers, and tastings of library and reserve wines.

General Admission ($75) -- 3 p.m.

Martha Clara Vineyards is located at 660 Herricks Lane, Riverhead on Long Island's North Fork.
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Upper HV Wine Trail plans 'Wine & Cheese Weekend'

The Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail's summer season will get into high gear with a "Wine & Cheese Weekend" on Saturday and Sunday, June 10-11.

The event is an exclusive one for UHVWT Passport holders. Details on how to instantly get a passport are available online.

Each participating winery will offer three wine tastes paired with three cheese samples, the combinations varying from venue to venue. The participants:
  • Adirondack Winery 285 Canada Street, Lake George
  • Amorici Vineyard, 637 Colonel Burch Road, Valley Falls
  • Ledge Rock Hill Winery, 41 Stewart Dam Road, Corinth
  • Oliva Vineyards, Saratoga Farmers’ Market, 105 High Rock Avenue, Saratoga Springs
  • Swedish Hill Winery, 441 Broadway, Saratoga Springs
  • The Saratoga Winery 462 Route 29, Saratoga Springs
  • Thirsty Owl Outlet & Wine Garden, 184 S. Broadway, Saratoga Springs
  • Victory View Vineyard, 11975 State Route 40, Schaghticoke
The self-guided tour can begin at any of the venues, and include as many stops as desired.
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Friday, May 12, 2017

State's drinks producers being spotlighted in NYC bash

Mixologist Melissa Markert will host a VIP cocktail session. (photo provided)
The state's always-expanding push to market its wines, spirits, ciders and brews will ramp up anther notch at a New York City event on Wednesday, May 24.

The multi-level event, with separate programs for the public and the trade, is titled "TasteNewYork - A New York Craft Beverage Experience." The venue is Pier A Harbor House at 22 Battery Place in lower Manhattan. It is part of the state's TasteNY program.

Two ticket options are available for the public event: the VIP Experience beginning at 6 p.m. and general admission tickets for 6:30 p.m. admission. The VIP option will include an exclusive cocktail demonstration and tasting in the 
Commissioner's Bar with Melissa Markert of Dead Rabbit, one of New York City's currently trendiest bars. She will use local ingredients and New York craft beverages to build cocktails.

Among the beverage providers will be Saratoga Brewing, Saratoga Spring Water, and Shmaltz Brewing Company from the Capital Region.

Details of the event, the participating vendors, categories for the trade and the public, and ticket purchasing are available on the event website.
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Finger Lakes tops list of best U.S. wine regions to visit

Thrillist, the online media brand covering food, drink, travel and entertainment, convened a panel of sommeliers to pick "Best Wine Regions to Visit In the U.S." They came up with 11 of them, and tops on the list is the Finger Lakes.

Here's what Thrillist had to say:
"No. 1. Finger Lakes, NY.

Must-hit wineries: Get a history lesson at Dr. Frank's before hitting Ravines or Hermann J. Wiemer. Perhaps we spoke too soon when we named the Finger Lakes the most underrated place in New York. This southern region of the Empire State is an like an SEC football team to sommeliers (that is, a powerhouse), except it actually deserves to be in everyone's top five.

"There are a lot of up-and-coming wineries there," says [panelist Daniel] Toral, "and better restaurants keep opening, as well." In fact, since the region started blowing up a few years ago, there are now over 100 wineries in the area. And the best part? It hasn't been overtaken by tourists and developers yet so there won't be horrendous crowds to fight when you visit the famous gorges at Watkins Glen State Park in the morning, and then head to the venerable birthplace of East Coast winemaking -- Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars -- later in the day." 
You can read the evaluations of the other 10 regions by clicking here.

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Local wine to flow at Finger Lakes art fest and competition

A reception by Hazlitt's Red Cat Cellars will be among the attractions at the 6th annual Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition & Festival.

The art-centric festival will run from Tuesday, June 6, through Sunday, June 11. The wine tasting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7. Wines will be poured from various Canandaigua Wine Trail wineries.

The festival itself, held under the auspices of the Ontario County Arts Council, will feature as many as 45 artists from across the country who have been invited to the area to paint scenes of Canandaigua and the Finger Lakes. An exhibition and sale will be held on the final day of the event at the historic site Sonnenberg Gardens.

Details of the festival are available on the event website.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Adirondack Wine & Food Festival vendors list unveiled

The full list of vendors for this year’s Adirondack Wine & Food Festival has just been released.

The event, to be held on the weekend of June 24-25 at the Charles R. Wood Festival Commons in Lake George Village, has sold more than 1,000 advance tickets, and a crowd of more than 6,000 is anticipated.

"This festival celebrates the bounty of amazing craft beverages and locally made foods that New York has to offer, and we’re excited to report that we will have more vendors and variety than ever before,” said Sasha Pardy, co-owner and president of the festival’s presenting sponsor, Adirondack Winery.

At this point, the vendor list has more than 80 vendors, including 23 wineries, eight distilleries, four breweries, three cideries, 23 artisan food vendors, six  specialty vendors, eight food trucks, a local restaurant and a weekend full of culinary demonstrations provided by the SUNY Adirondack culinary students.

Vendors, ticket information, and other details of the festival are available on the event website.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

North Country food and drink festival coming up

• From NorthCountryNow.com
OGDENSBURG -- The return of the much lauded Cheesecake on a Stick is one of the culinary highlights attendees at the 2017 North Country Wine, Beer and Food Festival can expect when they walk through the doors at the Lockwood Civic Center.

The festival is scheduled for 4 to 9 p.m. this Friday and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday.
After more than 10 years of staging the event, drawing attendees requires evolution and change, said organizer Laura Pearson, executive director of Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce, the organization hosting the event. “We’ve tweeked it … and added new things,” said Pearson. “We keep trying to improve it. We have new vendors this year.”
Go here for the full story.
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New York entries rack up 9 'bests' in Pacific Rim

New York wines earned a tremendous nine "Best of Class" awards and other topm honors in the recent Pacific Rim International Wine Competition in San Bernardino, CA.

The honors went to entries from:
  • 21 Brix Winery
  • Americana Vineyards
  • Black Willow Winery
  • Coyote Moon Vineyards
  • Fulkerson Winery
  • Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars
  • Merritt Estate Winery
  • Pellegrini Vineyards
  • Penguin Bay Winery
  • Swedish Hill Winery
  • Thirsty Owl Wine Company
  • Wagner Vineyards
Go here to visit a searchable database detailing their entries and full results in all categories.

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Wagner earns 'best of' in San Diego Wine Challenge

Ann Raffetto
Ann Raffetto, the longtime winemaker at Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery and one of the few female head winemakers in the state, has racked up a few more plaudits.

Wagner's 2014 Caywood East Vineyard Riesling took "Best Dry Riesling" honors en route to being named "Best of Show White Wine" at the San Diego Wine Challenge.

The Caywood East was rated at a platinum-level 95 points by the judges. And, although not achieving "best of" status, Wagner's 2015 Dry Riesling was awarded a gold medal with a score of 91.

Raffetto has been making wine at Wagner since 1983, working with co-winemaker, John Herbert until he retired in 2013.

Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery and Wagner Valley Brewing Company are located at 9322 State Route 414 in Lodi, Seneca County. Phone: (607) 582-6450 and (866) 924-6378.


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Anthony Road entry goes gold in French competition

Anthony Road Wine Company's 2013 Art Series Riesling took a gold medal at the 20th annual Riesling Du Monde, a high-end competition held at the Palais des Congrès in Strasbourg, the capital of France's Alsace province.

The entry from the Seneca Lake winery was the only American wine to win a gold in the competition. It is a product of spontaneous fermentation, with 0.47% residual sugar. Art Series carries a suggested retail price of $28.99 for the 750ml bottle.

Anthony Road Wine Company is the outgrowth of a farm founded in 1973 by John and Ann Martini when they planted their first five acres of grapes. It is located at 1020 Anthony Road, Penn Yan, on the west side of Seneca Lake. Phone: (800) 559-2182 or (315) 536-2182.
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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Here's a new look at the 1000 Islands Craft Beverage Trail

Taste 1000 Islands: Craft Beverage Trail from Le JIT Productions on Vimeo.


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