Friday, March 24, 2017

Expanded Hamptons Restaurant Week now called 'East End'

Anyone headed to Long Island in the next week may want to take in the "East End Restaurant Week," an eight-day restaurant promotion even that will run from this Sunday through the following Sunday, April 2.

This event is a renamed and expanded version of "Hamptons Restaurant Week," which was held the previous 14 years. Its original purpose was to generate additional business for restaurants in that winery-centric section of Long Island during a traditionally slow period and as a kick start to the spring season. What began as a South Fork promotion has grown to encompass all of the East End, including the North Fork.

"We've always received a tremendous amount of support from the North Fork," says LIRHG President Steve Haweeli, "so it's time we recognize that and show our appreciation for all restaurateurs involved."

All participating restaurants will offer a three-course prix fixe meal for $28.95 all night (may be offered only until 7 p.m. The organizers have an easily searchable feature on the event website to help visitors search for possibilities by town, cuisine, or specific restaurant name.

A number of lodging facilities in the area are offering a minimum 10% discount during the period.

Technically, the East End consists of the five townships at the eastern end of Suffolk County --  namely Riverhead, Southampton (which includes Westhampton), Southold, Shelter Island, and East Hampton.

The official East End of Long Island

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Wölffer Estate Vineyard unveils renovated tasting room

Showing off a new look at Wölffer Estate. (photo provided)
Wölffer Estate Vineyard has unveiled its renovated tasting room just in time for Sunday's start to the East End Restaurant Week.

New wood floors, counter, hightop and banquette seating, a restocked wine shop and displays and dark wood ceiling accents punctuate the setting. Visitors will be able to sample wines as well as choose from items on an expanded light bites menu. Full meal service is available on the grounds from a new kitchen that was part of an overall spruce-up program.

Wölffer is located on Long Island's South Fork at 139 Sagg Road, Sagaponack, just off the Montauk Highway. Tasting room hours: Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Phone: (631)

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Niagara Wine Trail plans 2-weekend tasting

Members of the Niagara Wine Trail are planning a two-weekend "Taste of the Trail" event for April to help celebrate its 15th anniversary.

Although not every member is involved in both the April 22-23 and 29-30 weekends, most are. The self-guided event allows visitors to start at any of the venues, then go on to others as they desire. Reservations, accepted through the Thursday before each weekend, are $25 for one weekend or $40 for two. At the wineries the days of the event, prices jump to $30 and $45 per person.

The suggested plan is to explore half the trail each weekend to maximize the variety of foods sampled with suggested wine pairings from each winery's collection.

A few examples of what will be served:
810 Meadworks -- Swedish meatballs paired with Sweet Devotion black currant mead
Arrowhead Spring Vineyards -- Artisanal grilled cheese bites paired with Arrowhead Red.
Flight of Five Winery -- Citrus Salad (orange, grapefruit, pineapple) with orange poppy dressing, paired with Locktender Gruner Veltliner or Lock 69 wines
Schwenk Wine Cellars -- Chocolate butterscotch bars served with dry reds
Other participating venues include A Gust of Sun Winery Spencerport and A Gust of Sun Winery Ransomville, Freedom Run Winery, Lake Ontario Winery, Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, Salamanca Winery, Spring Lake Winery, Vizcarra Vineyards, BlackBird Cider Works, Black Willow Winery, Chateau Niagara Winery, Honeymoon Trail Winery, Long Cliff Winery & Vineyards, Midnight Run Wine Cellars, Niagara Landing Wine Cellars, The Winery at Marjim Manor, Schulze Vineyards & Winery, and Victorianbourg Wine Estate. Go here for a look at the individual offerings revealed so far.

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Keuka Lake Wine Trail greets spring with 'Tapas & Wine'

Once the leftover snow banks recede, most people are anxious to get out and travel a bit. Members of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail are counting on getting an early share of that traffic.

That will begin with a "Tapas & Wine Weekend" set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 8-9. It's a self-guided tour with visitors beginning at any point on the Trail, picking up a souvenir tasting glass and a food-and-wine sample before moving on to other venues.

Each winery will prepare savory and sweet bites with suggested pairings. Twenty-eight wine samples and more than a dozen food samples will be offered. A few examples:
Keuka Spring -- Crostini with beef tenderloin, red peppers, and cilantro pesto mayonnaise; Manchego cheese, marinated mushrooms, and garlic stuffed olives.

McGregor Vineyard -- Spanish tortilla filled with caramelized onions and roasted garlic, crusty French bread, cinnamon-sugar churro.

Point of the Bluff -- Smoked sausage tartlet.

Vineyard View -- Bacon-wrapped figs and chorizo and garbanzo puree with grilled flatbread.
Other participating wineries are Heron Hill, Hunt Country, and Ravines.

Ticket options, including for designated drivers, range from $14 to $25 and are available online.
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Hunt Country Vineyards introduces a new winemaker

Craig Hosbach at work. (photo provided)
In spring, wineries usually are looking to new things. At Hunt Country Vineyards, the newest "thing" is a new winemaker.

Owners Art and Joyce Hunt today announced the appointment of Craig Hosbach to that role. He has been making wine for more than a decade, mostly in northern New York State, and is vice president of the Northern New York Grape Growers Association.

In 2008, Hosbach joined Thousand Islands Winery in Alexandria Bay where he refined his skills working with regional grapes as well as with classic vinifera varieties. Then, in 2012, he became head winemaker at Tug Hill Vineyards in Lowville. His wines have won more than 200 various awards.

Hosbach also is involved in the teaching of winemaking, having created an educational winemaking facility for students from Jefferson Community College’s winery marketing and management program.

Hunt Country Vineyards, which includes the farm, vineyard, winery and cafe, is located at 4021 Italy Hill Road in Branchport, Yates County. Phone: (800) 946-3289 or (315) 595-2812.

Art and Joyce Hunt took over the family farm in 1973, gradually but steadily expanding the scope of the business and starting a small farm winery in 1981 that has become one of the Finger Lakes' premier facilities.
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bellangelo opening two 'branded' satellite tasting rooms

In the Bellangelo cellar. (photo provided)
The Seneca Lake winery Villa Bellangelo is planning a two-venue grand opening bash on March 31.

Both venues are branded satellite tasting rooms called Branch by Bellangelo. One is in the former clubhouse of the Seneca Lake Country Club in Geneva, the other opposite the Cheesecake Factory in Syracuse's Destiny USA shopping complex. Wine tastings, the release of 2016 rosés, live music and other entertainments are planned for the grand openings.

The Branch in Geneva, located at 226 Turk Road, has a full cafe offering wine tastings and pairings from the Bellangelo winery and other New York State producers, as well weekend brunches. The Branch in Syracuse offers a range of Bellangelo and other New York State wines as well as selling local farm-produced food, craft and fashion items, as well as tasting sessions.

The concept is part of an ambitious expansion program by the Missick family who purchased
the 220-acre golf course in 2016, and plans to transforming the property into a resort destination.

Villa Bellangelo originally was known as Squaw Point Winery. The location has been producing wine commercially since 1986. The Missick family bought the property in 2011. It is located at 150 Poplar Point Road in Dundee, Yates County, just west of the lake. Phone: (607) 243-8602.
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Celebri-Quotes: Pope Francis

This occasional featured tidbit usually deals with things said by people in the drinks industry, the arts, entertainment, maybe even politics. But, Pope Francis keeps surprising people with his observations on a variety of topics not usually addressed by the head of the Roman Catholic Church. This week, in delivering his weekly Angelus address, he interpreted the passage in the Gospel of St. John describing the wedding feast of Cana at which it is written that Jesus turned water into wine.

• “How is it possible to celebrate the wedding and have a party if you lack what the prophets indicated was a typical element of the messianic banquet?”

• “Water is necessary to live, but wine expresses the abundance of the banquet and the joy of the feast.”

• “A wedding feast lacking wine embarrasses the newlyweds. Imagine finishing the wedding feast drinking tea! It would be shameful!”
He then concluded, “Wine is necessary for the celebration.” 
Click here to visit my archive of Celebri-Quotes on drinking.

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Higher wine tax nixed, Montana governor widens his range

Never underestimate a politician when he or she wants to dig a little deeper into people's pockets. Take Steve Bullock as just the latest example.

He's the governor of Montana who last month experienced rejection by state Senate Taxation Committee members of his bid to increase the state's excise tax on wine. Undaunted, he came back on Friday with another such request -- but this time broadened it to cover beer and distilled spirits.

Chutzpah, yes, but here's the clever part. Consumers probably won't complain much if Bullock is successful because consumers don't directly pay such levies. While a state sales tax is collected from consumers as a percentage of the final purchase price of all qualifying sales, an excise tax is a flat per-unit tax paid directly to the government before the goods can be sold. Thus, it would be up to beverage producers to decide whether to pass along all or part of any  increase to their customers.

Early reaction is mixed. According to the Associated Press, the Montana Tavern Association was not opposed, but the Montana Beer and Wine Distributors Association called the tax selective and regressive.

If adopted, it is estimated the tax would raise $3.8 million in its first year, with $2.7 million going to the state's general fund and the rest going to Native American tribes and the state health department. The tax on wine would rise from 27 to 30 cents per liter compared to doubling the tax which Bullock's original request would have done. The new beer tax would not be the same for all producers, ranging from would $1.43 per barrel for small operations to $4.73 for large ones.
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Save the date: Rip Van Winkle festival

The name has been broadened, but the organizers and venue remain the same for what now is the Rip Van Winkle Wine, Brew & Beverage Festival.

The sponsoring Fortnightly Club of Catskill, which renamed what had been the Rip Van Winkle Wine & Cheese Festival, will hold the 11th annual event from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, at Historic Catskill Point, 1 Main Street in the village.

The indoor event goes on rain or shine. Tickets, priced at $25 each, are available online or at the door. In addition to samples of adult beverages, food vendors will offer tastes of cheeses, baked goods, chocolates and other specialty items.
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Discount tickets available for Adirondack Food & Wine Fest

The Adirondack Wine & Food Festival isn't until late June, but if you plan to attend you can save $10 on tasting tickets by buying them now.

The event will be held on the weekend of June 24-25 at the  Charles R. Wood Festival Commons in Lake George. Admission will be $35 at the gate, but online purchase is discounted by $10 through March 24.

The vendor lineup as of today includes 21 wineries, 18 artisanal food providers, four breweries, seven distilleries and cideries, seven food trucks and restaurants, and a variety of specialty vendors. More are expected to be added in every category by the time the festival rolls around.
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Grape & Wine Initiative picks ex-Long Island wine exec

Donnell Brown
Donnell Brown, formerly head of the Long Island Merlot Alliance (LIMA), will begin a new industry role on April 3. That is when she becomes president of the National Grape & Wine Initiative (NGWI), succeeding Camron King, who has held the position for just under a year.

Brown has worked in the wine industry since 2009. On Long Island, she operated the private consulting firm Between the Vines LLC in Greenport, served as as senior marketing director for Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, and as event planner and board member of Harvest East End on Long Island. In California, she was marketing director for the Visit Temecula Valley organization.

NGWI is headquartered in Sacramento, CA. It is a nationwide coalition representing all segments of the grape industry including: raisin, juice, fresh grape and wine. NGWI membership includes grape growers, processors, wineries and representatives of academic institutions and cooperative extension organizations committed to improving the industry.

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Hazlitt's 2014 ice wine keeps racking up major awards

Last Saturday, I reported that Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards' 2014 Vidal Ice Wine won "Best of Show" honors at the International Eastern Wine Competition/East Meets West in Sonoma, CA.

This Saturday, I can report that the same wine just took "Best of Class" honors at the Great American International Wine Competition in Rochester.

This particular ice wine may be the all-time best produced by the Schuyler County winery in terms of awards. Earlier the same wine, bottled in September 2014, earned 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.

The Rochester judges were very favorable overall to Hazlitt, awarding Double Gold to its Light Port and Gold to its Red Cat, Cider Tree, and 2013 Gewurztraminer.

Another "Best of Class" winner in Rochester was Wagner Vineyards' 2015 Semi-Dry Riesling, while its 2015 Dry Riesling won a Double Gold.

Other Double Gold winners: Merritt Estate's Bella Ice, and Silver Springs'  Merlot. Gold medals: 240 Days' 2015 Rose, Atwater's 2014 Dry Riesling, Chateau Lafayette Reneau's 2015 Late Harvest Riesling, Coyote Moon's Fire Boat Red, Glenora's 2015 Vidal Blanc Iced Wine, Idol Ridge's 2014 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Knapp's 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and its 2014 Dry Riesling, Long Point's 2014 Syrah, Montezuma's Ice Apple Cider, and Schulze's Catawba.
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Tennessee grocery stores say wine sales a success

From USA Today
Tennessee grocery stores have been able to sell wine for nearly nine months, with varying degrees of success.

Some stores have done better than others, but generally, allowing wine sales in state grocery stores has been a boon to the merchants and their customers, said Rob Ikard, president and CEO of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association.

“Wine sales across Tennessee seem to be very strong, and in many cases have exceeded expectations,” he said.
Go here for the full story.
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

In praise of the wines of New York State

From Wine Enthusiast
If I proclaimed that the most exciting red wines in the United States come from New York State, would you believe me?

On Long Island, classic Bordeaux varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon have flourished since their first plantings in the early 1970s. And in the Finger Lakes, where Riesling was long considered the only viable Vitis vinifera variety, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and other reds are gaining momentum.

 Exemplifying a sense of balance often elusive elsewhere in the New World, the state’s best red wines marry ripeness and restraint, richness and acidity. They have a distinct, sometimes haunting transparency, says Finger Lakes winemaker August Diemel of Keuka Springs Vineyard. “They show everything you do to them,” he says. Unburdened by excessive alcohol or jammy, overripe flavors, they possess a purity of fruit that uniquely expresses New York’s climate, soils and vineyard conditions.
Go here for the full story.
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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Imbibeable Cartoonery


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2 wine trails hosting-wine-and-pasta weekend events

Wine and pasta are a classic complementary pair. So, it's no surprise that at least two New York State wine trail organizations are building special events around the two. And, neither will be postponed if the weather is bad.

First up is the Seneca Lake Wine Trail's long "Pasta & Wine Weekend," set for Friday-Sunday next week (March 24-26).

The self-guided tour can take visitors to as many as 27 participating wineries to sample a variety of pasta dishes and wines produced by the individual venues. Regular tickets purchased in advance are $40 per person. A list of wineries plus other details and ticketing information is available online.

Then, on the weekend of April 8-9, "Pasta Primo Vino" returns to the Shawangunk Wine Trail. Fifteen member wineries will participate in the annual event, which also is a self-guided tour beginning at any of the wineries where visitors will be able to taste a variety of dishes and wines.

Tickets are available for the full weekend, or for Sunday only. Reservations, participant list, and other details are available online.
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Monday, March 13, 2017

Syracuse hosting Eastern Winery Expo next week

Syracuse.com file photo
From Syracuse.com
SYRACUSE -- The biggest winery and vineyard trade show in the East, and the second largest in the nation, is about ready to pop its cork in downtown Syracuse.

The Eastern Winery Exposition returns to the Oncenter on Wednesday through Friday, March 22-24. The event last was held in Syracuse in 2015.

The expo lures almost 2,000 visitors. Some are exhibitors, showing everything from vine trellis systems to bottle- and barrel-washers to fermentation tanks and chilling units. Others are experts who will conduct seminars on topics ranging from new containers (think cans and plastic pouches) to the next big red wine varietal for cool-climate wineries (Lemberger, perhaps). The rest are people who own or work in wineries, vineyards and related businesses from as far as Canada, the Atlantic Coast, the South and the Midwest. 
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Wine fest at Proctors set for this Saturday

After you shovel your way out of the Snowpocalypse being predicted for us, or you don 't get your fill of merriment on St. Patrick's Day this Friday, you may want to treat yourself. That's where the Capital Region Wine Festival comes in.

The ninth annual event -- a/k/a "Romancing the Grape" -- at the Proctors complex is set for 1 p.m. this Saturday, offering samples of  a wide variety of wines, along with restaurant samples, various vendors, and a live auction.

Three levels of admission, ranging from $25 for designated drivers to $100, are available online. Admission is limited to persons 21 and older.

Proctors is located at 432 State Street. Phone: (518) 346-6204.
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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Another reason to keep on reading

Mark Oldman (photo provided)
Too many blogs and websites have succumbed to the practice of using "click bait"  tactics. You see it all the time -- using  half-truths, deliberately misleading teases, and other tacky methods to get you to click on their links. While doing so often leads to disappointment for the user, it does lead to  more ad revenue for the offender and, after all, that is the main purpose, isn't it?

 Here is just one example of the many I saw today. It's from the site called Business Insider. It reads: "A sommelier explains why you should buy the cheapest bottle on the wine list."

Well, sommelier Mark Oldman, author of "How To Drink Like a Billionaire,"  did sort of say that although not in such a declarative and all-encompassing way. Here is the full quote; I've underlined the part Business Insider avoided because it might have made it a less enticing headline:

"You are better served to order the cheapest wine, which diners often neglect out of fear or embarrassment and thus is often a better value. Just make sure you do so at a restaurant that cares about its wine, where even modestly prices wines are of admirable quality."

In case you do want to read the interview by Business Insider, just click here.
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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cuomo: Reforms saved alcohol industry $15M in five years

Cuomo at one of his beverage summits
Governor Andrew Cuomo's office has been mentioning advances in the state's alcoholic beverage industry in bits and pieces over a series of speeches and announcements in recent weeks (here, here and here, for example). On Wednesday, they put it all together.

An announcement from Cuomo's administration said New York's craft beer, wine, cider and liquor manufactures have saved nearly $15 million since a series of regulatory reforms and incentives were put in place since 2012 in an effort to boost the industry.

Cuomo said the savings during a five-year period followed the state's decision to expand a production tax credit and cut a labeling fee. Cuomo has championed craft alcohol makers as an example of a local, sustainable industry that can spur tourism and agriculture. He says he wants the state to continue to find ways to support local breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries as the thirst for locally made alcoholic beverages continues to grow.
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Another state broadens wine sales in grocery stores

Another blow against restraint of trade is being struck. Not in sophisticated New York State, of course, but in folksy Arkansas.

A bill expanding the types of wine that Arkansas grocery stores can sell is on its way to the desk of Governor Asa Hutchinson after today's 18-14 vote in the state Senate to approve a measure changing the state law which currently only allows grocery stores to sell wines from small wineries.

More expansive selections of wine now are available only at liquor stores, so many have opposed the new legislation even though many consumer groups favor it.

The Senate, which approved an earlier version of the bill, also approved an amendment to the measure that would, among other things, allow liquor stores to sell "consumables and edible products" that complement beverages.
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Monday, March 6, 2017

Warm spell not worrying Seneca Lake winery owners for now

Tending vines at Catherine Valley Winery (Spectrum/TWC photo)
• From Spectrum News
BURDETT, NY -- Over the past few days people across the region have taken advantage of some unseasonable weather. The warm spell brought hundreds out to the Seneca Lake Wine Trails.

"Everybody wants to get out, a little cabin fever," said Don Kilcoyne, Catherine Valley Winery co-owner. "Everyone wants to see what's going on. We've had an increase in people. It's been nice."

Although most have enjoyed the warm weather, some question whether it will make a difference in this year's grape crop. Management at Catherine Valley Winery say they aren't worried just yet. Kilcoyne says the vines haven't acclimated to the warmth so far, which is a good thing.

"All of the vineyards and a lot of my local friends with vineyards around here, we've all kind of echoed the same sentiment," said Kilcoyne. "The vines are still very cold hearty. The buds are very dormant. Things have not broken free yet."

However, if the warm spell continues later into the season and then gets drastically cold, it could spell trouble.
Go here for the full story.
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