Sunday, November 27, 2011

Finger Lakes Mini-vacation Day 1

Took a mini-vacati0n in the Finger Lakes this weekend. If you don’t know where and what they are, the short story is a handful of long, finger-like lakes running north/south across central NY State. The lakes were formed by glaciers; they are scenic and several of them have wineries on and near their shore, which is a very good reason for making the trip, because many of these wineries make excellent wines that are generally unavailable in the NYC metro area except via mail and web orders, and tasting them does mean a pleasant drive north.

I didn't take a lot of photos, and none of dinner. Food porn is someone else's forté, not mine.
Column still viewed from
the tasting room.
The first afternoon, we stopped at a fairly new distillery, Finger Lakes Distilling, and only one winery, Damiani Wine Cellars, both in Hector, NY, overlooking the eastern shore of Seneca Lake. They are neighbors and so it was easy enough to go from one to the next before heading north to Seneca Falls, where we’d be staying. It was hard to drive on past some of my favorite wineries on the eastern side of the lake, but it had been a long drive and there’d be time to visit a few more the next day. You can start to find out more here
Pot Still viewed from
the tasting room.
Whskey aging as seen
from the tasting room
Tasting room entertainment
I’ve been to Finger Lakes Distilling once before, shortly after it opened. They are a craft distiller, making limited quantities of their products. Their ingredients are locally sourced as much as possible, and given a chance, anyone working there will proudly tell you about it. I think my previous visit was in 2009. At that time, they had their white dog, Glen Thunder, their Vodka, Vintner’s Vodka, and their Gin, Seneca Drums. They were getting ready to release a rye and aging their first bourbon. They also had some eau-de vies. Recently, they’ve added a “pure pot still whiskey” distilled from malted and unmalted barleys. I had a chance to speak briefly with the whiskey maker, Tom McKenzie. He is rightfully proud of his work.
Tasting room bar

View across the lake at sunset

Damiani Tasting room
Lou Damiani and admirers
Immediately north of the distillery is the tasting room and some of the cellars of Damiani Wine Cellars. This was my second visit there. The last time was in January 2011, days or weeks after the tasting room opened. It was a snowy, blustery afternoon and both Lou Damiani, the winemaker, and his son Gabriel, were holding forth behind the bar. Damiani is making some excellent wines, in particular both Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir or doing well – Lou is very proud of what he’s doing with them, and the reds are his babies. But that doesn’t slight the terrific dry Riesling and Gewürztraminers that they are making. Good stuff all around. I bought two cases of the 2009 Pinot Noir when it was released, as well as a couple of half-cases of the Cab Francs from available vintages. This time we bought more of the 2010 dry Riesling, more 2009 Cab Franc and some bottles of the 2010 Syrah.

We finished the day with dinner at the Clarence Hotel's restaurant, Vineyard 108, in Seneca Falls.
More tomorrow about day two.

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