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    A Quick Visit to the Finger Lakes Wine Region

    For years we have been planning to visit the Finger Lakes, and do some wine country touring.? It just hasn’t happened for one reason or another.? Recently, I found myself in the middle of the region, on Seneca Lake, for other business.? As luck would have it, I ended up with a free afternoon, and just enough? time to take a drive down the southwest shore of the lake for some wine time.

    IMG_2762As you drive down the shore road from Geneva, you can’t miss the numerous wineries and vineyards.? Vines start to take up more and more of the roadside views.? This is pretty pastoral country, with rolling pastures,? classic farms with silos and barns, baled hay in the fields and livestock aplenty.? The vines fit in nicely, and the mid-season grapes were basking in a warm, late July sun on this particular afternoon.? To my left, Seneca Lake glistened.? I really only had a single element in my plan for the day, with was to visit Steve Shaw at Shaw Vineyard.? Cheri and I had met Steve years ago, and reviewed some of his wines.? But I had some time to just wander, and most of the afternoon was spent randomly stopping into the wineries that appeared on my journey south.

    All in all I visited five wineries that day, barely scratching the surface of the Finger Lakes wine scene.? You can learn much more about this region’s vibrant wine industry on the website http://www.fingerlakeswinecountry.com/ . They are known for their white wines, with Riesling being the signature grape.? I’ve had many Finger Lakes Rieslings, and some can rival the best versions produced anywhere in the world.? Hopefully some of those would appear during the afternoon.

    When you’re out visiting? a group of wineries without doing any homework, you’ve got to be prepared for anything.? That’s essentially

    The view from Miles Cellars

    The view from Miles Cellars

    what I found.? There was a lot of good, some bad and some in between.? This area covers the spectrum from a wine perspective, and you can find sweet wines, fruit wines and ciders.? There are a lot of sweet wines here.? There are also many wineries focusing on vinifera grapes, and dry wines.? I found some that disappointed, but by and large they were very good, and some were truly world class.? This is a worthy destination for any wine lover, and I look forward to getting back there with Cheri for a more in depth exploration.

    Don’t forget to enjoy the scenery as well, as the lakes are beautiful.? Visit in the summer and you can enjoy some water activities.? There is car racing every summer in Watkins Glen.? Years ago it was home to the U.S. Formula One Grand Prix, but it is known for NASCAR these days.? Plan on several days for your trip as the wineries are scattered among the different lakes, and you’ll spend some time driving.? There are also wine tours, and you can join one of those to leave the driving to someone else, not a bad idea if you plan to drink all of those samples.

    IMG_2761An example of the kind of experience you can find was my visit to Miles Wine Cellars.? There was a sign for the winery on Rt 14, and I turned off onto Randall Crossing Road.? This runs straight down the rolling hills toward the shore of Seneca Lake.? The street is lined with wild flowers, and on the right, extensive vineyards cascade down the hillside.? These are the estate vineyards of Miles Wine Cellars.? At the bottom of the hill, you see an older barn on the left where production happens, and in front of you is an elegant and stately manor house, white with a columned porch, sitting on the last hill overlooking the lake.? This is a picturesque spot, including a magnificent, 300 year old willow tree.? You can actually stay here, as the property is also a B&B.

    A small and inviting tasting room is where you can try the estate wines.? I found several worth mentioning.? These included:

    2012 Cabernet Franc – a medium red color, this has a nose of plum, cherry and mocha.? It is full bodied and rich on the palate, withIMG_2752 solid tannins and good balance.? A long finish caps off a very good wine.? $24.95
    Caché – a sparkling Riesling, this is off dry at 3.5% residual sugar, and is clean with bright white fruits, white peach, apple and pear.? Definitely a wine which deserves the word ‘delicious’.? $17.95

    Bubbly Riesling

    Bubbly Riesling

    You can grab a bottle and sit on the lawn, or at a picnic table, and just enjoy a warm summer afternoon.? Or a fall afternoon, maybe when the foliage starts to turn.? Or you can use Miles Wine Cellars as a home base for your exploration of the Finger Lakes wine region.? If you happen to be on the lake, they have a boathouse on the property, and you can drive your boat right up and dock right there.? For more information, check out their website at?http://mileswinecellars.com/.

    We’ll continue the Finger Lakes theme with an in depth look at three additional wineries producing some exceptional dry wines, all encountered on my single afternoon.? Considering I also found my way to the picturesque Miles Wine Cellars, it was quite a successful afternoon.

    I can’t wait to visit the Finger Lakes in more depth.

    A votre santé.

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