Oh there was way too much wine fun to put into one post. I’m also trying to mention wine as little as possible, which has been working out quite well so far. Onward to the rest of the day!
Yeah, it’s mostly cornfields. Occasionally a big lake shows up. This was just over the hill from our first stop, Knapp Winery & Vineyard. Happily, they had some critters to chase around: a number of geese, ducks, chickens and a cat. Points for Knapp. Critter count: well, let’s call it 7 so far. I’m not going to include individual ducks and geese. We did our tasting in a warehouse section among stacked the stacked casks. I did actually taste two wines this time, but Knapp also makes several spirits, so that was my focus.
She was viciously passed out several minutes before this until I woke her up with some ear scratching.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Nose: Whoa. Peppery. Like green bell pepper. Spicy with a touch of “red grape” smell
Taste: Bell pepper. Not much sweetness, but a lot of zip to it.
Brandy 40% abv
Knapp has their own copper pot still (awesome) used to make their spirits. They essentially all start off as grappa, but the brandy is then aged for five years in oak casks. Neato!
Nose: Acetone. Lots of burn, but with a chemical smell. A light toffee undertone.
Taste: Medicinal, with an oaky quality. The sterile alcohol sensation lingers in your mouth. Meh.
Grappa 40% abv
In case you don’t know, grappa is a distilled spirit made from all the “leftover” parts after making wine: stems, seeds, grape skins… it’s all grouped as “pomace.”
Nose: Brown sugar with a hint of maple.
Taste: Wooden, but not oaky. Burnt toffee. Syrupy sweet. Unlike any other grappa I’ve had. Very strange.
Limecello 18% abv
In addition to making a more commonly-found limoncello, Knapp also makes a lime variety. Basically it’s spirit (commonly vodka, though grappa was used in this case) flavored with either lemon (or lime) peels marinated in the spirit, or just straight up citrus juice. They use juice.
Nose: Fresh lemon/limeade
Taste: Citrus tart start, smoother sweet finish. VERY tasty. Want more. NOWS.
Limoncello 18% abv
…and this was the lemon variety. Danny DeVito even makes a brand of this.
Nose: Brighter than the lime version, a higher citrus. More alcohol.
Taste: Lighter, citrus fruit. More of a Pledge Furniture Polish-like fake lemon flavor. Not that I know what Pledge tastes like… I only huff it.
Limoncello with Raspberry Sparkling Wine
This was a suggestion from the server: mix equal parts limoncello with their raspberry sparkling wine for a very summery drink.
Nose: Lemon with juicy raspberry fruit. Makes sense.
Taste: Overly raspberry (prob too much of the rasp. poured in overwhelming the lemon) but very tasty and refreshing. A good summer tipple. Serve VERY cold.
That did it for Knapp. We tormented the various waterfowl for a bit, then headed off to the next stop, Goose Watch Winery. Goose Watch did have some nice views of Cayuga Lake, though I imagine it’s ungodly cold in the winter with the wind whipping across the water. All of their wines are aged in stainless steel, so you don’t get any oaky interference. Our server was friendly and knowledgeable, though it was quite busy, so we didn’t get to really chat much. No critters here, but some of the standout wines were the 2007 Chambourcin which smelled like musty, rotting vegetables, but tasted like dark cassis fruit (very strange) and the Strawberry Splendor, which the server described as “Smuckers in your glass.” I can’t think of a better description. It was very tasty, but a whole glass would prob be a bit much.
From Goose Watch we cruised along the lake to Buttonwood Grove Winery (apparently there is also a Buttonwood Winery in Santa Barbara County, CA). I took a break from the wines at this point, and Lady Friend didn’t really have a great time, as the older woman serving the wines was all bubbles and sunshine for a quartet of 50-somethings beside us, while largely ignoring Lady Friend. After she finished her samples, we checked out the critters lodged here: a Scottish Highland cow (I wonder if he knows how to make Scotch?) and several goats. Critter count: 9 (I’m lumping the goats together as one.)
After a slight revival on my part with the aid of some sugar and caffeine, we were on our way to Cobblestone Farm Winery and Vineyard.
This place was nice. Newer looking, solid interior, simple strong lines, and tasteful lighting, as opposed to the gift shop on steroids look of several other places.
I only had three samples, while Lady Friend went full bore with six. Their 2009 Dry Riesling I found to be very oaky and grape syrupy, the 2009 Riesling (Blue) was juicy apple tart with a nice floral sweet nose, and finished with the very tasty Cobblestone Red, a five grape blend with cherry and sweet stone berry flavors. Yum. I have no idea what Lady Friend was throwing back, but she seemed to be pleased. Not pleased enough to buy anything, however.
Ok. One more. Please let it be just one more.
Swedish Hill Winery. The last wine stop. This one I had actually been looking forward to all day because they had… a miniature donkey!
Critter Count: 10! Sadly, that’s all Doobie done did. He hung around the middle of the pasture munching grass and keeping a wary eye on us with no intention of coming over. Also, he’s almost exactly the same height as Zero the Massive Mastiff, but with a bigger belly. Zero lets me ride him. Kinda. He gets very confused and tries to back up. He is large but his brain is oh so small.
So. The wines. Um… not too much excitement here. I enjoyed the Sparkling Reisling, which was a bonus pour since another server (not ours) offered it to us after noting to the group to the left that it wasn’t on the regular list, a tip which OUR server didn’t mention. Again, I think we got a dud who either didn’t know or didn’t care to share much information. Other amusing notes: Lady Friend described the Country Concord as smelling “like a juice box with toothpicks” due to its grape juice aroma laced with a wooden tinge. She also noted that the 2007 Cabernet Fran-Lemberger “smells like cardboard boxes,” to which our server (walking by us quickly as was the theme) piped up “Oh, we have boxes if you want a case!” Sorry lady, I think you missed the point. We also felt really rushed here, clearly taking notes and trying to taste the wines with our server either hovering in front of us ready to pour another sample, or zipping by in a blur when we were trying to get her attention.
This really seemed to be the theme of the day. Our suspicions were that most wineries didn’t really have their varsity squad on hand due to the holiday weekend, so the servers were the B team of cranky old ladies with nothing better to do. We felt rushed and ignored most places we went, which was unfortunate because Lady Friend is more than happy to spend hours discussing each wine with the staff. That’s part of the reason we were able to squeeze in so many stops in one afternoon; we didn’t linger anywhere to chit chat or look at touristy souvenirs. The wineries were not terribly friendly environments, and felt almost like a cafeteria where they fill your glass and expect you to drink it quickly and keep the line moving. I understand that there are other people being served, but no place we went was really that busy, so it seemed unnecessary and rude to basically push us out the door, then seem confused when we didn’t buy anything. The wines weren’t great, and we didn’t get a very welcome feeling anywhere we went, especially Swedish Hill where the server asked SEVERAL times “are you done yet?”
So, wine day completed (finally), we drove back to Syracuse for dinner and beer shopping at the wonderful Wegmans in Dewitt. Lady Friend had never heard of this glorious place, so it was an adventure. They also have a fantastic craft beer section (in NY you buy beer in supermarkets) and despite the fact that it was about 8pm on Sunday night, we were still allowed to buy alcohol. Yeah, Massachusetts, I’m giving YOU the stink eye. I ended my ‘CuseQuest with the acquisition of some YUENGLING! and several craft bombers. I also scored a sixer of Anderson Valley Hop Ottin’ IPA, which I have yet to see out here (I have seen the Boont Amber ale and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, in six pack bottles). They also had a mix-and-match six pack section, where you build your own sampler for $10. It was tempting, but there weren’t enough singles that tempted me enough to take advantage of it. As a bonus, I found a fancy new Kuhn Rikon paring knife for cocktail fruit prep that I had wanted for awhile but never ordered. Worked out well, since it was several dollars cheaper at Wegmans and I didn’t have to pay shipping charges. I TOLD you this place was magical. I got my fix of Wegmans pizza and craft beer shopping and we loaded up the trunk with bottles of happiness, heading over to my aunt’s house for the night, resting for the trip home in the morning. One more stop to go before Boston, however…