Keuka Lake Wine Trail visit - A day in the Finger Lakes

When you bring up Riesling with a group of wine drinkers, a very common response is “I don’t like sweet wines.” But a trip to the Finger Lakes in New York will quickly change that attitude. This area has been producing and perfecting Riesling wine for many years now, in a full range from bone dry to ice wine sweet. There is definitely something for everyone.

We have been talking about a Finger Lakes adventure for several years, but somehow never made it. When we heard that the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference would be held in Corning, we knew our time had come.  The conference was starting on a Thursday evening, so we planned in an extra day to do a little exploring on our own. We left Virginia on Wednesday.
There was no doubt in our minds that we needed to get to Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars, having heard about them for many years.  We decided to concentrate on the southern end of Keuka Lake. Armed with the Keuka Lake Wine Trail map, we had a quick breakfast in the lovely town of Hammondsport and were on our way to Dr. Frank's.  There are currently 8 wineries that participate as part of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail and 11 other wineries around the lake, so you could easily spend several days just exploring this one lake.
On our arrival at Dr. Frank’s, we found our way onto the front porch waiting area. When you visit, they want to make sure that you have a tasting associate’s full attention, so you are asked to wait and take in the stunning view until there is an associate ready for new customers. 
It was only a few minute before we were escorted in for our tasting and warmly greeted.  Wine tastings are free at Dr. Frank’s, and you choose 5 wines from their extensive list. When we were asked about our visit, we explained we were in the area for the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference and we did get to taste a few more than the prescribed 5 wines.  Overall, we enjoyed this visit very much and were very impressed with every wine we tried. Standouts were the Pinot Blanc, the Dry Riesling, the Gruner Veltliner, and the Late Harvest Riesling. We didn’t leave empty handed.
While on the west side of Keuka Lake we stopped in at Heron Hill Winery. Once again, we were stunned on approach by the views, of the vineyards stretching down the hillside toward the lake and of the winery itself. They also have The Blue Heron Cafe on site for lunch or snacks.  Tastings here are $5 for 6 wines, but we took advantage of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail Passport, which is $15 for tastings for 2 at all 8 participating wineries.  Following our usual habit, we chose different wines, so had 12 to taste between us. They offer a good selection of Rieslings, and also white blends. On the red side, they have Pinot Noir, Baco Noir, and Cabernet Franc among others.  Heron Hill Winery also has tasting rooms on two of the other Finger Lakes, Seneca and Canandaigua.

We headed back through Hammondsport and up the east side of the lake to McGregor Vineyard.
McGregor offers seated tastings, $5 for 5 wines and a small tasting plate. We used our Keuka Lake Wine Trail Passport here, so no fee. There were 22 wines from which to choose. We didn’t even get through half the wine list.  One of the unique wines here that I enjoyed was a blend of Rkatsiteli (which we know well) and Sereksia, a grape from Romania and Moldova. But their real claim to fame is the Black Russian Red - Saperavi and Sereksiya Charni. Kurt really liked this one, but at $60 we didn’t leave with any of it. The also had a tasting area for varied local jams, jellies and condiments, which was nice.
Our final stop for the day was Ravines Wine Cellars.  Ravines owner/winemaker spent time at Dr. Frank’s before opening his own place, so we were expecting good things here.  We were not disappointed. Here also we were asked to choose 5 wines, but we managed to cover all the menu, as they only have 9 wines available to taste at this time. There are additional 7 available for purchase only.  
Ravines Wine Cellars also offer a cheese or chocolate pairing for an additional fee. The Dry Riesling was very nice, and I found the Ayre, a semi-sparkling, semi-dry wine made from Valvin Muscat to be a real treat.  Kurt was also impressed with the Cabernet Franc.  Ravines Wine Cellars is definitely a place we would be glad to revisit.

We headed back to Corning at this point, to get ready for our tour of the Corning Glass Museum.

We did get to sample wines from the north end of Keuka Lake Wine Trail later that evening at the opening reception for the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference and overall we were pleased with our mini- tour of Keuka Lake and its wines.


Corning Glass Museum visits during 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference

At the recent 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference in Corning, NY, we had the opportunity to visit the Corning Glass Museum three times. Our first visit was a guided tour before the conference began. The second visit was for the conference awards banquet.  Our last visit was after the conference.  We used a free visit coupon we received in the conference welcome packet to tour the museum for a few hours before driving home. 
My favorite area was the Contemporary Glass Gallery. This area also hosts the Hot Glass Demos with live glassblowing. 

Here are a few pictures I took on my smartphone:
Constellation (1996) by Kiki Smith
 Other contemporary favorites:

The Corning Glass Museum is a world class museum. Their website reports: "Founded in 1951 by Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) as a gift to the nation for the company’s 100th anniversary, The Corning Museum of Glass is a not-for-profit museum dedicated to telling the story of a single material: glass."  We enjoyed visiting the museum and think you will too.


Epicurience Virginia

Top Chef Finalist and Renowned Chef Bryan Voltaggio to headline Epicurience Virginia
Picture courtesy of Visit Loudoun
Epicurience Virginia returns Labor Day weekend 2015 in the East Coast’s premier wine region, Loudoun County, giving visitors a chance to savor the flavors of Virginia finest food and wine. This year, meet Top Chef and Top Chef Masters contestant, and cookbook author chef Bryan Voltaggio who will headline the chef demonstration pavilion on Sept. 5th at MorvenPark in Leesburg.
Voltaggio has become one of the most recognized chefs in contemporary American cooking with his seasonally driven and internationally known restaurant VOLT, where he uses innovated cooking techniques to highlight the finest local ingredients.

“I grew up here, so I feel like I have a responsibility to this region,” said Voltaggio who owns nine area restaurants including the new Family Meal in Loudoun. “With each restaurant I open, I hope to reach new audience and show them that good food and the bounty of what the region has to offer very much go hand in hand.”

This year’s Grand Tasting will also feature celebrated local favorites Chris Edwards from Salamander Resort and Spa, Jason Lage fromMarket Table Bistro,  and Bonnie Moorewith Willowsford who will all be cooking in the Sterling Restaurant Supply Chef Demonstration Pavilion.
Picture courtesy of Visit Loudoun
In addition, visitors can taste from more than 40 vendors, enjoy expanded food options and try their hand at wine blending with the help of a Loudoun winemaker. In the education tent sponsored by Virginia Wine, join renowned wine writer and expert Anthony Giglio for sessions on Virginia vino or try exclusive tastings from Top Chef Contestant Joy Crump in the VIP tent.

This year’s Epicurience Virginia will be managed for the first time by JP Events & Consulting. This Loudoun-based business designs flawless events for businesses who value creativity and vital industry connections by leveraging over 23 years of award winning experience.

In connection with Epicurience Virginia, Visit Loudoun is also launching a new partnership with Food & Wine Magazine where readers will have a chance to win an all-inclusive travel package leading up to the event.

Tickets for Epicurience Virginia are $85 for general admission and $145 for the VIP experience. For all Epicurience Virginia updates, visit www.epicvirginia.com  and follow us at @EpicurienceVA and on Facebook
Picture courtesy of Visit Loudoun


Heading to the Finger Lakes of New York for our first Wine Bloggers Conference

We are finally visiting the Finger Lakes wine region of New York to attend the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference. This will be our first time attending the Wine Blogger Conference,which was held in Charlottesville, VA in 2010. The Finger Lakes region contains over 100 wineries. The Wine Bloggers Conference is where, according to the WBC Facebook page "Wine bloggers, industry bloggers, and other wine and social media professionals will gather from throughout North America and beyond to meet, learn, and share."

We are staying at the Radisson Hotel in Corning, NY, the conference hotel.
One major event will be held at the Corning Museum of Glass.
Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, is the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference Keynote Speaker. Other breakout sessions, wine tastings, and winery tours will also be conducted.

We are really looking forward to visiting the Finger Lakes wine region, attending the Wine Bloggers Conference, and exploring Corning, NY. Be watching our posts here and at Twitter @WineAboutVa from August 13-16.