Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Finger Lakes-'Gateway To American Wines' by Philip S. Kampe

          Finger Lakes- The Gateway to Wine In America

On the spur of the moment, we decided to hop into the car, a 2012 Honda Civic, and drive the three plus hours to the heralded ‘Finger Lakes’, eleven lakes, shaped like fingers, hence the name, The Finger Lakes.

Located in central New York state, somewhere in-between Buffalo and Albany, the Finger Lakes occupy four Interstate 90 exits. Some lakes are as long as 34 miles long, others have a depth of up to 415 feet. The glacier, ice age period in history created what now is a wine destination for the world.

This was our first visit-odd, since we live so close.

My wine history is traced to the close to eight years I lived in Europe, specifically in southern Germany, Nuremberg. No, I wasn’t in the military. I was a high school journalism, photography and movie-making teacher for the high school kids whose parents worked on the base or nearby. Those years were the years where my wine curiosity peaked-a time when you could purchase, what is known today as ‘classic’ wines for affordable prices.

But, when you live in Germany, only German wines are offered for sale in the wine shops and supermarkets. Looking back, that was a perfect solution for a novice wine drinker. Consume what the locals consume and through osmosis, you become the wiser about the styles of wines your adopted country produces. As time went by, we attended harvest parties in the Mosel, drank classic wines in the Ratskellers of quaint villages and had the opportunity to sample wines with high enough residual sugar to turn you into a diabetic.

With that history and fast-forwarding 35 years later, my wine knowledge is finally in full-stride, thanks to workshops, intensive wine seminars and travel to wine destinations worldwide.

Unfortunately, Germany has not been one of those destinations. But, after three full days in the Finger Lakes, why go to Germany? The Finger Lakes has it all….

Not to toot my own horn-but, quite the opposite-I feel like the missed opportunities during the years by not visiting the Finger Lakes years ago will be one of the ten biggest mistakes in my life. Having lived in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, on and off since 1982-and only three plus hours to the Finger Lakes and not visiting was a big mistake.

Being a free spirit and working only for myself-Fabulous Phil’s Gourmet Ice Cream-The Candy People-Board Stiff Snowboard and Skateboard Shop-just to mention a few of my entrepreneurial experiences made me blind to the Gateway to Wine in America-The Finger Lakes.

Now that I have seen the light, it’s time to suggest to you to wake up and visit the Finger Lakes. With an abundance of vineyards, beautiful scenery and people who live their life worshipping their favorite varietals, why not take the plunge?

In a three day, two night visit, we had the chance to visit close to ten vineyards-taste barrel samples, chat with winemakers, see wine cellars and learn what makes this area special. Add great vineyard restaurants to the mix with incredibly positive staff and the opportunity to over sample the wines from vineyard tasting rooms to your bed and breakfast-ours came equipped with a resident winemaker, an acre plot, and a host who seemed to feature ‘social hour’ all day long.

If wine hospitality is what you are looking for-visit the Finger Lakes.

There are over one hundred twenty wineries in the Finger Lakes region. The area is known for ‘cool climate’ wines, focusing on those varietals that survive in cold, long winters. Riesling is one of the varietals that is the superstar of the region, thanks to  its both sweet and dry personalities.  Focusing on stone fruits interpretations has made the regions winemakers ambitious and willing to experiment with other varietals. Some of the wineries are just fun-they provide music, food and a fun loving clientele, while other wineries focus on the art of winemaking. A few do both.

During our life changing visit to the Finger Lakes, I am very happy to suggest that you visit the following vineyards to get a perspective of what the Finger Lakes have to offer. Yes, some vineyards are 45 minutes from the others, but, well worth the drive. Along the way, definitely pop into the numerous restaurants and BBQ mom and pop facilities that offer  the ‘BYOB Finger Lakes’ wine logo, offering no corking fee.

Vineyards to Visit:

                                                          Anthony Road
                                                             Heart & Hands
                                                             Hermann J. Wiemer
                                                                Fox Run
                                                      Dr. Konstantine Frank
                                                             Keuka Springs
                                                                  Red Newt
                                                          Shaw Vineyard BYOB
                                                        New Vines Vineyards & B&B    

Anthony Road   1020 Anthony Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-2182
Heart & Hands   4162 NY-90, Union Springs, NY 13160  (315) 889-8500
Shaw Vineyards  3901 NY-14, Himrod, NY 14837  (607) 243-7000
Hemann J. Wiemer  3962 NY-14, Dundee, NY 14837  (607) 243-7971
Fox Run  670 NY-14, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-4616
Dr. Konstantin Frank  9749 Middle Road, Hammondsport, NY 14840 (800) 320-0735
Keuka Spring243 Route 54, East Lake Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-3147
Red Newt  3875 Tichenor Road, Hector, NY 14841  (607-546-4100)
New Vines 1138 Travis Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527 (315) 536-4087

Bed & Breakfast suggestion (with an acre vineyard of award winning wines)
New Vines Bed & Breakfast: 1138 Travis Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527  (315) 536-4087)

There are numerous complimentary ‘Wine Trail’ maps, offering a list and a map of where the vineyards are located.

Remember, The Finger Lakes are ‘The Gateway To Wine In America.’

Philip S. Kampe

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Few Napa Valley Wines by Philip S. Kampe

A Few Napa Valley Wines to Consider

Before leaving for Portugal-I'm there now, I received my Fathers Day gift beforehand.

What was it? Three wines that I had mentioned might be a good gift for the holiday.

Three Napa Valley Wines that I have heard about and wanted to try.
Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations 2014
Hunt & Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Having ample curiosity, I sampled, let's say drank all three before departing for Porto, Portugal.

This is what I learned:

The Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations 2014 ($35) is a Bordeaux blend that is full-bodied, well balanced with toasty oak and silky tannins. The long finish of vanilla and ripe dark fruits flow seamlessly with this 15% alcohol wine.

Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($45).  Soft tannins and youthful, this 13.5% alcohol wine suggests complexity and balance with each sip. Ripe cherries coat your palate persisitantly during the long, pleasing finish. Their motto is: 'Excellence through Responsible Farming' hold true with this pure pleasure.

Hunt Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($25) is a fruit forward, light tannin Cabernet Sauvignon that is an easy drinking and smooth wine. I found this to be a perfect food friendly wine.

Fathers Day came early for me....thanks to Napa Valley.

How Hungarian Cabernet Franc Changed My Life by Philip S. Kampe

My Dad was known to his friends as ‘Cab Franc.’ You see, his name was really Joseph and all of his social time with visiting frien...