Sunday, August 28, 2011
Coyote Moon Winery's Brianna and Tug Hill Vineyards' Whiteout, made from Frontenac grapes, emerged with golds at the competition that emphasizes grape varieties that can withstand severely cold temperatures and still produce quality wines.
The New Yorkers are newcomers to the field. Coyote Moon opened just last year in Clayton, Jefferson County, and Tug Hill just a few months ago in Lowville, Lewis County.
A 2010 Frontenac Rosé wine from Indian Island Winery in Janesville, MN, won the top award, the Minnesota Governor’s Cup that recognizes best in show.
The competition drew more than 250 wines from commercial wineries in 12 states.
The ICCWC is a partnership between the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and the University of Minnesota, which developed several of the cold-hardy grapes used to make the wines in the competition.
Other New York wines that medaled:
• Silver: Coyote Moon's Marquette; Thousand Islands Winery's La Crescent; Tug Hill's Marquette.
• Bronze: Coyote Moon's Island Mama Dry White and La Crescent; Thousand Islands' Frontenac and Marquette; Tug Hill Vineyards' 43 Degrees Late Blush and 43 Degrees Late Semi‐Sweet White.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
A $73,824 federal matching grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program will help local food producers and tourism by encouraging bed and breakfast operators to feature locally produced food and agricultural products, State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine said Monday.
The Department will receive the grant in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County, which will lead the two year project, NOFA-NY, the Empire State B&B Association, Central New York Bounty, the New York Small Scale Food Processors Association, and the University of Illinois Extension.
New York is one of 19 states to receive 25 grants. The grant money will be available for the entire state.
Producer organizations and B&B owners are encouraged to participate in the project, which will begin in the fall.
ON THE WEB
• Times Union home page
• Dowd's Guides home page
|A scene at A Gust of Sun.|
Erik and Shane Gustafson, who have been married for three years, purchased a 17-acre parcel in this Niagara County community last September. In November they planted an acre of Frontenac and Vignoles grapes, and made their first wine from purchased regional grapes.
Now they are debuting A Gust of Sun winery, a definite step up from their home winemaking days. However, the full festivities will wait until Saturday, September 17, when a grand opening celebration is planned.
It will include food, music, art and lawn games as well as tastings of the inaugural wines: sweet and dry Niagara, semi-dry and dry Rieslings, Chardonnay, Three Westies White and Trismegistus Dry Red. Tickets will cost $8 on the premises, or $5 in advance at the winery or online.
The winery, a member of the Niagara Wine Trail, plans to add four wines this winter: Apric-Cadabra, Raspody in Blue, Sax on the Peach and 2010 Cabernet Franc. Erik Gustafson said the wines were awaiting label approval.
The winery will be open only on weekends. Tasting room hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.
A Gust of Sun is located at 4515 Baer Road. Phone: (716) 731-4878.
ON THE WEB
• Niagara Wine Trail
• Dowd's Guides home page
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
A lineup of 15 judges, divided into five equal panels, will evaluate the entries -- wines made in the Hudson Valley from Hudson Valley fruit or fruit from other areas of New York.
The ultimate award of the competition is the “Best of Show.” Other top awards will be “Winery of the Year” based on the type and number of medals won and other criteria such as “Best Varietal,” “Best of Category,” etc., and “Best Hudson Valley Wine” made with Hudson Valley fruit. The “Best of Category” awards include Sparkling, White Vinifera, White Hybrid, Rose, Red Vinifera, Red Hybrid, Dessert, and Specialty such as meads or fruit wines.
All Double Gold wines – unanimous vote of the panel -- automatically will advance to the Governor’s Cup round.
The competition is being coordinated by Debbie Gioquindo , who writes under the title “Hudson Valley Wine Goddess."
The Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest is a celebration of the gourmet lifestyle in the Hudson Valley. It will feature hundreds of wines from all over the state and the world, more than 100 gourmet specialty food, fine art and lifestyle vendors, food sampling from some of the region’s restaurants, and live entertainment.
Also offered will be cooking demonstrations and food and wine seminars, with winemakers on hand to discuss their products.
The Fairgrounds is located at 6550 Spring Brook Avenue (off Route 9). Phone: (845) 658-7181. Parking is free. Tickets and additional information are available online.
ON THE WEB
• Dowd's Guides home page
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
BETHEL -- Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has bumped its lineup of New York wineries to more than 20 for its annual Bethel Wine Festival.
The Sullivan County event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday at the Market Sheds.
The lineup of wineries from the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes now includes:
Glenora Wine Cellar
Anthony Road Wine Company
Crooked Lake Winery
Eagle Crest Vineyards
Glenora Wine Cellars
Glorie Farm Winery
Lime Berry Wine Estate
Palaia Vineyards and Winery
White Spring Winery
The tasting fee is $10, which includes a complimentary glass while supplies last. Tickets can be purchased online, at the Bethel Woods Box Office, Ticketmaster, or by phone at (800) 745-3000. General admission is $5, the same price as for designated drivers, Parking is free.
In addition to wine sampling, visitors will be able to avail themselves of specialty foods, cheeses, and crafts. The afternoon also will feature short wine appreciations seminars:
Session I: Wine basics: Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay -- Understanding the different varietals of wine. Session II: Wine Appreciation -- How to taste and pair wine. Registration for these limited-space seminars is recommended.
The day also will feature live musical performances.
More information about Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is available online, or by calling (866) 781-2922.
|Main building at Silver Thread.|
Shannon and Paul Brock said today they have entered into an agreement to purchase Silver Thread Vineyard from Richard Figiel, owner and founder. Final sale is pending license approval from the New York State Liquor Authority.
Figiel founded the 10-acre, organically-farmed vineyard on the east side of Seneca Lake. The estate winery has been operating since 1991, producing small quantities of vinifera wines, including Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer and Cabernet Franc.
“We are very excited to have this opportunity to create high-quality wines using the well-established Silver Thread label,” said Shannon Brock, who had been wine coordinator for the New York Wine & Culinary Center (NYWCC) in Canandaigua.
“We have great respect for what Richard has contributed to the Finger Lakes wine industry and will continue to develop the winery in keeping with his vision.”
Silver Thread is rated among the top six Finger Lakes wine producers in the latest “Robert Parker Wine Guide.” Its Riesling label is featured in the sixth edition of “The World Atlas of Wine.”
The Brocks say sustainable farming practices and hand-crafted wine production will continue under their ownership. Shannon will be the general manager. Paul will be consulting winemaker while maintaining his position as instructor of viticulture and wine technology at Finger Lakes Community College. He previously worked as the winemaker at Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars in Lodi. Although Shannon has resigned from the NYWCC, she will continue to instruct Wine & Spirit Education Trust courses there.
Figiel, who will be available as a consultant during the first year of transition, plans to return to fulltime writing. He is working on a history of New York wine for Cornell University Press.
“I turned down the offer of a prestigious Rhone Valley winemaker,” Figiel said, “in favor of the talent, energy and skills of the Brocks and the knowledge that another Finger Lakes family will be taking stewardship of this patch of paradise on Seneca Lake. I’m confident the future of Silver Thread is in good hands.”
Silver Thread is located at 1401 Caywood Road. Phone: (607) 582-6116.
ON THE WEB
• Dowd's Guides home page
Sunday, August 21, 2011
|Visionary John Adamski.|
BLUFF POINT, NY -- A few years ago, freelance writer and photographer John Adamski spent a few vacation days exploring the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake and The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, which delve into the culture and history of the North Country.
"It got me thinking," Adamski said. “I said to myself, 'Why don’t we have a place like this that tells the story of the Finger Lakes?' "
Upon returning home, Adamski wrote an essay for Life in the Finger Lakes magazine, pitching his idea.
Before he knew it, he was the board president for the Finger Lakes Cultural and Natural History Museum, an ambitious $30 million project slated to open in 2014 in Keuka Lake State Park in Yates County. ...
ElevenFinger Lakes (Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye, Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco, Skaneateles and Otisco) will be prominently featured.
The flora and fauna native to the region will also be highlighted, along with the people that have called the Finger Lakes home, including Native Americans, early white settlers, Amish and Mennonites.
Many of the displays will be interactive, Adamski promises.
“We’re going to redefine the word 'museum,' " he said. “It won’t be looking at old sticks and bones, but a place where people are educated about their environment."
[Go here for the full story.]
ON THE WEB
• Keuka Lake State Park
• Dowd's Guides home page
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
|Winemaker Juan E. Micieli-Martinez|
Martha Clara's 2010 Riesling -- a particularly interesting pick since Finger Lakes-made Rieslings generally are regarded as the industry standard -- took the Governor's Cup, top prize among 741 entries in the competition that bills itself as the Oscars of New York wine. The Martha Clara Vineyards 2010 Riesling was also voted Best White Wine, Best Overall Riesling and Best Medium Sweet Riesling on its way to the ultimate award.
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars of Lodi, Seneca County, upheld Finger Lakes prestige by being named winery of the year, base on the best overall showing on the level and number of awards in relation to entries. Lamoreaux entries won Best Overall Chardonnay and Best Chardonnay on its way to the Winery of the Year award, along with several other top medals.
This year's competition included 726 New York wines and 15 spirits from the Long Island, Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes, Niagara Escarpment, Lake Erie, and other regions of the state.
A "Specialty Wine Champion" award was added in 2008 to recognize consistent quality among the increasing number of wines made from fruits other than grapes, or honey. This year's winner was Earle Estates Meadery's with Best Honey Mead and Best Fruit Wine. A "Best Limited Production Wine" award went to Fox Run Vineyards' Fine Old Tawny Port.
Juan E. Micieli-Martinez, winemaker for Martha Clara, used Finger Lakes Riesling grapes to create the winning entry. It was fermented in stainless steel, the finished product running at 10.9% alcohol, 19g/liter of residual sugar and a pH of 3.28.. Case production was 685 (12 bottles of 750ml size), bottled and released in April of this year
Martha Clara is located at 6025 Sound Avenue in Riverhead, Long Island, Suffolk County.
The awards were based on blind tastings by 21 judges -- nine from New York, 9 from California, six from other states and two from the United Kingdom. Three-judge panels determined the initial awards, with top-scoring wines evaluated by all 21 judges for Best of Category and Governor's Cup awards. The event is organized by Teresa Knapp of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, and is open to all 307 New York wineries.
A total of 51 Double Gold (unanimous vote of the panels), 66 Gold, 237 Silver, and 234 Bronze medals were awarded. In addition, "Best of Category" and "Best of Class" designations were awarded to wines rated as the finest in various areas.
The "Best of Category" awards, all eligible for the Governor's Cup:
- Best Sparkling Wine: Bedell Cellars 2006 Blanc de Blancs
- Best White Wine: Martha Clara Vineyards 2010 Riesling
- Best Blush Wine: Owera Vineyards 2010 Cazenovia Blush
- Best Red Wine: Keuka Lake Vineyards 2010 Leon Millot, Estate Bottled
- Best Dessert Wine: Leonard Oakes Estate Winery 2008 Vidal Ice Wine
The "Best of Class" awards went to:
- Best Chardonnay: Lamoreaux Landing WIne Cellars 2008 Estate Bottled Chardonnay
- Best Unoaked Chardonnay: Coyote Moon Vineyards 2009 Naked Chardonnay
- Best Overall Chardonnay: Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2008 Estate Bottled Chardonnay
- Best Gewürztraminer: Bedell Cellars 2010 Gewurztraminer, Corey Creek Vineyards
- Best Dry Riesling: Anthony Road Wine Company 2008 Tierce Riesling made in cooperation with Fox Run Vineyards and Red Newt Cellars
- Best Medium Dry Riesling: Serenity Vineyards 2008 Riesling, Estate Bottled
- Best Medium Sweet Riesling: Martha Clara Vineyards 2010 Riesling
- Best Sweet Riesling: Atwater Vineyards 2009 Sweet Riesling
- Best Overall Riesling: Martha Clara Vineyards 20120 Riesling
- Best Pinot Gris: American Vineyards & Winery 2010 Pinot Gris
- Best Vinifera White Blend: Sheldrake Vineyard 2010 Luckystone White
- Best Vignoles: Keuka Spring Vineyards 2010 Vignoles
- Best Hybrid White Blend: Atwater Estate Vineyards Stone Bridge White
- Best Niagara: Americana Vineyards & Winery Crystal Lake
- Best Cabernet Sauvignon: Ventosa Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Best Merlot: Osprey's Dominion 2007 Reserve Merlot, Estate Bottled
- Best Cabernet Franc: Ventosda Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Franc
- Best Lemberger: Fulkerson Winery 2009 Lemberger
- Best Vinifera Red Blend: Paumanok Vineyards 2007 Assemblage
- Best Honey Mead: Earle Estates Meadery Raspberry Reflection
- Best Fruit: Earle Estates Meadery Apple Enchantment
- Best Spirit: Swedish Hill Winery Raspberry Infusion
- Best Late Harvest Wine: Anthony Road WIne Company 2008 Riesling Trockenbeeren, Martini Reinhardt Selection
- Best Ice Wine: Leonard Oakes Estate WInery 2008 Vidal Ice Wine
- Best Vinifera Sparkling: Bedell Cellars 2006 Blanc de Blancs
ON THE WEB
• Complete results to be posted
• New York State Wine Examiner
• Dowd's Guides home page
Complete results of the competition soon be posted online.
|Chef/co-owner Jeff Gimmel in the kitchen.|
HUDSON, NY -- Jeff and Nina are people of simple wants. Right now they want to bake bread at home.
In their own oven.
The one inside a brick enclosure attached to their 19th Century house.
The one that used to turn out bread products for workers at the nearby Pocketbook Factory that no longer exists for that purpose.
Is that too much to ask?
Jeff Gimmel and Nina Bachinsky-Gimmel clearly have put down roots in quirky Hudson, the small riverside city that serves as the county seat of largely-rural Columbia County southeast of Albany.
It is a place where the extremes of wealth and poverty are evident, where some neighborhoods are tumbledown ugly but others -– particularly the main drag, Warren Street – are prime examples of how to maintain and reenergize wonderful architecture by using it for a plethora of restaurants and antique shops.
Or in their modest section of the city, where the old Pocketbook Factory has been revived to create exhibition spaces to showcase artists and local arts events.
Indeed, it’s that sort of schizo-ambiance that lured Jeff and Nina to town four years ago to open Swoon Kitchenbar in the heart of the Antiques District, a neighborhood that draws its clientele heavily from New York City -– often via Amtrak which stops at the foot of Warren right along the Hudson River.
After a year of living in temporary quarters, the Gimmels purchased their current house, from the outside an unprepossessing place, but an eclectic gem inside.
It has a fairly standard layout at the front, but visually expands into a wide kitchen that itself opens onto a great room/dining room.
“This used to be the outside patio of the house before the house was expanded to encompass it,” Jeff explained, gesturing at the painted concrete floor, the tin ceiling tiles, the two small sofas flanking a gnarled-tree coffee table, and the dining table set for 10.
The aforementioned bakery is attached to the back wall of the great room. (“We’re trying to figure out a way to get it up and running again,” Jeff said, pointing to the copper-colored tubing visible through a small window vent.)
Because the bakery is narrower than the rest of the house, it leaves room for a walkway to the terraced backyard and its flower and herb plantings. Jeff had his rotisserie grill set up on the walkway, chatting amiably as he brushed barbecue sauce on a brace of poulets, delicate little whole chickens glistening golden-brown and juicy.
|Nina and Jeff.|
The unexpected atmosphere of the house –- there’s even a tiny brick-floored wine cellar in progress, with entrance gained through a wooden trap door inside a walk-in storage area – is reflective of the eclecticism in the Gimmels’ lives.
Take Swoon Kitchenbar, located just a few blocks from their house. Its atmosphere envelops you as soon as you enter what seems to be a rather small space before you realize there is plenty of room both before and after the 22-foot-long, steel-and-wood-beam bar that gives the place its name and where some of the cooking is done.
Intricate and intriguing plants abound. Numerous original paintings adorn the walls. An antique tin ceiling, swag draperies, tiny-tiled floors, marble-topped tables and an earth-toned color palette help complete the mood.
Or take food. Jeff is serious about it. The native of Gaithersburg, MD, near Baltimore, never wanted to do much else.
“I barely got through high school – a little problem with attendance,” he said with a small smile. “I didn’t like it, didn’t want it. I just wanted to cook.”
His love of food and his hometown are reflected in his choice of a “last meal” – “Perfectly seasoned Maryland crabs, the kind you serve with a mallet and a stack of newspapers to catch the mess,” he said.
He didn’t actually carry his distaste for school too far. He attended culinary school at highly-regarded Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, and became a chef in nearby Newport before going off to study in France. That led to kitchen stints in Manhattan, at such spots as Savann Est and Michael’s.
Nina, who hails from nearby Saugerties, likewise is a professional foodie, but her first love was dancing. A knee problem ended that, but she has plenty to fall back on. She holds a B.A. in photography from Bard College and her resume as a pastry chef includes work at such Manhattan gems as Union Square Cafe, Le Bernardin, 44 at the Royalton Hotel, and Café M of the Stanhope Hotel, a role she continues at Swoon.
In 2000, Nina and Jeff left New York City for Nantucket, RI, where they spent a year as co-owners of a catering company. Then it was back to New York state for a course in cheese making at the Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. near Hudson, before traveling to New Zealand to soak up some vinicultural education at the Ata Rangi vineyard.
All this travel is reflected in the wide variety of food and wine served at Swoon, which the Gimmels have made part of the region’s strong and growing sustainable agriculture movement, with its organic/naturally grown produce, meats and poultry.
|The main dining area at Swoon.|
“I suppose I’d have to say I’m more into photography (than painting) these days,” Nina said. “Food photography is a fascinating topic.”
Some of her photographs of dried vegetables -- what Jeff jokingly refers to as “her Dead Food Period” -- are so crisply defined and seemingly three-dimensional they at first glance appear to actually be pieces of food laid down on glossy paper.
Another fixture in the Gimmels’ household is a television set tuned to a tennis match.
“Tennis is very big in this house,” Jeff explained. “If there’s a match on TV, we’re tuned to it.”
This was said, somewhat ironically, on the first day in six weeks he had been able to bear weight on a knee that had been arthroscopically repaired after a tennis injury. That’s a lot of forced inactivity for a chef used to being on his feet most of the day.
As Jeff tested the knee, with the support of crutches, while tending the rotisserie, Nina and several helpers glided around the kitchen finishing up a platter of gravlax, toast rounds and capers to be served up as an appetizer accompanied by tall glasses of chilled, sparkling hard cider, a beverage making a gradual comeback in American households.
In addition to Swoon, art and tennis, technology affords the Gimmels another outlet. Their formal restaurant Web site is cleanly designed and easy to navigate, but they also maintain a casual, conversational blog to keep customers, vendors and friends up on their goings-on.
It’s a good place to get an insider’s view of how dishes are made, what the Gimmels look for during farm visits, what seasonal treats are coming up … and it also is a window into their sense of humor. Witness this entry:
“In the cavernous depths far below Swoon Kitchenbar & Warren Street lies a secret cave. A cave so secret outsiders must be anesthetized in order to enter, very similarly to Batman's. It is in this cave that we hang various cuts of meat to cure.”
A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but an accurate indicator that things are not always as effortless, or as simple, as they first appear for the Gimmels and for Swoon.
ON THE WEB
• Swoon Kitchenblog
• Hudson Antiques District
• Pocketbook Factory
• Dowd's Guides
Monday, August 15, 2011
Here's how it began a recent story:
"New York is dizzy with wine bars. But a sober student of fermented grape juice should go directly to the source -- local vineyards and wineries. New York State, surprisingly, is the No. 2 wine producer in the country (after California)."
For starters, anyone who has paid any attention to the wine industry wouldn't even vaguely be surprised that New York State is a major player. It has been for decades.
Second, New York is NOT the "No. 2 wine producer in the country." It is third, behind California and Washington state.
Don't just take my word for it. According to "Grape Facts 2010," compiled by Wine America: The National Association of American Wineries and the Winegrape Growers of America:
"The nation’s top grape producing states are (in volume of production order): California, Washington, New York, and Pennsylvania. The order is somewhat different when one considers value of the grape crop. Oregon which can boast the highest per ton value of grapes, places third and New York fourth. California produces almost 90% of the volume."Just thought I'd set the record straight. Let's hope the Post does the same.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
For example, more than four dozen restaurants have been signed up to be part of the 2nd annual "Travers Restaurant Week" -- actually a five-day "week" -- which will run from Sunday, August 21, through Thursday, August 25.
Paticipating restaurants will offer three-course meals from special menus for $18.64, a number corresponding to the year the first Travers was run.
The 142nd running of the Travers, the oldest major stakes race in the country for three-year-olds, will go off on Saturday, August 27, at the Saratoga Race Course.
You can find copies of the menus online. Warning: Many of the restaurants' locations are incorrectly listed on the official page.
The confirmed restaurants for "Travers Restaurant Week":
- Albany: 74 State, Dolce Vita, Jack's Oyster House, LaSerre
- Amsterdam: Crystal Ristorante, Loca Luna, Nicolino's, Raindancer, Valentino's
- Ballston Lake: Carney’s Tavern, Charlton Tavern, Finish Line
- Ballston Spa: Sunset Cafe
- Clifton Park: Antipasto’s, Pasta Pane, Salty's Pub, The Pasta Factory, The Vista at Van Patten Golf Club, Wheatfields
- Colonie: The Market at the Marriott, Bangkok Bistro, Buca di Beppo, Grandma's, Reel Seafood, Simpson's at The Desmond
- Glens Falls: Black Watch, Mikado, The Chocolate Mill, the Pub at Cooper's Cave
- Glenville: Water's Edge Lighthouse
- Guilderland: Londonderry Cafe, Peaches Cafe, Provence, Tesoro
- Lake George: Dunham's Bay Resort, East Cove, Olde Post Grille
- Latham: Milano, The Pasta Factory
- Malta: Cliff’s Country Inn, John Riccitello's
- Saratoga Springs: Caputo’s Pizzeria, Circus Cafe, East Cove Restaurant, Fortunes at Saratoga Gaming & Raceway, Ravenous, Wheatfields
- Schenectady: Aperitivo, Bangkok Bistro, Café Nola, Caputo’s Pizzeria, Cella Bistro, Cornell's, Manhattan Exchange, Stockade Inn, Van Dyck
- Scotia: Turf Tavern
- Wilton: Nove Restaurant
- Wynantskill: Paolo Lombardi's
ON THE WEB
• Saratoga Racing
• Dowd's Guides home page