Friday, April 22, 2011

Tastings | Finger Lakes: Spring 2011, ii

To continue the previous post (i.e., Part I of II) about my wine tasting trip to the Finger Lakes with Women Who Wine, our next stop was Wagner Vineyards.

Since the weather wasn't looking very promising at this point, we decided it would be appropriate to do the group photo here! Although it was super windy and cold, we were able to get some decent group shots--cheers to Women Who Wine!

Wagner Vineyards!

The girls literally running into the restaurant at Wagner Vineyards, The Ginny Lee!

View of The Ginny Lee!

We were all famished by the time we got there (i.e., a little before 2 PM), so we immediately got to ordering!

I had the smoked duck salad with carrots, toasted almonds, cherry tomatoes, and dried cranberries, served with a raspberry-Riesling dressing. It was definitely one of the best salads I've ever had. The dressing was amazing--great combination! I love the added crunch from the almonds, the tartness from the dried cranberries, and the savory, smoked flavor from the duck. It all came together nicely. Gotta figure out how to make that dressing!

After lunch, we walked right over to Wagner Vineyards.

Located on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, Wagner Vineyards is one of the oldest and most recognized wineries in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. It produces over 30 types of wine and are particularly recognized for its Rieslings (from fully dry to sweet ice), that are versatile and food-friendly. Founded by Bill Wagner in 1979, Wagner Vineyards embraces its founder's philosophy that "wine and food are a natural combination." An original concept for the winery was the addition of The Ginny Lee, a café where people could enjoy both.

Here are the eight featured wines offered at the tasting room that day.

Our spot at the tasting room!

Here is what we tasted at Wagner Vineyards (* denotes what I liked):
  • 2008 Riesling, dry: This was a medium-bodied, dry wine with lots of citrus flavors and a crisp finish. Overall, I thought this wine was a bit too dry for my liking.
  • 2008 "Grace House" Pinot Noir: This wine was very dry and earthy--you can definitely taste flavors of cinnamon. The tannins in this wine were soft.
  • 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon: This Cabernet had ripe berry flavors throughout.
  • *2007 Riesling, semi-dry: Per Penny's bold statement before we got to the tasting room, this is the white wine that almost everybody likes. Boy was she right! It was actually mentioned in an article in the New York Times back in 1994. This wine has lively citrus and fresh peach flavors with pineapple and peach aromas. Another great wine to have around for the summer season!
  • *"Sunset Red": Another favorite of mine at Wagner--it is a fruit forward blend that is very smooth. It is also best served slightly chilled--making it a great summer red!
  • *2009 Riesling Select: This wine is semi-sweet with rich honey overtones. A very solid Riesling here!
  • "Niagra": This tasted like white grape juice to me--not a favorable wine for me at all. Kat reported that it tasted like bubble gum.
  • *2008 Vidal Blanc Ice: This ice wine has flavors of ripe pears and citrus fruit. A good wine pairing with dessert!

After the tasting, I picked up two bottles of the 2007 semi-dry Riesling because I enjoyed it very much, a bottle of the 2009 Riesling Select, a bottle of "Sunset Red" and a bottle of 2008 Vidal Blanc ice wine for my mom because she's a big ice wine fan. As a fan usually of reds, I was shocked by how many bottles of white I picked up at Wagner and from the prior two vineyards/wineries as well!

Our next and final stop was at Glenora Wine Cellars, the first winery opened on Seneca Lake. Glenora received instant acclaim in wine circles when its initial vintage won several medals at the New York State Fair wine competition.

The "bottle tree" by the entrance to Glenora Wine Cellars.

They had these cute and clever items with "I'm a winestein," "Ain't life grape?" and "Make me wine" emblazoned on them!

Inside the tasting bar at Glenora Wine Cellars.

For the group tasting, we were given a total of six tastings each, where for each tasting, we had a choice between a dry wine or a sweet wine (I went with all dry except for the second tasting). Here is what I tasted at Glenora (* denotes what I liked):
  • "Signature": This dry wine is a premium blend of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling. I felt this one was just okay.
  • *Semi-dry Riesling: This is a medium-bodied Riesling with pear skin, green apple and melon notes. I really enjoyed this one, though not as good as the one from Wagner--the one from Glenora was a little bit grittier.
  • *Seyval Blanc: This is a wine tastes just like a Pinot Grigio!
  • *Pinot Noir rosé: This is a wine, that Glenora advertises, pleases sweet and dry drinkers alike. I really enjoyed this one as well--another wine to add to the summer cellar!
  • *2008 Cabernet Franc: This is a rich red wine that is aged in oak. Very dry but has a satin and smooth finish. It was a little bit too dry for my liking--I think I'm more of an in-between wine drinker, leaning a little towards the dry side.
  • *2009 "Meritage": This dry, rich red wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I really enjoyed this one, as I very much like red blends (like the "Radiant Red" from Wagner.

So you ask what loot I left Glenora with? I picked up a bottle of the 2008 "Meritage" on my way out. I wish I had also picked up the Pinot Noir rosé, but that will have to be for another trip!

Saying goodbye to Glenora and miserably greeting the icky, rainy weather outside to head back home.

Julianne, Melissa, and Whitney on the party bus, on our ride back!

Julianne, Jamie, and Bonnie!

Kim and Danielle!

Melissa, Whitney, Penny, and Leann!

Kala, Kat, and me!

Findings: I definitely found the wines at Wagner and Glenora to be a little more commercialized and larger in variety than the previous two I mentioned in my Part I post. I was able to find more wines that suited my tasted at these two wineries/vineyards, probably due to its higher variety in grapes used and wines produced. I've also rekindled my interest in white wines since this trip--before then I was solely a "reds" kind of girl.

Also, being able to visit all four vineyards in one day is definitely helping me prepare myself for the trip Marcus and I have planned in May for San Francisco and Napa Valley--lots of wine tasting to be had there! It was definitely a lot of tastes and smells to take in at once, but I think the initial sensation I felt (i..e, being overwhelmed) subsided when I was able to gauge how I really felt about what I liked and what I didn't like. I wish I had brought my "Wine Notes" notebook (I saw Penny with the same one, suddenly realizing I had one at home) so I could properly document, but I guess my chicken scratch notes worked out fine! I'm very much looking forward to toasting with the "loot" I purchased on this trip (I believe I brought home a total of eight bottles of wine) for any and all special occasions this year!

I would definitely recommend making a similar trip up to the Finger Lakes--making Goose Watch, Wagner Vineyards, and Glenora Wine Cellars a must on your list. Organizing a larger group is always more fun--plus, you can rent a "party bus"/car service to take you and your group up there without any worries about drinking and driving. It is definitely worth doing it this way. I plan on organizing a Long Island wine tasting trip similar to this one for the upcoming summer, so hopefully I'll do as good of a job as Whitney did for this one :)!

It was so nice to meet some very interesting women during this trip--I had so much fun trying new wines with them! They're all pretty knowledgeable in the wine arena, so I have lots of catching up to do. The "Party Bus" was such a great idea--lots of snacking, drinking, and dancing (I'm vowed to secrecy--what happened on the "party bus" stays on the "party bus"--so that's all I'm saying!). Looking forward to the next annual trip with Women Who Wine--visiting some of the same vineyards while trying new ones as well!

Price point: $9.99 for smoked duck salad at The Ginny Lee, $2 for a tasting of eight Featured Wines at Wagner Vineyards, $9.99 for a bottle of 2007 semi-dry Wagner Vineyards Riesling, $11.99 for a bottle of 2009 Wagner Vineyards Riesling Select, $19.99 for a bottle of 2008 Wagner Vineyards Vidal Blanc ice wine, $6.99 for a bottle of "Sunset Red" ($9.49/$9.49/$11.39/$18.99/$6.64 respectively with 5% discount from purchasing a half-case of wines); $2 for a tasting of six wines at Glenora Wine Cellars, $24.99 for a bottle of 2009 Glenora Wine Cellars "Meritage" blend.

--April 16, 2011

The Ginny Lee
Wagner Vineyards
9322 State Route 414
Lodi, NY 14860

Glenora Wine Cellars

5435 Route 14
Dundee, NY 14837

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