After the WBC15 pre-excursion to Villa Bellangelo, we travel to our living quarters. We’re handed our room keys as we get off of the bus, and the front desk worker stops me as I walk through the lobby. She specifically stops me asks if I’m Josh – I say yes, obviously, and I wonder whether or not it’s because she’s secretly an undercover agent, and that this is the beginning of some really exciting spy film where I would discover my undiscovered penchant for leaping off buildings and using my wine knowledge to save the world. God, I need water.
I know she’s asking because there was some sort of logistical airplane snafu with my friend Kayla (who was also a scholarship recipient last year) which led to her having to get someone to drive her up to Geneva from Elmira. Thus, she missed Villa Bellangelo but beat me to our hotel room, and I couldn’t help but wonder how she described me to the front desk. The vaguely sober bald asian with glasses? The guy whose head looks like the inspiration behind the Minions of Despicable Me?
We freshen up before our next winery visit; I decide my weird lumberjack shirt should be sufficient despite the fact that I see everyone else changing into evening dresses and platform shoes. I ask Kayla but she tells me to do me, so I do me.
We arrive at Ventosa, receive welcoming packages, and taste two different kinds of delicious local cider. I’m supremely fearful of dozing off at this point because I normally would, considering all this stimuli we’ve received so far, but I find myself engrossed in the current theme: Finger Lakes Women. Diversity. Looking back at the conference now, I’d say that this was definitely one of my favourite sessions, especially since a lack of diversity was a current criticism for both the previous year, and for the wine industry in general. They really went the full mile here, and even the cider and provided cheese were also crafted by women. We’re reminded that Seneca Falls, just a mere 15 minutes away, was huge for the birth for feminism in 1848.
The speakers included Marti Macinski, owner and winemaker of Standing Stone Vineyards; Jenna Lavita, winemaker at Ventosa Vineyards; Erica Paolicelli, partner at Three Brothers Winery & Estates; Liz Leidenfrost, 3rd generation owner and winemaker at Leidenfrost vineyards; and Kathleen Deys, biochemist and grape geneticist. Amazing dinner was crafted by Heather Tompkins. Huzzah! THE STORIES!
After a bit of a vineyard excursion, we went back for dinner with the panel participants. It was at this time I decided to stop taking notes and maybe swallow for once. Bad idea? Maybe. Nah.
After dinner, they unexpectedly open up the tasting room. It finally (?) feels like I’m dying and I can hardly take a proper tasting note, and instead I’m craving anything bubbly.
Ventosa 2011 Lemberger (Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes, New York) $24
Black cherry, tobacco, dried herbs, lots of tomato leaf. Generous acid. Spinning head. This particular wine won the Governor’s Cup for best red wine at the 2015 New York Wine & Food Classic competition, despite encouragement that Jenna Lavita shouldn’t grow Lemberger, or something like that.
Stony Lonesome Estate Reserve 2014 Grüner Veltliner (Finger Lakes, New York) $14
White pepper and potpourri. Dry, round, spice, green apple. Where’s the water at?
Standing Stone 2014 Dry Vidal (Finger Lakes, New York) $14
Though I have tried (and liked) various Standing Stone wines throughout the conference, this is probably my least fave of theirs. Lovely white peach and orange blossom, but strangely boozy without much depth or concentration. Slight effervescence provides lift.
Though my roommate decides to be the sane one and sleep back at the hotel, some of us head to Lake Drum brewing which is just a block or two away. The beautiful space is co-run by Jenna Lavita. What a superstar. I obviously head for the local weird shit. Give me Brett! Give me all of him!
Summary: darts with The Vineyard Trail and Christine; Dancing Queen; delicious beer; and raw vegetables. That is all you need to know.
The next day we head to Anthony Road. Beautiful scenery, and rolling around in the grass. We’re indeed greeted with a glass of rosé, we have a tour of the vineyards and winemaking facilities, and then we taste two sets of wines: an unoaked Chardonnay against one that was fermented on skins, and then a dry Riesling against one that was fermented on its skins.
Next: Fox Run.
Anthony Road 2014 Cabernet Franc Rosé (Finger Lakes, New York) $18
The nose contains a hint of bubblegum among a blend of strawberry, cherry, and fresh herbs. Racy with nice red fruit intensity to balance the tart lemons. Good morning!
Anthony Road 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay (Finger Lakes, New York) $17
Zippy but not sharp; a hint of butter? Yellow apple, and a hint of freshly cut grass. Maybe suffers from just a hint of SO2 that needs to blow off?
Anthony Road 2014 Skin Ferment Chardonnay (Finger Lakes, New York) $? [unreleased]
Compared to its naked counterpart, this version is softer on the nose, and then chewier, mellower, and rounder on the palate.
Anthony Road 2014 Riesling Dry (Finger Lakes, New York) $18
Chalky. White flowers, most notably, with an intense spritz of elegantly fruity and gummy white peach on the palate. A bejewelled sword, or something.
Anthony Road 2014 Skin Ferment Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York) $? [unreleased]
Kind of like if the previous wine put on a hip autumn sweater. More spice and gently oxidative autumnal fruit, or sugarless apple pie. A hint of something ashy.