Music and wine seems to have been the theme in the Finger Lakes this past month. For me, it started with a Wednesday night trip with some friends to Geneva and Ventosa Vineyards to hear Sarah and Joe Mull perform “contemporary hits with vocal and guitar”. Their soft, lounge style music blended perfectly with the laid back crowd and the relaxing vibe that seemed to define this typical warm, mid-week summer evening. Early rain forced Sarah and Joe to play inside the tasting room rather than out on the porch. By time my friends and I arrived the weather was clear and a good crowd had formed both inside and out. The view of the lake is fantastic from the porch and the setting sun added a touch of Margaritaville to the atmosphere.
Along with the free music, Ventosa offered a complimentary wine tasting. I sampled the 2008 Chardonnay, the 2008 Tocai Friulano, the 2009 Riesling, the 2009 Sweet Riesling, the 2007 Cabernet Franc, and the 05/06 Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2008 Chardonnay fit my style perfectly being dry (0.5% RS), crisp, and well balanced with oak and acidity. The 2008 Tocai Friulano is a dry wine with 0.6% residual sugar and is light and fruity with a very distinctive grapefruit flavor. Tocai Friulano is an Italian varietal and is grown exclusively at Ventosa in the Finger Lakes. This grape is well suited for a cold climate and is grown on its European root stock. Many European grapes are grafted on American root stock to survive the New York winters. The 2009 Riesling had a nice tart apple note that balanced the sweetness (3% RS) very well. My friends and I enjoyed a bottle of this wine while we listened to the music and had Panini sandwiches from Ventosa’s Café Toscana. The 2009 Sweet Riesling was like candy in a glass. The 6% RS is well above my sweetness threshold but the flavor was wonderful and the sweetness was not overpowering. I could enjoy a small glass of this wine once in a while. The 2007 Cabernet Franc and 05/06 Cabernet Sauvignon are both full bodied reds with deep, rich color and flavors. The Cab Franc had a spicy finish while the Cab Sauvignon had a smooth, rich finish.
July 4th brought me back to Seneca Lake, this time to Zugibe Vineyards with my girlfriend Katy. The DeBlois Milledge Band and Bob Walpole took the backyard stage on what turned out to be another picture perfect summer evening on Seneca Lake. The view of the lake is just as nice at Zugibe as it is at Ventosa and the deck just as relaxing. Katy and I had a tasting before going out back to hear the music. I sampled the 2007 Riesling, the 2008 Gewurztraminer, the 2008 Semi-Dry Riesling, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2007 Cabernet Franc, and the 2007 Zenith. It was difficult for me to decide which of the Rieslings I liked better. The 2007 was dryer (1% RS) and had hints of stone fruit and was well balanced. The 2008 was a bit sweeter (2% RS) and had more of a citrus flavor. Katy enjoyed the 2008 Dry Riesling the best. I didn’t taste it because I prefer my Rieslings in the 1% – 3% residual sugar range but we did share a bottle with Katy out on the deck later on. The Dry Riesling featured more mineral notes and a hint of lime. The 2008 Gewurztraminer had all the characteristics of a classic Gewurztraminer with its spicy, floral flavor and bold, spicy nose. The description of the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon describes the wine as having black liquorice notes which I immediately picked up on but had trouble identifying but was obvious after I read the description. The Cabernet Franc had a spicy, oak flavor and was rich and smooth. The 2007 Zenith is a blend of Cab Frank, Cab Sauvignon, and Merlot. This was a complex wine with the characteristics of each variety showing through in very subtle ways.
Katy and I had another Wednesday night trip to Ventosa for more music and wine, this time to hear Meyer & McGuire play “Eclectic acoustic music at its almost finest”. We enjoyed another beautiful day on the porch listening to music and talking with other guests and sharing a pizza from Café Toscana. My Finger Lakes Wine Trail Card gave me a 15% discount on our wine purchase which was an added bonus. The card costs only $15 and is good for discounts at over 30 wineries including Ventosa and Zugibe.
I’m looking forward to visiting these wineries again soon for more music and wine. They have regular events scheduled through August and will probably continue into the fall. I’ll have to start looking at other wineries to see what events they have coming up. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.