Of Course There’s Time to Stop At a Winery

I found myself on the road again this past weekend, this time to New Jersey for some personal business. I had to be in Newark the first thing Monday morning so I decided to drive to Scranton Pennsylvania Sunday night and continue on to Newark in the morning. Since my home town of Cortland is on the way to Scranton, I figured I would stop to spend some time with my family. Skaneateles happens to be on the way to Cortland and as luck would have it there’s a winery just south of Skaneateles along the way as well. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Anyela’s Vineyards is located on the west side of Skaneateles Lake on route 41A about four and a half miles south of the village. Anyela’s is the only winery on the lake so it would be my only winery stop for the afternoon. Anyela’s is rather unique in that it’s one of the highest wineries in the region. Its vineyards are located on slopes that are more than 1000 feet above sea level. This is much higher when compared to vineyards on Cayuga and Seneca lakes that are typically below 600 feet. This may not seem to be a significant difference in elevation but it’s enough to make a big difference in average temperatures, frost and snowfall. Because of this colder climate, Anyela’s carefully takes their vines from their trellises each fall after the harvest and buries them to protect their fruit bearing buds from the harsh winter. In the spring the vines are unearthed and placed back on the trellises. This is a very labor intensive process that no doubt limits the number of acres Anyela’s can successfully manage. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because maintaining lower acreage allows them to concentrate on producing higher quality fruit.

The building that houses the tasting room is only a few years old. It has a tall cathedral ceiling with an opening to a cupola perched on the roof. There’s a great room in the back with a large stone fireplace that is ideal for parties and special occasions. A patio is located off to the side of the building and a second patio area is located on a path away from the building. Both patios provide a nice view of the lake. Further up the hill are two new buildings, one of which houses offices and storage space and the other, still under construction, will be a production facility.

I was the only customer in the tasting room when I arrived. Perhaps because it was later in the afternoon or maybe the cold damp weather was keeping people away. Either way I wasn’t complaining because I didn’t have to wait to be served or bump elbows with other people at the tasting bar. I introduced myself to the staff on duty which included Patricia Nocek, one of the owners, Gail, who was busy doing paperwork at the front desk, and Chris, who is behind the tasting bar. I struck up a conversation with Patricia, asking her questions about the winery. We discussed things such is how they bury the vines each fall, the new construction up on the hill, and the vegetable gardens that provide fresh vegetables for salads and soups served in the winery by Chef Luke Houghton. I got the feeling that Patricia was preoccupied with some task at hand so I turn my attention to Chris and the wine tasting. Chris, like Patricia, was very business-like and didn’t seem to want to engage in conversation much. He was very courteous and answered all the questions that I asked to the best of his ability, however.

The wines I tasted included the 2009 Chardonnay, 2009 Riesling, 2007 Pinot Noir, 2007 Merlot, 2007 Cabernet Franc, and the 2007 Overlay. The Chardonnay is a blend of barrel and stainless steel fermentations. It is lightly oaked, well balanced and has a light lemon finish. The tropical fruit flavors of the Riesling stand out nicely. The sweetness and acidity are well balanced and it felt very crisp and bright on the palate. The 2007 Pinot Noir is a 2010 Florida State Fair silver medal winner. It’s a light bodied wine with subtle strawberry notes that become more pronounced after a few sips. The Merlot is a medium bodied wine with cherry and plum flavors and a slightly spicy finish. The Cabernet Franc is also medium bodied. I found it better balanced, smoother, with more pronounced fruit flavors than the Merlot. The Overlay is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is light to medium bodied with delicious berry flavors. It was the smoothest of all the reds that I had tasted and was my favorite wine of the day. A bottle ended up coming home with me.

After the tasting I walked around the grounds for a while with my faithful, four legged companion, Sierra. We checked out the construction and vegetable gardens as we took in the view of lake in the valley below. It was cold and overcast but the sun broke on the hilltops on the far side of the lake which lifted my spirits and was a nice way to end the visit.

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About fingerlakeswineguy

I have a passion for the Finger Lakes, wine, food, and photography and want to share this passion through social media on the web.
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2 Responses to Of Course There’s Time to Stop At a Winery

  1. Cathy Moskal says:

    It is very interesting how a micro-climate can effect any growing crop. I am told that the soil and elevations of Seneca Lake wines especially affect any annual crop. Seneca Lake has a large salt content due to the fact that there are large deposits of salt in the earth surrounding it. Also, the lake is so deep that these minerals are continuously washed off into the water.
    I am constantly intrigued by the variables in climate, elevation and mineral content in the soils where vineyards are located. Then there are all the other variables in processes and methods of harvesting and aging.
    Do you have any information about salt and mineral content and how they affect wine?

    • The climate surrounding Seneca and Cayuga lakes is very interesting. There is so many things going on geographically that certainly come into play. Looking at a topographical map of Hector, for example shows some interesting detail. The lake side of Rt. 414 ranges from approximately 500 feet above sea level to 800 feet. Across the road, the hill gradually climbs to over 1800 feet in the Finger Lakes National Forrest. While these elevations and elevation differences might not seem significant, they really are. I was in this area just last week and noticed the lack of snow along Rt. 414, which was surprising since December had been particularly cold and snowy compared to recent years. I hiked and camped in the Finger Lakes National Forrest and noticed that there was a significant amount of snow in the hills as compared to the hillside below. Quite a change in climate for a 1000 foot change in elevation. I’ve experienced this before while hiking the Bristol Hills. Precipitation changed from rain to snow back to rain several times as we ascended and descended along the path.

      I’m sure the salinity of the lake affects the climate because it would effect the freezing point of lake which in turn affects the air temperature, etc. I don’t know anything about the affect the local salt an mineral content has on grapes and wine however. It’s an interesting topic to look into however. I’ll bring it up with some of the growers when I get a chance.

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