This past Wednesday I decide to take a road trip to the Finger Lakes wine country. I had been to Seneca Lake a couple of years ago to visit the wineries and decided to visit the lake again this time. I made my home base the town of Watkins Glen which sits on the southern tip of the lake.
Seneca Lake is the deepest of the Finger Lakes (600+ ft) and has the most wineries and tasting rooms (50+). The Finger Lakes have been voted as some of the most beautiful wine country in the world, I haven’t been all of the wine country in the world but it is very scenic especially on the east side of the lake where the road that takes you to the wineries is on a ridge and the vineyards slope down to the lake. The tasting rooms on the east side of the road all have an outdoor terrace where you can sit with a glass in your hand and take in the gorgeous view of the vines and the lake.
Seneca Lake is big, it took me six hours to circumnavigate the wine trail starting from Watkins Glen working my way counter-clockwise. The wineries I visited on the East side of the lake included Damiani, Red Newt Cellars, Sheldrake Point, Leidenfrost, Kings Garden Vineyard and Zugibe Vineyards.
My first stop was at Damiani. When I was last here a couple of years ago their tasting room was a small shack by the side of the road since then they have since opened a much larger tasting room. I remember being impressed with their Pinot Noir. This time around I tried the 2010 “Sunrise Hill” Pinot Noir, light red with a nose of black pepper and black cherry, tight with and earthy and smoky finish. The 2010 Syrah “Sawmill Creek” was medium red with a sour cherry nose, tight fruit with big tannins and nice acidity on the finish.
At Red Newt Cellars the 2011 Dry Riesling (1.3RS) was a tasty wine with a nose of sweet peaches and enough acidity to balance the sweetness to make this a very nice, easy drinking wine for a warm day. The 2007 Pinot Gris “Curry Creek Vineyards” had a nose of slate and dusty mushrooms with grapefruit flavors on the finish. The 2007 Gewürztraminer “Curry Creek Vineyards” had an oily nose of petroleum and lycee with crisp acids on the very dry finish. The 2008 Gewürztraminer “Curry Creek Vineyard” was from an obviously different vintage. On my notes I had a nose of “stinky wildflowers” with sweeter fruit than the ’07 with crisp acids on the stinky finish.
At Sheldrake Point I enjoyed the 2011 Riesling (.9RS) with a nose of honeydew melon and peaches with melon flavors on the fruit and nice acidity on the finish.
The last stop on the northeast side of the lake was at Zugibe Vineyards. The brother of the wine maker poured while we had a very nice chat about local wines and various other matters. He poured the only Gruner Veltner (2010) that I sample this day as well as a very tasty Riesling (2010) which was very dry with lemony notes and great mouth-watering acids on the finish. Would have loved a dozen raw oysters to go with that glass. I tried the only Cabernet Sauvignon of the day, the (2008) which was dark with a nose of sweet black cherry, firm fruit with excellent balance on the finish.