For day two, the winery visits started in the late afternoon after a day in nearby Corning visiting museums. Located near our B&B is Glenora Wine Cellars. Situated on the western edge of Seneca lake, the vines stretch out into the distance down the slopes from the winery almost to the lake. They also have a restaurant (called Veraisons) and rental villas lower down the hill from the winery that you can stay in, as well as tasting tours and chocolate and wine tastings which we did not do on this visit but may come back for. The winery is a large building and there was a large store full of cheeses, wine-related gifts, and of course, their wines. The tasting areas consisted of two long tasting tables, one in each of the large rooms. Being a holiday weekend it was a bit crowded. There was a nice view behind the tasting counters but not as nice as some of the others we’ve seen on this visit. We tried several local wines such as Niagara, Cayuga and Seyval Blanc as well as several of their vinifera wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling and their ‘Signature White’ which is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling. The favorites that came home were the Dry Riesling and Cabernet Franc. These have both won several recent local and international awards.
We then drove around to the other side of the lake to Hazlitt 1852 Winery which came recommended to me. They are known for a very popular fruity and sweet red wine called “Red Cat” which is made in very large volumes – I saw in one piece of literature that they make 450,000 gallons of it and apparently it’s known all over the east coast as an accesible wine for BBQs, boats, picnics, and the like. It is very well marketed, with fun labels and branding all over a large line of merchandise. Frankly, it is not my thing but it is obviously very popular and my taste is only that – my taste. I do like lighter dry fruit-forward reds like Beaujolais and some Pinot Noirs. I did a dry reds tasting – a Pinot Noir, a Cab Franc, a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon – all 2010s. I also tried their “Schooner Red” which is a blend, and of course the Red Cat. I bought a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon which had a nice body and tannin/acidity balance. This is one of the dry reds from the region so far that stood out to me. I really enjoyed the tasting room decor, hunting lodge-themed with a wooden horseshoe-shaped bar. Wine Enthusiast called it one of America’s Top 25 tasting rooms. They also awarded the 2011 Dry Riesling #34 of the Top 100 Best Buys and gave it an 89-point rating. And they make wine ‘slushies’ which we did not get a chance to try before the tasting room closed.
Last but certainly not least, was Red Newt Cellars. We went for dinner in their bistro so while we skipped the tasting room, we did a paired three-course dinner. They also had a few wines from other local wineries with whom they have relationships with such as Fox Run and Anthony Road. They have made a label together, “Tierce” Dry Riesling, that is the brainchild of these three Seneca Lake cool-climate winemakers and their individual winemaking philosophies all rolled into one great wine. The 2010 was served at the Presidential Inauguration. Read all about the Tierce here.
Speaking of which, we had the fortune to be seated at the table next to these winemakers and others (maybe owners or others on the winemaking teams?) that night as they met to do a round of blind tastings and discussions of each others’ latest releases. I felt like a schoolboy eavesdropping but I considered myself very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time, to hear these men talk about their philosophies and personal tastes in wine and winemaking. After all, I often dream of being one of these winemakers. I hope should they ever read this that they know it just inspired me more towards one day realizing that goal. The Red Newt Cabernet Franc was a very nice pairing with the ribeye and the 2006 Fox Run Vidal Dessert wine was perfect with the brownie sundae with coffee ice cream, and… bacon! Another great day! I will be visiting Fox Run and Anthony Road on the next trip up here.