Last weekend, we volunteered at the Finger Lakes Wine Festival. Last year was our first year attending, and two of our favorite parts were the seminars and pairing dinner, so we were excited this year to teach the sparkling seminar and help out with the pairing dinner. One of my favorite parts of going to this festival is that I get to sample wine from wineries that I’ve never been to, or are farther away. So, I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorites from this year’s festival from wineries we don’t normally visit.
Finger Lakes Wine Festival
In case you haven’t heard of the Finger Lakes Wine Festival, here’s a quick summary: it’s a three day festival dedicated to sharing all wine from our region. The main part of the festival is the three large tasting tents, where guests can sample selections from over 80 wineries. In addition to the open tastings, you can attend seminars taught by Women for Winesense throughout the day with subjects like “90+ Rated Wines” or “Some Like It Sweet”. They also have cooking demonstrations, live music, and various performances, and if that isn’t enough, you can do pace car rides on the Watkins Glen International Speedway.
Fun Favorites from the 2018 Festival
We started off our day by teaching the seminar “Sparkle in the Finger Lakes”, which was dedicated to the history, types and drinking of sparkling wine. Every participant got a large sample of six different sparkling wines, including Brotherhood Winery Brut Rosé, Leidenfrost Brut, Miles Winery Riesling Cache, Great Western Brut Rosé, Swedish Hill Winery Blanc de Blanc and Wagner Sparkling Riesling.
While they were all good, the ones that caught our attention were:
Our first taste of the day was Brotherhood Winery’s B Sparkling Rosé, with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this wine has a nose full of strawberry and citrus, that was balanced by a soft acidity that allowed for lingering berry notes.
Swedish Hill Winery’s Blanc de Blanc, made with Cayuga White, has a fresh nose bursting with apple and lemon, and just some subtle hints of toasted bread, with a bright acidity and lingering pear on the palate.
We ended the tasting with Wagner Vineyard’s Sparkling Riesling, which was bright with nectarine and lime, with some hints of stonefruit and pie crust. on the palate, it had some fun buttery notes that were offset by the nice acidity.
Next, we were off to the wine pairing dinner. This was my favorite thing from last year’s festival, and, since I wasn’t able to imbibe this year, it was what I was most looking forward to. I was not let down by the incredible food: a beet salad starter, haddock stuffed with seafood, shallot crusted beef tenderloin, and tiramisu to finish. It was divine.
For each course, guests got to pick two wines from a list of three to four that would pair with the dinner. Some of the pairings were unexpected and others were classic. There were also some hidden gems available for tasting if people wanted something different.
The meal started with 2016 Zugibe Sauvignon Blanc, paired with the beet salad. The wine has a nose with classic Sauvignon Blanc notes- gooseberry and bright herbal notes. The bold acidity and peachy notes on the palate balanced each other out.
The big winner of the night was a 2015 Hector Wine Company Essence, which was paired with the steak course. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, and has a nose of black pepper, black cherry and smoke. On the palate there is a nice peppery tannin that lingers along with dark berry notes.
The meal ended with Atwater Celsius, a dessert wine made from Vignoles and Gewürztraminer. It has a big nose of tropical fruits like pineapple and mango, a rich silky mouthfeel, and is densely sweet but with enough acid and bright fruit notes that it isn’t overwhelming. It was a fun pairing with the richness of the tiramisu.
I ended the night exhausted, but exhilarated, and excited about the prospect of attending once again next year to learn something new, try something different, and meet some amazing people.