Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall and Wine Weekend

Things on the farm have normalized a bit since we finally got together a new crew that is so far so good. We've got two guys from the city, Shawn and Tagyur; and two local guys Leo and Will. It's a good team with very different characters and personalities, which makes for an interesting work day. Hopefully everyone will hang around for the rest of the season. They are all hardworking and appreciate the food aspect of the job, which is a definite plus.

It's full on fall upstate and we had our first frost over the weekend. It's interesting to see the cycles of nature at work here. Vegetables that were abundant in the spring, such as lettuces and other delicate greens, seem to be getting a second life, while other summer varieties are giving way to their winter cousins. Fall squashes have just come in, beans are prolific, and the hearty winter greens are thoroughly enjoying the cooler weather. We've piles of storage veggies such as onions and potatoes taking over our cooler space. I notice aside from the greens, that cold hearty veggies are heavier than their heat lovin' relatives. Leaves are already changing color and I predict that by the end of this week, the scenery up here is going to become one giant explosion of ostentatious show offery. I can't wait!

I have been spending the past two weekends visiting Ithaca and have had the opportunity to meet some very wonderful people, drink great wine, eat well and just enjoy being upstate. Some highlights were visiting the Ithaca Farmer's Market, which is a wonderful community space for excellent local produce, artisinal cheeses and breads, prepared foods, wines, arts and crafts, and other regional specialties. It is located right on the south end of Cayuga Lake with a small dock where you can hop on a boat for a quick tour of the lake. I was also shown the Ithaca Brewery where you can hang out and taste their selection of beers, that was a little too enjoyable!
These past two weekends I've also been checking out some of the vineyards in the Finger Lakes region, which is only an hour and a half from Norwich, and discovering the wonderful wines the region produces. White varietals dominate here and there are wonderful Rieslings, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and a surprising range of flavors from the Gewurstaminer, as well as local varieties such as Cayuga and Vidal. The Finger Lake wineries also produce a wonderful selection of dessert wines that are pretty much honey ambrosia in a glass...yummmmm. Some reds grown in the region are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. I only had the opportunity to visit a few wineries since there are only so many hours in a day and so much wine you can drink in those waking hours. A few that really impressed me are: Sheldrake, which had the best Riesling ice wine that was spectacular; Red Newt who had the best reserve reds hands down; Damiani who also had some tasty reds including a very well priced table wine; Standing Stone, who also produced wonderful Ice wine and an impressive Riesling. There are over 50 wineries in the entire Finger Lakes region and I highly recommend a visit to the area. The views of the country around Seneca and Cayuga Lakes are stunning. The wine trails are well marked, easy to find, and the wineries are staffed with very friendly and knowledgeable staff. I would love to spend an entire week up here enjoying the scenery, the wines and quaint farm stands and specialty shops scattered in the area. There are also many restaurants in the area, which I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to try--too busy tasting wine! I've been to the vineyards out on Long Island and also in the Hudson River Valley region but the Finger Lakes win out by a long shot. Okay, so there's my Finger Lakes plug.

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