Monday, June 01, 2009

Wine, Wine, Wine

Check out the wine in the picture. Though Wendy and I are not wine drinkers, we do have family members who are definitely wine connoisseurs. So we bought some, having been in New York wine country this past weekend. The Millenium pictured is a champagne, bought to celebrate mine and Wendy’s 29th anniversary this past Sunday.

My wife Wendy and my youngest son Scott traveled this past weekend to Ithaca, New York, so Scott could check out Cornell University, where he is supposed to do his Master’s work next fall. Since Ithaca is in the heart of the wine-producing area there in New York, we thought we should check out some wineries as well.

We toured the Pleasant Valley Wine Company which at one time bottled the Great Western brand of champagne. It’s not bottled there anymore and I had the feeling this winery has seen much better times. They had a large parking area for tourists and a wonderful visitor’s center but the tour comprised the three of us and the tour guide. And when we finished our tour, tasting and purchases, there was not another tourist in there.

But I learned lots. Like Dom Perignon invented champagne. That working in a wine cellar, according to our tour guide, was as dangerous as working in a mine because of exploding bottles. That during Prohibition, the winery stayed in business by selling grape juice with specific instructions to buyers on how NOT to let the grape juice turn into wine. Like “do not add yeast to this product or else . . . “ (with a “wink, wink”). That you can mix different wines to get a unique flavor, like pouring a snifter of Chocolate Lab with Blackberry Merlot. Chocolate wine? Yes, they do make it.

Later, we drove along Seneca Lake—one of the so-called Finger Lakes—where we must have passed over a dozen wineries and vintners. Many groups travel this so-called “wine trail”, stopping at one or more small estates to sample the offerings.

At Hazlitt Vineyards, one of the oldest having been established in 1852, I ran into a party of young women clustered around a tasting bar. From the veil worn by the lady who appeared to be the center of attention with them, I gathered this was a bachelorette party. They were an unusually happy bunch of women but I was most impressed when they occasionally burst into song, which they did more than once.

They broke into their own version of the old Dixie Cups classic, “Chapel of Love” featuring what sounded like the same three-part harmony like in the original. Perfectly in tune. A flawless performance. We heard a capella groups at the Ithaca Festival later who did not sing as strongly or with such gusto.

Wendy thought that perhaps this was a group of women who sang together in the choir. Perhaps. Just so long as it wasn’t in the church choir. There would be something ironic about a group of church ladies celebrating an impending nuptial by dousing themselves at the local winery.


Blogger Lynilu said...

Now, Dave, depending on the particular sect, drinking, especially wine, isn't a verboten act. In fact, in my church-going days, I made sure to pick the appropriate ones.

As to the chocolate wine, my son received a gift of a chocolate wise that was absolutely wonderful. I don't remember the name or brand at the moment, but hey, why not indulge in two weaknesses at once? Saves time!

5:03 PM  
Blogger Lynilu said...

Uh, that should say "chocolate wiNe."

5:03 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~~ Happy anniversary to you and Wendy. I enjoyed reading and looking at the video of the Polka band, and of course you would know Roll out the Barrel. Glad you had a nice birthday, and so did I, and then there's Peter who will be back in Adelaide for a few days. He and Warren delivered a vehicle for a
relative of Rex's and then flying home. Take care, Regards, Merle.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

Happy Anniversary to you and Wendy!!! Our 29th will be in April.

Your weekend sounds wonderful-from beginning to end. and congrats on having Scott start grad school.

who knows, since he'll be there, maybe you two will really get into the "wine" thing?

9:49 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Happy Anniversary to you and Wendy, Dave. You visited a fine part of New York. I used to be in the area frequently to visit friends when I was at Oswego. When I grew up, I used to recruit at Cornell, too. We were always after their ILR graduates.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

Cornell is such a great school. And the area is so interesting. I have a brother in law who graduated from Cornell, and is doing quite well. Best of luck to your son.
And we love wine. Maybe we should take a trip to that part of NY. Thanks for the reminder.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do like chocolate with wine but never heard of chocolate wine. Sounds delicious!
Since you and Wendy don't drink wine you might want to bring those up with you and we can have a little family wine tasting.
Sound Good?


3:50 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LYNILU--One of the wines we could have chosen to sample was Gold Seal Special Altar Wine. I wouldn't have thought this type of wine would have been available to sample and purchase.

MERLE--Peter's such a busy guy. I hope I have his kind of energy when I'm retired.

CARINE--I still don't think we'll be all that passionate for wine. Been there, done that now. What interested me was that Ithaca had its own ladies' roller derby team. They were called the Ithaca Suffragettes. I wouldn't mind catching one of their games if we're out there again.

FRED--Oswego, hmmmm. Don't remember going through there. I hope Scott does well there at Cornell. Education is an investment like any nowadays--the return isn't always guaranteed.

CASSIE--If you like wine, you'd enjoy it there in the Finger Lakes. They certainly had a variety to choose from.

MELISSA--Sounds like fun. But we've already drunk the champagne. And we gave the blush to Wendy's sister. She's saving the peach for a special occasion. Scott already gave some of his away. But, sure, if we have any left we'll bring it up.

5:33 PM  
OpenID caroldee said...

WOW exploding wine bottles .. who knew..
great info and glad you had a great time. NOt a wine drinker but I know it is good for your heart. thanks for sharing your trip. : )

10:31 AM  
Blogger Betty said...

I grew up in Binghamton, very near the Finger Lakes region. My mother drove me to Ithaca nearly every weekend. Since you know where I live now, I guess you can imagine the level of homesickness I experience, even just from a scenic standpoint!

I was fascinated by your explanation of how the winery stayed in business during the Prohibition. I bet drinking alcohol was a lot of fun in those days, with the added drama of having to break the law to imbibe.


7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would need all of the wine in the photo to listen to the polka monsters.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

CAROLDEE--Even though our tour guide dramatically told of those exploding wine bottles, I was never able to verify this through Google. Perhaps she was exaggerating a little.

BETTY--In the visitor's center at the winery, they had a copy of the local paper the day that Prohibition ended. It actually was a special "Extra" edition. That was a big day in wine country here.

ANONYMOUS--Last time I checked, the Polka Monsters had over 200 views on You Tube. We're rapidly becoming a cult fav.

5:32 PM  
Blogger jan said...

Being the lush that I am I never miss a chance to tour wine country, New York, Ohio and now in California. What always strikes me is that the people there are so friendly and outgoing, not at all like the wine snobs that I often come in contact with. In fact they tell us that wine snobs are the bane of their existence.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Wazza and I had intended to tour the Barossa Valley in SA but wound up with a trip to the farm instead.... maybe all for the best? who knows what hangovers we avoided?

7:12 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~~ Please wish your wife Wendy a very Happy Birthday as I see
that is on the 9th June. I hope she has a great day. My eldest son, John turned 55 today, so I guess that's why I feel old. I was 20 when
he was born. Take care, Enjoy your lives. Best Wishes, Merle.

3:54 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

JAN--Wine snobs? Hmmmmm. Now that you mention it, my son noticed that none of the wine tasters we were with wore a t-shirt like he did. All were dressed nattily in button down attire.

PETER--That Wazza seems the type who's suffered a hangover or two, possibly even in recent memory.

MERLE--I passed along your birthday wishes to the missus. She appreciated it. She and I are together taking her birthday off work. Road trip!

9:11 AM  
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