Wine Tasting Sunday (this is a long one – get ready or prepare to skim)
Up early because it’s wine tasting day! Chrissy and Ron (sister and brother-in-law) decided to join us on our wine tasting extravaganza. For Chrissy’s birthday this year, Ron surprised her with a bed and breakfast wine tasting combination and she spoke so highly of it, we decided to give it a whirl. There are a bunch of wineries around the Cayuga and Seneca Lakes so since Chrissy and Ron were experts of the Seneca Wineries, that’s where we headed.
Mom generously agreed to baby-sit the kids so that we could all get away for a few hours. On our way to the lake we stopped at Sweeny’s market which can only be described as a down home country store. With a bull perched precariously on the roof we knew we were in the right place. Though they had a wide variety of jerky, we didn’t let it tempt us! We grabbed some drinks and hit the road with Chrissy in the driver’s seat. We brought our GPS which we renamed Ken Ken (instead of Tom Tom) because we changed his voice to represent our Austrailian friends – we saw their carefree lifestyle as a celebration to our day of wine tasting.
Our first winery was closed – not a good sign but it was only 11:30am and technically alcohol can’t be sold in New York until noon, so we headed up the lake to quench our thirst. The first open winery we visited was the Silver Springs Winery. We met Don Giovanni a seventh generation alcohol distributor with a bangin’ fu-man stash and accompanying ponytail – he allegedly brought the family out of their bootlegging roots. He was a knowledgeable and passionate wine maker who has strong opinions about most things – no middle of the road for him! Oh, and they also allegedly have a patent on their unusual wine label logo.
The second winery we hit was Atwater Estate Vinyards where a lonely fellow from the previous winery followed us. We didn’t get his name but he was friendly enough so we asked him to be a part of our photo and I gave him a warm hug that I think he thoroughly enjoyed.
I’m a giver.
The view at Atwater was really beautiful even through the drizzle and fog – I’m sure it’d be a wonderful time to spend some time. We also bought our passports at Atwater Estates. The passport entitles you to visit 28 wineries around the lake for $12 which is a bargain but I kind of doubt that we’re going to get that much in us today – if 9 is too many, 28 definitely is.
The next winery was Hazlitt Vinyards or as my sister named it, Home of the Red Cat. They had Red Cat and White Cat wine but also had a grey cat sitting in the doorway who didn’t mind being petted – I love to pet cats! There was a crazy drunken man working there who took our photo – not sure how good it was as he was a little wobbly. Their gift shop had all manner of things including Thongs and jello shot kits with their Red Cat logo. I didn’t see any takers but I’m sure after a few more wineries, wine themed thongs are going to seem like a must buy item.
Off we go again!
We had planned to stop at our next Winery as soon as we saw the sign – Penguin Bay Winery was next on our list! We were cut off by two shiny escalades on our way into the parking lot being driven by (surprise surprise) folks visiting from Long Island. I’m not judging, I’m just pointing out similarities between folks from Long Island and New Jersey. Back on the ranch, the Penguin Bay had mango flavored wines, a disappearing bartender, and looked a little like a great big house on wheels – clearly not my favorite. BUT, have no fear – there was a redeeming factor to this location! Adjacent to the property a camper was parked and being held up by a bear! Can’t go wrong with that – take a look!
We were filled up with wine and a little tipsy so it was time for a nap and lunch. Wagner Vinyards took about 15 minutes to get to, had a great view, a restaurant, wine tasting, and a brewery – clearly this was our next stop! The drizzle had turned to full-blown rain so we waited it out over lunch where the boys sampled some local beer (because they just hadn’t had quite enough liquids yet). Once we got into the wine tasting, I’m pretty sure that the Wagner’s folks were trying to get us good and drunk. We sampled ten – yes ten – wines and even managed to enjoy a few of them! The brewery option cost an extra dollar per person and since Ron and Frank are big spenders, they got out their quarters and signed up. They drank and drank and drank and no longer sober, we were on our way once again.
The combination of wine and beer inspired Ron to declare that the next winery we visit would be Passion Feet because passion is good, and we have feet so that’s where we stopped but were surprised to discover that this next complex had four wineries at the same stop – this is getting more dangerous! Passion Feet was super girly (pink walls and wine flavors such as scandelicious, flirtation, earn your beads, and heart pounding crush) so not so surprisingly everything was really fruity, sweet, and delicious. We were directed by the foul-mouthed bartender to walk through the woods to another included winery called Rogues Hollow. We walked through the only swamp I’ve seen in New York and reminded me so much of the Big Bamboo I was too frightened to sit. Their wines were also pretty girl but had terribly inappropriate titles that I’ll not share – feel free to google if you’re feeling brave (but you probably shouldn’t do it at work).
The second foul-mouthed bartender told us that most of the wineries would be closing soon (because it was Upstate New York and Sunday) and 5pm marks closing time. We checked our trusty passports and found that the one Chrissy and Ron were most excited about was open until 8pm so we headed off (just in case it was a typo) to get there before the clock struck.
We were low on gas and thought to stop but wanted to make sure that we made it to Bellhurst in time so Ron said we’d be fine and we opted to wait (this is foreshadowing). We made it to Belhurst in time for a wedding to start. We asked for our first tasting and then stepped out onto the balcony to enjoy the show. The set up overlooked Seneca Lake and as it had stopped raining and the sun was peaking out, was a really beautiful thing to see. The bridesmaids walked proudly down the isle in a shiny burnt rust rusched (sp?) taffeta monstrosity that made each of the four bridesmaids look like beached whales. As the bride began her march, we were struck by the enormity of her veil – it was a far brighter white than her dress and was worn tall and proud as if it were her own bouffanty hair extension. As she walked, “Because You Loved Me” performed by Celine Dion burst from the speakers and we decided that we didn’t have anywhere near enough wine in us to participate in their celebration anymore, so we headed back to Stephen our bartender and his bar. We wrapped up our tasting and were on our way. We were pretty tuckered out and imagined that Mom probably was too as she had the three kids, two birds, and new dog to contend with.
We piled into the car again on our way home but in search of a gas station. Ken Ken directed us on our way with a gas station about half a mile ahead. In Geneva, things close early, especially on a Sunday so we passed two gas stations before running out of gas and finding ourselves on the side of the road. You’ll enjoy a photo below of the snails that littered the side of the road as we walked for assistance – they were so brightly colored! We walked in the direction of a gas station when we discovered that Ken Ken was directing us back to the closed location – not ideal! I started to call for roadside assistance while we walked toward a house (I’m always prepared just like a boy scout but without all the homophobia). The man who owned the house (or manner as it should rightfully be titled) pointed us in the direction of the closed station so we headed that way for a few yards when we realized that we were headed in the wrong way again. Ken Ken told us that in either direction, the next gas station was at least 7 miles away. That’s quite a walk after a day filled with drinking! I was working on the roadside assistance (which was taking longer than usual because I didn’t know our zip code) when a friendly couple pulled over to check on us. They’d been out for the day for their dog Reggie’s birthday – he was turning 9! They were hoping to take him on a lovely hike but were deterred due to the rain and were heading back home. She thought that we might just be out for an evening stroll when she saw that Chrissy and I were wearing flip-flops and (just like a mother) began to criticize our choice of footwear. Shortly after her motherly criticisms, they passed our broken down car and decided to come to our rescue. They pulled up and offered their assistance, which we gladly accepted. Chrissy and I hopped into their car to go get gas in a tank from their garage. I petted Reggie and he licked my hand – he was sweet! We stopped at their house – which I can only say belonged on Martha’s Vinyard or in the Hamptons – holy crap it was beautiful! They had at least 6 garages and 3 separate buildings (no, not extra sheds, real buildings) and beautiful shutter covered windows overlooking Seneca Lake. I want to be them when I grow up! While we were away, a friendly policeman in a mini van stopped to check on Ron and Frank back at the car but as help was on the way (or their wives were being abducted) they said thank you but no help needed. Don’t worry, we weren’t abducted. Reggie’s parents brought us back to the car, filled it with gas and wished us well. They had so much gas in their tank that it filled up the car a quarter of a tank so Ron said there was plenty to get home – no need to stop and he was right. We just made it home safely to pick up a sleepy mom who was in need of some TLC!
Homeward bound – safe and sound!
Is that too much detail? I’m tired too.