Saturday I waved the drivers off on their tours and headed out on one of my own with a friend. The day was beautiful with crisp, cold air and bright sunshine. I had read online that Silver Thread was opening for the season and was hosting complimentary tasting with local foods. Off we went. The drive to Silver Thread is a lovely lane winding down toward Seneca Lake. Past sleeping vineyards, over a wooden bridge, past a barn and only then do we see the peak of the tasting room. Although well off the road, the tasting room was a buzz with people sampling and talking. I enjoy both red and white wines so sampled some of each. I began with the Dry Riesling. As I always tell my guests, take 3 sips before you really decide upon the wine. The first sip laid the foundation, the second built on the flavor and after I took the third sip and moved the wine around my mouth, I tasted the explosion of citrus flavors and the complexity of the wine…not just one single taste, but a variety of interesting flavors that we have come to expect from Riesling. In addition, Shannon and Paul were offering a discount as this wine with a vintage close out sale, so this was certainly a win/win! The other white wine samplings were equally amazing. I went on to sample the Pinot Noir which was absolutely delicious. This is one of my favorite vinifera wines, but seems to be harder and harder to find in the Finger Lakes. This is a temperamental grape which some wineries have decided to eliminate from their vineyards and/or repertoire of wines. Another fantastic wine is the 2015 Blackbird. The unique name indicates that this is a blended wine, 76% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is an Estate wine which means they grew 100% of the grapes on their own property and under the watchful eye of Paul Brock. In addition to the wine, there was cheese from Muranda Cheese and Butternut Squash seed oil from Stony Brook to sample.
Well, after that great start, I was in the tasting groove. As we were traveling along the East side of Seneca Lake, we noticed that Shale Stone was open for the season…a very pleasant surprise. They “only do Reds” so we were in seventh heaven. Their Syrah was the MOST delicious and on the WOWZA list. I highly recommend you give that one a taste. We also tasted Red Legend and Crossrows. Rob Thomas is the master of reds and has worked with many of the local vintners to learn how to make a balanced and complex red wine.
Just a bit further down the road, we stopped into Hector Wine Company. This is a relaxing and welcoming place where we bought some cheese and bread to enjoy with Justin’s delicious wines. I stayed with the reds here and sampled Soul Red, a blend of grapes including Syrah and Lemberger, which are 2 of my favorites, although there is only 17% of these combined with Cabernet Sauvignon making up the major player. Very economical at $16.00 a bottle, this is a real winner! Justin also served us the 2015 Cabernet Franc and 2014 Essence, the latter again a blend of grapes with 47% Cab Sauv, 36% Merlot and 17% Cab Franc. Finally, he poured us the 2016 HWC Syrah. Oh, so good! All of the wines are hand harvested here so the fruit is not bruised by the grape harvesters which vibrate the grapes off the vine. You can just imagine how that impacts the grape.
Newcomers to the Finger Lakes think they know that we don’t “do” good reds in the Finger Lakes, especially, the Syrah, but they haven’t tasted the reds on the East side of Seneca. The hot summer sun pounds down on the lakeside slopes through most of the day and produces a rich and flavorful grape. When this grape gets into the hands of our fantastic vintners, they explode with flavor and complexity that the Finger Lakes is now becoming known for.
We had such an interesting and fun day that I never thought to take even one photo. Shame on me! I can only recommend that you visit and try for yourselves.