Strange: I’m walking away from a weekend in Upstate New York with two red wines on my mind.
On a previous trip to the wineries in the western region of the Finger Lakes (when it snowed during our wine tasting at Keuka Lake), I found that the white stole the show – it was all about the Riesling. I’m not banging on the winemakers – it’s just how the region is – and I expected to be writing about the whites.
After I enjoyed a rough-in-a-good-way Swedish massage at the Mirbeau Inn & Spa, I drove around the corner to the Skaneateles Lake and stopped in at Anyela’s Vineyards – one of the few wineries brave enough to set up shop around the 16-mile lake.
Because of the elevation (863 ft), the lake’s weather demands that the grape vines be buried during the winter months – a task that must be completed by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. Throw in the fact that it’s a half hour from Syracuse, the snowiest city in America, and I’d say the winemaker has his work cut out for him.
It’s likely that Owner/Winemaker Jim Nocek will be on-site during your visit (he has a cabin on the property that he sometimes stays at when working or hanging out late). He’s a really nice guy and definitely someone you should introduce yourself to when tasting. I always feel that meeting the “man behind the curtain” gives me a greater appreciation – I find it interesting to shake hands with the person who makes the decisions you are currently experiencing the results of, from the wine to the wallpaper.
Back to the vino: Cornell University researchers working at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station developed a new hybrid grape in 2006. Named Noiret, it exudes a peppery taste, not to be confused with the usual “spicy” label associated with tasting notes on certain wines (black pepper is what your brain will register). Despite recent trips to Santa Ynez, Napa, and Sonoma, I haven’t tasted anything like it, and understanding the difference between “peppery” and “spicy” within the context of wine provided great perspective into the different notes.
Later that night, I had dinner with a friend at the nearby Sherwood Inn (3-5 minutes from both Anyela’s and the Mirbeau Inn) where we shared a bottle of the Overlay Verse 4 (a blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon). I am a fan of blends – they typically go down smooth – and this wine carried less pepper and more spice (awesome to try after exploring the Noiret at the winery).
Upon our arrival at the Sherwood, we discussed how the setup (tavern on one side, classy dining room on the other) might be beneficial to couples on first dates and anniversaries alike, although there was some question as to which side was for which.
Sherwood story to come – check out these photos of Anyela’s. I look forward to visiting again, as Jim told me they are breaking ground on a new facility later this year (new tasting/bar room and patio, among other renovations).