In just a few months I’ll be heading to the Finger Lakes region of New York for the Wine Blogger’s Conference, and could not be MORE delighted, as I am a huge fan of the Finger Lakes. It is my wine region home. Let me explain…
A few years ago, just after I began blogging about wine, and when the Wine4.Me app was still an idea in its infancy, my husband suggested we spend Thanksgiving in either Napa, Manhattan or the Finger Lakes of New York. It was up to me to choose.
I didn’t know much at all about the Finger Lakes, so I did a Google search, explored a link leading to an NPR interview of Evan Dawson, author of Summer in a Glass: The Coming of Age of WineMaking in the Finger Lakes, listened to it and was intrigued. Of course I purchased the book that day and devoured in within three days.
I’m not exactly sure how much longer it took for the trip to be booked, but it wasn’t long.
Before the trip I reached out to four people whose stories I read in the book, asking for interviews for my blog while in the Finger Lakes over Thanksgiving. Three said “yes.” The one who turned me down was not going to be in the New York the week I would be there.
On my first day of interviews, my husband and kids dropped me off at Anthony Road Wine Company and I met the owner, John Martini, and winemaker, Johannes Reinhardt. About two hours later Gary came back to get me and we hadn’t even begun tasting the wines yet, as we had been so deep in conversation. This turned out not to bother Gary so much as he was invited to taste with us and our three kids enjoyed playing in the garden while I continued my interview.
As our time there wrapped up, John asked us where we intended to eat Thanksgiving dinner.
“You live here, where would you suggest?” I said.
“You should have it at our house,” he said.
“Ummm. I have three children,” I reminded him.
“That’s okay, we have 12 grandchildren!” he answered.
I suggested he confirm this invitation with his wife and, moments later, Ann walked in, introduced herself and invited us to Thanksgiving dinner.
Of course I was blown away be their hospitality. And yes, before that, I had been very impressed by their wines. (You can read more about my thoughts on the winery here: Anthony Road Wine Company.)
My trip to the Finger Lakes was off to an amazing start.
The next day I visited Fox Run Vineyards where I met Peter Bell and Trisha Renshaw. That was yet another fantastic, enlightening experience with, again, gorgeous wines. (You can read more about that here: Tricia Renshaw of Fox Run Vineyards.)
Looking back at that post is especially fun for me now, as it shows how far I have come from not being able to distinguish many flavors in wines then, to serving as a wine judge now, identifying flavors and other characteristics in nearly every sip, whether I want to or not.
We also visited the Corning Museum of Glass where each of us took a class to make our own glass souvenirs, including beautiful pendants. I expected my kids to gloss over the art exhibits and just like the hands-on stuff, but we spent HOURS looking at artifacts as one of my sons told me about adventures in the Magic Treehouse book series he had read which took places in the different time periods of the different pieces of art. (You can read more about my family’s experiences at the Corning Museum of Glass here.)
A few months after the trip I reached back out to a few winemakers and winery owners I met initially to share the idea of the Wine4.Me app with them. By this time, we had a rough algorithm working and had brought a data scientist on board. When we met, I honestly didn’t know if they would love or hate our idea to characterize wines using science, but I knew I needed to find out.
I explained our ideas for the app, and, fortunately, no one laughed us out of the room and, instead, we ordered lunch and worked through our ideas as a team through the rest of the day. One winemaker suggested we needed a sensory scientist and made an introduction for us to one at Cornell.
Since then, we’ve worked with several sensory scientists at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station to develop our methods for characterizing wine and we’ve hosted all of our wine evaluations there, flying in expert wine evaluators from all over the country each time.
I have developed not only business relationships with the people we have recruited to be on our team, but also meaningful friendships. Every business trip I take there feels very much like a trip to another home.
I’ve come to experience and share great dining experiences in Geneva and also found one of my favorite wine bars in the world there, Microclimate. It is run by two fascinating people who know a LOT about wine and are super approachable about their knowledge. (My interview in the video above was shot there.)
I am very much looking forward to my next trip for the Wine Bloggers Conference there this summer. I look forward to the reunions with my friends and teammates and sharing what I feel is ‘my’ wine region with other wine bloggers and also with you, virtually. I can’t wait to share more of the Finger Lakes with you, soon.