I’ve taken a hiatus from city life and headed back to my country/suburb roots, literally, by staying with my parents for a few weeks. The main pluses are free rent and food for the few weeks that I am here, and I get to go on adventures that I otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience. There are also some ‘disadvantages’ though, which I actually volunteered for. If you’re wondering what I mean, stay tuned, because I might share about what it means to gallivant (a.k.a labor) on a farm.
One of the projects my mom is working on in her retirement years is establishing a vineyard. It is possible to grow grapes in Douglas, as we have 3 grape vines growing on the farm. She wants to take it to the next level and try it on a large enough scale to actually make a bottle or two of wine.
This vineyard project gave me the opportunity to go wine tasting in the finger lakes region in upstate New York! We drove up to visit my aunt and cousins in Binghamton, NY, which is about an hour from the finger lakes wine areas. Our first stop was for some coffee in one of the buildings my Aunt helped renovate, and to see the famous waterfall in that town.
Our first stop was at a small vineyard called Damiani that really allowed my mom to ask questions of the vintners. She was able to ask where they got their vines, and they explained the unique micro-climate of the finger lakes that allows for all the vineyards in the region (there are probably a few hundred spread out over the 11 lakes, although that is totally an estimate). They even advised her on the type of grape that may grow best on our farm considering our different climate and growing season. All in all, they were very helpful, and my mom bought a bottle of wine in appreciation (the first of many).
The other two vineyards we went to were larger and more commercialized. Wagner is a large facility that offers free group vineyard tours. They also have a brewery. After going on the informative tour my mom and aunt went to the wine tasting, and me and my cousin went to the beer tasting. At Damiani the tastings were free, but at Wagner they cost a dollar. Even though I am super frugal (as you may have picked up on), the one dollar fee is completely reasonable, particularly because the vineyard seems to cater to those looking to get drunk for cheap, rather than real wine connoisseurs. As a result the tasters are less likely to buy bottles of wine or beer, so the vineyard makes up for it by charging for tastings.
For example, there was an enormous parking lot with a few party buses parked. I know some tour companies sell wine tasting day trips, that wine tasting is a great idea for a college senior day, and I even saw a bachelorette party. Of course, now that I am an old grump I found all of these young people trying to pound their samples super annoying, but I remembered when I was a senior in college, how we had a wine tasting. I remembered how we just wanted them to fill up the glasses instead of pouring individual sips, and how much fun we had/how obnoxious we were.
Sheldrake Point was similar to Wagner in that they charged one dollar for a regular tasting flight, and two dollars for the premium wine tasting flight. It was bigger than Damiani, but it didn’t have the younger crowd that Wagner had. The staff was nice and gave my mom some more wine making and growing pointers. They also had really yummy wine tasting crackers that were like sweet oyster crackers. I had never heard of them before, but boy were they tasty, and helped take the edge off the wine!
To round out the day we also saw some Amish people working in the hay fields. We had to take about a million pictures to show my dad their machinery, and to see if he could figure out what their machines’ equivalent were to his machines. We also decided to go to Ithaca to see Cornell where my cousin, Lewis, will be starting as a freshman this fall. Of course we had to stop at another waterfall, this one was even more impressive than the last. And, to up the excitement factor, there were a ton of prom kids and parents taking pictures, because that is what you do when you live around here.