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  • The Chopping Blog

How to Make the Most of Summer Without Dying of Heat Stroke

Posted by Max on Aug 5, 2022


Now that we’ve arrived at high summer and the temperatures in much of the country are soaring past records, the time has come to rethink summer activities. Don’t get me wrong - swimming, grilling, hiking, beach volleyball, these are all great, but unfortunately they all typically require one to be out in the sun, and often pair that with a not insignificant amount of physical exertion. Well when its 95º in the shade, I’m afraid that simply won’t cut it.

Title imageI’ve got a better solution for you: go on a wine tour. On a wine tour, most of your time is spent in an air conditioned car, or an air-conditioned tasting room, and it has the most important feature of any summer activity: cold alcohol (just make sure you have a DD). I’m extremely fortunate to now live in one of the U.S.’s most exciting up and coming AVAs—the finger lakes in upstate New York—but you might be surprised how many states have a little wine making community of their own. It helps if the wine is absolutely world class, but to be honest, even wine that is just passable will suffice for a great tour. More important are:

  1. Vibes, and
  2. Good company (even if its just yourself).

The finger lakes has a lot of vineyards and wineries (144 as of eight years ago, definitely many more now), and some of them are actually fairly well known, but to me, the real gems are the smaller producers making interesting wines with impeccable attention to detail and an eye toward the future. On the wine tour my wife and I went on recently, these are the types of places we focused on. Read on for a brief synopsis of the three wineries we visited (and one cider house! The cider in the finger lakes is also superlative), but mostly pictures because they are more fun and immersive.

The finger lakes wineries are, for the most part, situated on the hills facing three lakes in the area: Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga. Interestingly Seneca lake and Cayuga lake are recognized as separate AVAs situated within the larger finger lakes AVA. With the exception of the Finger Lakes Cider House, all the places we visited are around Seneca lake.

The Finger Lakes Cider House is a working farm in addition to a cidery. They offer stunning views, delicious snacks and sandwiches, and delicious ciders made with impressive craftsmanship. These aren’t like the spiced sugar bombs you can find on grocery store shelves. These ciders share more in common with the dry, acidic, and funky offerings you can find in the UK, France and Spain. They drink more like wines and have deep, rich, complex flavor profiles.

image 1image 2image 3Next up is Red Tail Ridge. This understated winery belies a portfolio of truly spectacular offerings. The Blaufrankisch is a can’t miss, but what this maker does with bubbles is truly exciting. Wines like their Perpetual Change, and Rebel With a Cause offer what can be had so infrequently in any centuries old craft—something innovative, that's different because the maker figured out how to make something amazing, not just for the sake of offering something new. All the places we visited on this trip were outstanding, but if you happen to be in the area, and can only make it to one winery in the finger lakes, make it this one.

image 4image 5image 6Right down the road from Red Tail Ridge is Anthony Road, a stately property with a refined tasting room that offers many staple varietals for the region (Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris) as well as some less common (Vignoles, Lemberger) all rendered in stunning clarity. Some wines in a tasting may even come paired with a few bites of cheese and bread to really let the wine sing. We tasted a rosé of Cabernet Franc here that was so delicate and delightful that I insisted we buy two bottles.  

They also have a cute garden through which you can stroll, and sample some of the wine grapes. If you come in the right time of year you might also hear the intermittent firing of their sound cannons to ward off birds that would otherwise make a snack of their harvest.

image 7image 8image 9Our final destination was Forge Cellars, relatively new to the region, but offering impeccable vibes in a minimalist lounge style tasting room with breathtaking views of Seneca lake, as well as an extensive menu of exquisite tinned fish, local cheese and charcuterie to pair with strong offerings made with grapes sourced from many nearby vineyards. The wine makers at Forge actually work on the vineyards they source from which strengthens the relationship, and takes their wine a level beyond those that simply buy their grapes and are otherwise mostly uninvolved in the growing process. This place is so much fun, I found myself wishing it wasn’t a 45 minute drive from my house so I could visit every week.

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If you, like me, love having a fun time with good friends, and spending time outside (or outside adjacent), but hate the feeling of your body instantly becoming slick with sweat upon setting foot in the sun, then maybe you should think about giving a wine tour with some friends a shot during these dog days. And if you want to brush up on your wine knowledge before you set off then check out our upcoming Wine and Cheese Pairing class (tonight with just 2 spots left!) or our War and Wine class (a personal favorite of mine) on Friday, August 26 at 6pm. Cheers!

See all of our Wine Classes

Topics: wine classes, Wine, wine tasting, winery, wine & cheese, wine pairing, wine tour, wineries

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