|Sunset at Damiani Wine Cellars|
As Shawn and I drove down Hwy 14 and Seneca Lake came into view on our left, I had finally arrived in the place that had so enchanted me as I tore through the pages of that book. I had vowed to visit just one chapter in, but it was the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference that had finally made that promise a reality. Looking out over the lake and its extraordinary beauty, I couldn’t believe it had taken this long.
|Two local favourites|
Shawn and I spent five days there, heading in a bit early so we had time to explore on our own before the official start of the conference. Only a four hour drive from Toronto (give or take given the unpredictability of wait times at the border), the Finger Lakes is easy to get to for Ontario residents and well-worth a stop for wine and food aficionados.
|The view from Ginny Lee Café|
Now, with a glass of their dry Riesling in my hand (a very good representation of how well that grape grows in the region), a delicious turkey sandwich in front of me and that view spreading out as far as I could see, it was hard to comprehend how anyone ever leaves.
The locals will tell you that, as with Ontario wine country, the winters make it easier to understand. Those winters have broken more than a few winemakers' hearts as vine loss is a fact of life in this cool (should read cold) climate region. At Fox Run Vineyards, where we’d stopped the day before, marketing and events manager Marisa Indelicato, had explained that they anticipate a certain percentage of loss each year and work from that. Sometimes it’s more than expected and, thankfully, sometimes it’s less.
|Fox Run Vineyards|
As with Ontario, there have been some cold years of late. Those have been tough, but they have often come with good growing seasons. Making wine in this region is not always easy, there are a seemingly endless list of complications – many of which were explained to us at a conference session where professor Alan Lasko from Cornell University presented on the region's soil, climate and weather patterns. I was struck by how similar the terroir is to Prince Edward County and was not surprised to learn that ‘hilling and de-hilling’, the burying of vines for winter, is also common in the Finger Lakes.
But sitting on that patio at the Ginny Lee, sipping that dry, delicious Riesling on a hot, sticky August day, I can see why winemakers persevere here. Why they make it work. Shawn and I will be sharing even more of our Wine Bloggers Conference experiences with you over the next few weeks and I hope you too will see why this wine region is worth exploring.