Postcard From the Finger Lakes
Continued from page 3
Time to taste the fruits of that rock and soil and cold water again. Further up the lake, we paid a visit to Knapp Winery, which has about 25 different bottlings. Knapp has been making reds for many years, and Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are nothing new to the winery. But there were a few new surprises on the wine list, including a Sangiovese -- the only version of this Tuscan classic currently made in the area. One of the top growers in the area has a small plot, and Knapp has contracted with them for the next several years. Now in its third vintage, the Sangiovese showed bright cherry aromas and flavors and was quite enjoyable, though at $18, it's also one of Knapp's priciest wines.
Another unusual addition was a ruby Port, made from late-harvest Baco Noir and some Pinot Noir, which showed flavors of cherry, chocolate and caramel on the finish. Apparently, this is a favorite among the staff; we caught some of the tasting room employees slipping sips when they weren't busy.
Knapp also has its own restaurant -- an airy space with a patio that backs onto the vineyards. Again, the menu was small but top-notch, featuring items like a smoked ham and provolone sandwich loaded with grilled vegetables and a dish of spicy andouille sausage, duck and cannellini beans. To help us make our wine choices, the waitress brought out generous samples (unasked) of two we hadn't tried yet.
Midafternoon, we turned back toward Ithaca, only to be tempted for one last stop at Goose Watch Winery, opened less than two years ago as a sister winery to the better-known Swedish Hill down the road. While Swedish Hill concentrates on more typical varieties, owners Dick and Cindy Peterson have free rein to experiment here without cutting into any of their other production.
Young chestnut trees line the property, and the tasting room is situated in a restored barn with yet another stunning lake view. We sampled varietals uncommon in the region: Pinot Gris, Viognier, Villard Blanc (meant to be paired with the smoked trout produced on the premises -- the trout's cousins can be found in a fish pond near the tasting room), Traminette (whose parent is Gewurztraminer), Lemberger (a light dry red common in Germany and Austria) and Chambourcin. And, of course, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, which by now are beginning to seem common. We concluded with an intriguing "white Port" made from 50 percent Vignoles, as well as Vidal juice, Cayuga White brandy and Traminette.
Time at last to turn back towards home, with a mixed case and then some (but only one Riesling) in the back seat. The late-afternoon light on the hills bathed everything in gold, so that the whole scene looked like something out of a Merchant-Ivory production. Capping it all off, we passed an Amish family walking single file down the empty stretch of road. The little boy at the front of the line waved to us; we returned the gesture and the rest of the family waved as well. It was almost as if they were saying, "Don't wait so long to visit next time."
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions