REAL WINE COUNTRY
by Ron Barr
I am so anxious for the weather to warm up and we get rid of all this snow. I am good and done with winter. To break up the winter blues I traveled to the Finger Lakes Region in the State of New York on a bus tour with 45 other passionate wine and micro beer lovers.
Rush Creek owner Bonnie Preece and I joined a great bunch of happy travelers for the Finger Lakes Business Study Tour sponsored by Norfolk Tourism. We departed at the crack of dawn on Tuesday March 3rd from Simcoe and headed for the good old USA entering at the Buffalo border. Once we cleared customs we were on our way to a region I had heard about but never visited.
To be honest, the previous day I had punched Finger Lakes, NY into my GPS and it came up empty. I was surprised as I actually thought we were traveling to a city in upstate NY and not as big a region as I discovered Finger Lakes was. It was beautiful, the people who we had the pleasure of engaging with were wonderful, but it was damn cold.
Our first stop was the NY Culinary Centre in Canandaigua where we experienced an excellent facility that emphasized on everything for teaching the chef/cooking trade. This location would be the envy of any up and coming chef – it was impressive.
Our next stop was The Cornell Agriculture & Food Technology Park. The facility is a business incubator mostly featuring foods of some sort. Cornell University is within a stone’s throw away and I was intrigued because my childhood idol Ken Dryden from the Montreal Canadians dynasty of the 70’s is a grad from this university.
After a few interesting stops we stopped for lunch at Milly’s Café. Located in Penn Yan this is a story worth hearing. This small town was devastated by flooding and is a very poor community. The ladies who work at Milly’s are the angels a town like this needs. They work to raise funds to sponsor a school nap sack food program. Up to 600 kids take advantage of being able to take food home for the weekend. Our visit alone and what our group donated would feed up to 6 kids for a year. That was one of the most gratifying lunches I have ever had.
We traveled a short distance to Climbing Bines Brewery & Hop Farm where we sampled several beers and ales. Not being a big fan of this type of beverage I must admit the offerings were tasty and I think we sampled 7 or 8 different types.
Our next stop was the famous Hermann Wiemer Vineyards in Dundee, NY. We were treated to an excellent tour and wine tasting session. The wine was excellent. I always enjoy meeting the shakers and movers in an organization and I was able to meeting the master winemaker Oskar Bynke. Osker took over the winery in 2007 when Hermann officially retired.
We spend the first night at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel overlooking the magnificent Seneca Lake. I highly recommend this place to stay if you are planning on visiting the area.
We start day two at a Finger Lakes Distilling a whisky distillery in Burdett, NY and I must say tasting the good “spirit” at 9:30 in the morning is not the best way to start a day. After 8 samples my stomach was telling me no more. We had a peak at how whisky and vodka was made and it is similar in so many ways to making wine – it takes smart thinking, good ingredients and most importantly, PATIENTS
We visited a few more places along the way and it was really an eye opening trip. The thing that impressed me the most was the passion of all the economic development departments that took the time to meet with us and spread the good word of each of their own areas. While small town USA suffers you had to admire the passion and ability to look at the bright side of life by these community promoters.
We finally arrived back to our cars in Simcoe and I can’t thank the organizer enough. Hats off to Clark Hoskin who heads up Norfolk Tourism for making the trip absolutely flawless. He is one heck of an organizer and everyone enjoyed the good time and friendship. I hope we do it all over again next year with better weather of course.
In the next blog I will talk about our grand re-opening plans and a summer long contest where the lucky winner will make his/her own batch of wine inclusive of the brand, label and name. Stay tuned for more details and how to register.
Wine Master Ron
my name is Ron Barr and I have been retained as the new wine maker at
Hi my name is Bonnie.
I am the proud owner of
'Rush Creek Wines'.
For more about Bonnie,