FLX: Finger Lakes Extravaganza – Part VI

29 05 2016

Well, we made it.  When I started this trip recap I wasn’t thinking it would be a 15,000-word Greek epic, but that’s what happens when an area has so many stories to tell that so many people may not have heard.  To retrace your steps:

Finger Lakes Intro & Conclusions
Part I – Long Island, Hudson River, Dr. Frank
Part II – Keuka Spring, Chateau Lafayette Reneau
Part III – Red Newt, Knapp Winery
Part IV – Hermann J. Wiemer, Lamoreaux Landing
Part V – Boundary Breaks, Anthony Road

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Our last winery visit was probably also our most anticlimactic, but only because it felt for many reasons like Fox Run Vineyards had been with us all along.  In many ways Fox Run was the catalyst for our whole trip, the Finger Lakes producer with the deepest and most established Alberta presence, to the point where its unoaked Doyle Vineyard Chardonnay was recently selected as the official on-venue house white of the 2016 Calgary Stampede.  A key piece of the winery had literally accompanied us on nearly every stop of our grand FLX winery bus tour:  Sales Manager Dan Mitchell had given us the scoop and filled in the blanks about the region and the wineries who hosted us, never once seeking to undermine any one of them in favour of his own employer, delivering honest yet community-minded feedback that gave us a better sense of what the Finger Lakes were all about than any tasting room.  Winemaker Peter Bell was almost a mythical figure, his impact and his protégées spread across the entire region, his reputation eagerly preceding him even though he is certainly not the kind of person who would revel in it. Read the rest of this entry »

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FLX: Finger Lakes Extravaganza – Intro & Conclusions

21 05 2016

I am freshly returned from a five-day trek out to the Finger Lakes wine region in central New York State, so named for the 11 long, thin, appendage-like bodies of water stretching north to south between Rochester on the left and Syracuse on the right.  I travelled with two importers, two retailers, three sommeliers, a restauranteur and a widely published local print journalist.  We ventured up and down both shores of three different lakes, visited 13 wineries, tasted over 150 different local wines (of which I hastily scribbled written notes for about 120) and dined or drank with half a dozen different winemakers.  And we all returned with newfound understanding, appreciation and excitement for a region that is set to explode into the world’s quality wine consciousness, if it hasn’t already.

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I didn’t first read about the Finger Lakes until about five years ago; I don’t remember seeing a bottle of FLX wine on a Calgary wine shelf until a couple years after that, and there was certainly no such thing as Finger Lakes selection in Alberta retail until last year.  Chances are that if you haven’t stumbled onto those few rare bottles in the market, the region is still largely a black box to you.  So even though my head is bursting with thoughts, impressions and memories aching to be shared, stories dying to be told, I’m going to pump the brakes a bit and start from the start.  Then, partly because I’m impatient and partly because it will set the stage for the more detail-oriented recaps to come, I’m going to jump ahead to the end and offer up a few conclusions about where the Finger Lakes are right now and where they might be headed. Read the rest of this entry »








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