Finger Lakes New York – part 3, Senaca & Cayuga

This is a great trip, the countryside of the Finger Lakes region is lovely, I keep passing the most perfect looking American white clapperboard houses with rocking chairs on their porches. It is a very agricultural area of farms punctuated by incredibly attractive little towns with wide streets of grand houses, some larger versions of the white clapperboard and some looking for all the world like Georgian mansions. I think the area would make a super holiday destination.

Yesterday was a day packed with exciting experiences on my trip, so I will grab a few minutes to share some of them with you.

My first port of call was Swedish Hill Vineyard in Romulus near Cayuga Lake, where I was given a tasting by Ian Barry, the head winemaker. This was fascinating as this winery grows native grapes and hybrids as well as Vitis Vinifera, so I was able to try some things that so far had eluded me.

I was very impressed by some of their wines their Rieslings were very well balanced, I even enjoyed their Pinot Grigio – which is very unusual for me – while their Cabernet Franc and Optimus Meritage blend were beautifully made and well proportioned – neither scrawny nor over extracted.

They were also kind enough to let me try their best seller, Svenska Red which is a pretty sweet blend of Concord, Niagra and Catawaba grapes. I also seized the opportunity to have a try of their Old Fashioned Country Concord. The Concord is a native grape which is widely grown and used in all the grape juice and jelly so beloved in America, which is why they describe its flavours and aromas as ‘grapey’, when to a European it is anything but!

The nose was extraordinary, somewhat menthol and minty or mouthwash-like. The palate though was sweet and juicy and seemed akin to drinking unset strawberry jelly – jello if you are American.

Ian took me out into the vineyard and showed me just how extreme the differences are between the hardy native grapes and the weedy European Vinifera grapes, just look at the photo below. Golden Muscat is not really a Muscat, it is a native grape, look at the size of the bunches and the the berries – European settlers must have thought they were in paradise!

Cabernet Franc on the left Golden Muscat on the right

My next stop was another lovely winey, right on the shore of Cayuga Lake this time – Sheldrake Point, which only grows Vitis Vinifera. I have run out of time for now, so will add more later.

Remember, if you want to follow my journey you can refer to my piece about the region hereUncork New York and my two maps – New York’s wine regions and the Finger Lakes region.

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