Heron HillBlog

Meet our bloggers and find out what's going on at Heron Hill Winery and our other two tasting rooms on Seneca and Canandaigua Lakes! Staff members are writing about the vineyards, what's happening in the cellar, fun events, wine pairings, new releases and more.

John Ingle
 
September 28, 2010 | John Ingle

Harvest update from Ingle Vineyard

By John Ingle, Owner/Grapegrower

It’s autumn in the Finger Lakes, harvest time, and I feel like I’m “sitting on a gold mine.” It has been the hottest summer in memory and the result is ultra-ripe grapes. The sweetness level is comparable to middle or late October. Half of the Pinot Noir, our “Old Field” has been picked and brought over, I bought these vines from Hermann Wiemer over 25 years ago. The other half of Pinot will be brought in tomorrow. These pictures are of the Chardonnay from “Carl’s Block”, which is a higher elevation vineyard, these grapes will be used in the Unoaked Chardonnay because they have a higher acidity. The other half of Chardonnay grapes, from “Vern’s Block” will also be brought in tomorrow. Last year, “Vern’s Block” was hit with frost, so it’s nice to see it bounce back this year.

Part of the excellence we’re seeing is due to the late frosts that reduced the crop size here in mid-May. Less fruit – more concentration, better ripening. Last year it was cold and wet – what we call a “Riesling year.” Moderate alcohol levels, nice crisp acidity, years like this in 2010 are red wine years. The heat builds ripeness, ups sugar levels, and creates more alcohol as well as more body and color in the wine. We used to only get 3 or 4 out of 10 years as red wine years (70’s and 80’s) in the Finger Lakes. So it’s very energizing to have this opportunity. Now that’s like “sitting on a gold mine.”


 

Tambi Schweizer
 
September 22, 2010 | Tambi Schweizer

Q&A with Tambi

By Tambi Schweizer, Tasting Hall Manager

Over the years I have been asked numerous questions, so I have kept a journal of them. Hopefully my answers will entertain and educate….

On a typical night, what wine is in your glass?

I tend to be a dry red wine drinker, but it has been such a hot summer that I have been drinking my two favorite white wines that we carry here at Heron Hill, the Reserve Pinot Blanc and the Ingle Vineyard Chardonnay. As the weather has cooled down over the past few weeks (which puts an end to camping…oh so sad!), I have switched to one of my favorite red grapes, Cabernet Franc.

Is there a quality you like most in wine?

Alcohol….Oh wait…. I meant to say how well it pairs with food! Just this past weekend we served a roasted corn, red pepper and cheddar chowder and for dessert a maple pumpkin cheesecake drizzled with a pecan maple glaze. This matched SO amazingly well with the Semi-Dry Riesling that I paired with it for the Keuka Lake Wine Trail Harvest Tour of Food and Wine. I heard lots of great comments about how well the spiciness of the soup complimented the sweetness of the Riesling and how the acidity balanced the sweetness of the cheesecake.

Do you have a favorite piece of advice for when I am out wine tasting?

I tend to choose a color, white or red and often times I stick to a certain varietal, like Cabernet Franc, of which there are hundreds of different bottles here in the Finger Lakes region. The other advice that I usually give is to make sure you have eaten and drink LOTS of water.

Do you have a favorite hangover cure?

First, I drink close to a gallon of a water to flush out the system then take a few liquid Advil (love them…!) and finish with a few sips of one of our dessert wine, like the Late Harvest Ingle Vineyard Riesling Reserve. I think the 17.2% R.S. really helps to coat my stomach.

What is your favorite wine that you have ever drunk…Heron Hill or elsewhere?

My absolute favorite red wine that ever came out of Heron Hill was the 2002 Baco Noir Reserve. It was just an amazing full bodied syrah-style wine with plum and blackberry fruits along with tar and smoked meat notes. Unfortunately we only made 198 cases, but I am lucky enough to have put away almost a case of it! I hope to keep opening one per year on my birthday for quite a few years, as long as no bottles secretly disappear to hunting camp…..

What surprises people most about your job?

I think the fact that my staff and I are required to taste every bottle that we open; to check for corkage issues is the biggest shock. The wine tasters are usually astonished that we can “drink on the job”! I always tell everyone that is one of the “tortures” of the job!

What is the best time of the year to come wine taste?

I always am encouraging everyone to come in the off season, preferably not on the weekends, that way we can have a real conversation and really be able to spend time and be able to answer any and all question that you may have.

What else do you do around here for fun?

My favorite pastime is definitely going snowmobiling! I dream about snow ALL year round and pray for lots of it! When it’s not snowing; you can usually find me camping, especially near the fire concentrating on roasting the perfect s’more while drink out of my special light up wine glass (only $4.99 at the winery).

The other thing that I tend to do on my day off is get a friend or two and head to wine country and check out the other wineries. Just last week I went and have a great lobster bisque at my southern neighbor, Bully Hill, then continued on to a beer tasting at Keuka Brewing. I really loved the new beer called "After Burner”, it was made with Jalapeno Peppers…what a great concept; it started sweet at first and got spicier as it continued down and then finished with a calming effect. So cool! We then headed over to McGregor’s on the east side of Keuka and tried a few wines there with my former co-worker Dan. It was great to be able to catching up and share stories about all the craziness that happens!
 

Mike
 
September 15, 2010 | Mike "Ollie" Oliver

A great summer at the Blue Heron Cafe

By Mike "Ollie" Oliver, Blue Heron Café Director & Wholesale Sales Representative

Well, it has thus far been an exciting summer at the Blue Heron Café! I am proud to announce that we have been serving some great customers some amazing food. After getting settled in for the season, the Café got to a point that it could almost run itself.

On the whole, things have run very smoothly. We have been expanding beyond the menu to incorporate daily features. Some of the most popular include the Chicken Balsamico Panini and the Tuscan Roasted Pork Loin Wrap. I have been simply amazed at the volume of soup that we have been serving! Favorites here include the Lobster and Bay Scallop Bisque and the Tomato, Bacon, and Swiss soup. It would be difficult to name which Cheesecake has been the most popular, so I will have to rely on the reader to sample several to form a solid opinion! Many of these selections will have to be considered for next year’s menu.

The winery hosted a lot of our Wholesale customers in July for a V.I.P. tasting in the tower accented with hors d’oeuvres from the Café. While Christina handled the tastings, we were sending up a nice selection of wares from the Café to showcase our many talents. I did have a chance to meet with several of my restaurant and wine shop customers while this was happening. They all were pleasantly surprised by the “red carpet” treatment that we were offering!

I have just recently had the chance to get back on the road a bit. Last week, I was able to drive around and catch up with some of my more local wholesale customers. It seems that this aspect of my duties has been going well, but I look forward to going out to pour the new vintages. I have been really amazed at the volumes that some of these places have been selling!

At the beginning of the week, Paul and I attended the last of the Food and Wine Pairing Series hosted by the Switzerland Inn. We had begun talking about this in March and it was great to be there for the end product. The Chef, Brent, presented an amazing 6-course meal that we had arduously paired with our wines. (I would like to extend a special thanks to all that offered their input!) While giving a history of the winery, its mission, and explaining how and why we paired wines with the dishes, we had the chance to chat with many of the attendants. Attended by about 20 customers, this series has been a sell-out from its first day. More than half of the group had purchased tickets for every dinner! After speaking with several of the guests, it is obvious that there is a lot of local interest in this type of event. Maybe one at the winery in the near future???

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