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.

Mike
 
September 14, 2011 | Mike "Ollie" Oliver

Gearing up for fall at the Blue Heron Cafe

The summer to date has been great at the Blue Heron Café! We have seen crowds comparable to last year, but recent tweaks like linen napkins, proper water glasses, and some higher-class features have really impressed the customers. From Crab Napoleons to Roasted Red Pepper Involtinis, a greater variety of dishes have been well received.

We have hosted a bunch of groups this summer. I attribute this to our Marketing Guru, Kitty, who pressed me very early in the year for my menu. With the additional exposure in the pre-season months, we have easily doubled our groups from last year. To highlight these events, in August we hosted a group from Keuka College for a five course Tapas and Tastings. Thrown into this, we fed the vendors for the Wedding Show and have a couple of corporate events for later in the season. Don’t forget to check out the music lineup for Tunes in the Tent, which kicks off with the Crosseyed Cats on September 25th!

Recently, we reduced our hours to Friday through Monday, as the weekday crowd tends to be a bit lighter. The mid-week break is appreciated, as the weekend crowds have been impressive. This has allowed me to offer a bit of time to the Wholesale department. At the end of the month, Lakeside Restaurant will be showcasing us for a Wine Dinner. Beef & Brew in Geneva has also selected us as their Winery of the Month.

Kara Smith
 
September 1, 2011 | Kara Smith

Come on Irene, we have a Wedding Show to put on!

Check out my online gallery from the 2011 Wedding Show!

Oh Hurricane Irene! The 1st inaugural Wedding Show at Heron Hill was a success! Waking up Sunday morning to what was not supposed to be a dreary windy day, put challenge to our wedding show. As I arrived at Heron Hill, I had in mind just how I would conquer hurricane Irene! Thanks to my staff, volunteers and patience, we did it!

Thirty-two of our thirty-four exhibitors braved the winds and prepared their booths for the show. Thank you to Crystal City Party Center, Finger Lakes Entertainment and Pembrook Pines Media Group for all the extra help and donations. The show would have not been possible without you!

We had exhibitors arrive from all over. Anne from The Topiary came with many of her wonderful floral designs. Heather from McKay’s Photography took a different angle and made her booth into its own, displaying many of her wonderful photos. Owen Entertainment joined us for their first show as well, it was excellent to learn about the new services they have to offer.

We had ten giveaways that each of the participating brides were entered for. Luxury Limo gave away a $50 gift certificate. Becky from Berry Vine Creations donated a “bag” of goodies including $200 off a floral package. Inteva Travel gave away a gift certificate to one lucky bride. These are just a few of the great prizes we had.

One lucky bride received the grand prize of $500 off a reception at Heron Hill Winery. Ten of my brides for the upcoming 2012 season were here, so it was a battle! As I drew the winning name, I looked over at my bride. She had won, but she thought I was joking with her. As our DJ, Jason, said her name, she and her fiancé got super excited. Congratulations to Jessica and Bill!

We will be hosting the show again next year. Thank you to everyone for attending and making our first year outstanding! We could not have done it without the help of all of our wonderful exhibitors. I am hoping for sunny weather next year ☺

Steve & Pam Acker
 
August 19, 2011 | Steve & Pam Acker

Protecting Seneca Lake

Our son and wife visited from Philadelphia last week, one of many trips they have made this summer. With them this time however, they brought another couple for their first taste of the Finger Lakes. The four of them managed to fit in almost every imaginable activity in a few short days ranging from water skiing and hiking to evening bonfires on the beach (with the mandatory s’mores which we serve with the Heron Hill 2008 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc) and of course there was a small amount of touring and wine tasting. They also enjoyed a great lunch at the Blue Heron Café! It was a terrific weekend and they were awed by not only the quality of the food and wines, which they sampled, but by the shear pristine and breathtaking beauty of our back roads, farms and vineyards and amazing crystal clear lakes. It was wonderful to witness their appreciation of this area that we are privileged to call home.

It is critical that we do all we can to protect our treasure. We are being threatened by a proposal from Inergy, LP based in Kansas City, MO to construct and operate an underground storage facility for propane and butane gas as well as constructing a 14-acre brine pond on a slope above Seneca Lake. Additionally, there would be construction of a rail and truck transfer facility. It is a frightening proposition. To learn more, go to gasfreeseneca.com, Heron Hill Winery is a proud member of the Gas Free Seneca business coalition.

Bernard Cannac
 
August 5, 2011 | Bernard Cannac

Our first week with the screw cap machine

In the spring we were praying for the rain to stop, and now we are praying for the rain to come back and visit us! Growing grapes involves a lot of dancing. The vines could use some water, but on the bright side, the vineyard is fungus free. It looks like we will have more fruit than last year, making Zach, our vineyard manager pretty excited. At this point, we are catching up with all kind of work in the vineyard. The grapes are at the “berry touch” stage, which means that the berries are slowly growing and now touching each other, closing the cluster. The berries are still very hard, like pebbles. Next, we will be seeing the berries go into veraison, when they change color, from green to yellow or purple, depending on the varietal. It will be in a few weeks. Then, they will continue to grow in size and soften during maturation.

Wednesday was our first bottling with screw caps. The chosen first wine was the Game Bird White. Game Bird Red is to follow next week. We chose the Game Bird Series to start because the wines do not require any bottle aging: they are ready to be enjoyed as soon as they recover from bottle shock. In a few months, we will use screw caps on some wines from the Classic Line, like the Rieslings, the Chardonnay and the Muscat. The red wines benefit from some aging in the bottle, so we will keep using natural corks on these wines. Screw cap closures help preserve the freshness and fruitiness of the wines. Natural corks allow small amounts of air to reach the wine through the cork, inducing the slow oxidation which aging actually is. Some screw cap closures allow some oxygen to get in the bottle, mimicking a natural cork. Maybe we will look into these in the future. But the unique sound that a natural cork makes when opening a bottle of fine wine is a very important part of the whole experience, and so far scientists have not been able to recreate this pop for a screw cap. I have tried to make that sound, but it just sounds silly.

Another excitement in the cellar is the arrival of Dan Pantaleo as the new Assistant Winemaker. I worked with Dan on Long Island for four years. He has been with us for almost two months now, and he is adjusting nicely to a new environment. He has plenty of work in the cellar and is very helpful at keeping me grounded. He is getting the wines cold and heat stabilized and ready to be bottled over the month of August and September. Welcome, Dan!

Watch video and see pictures of the screw cap machine here.

John Ingle
 
July 20, 2011 | John Ingle

See you at the Finger Lakes Riesling Festival!

As the summer seems to go blazing by, August approaches and brings with it the 3rd annual Finger Lakes Riesling Festival. This family-oriented event, August 13 and 14 brings together food, music, wine and fun. It's held on the north shore of Canandaigua Lake and has drawn over 20,000 participants the last two years. Heron Hill Winery is a major sponsor and will feature the entertainment at the music tent, including Prime Time Funk and Nik and the Nice Guys, two of Rochester's top bands. On Sunday morning the Campbell Brothers gospel music will fill the air with joy. One of the best parts of the festival is that entry is free. You pay to taste wine and beer, and over a dozen regional cheeses, but the music, the car show, the arts and crafts displays, etc. are all free. We're very excited about the mobile ap being offered to learn more about this great event. Learn more about Finger Lakes Riesling, groove to the tunes, bask in the sun and join your friends for two days of family fun. See you there!

Tambi Schweizer
 
July 12, 2011 | Tambi Schweizer

See you this weekend at the Finger Lakes Wine Fest!

Summer is officially here! After a long, demanding Independence Day weekend we are recovering with a glass of the newly released favorite, the Blaufränkish! Just prior to the weekend, we released the newest vintage (2008) of our Reserve Blaufränkish. It has a deep dark color that foretells a rich, robust and complex wine. Upon opening the bottle, the rich aromas of anise, black raspberry and chocolate soften the rich fruit that leads you into a touch of spicy clove and soft sweet vanilla. For a special dinner we cooked up a (freshly home grown) tomato Basil pizza on the grill that was fabulous with the Blaufränkish.

I am getting SO excited for a fabulous weekend; a large group of us are headed to the Finger Lakes Wine festival. We always love to listen to the live music starting Friday night at the Toga Party; I especially love watching everybody pass by with their crazy outfits! On Saturday I am slinging and selling lots of wine in the Pit pass area; come visit!

Meanwhile, in the other sections of the festival there is FREE Live music available all day in the Brewers' Garden, Cabernet Courtyard, Sparkling Courtyard and The Park. Styles, like the festival, are eclectic so you'll find upbeat blues and jazz to singer song writer acoustic shows...you'll hear covers, you'll hear originals...you may even find that music comes to you!

On Saturday night after the close of the event we head back to the campsite and have a gourmet meal prepared by the “guys”, they are going to be using the smoker to cook two whole turkeys and there will be plenty of sides including baked beans, deviled eggs, salad, macaroni salad and my personal favorite potato salad! After dinner and a few glasses of wine we go watch the GeVa Comedy Improv group out of Rochester. They were so funny last year and kept us laughing for hours! The show starts Saturday evening at 6pm at the Tiki Hut Bar near the camper festival entrance and is open to anyone so stop by for a night cap and be prepared to laugh!!

On Sunday I finally get to be on the “right” side of the bar! I get to go around and see all my friends from the local wineries and check out the “competition”, generally buying a few cases of wine! I can’t wait to see and taste some amazing wines (other than Heron Hill’s)!

Hope to see you there, cheers!

 
July 5, 2011 |

The summer season at the Tasting Room at Bristol

We are starting off our second year being open on Canandaigua Lake. After waiting all winter to open we are feeling positive about this season. We have new management this year and a great new staff. Our new staff has been enjoying learning about our history of the winery and our wines.

Our days have been consistent for us. The weekends have been quite busy with group tastings. People love to use our facility for their friends or family to come and enjoy our wines. It is a great facility to have these kinds of events. We also have a great gift shop with local products and Heron Hill logo items to bring home for someone special. We are offering the new Game Bird White that recently came out and tastes great. We look forward to having you come and visit us during the week or on a weekend.

Mike
 
June 29, 2011 | Mike "Ollie" Oliver

Stop by for Music on the Café Terrace

The Blue Heron Café is now open everyday! To celebrate this, we have begun hosting Happy Hour on Wednesday’s starting at 5:00 and going until 7:00. We set aside our regular menu and concentrate on several featured appetizers to satisfy the yen for lighter fare. Last week, we showcased the Oysters Rockefeller. For the near future, we are considering a wine paired flight of three or four different appetizers.

I have been booking group lunches and parties left and right. For the first time at Heron Hill, I will be preparing a Wedding Rehearsal Dinner for one of our brides. As we finalize the menu, I am reminded of some of the amazing dishes that I used to prepare and it is inspiring me to find ways to get these flavors on the Café menu.

Don’t forget, live music starts on the Café Terrace this Sunday! The schedule is available on the website and, of course, in the Tasting Hall. We start off with Bruce Holler featuring Peter Baker on the conga.
 

Kara Smith
 
June 15, 2011 | Kara Smith

Great giveaways at the Heron Hill Wedding Show!

As we kick off summer, I am counting down the days until the Heron Hill Wedding Show! Heron Hill Winery and Pembrook Pines Radio Group will be hosting our first show on August 28, 2011 from 1-4 pm. Registration for all brides is free, sign up here and bring a guest!

Each bride will receive a “goody” bag filled with several wedding planning tools provided by The Wedding Planner, Rochester Wedding, Rochester Bride & Groom and more.

The staff from Heron Hill and Pembrook Pines has been working diligently to bring the areas top wedding professionals to you. We are happy to announce that David’s Bridal will be attending the show with several of their dresses from each collection. The Finger Lakes Wellness Center & Health Spa will also be here. They are one of the local spas in the area offering wonderful services at great prices. What a prefect way to spend the day before your wedding. Betty Kay Bakery out of Bath will be here decorating their delicious cakes as well as providing samples. Tom Mike Photography will have his wedding albums on display! ServU Credit Union will be here to help you with all your financial questions.

During the show, will be giving away several great prizes. Here are a few teasers of what some of the exhibitors will be giving away throughout the afternoon:

  • Walker Cake Company - free set-up and delivery of your wedding cake
  • Berry Vine Creations - $200 off your floral package of $1000 or more.
  • SEVideo – Flip Camera and Video Package
  • Owen ENTERTAINMENT – Pair of Darien Lake Tickets
  • LaVere Media – Framed Art Print
  • And so much more!!

Join us for an afternoon of wine tasting, sampling food from local caterers, admiring photos from the area’s top photographers and exploring floral options for your big day. Register at www.heronhill.com and be sure to bring a guest!

Steve & Pam Acker
 
June 8, 2011 | Steve & Pam Acker

What's going on at the Tasting Room on Seneca

We are beginning our 6th year at Heron Hill on Seneca. After the long, cold winter (as in never ending) we are glad to be fully operational again. Heartfelt thanks to our loyal good neighbors who braved the snow and winds to visit on the weekends and left fortified with bottles of their favorite Heron Hill wines to enjoy at home. Many of our “snow birds” returned, only to wish they had waited a bit longer as the cold and rain persisted into May. But still they visited and enjoyed reconnecting with us. Now that we have finally seen that glimmer of warmth, our thoughts turn to outdoor entertaining. There is nothing nicer than sitting on the porch and enjoying a chilled glass of wine with friends. Some of our summertime favorites include Heron Hill Dry Riesling 2008 or for those who prefer a slightly fruiter wine the Semi-Dry 2008. Both pair well with an appetizer such as grilled pizza with artichokes and shrimp or a simple platter of locally produced cheese and fruit. If you keep it local and fresh you can’t miss.

Many of your favorite staff have returned to make your visit enjoyable and informative and they will help guide your selections. They also know where the best farm stands are located and will help with food and wine pairings. Alicia has been with us over a year and is graduating in June with a Masters degree in Corporate and Community Education. We congratulate her for her accomplishment! For one of her final research papers, which she is submitting to the Journal of Wine Research, Alicia conducted a survey of our customers regarding what they anticipate of their winery visit experience. A quality product and reputation establishes a relationship with a customer. Her findings confirm that customer service, including a knowledgeable, personable, fun visit, is what keeps that relationship strong and ongoing. That is what the Seneca team strives for and we were pleased to see that we received very positive feedback. Combine that with our award-winning wines and relaxed atmosphere and you will have an experience to savor.

We are very excited to announce a visit from our winemaker on Saturday, June 18. Bernard Cannac will be at our Seneca tasting room from 1-4 pm to meet our visitors, discuss the wines and answer your questions. It will be a fun and informative afternoon. Mark your calendar and plan to come by.

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