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.

Tambi Schweizer
 
May 26, 2010 | Tambi Schweizer

Hosting TasteCamp then off to NYC!

By Tambi Schweizer, Tasting Hall Manager

Wow, things have been really great lately. First, we hosted about 40 wine writers and bloggers here at Heron Hill for TasteCamp…needless to say they all seemed amazed at the spread we put out for them. Thank to Ollie for some great food, courtesy of the Blue Heron Café. At our tasting bar, we hosted 8 local wineries from Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes for them, with everyone really showcasing some magnificent wines! I think the winner from the Heron Hill wine collection was the Library wine re-release of the 2002 Ingle Vineyard Riesling. The white peach and mineral qualities that are showing through are just exquisite! This ’02 vintage has been a favorite of mine since I have been here!

I just got back from NYC where I poured wine at Taste of the Upper West Side. The Friday night event was from 9 to midnight (…ugh, I am usually in bed at 9 pm!) featuring a divine dessert tasting! I have to give a shout out to the NYC Greenmarket! One of the ladies gave Doug and I a whole basket of fresh juicy strawberries and a large cup of whip cream! They were delicious, thank you! I saw my friends from the Hot Blondie’s Bakery again; yes the brownies are still some of my favorites! Here’s a picture of the Greenmarket staff shucking oysters.

On Saturday night, The Taste of the Upper West Side featured the Best of the West with some of the same vendors from the Friday night event, but with also a few really great additions, like the Long Island Wine Country booth. I tried some really great wines, making me think that I NEED to get to Long Island to go wine tasting. I think that trip will have to wait until the busy season is over here!


Well, I am headed of to train about 12 staff today with TIPS training (Training for Intervention ProcedureS). TIPS is the global leader in education and training for the responsible service, sale and consumption of alcohol. Proven effective by third-party studies, TIPS is a skills-based training program that is designed to prevent intoxication, underage drinking and drunk driving. Hopefully this training will help my staff to be more aware of what to look for and how to handle the difficult situations that may arise while working here at Heron Hill! Cheers….

John Ingle
 
April 8, 2010 | John Ingle

8,000 vines to be planted this spring

By John Ingle, Owner/Grapegrower

Here I go, I’m doing it again – somebody stop me. For almost forty years I’ve had a passion to plant things, especially grapevines. It was 1971 when I first noticed this proclivity. My wife, Joey, and I were recent college grads and were picking up a few bucks helping our neighbor harvest his grapes. We fell in love with the whole experience and cleared some twenty acres of land in preparation to plant grapevines. It was like jumping out of a window without looking. We weren’t farmers and the learning curve was steep. Since then we’ve ripped out vineyards and replanted them – over and over. We’ve also had large gardens every year since our 1971 start. I just love to plant, love to grow, love to harvest. So, this year we are planning a new plantation of vines at Heron Hill on Keuka Lake.

I’ve had some of the oldest vines in the East planted in 1968 but old age and bad weather led to the demise of some 7-8 acres. The last two years we’ve been plowing and preparing the soil and this May in will go over 8,000 vines. The project will include Riesling, Muscat and Vidal varieties in several different clones. There also will be two acres, one each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon at our Canandaigua Vineyard. It will be a big job but we’re very excited about the wines that will be produced at Heron Hill. At least this time I have some 40 years of farming experience to help me with my “growing” pains!
 

Tambi Schweizer
 
March 31, 2010 | Tambi Schweizer

What's been going on locally

By Tambi Schweizer, Tasting Hall Manager

It’s getting to be that time of the year…with the oncoming arrival of tons and tons of people! YEAH! I love having visitors at the winery, especially after a long winter with barely anyone coming to visit me! (hint…hint…!)

I think what I really find intriguing is trying to “figure out” what style and or type of wine the tasters enjoy. It is a fascination of mine to understand why certain people like different types of wines. I really enjoy spending time educating the visitor about what this area has to offer. I spend countless hours educating my tasting hall staff to be able to provide them with the best information on our wines as well as the what the Finger Lakes Region has to offer.

I also pride myself on having been to almost all the local Finger Lakes wineries, neighborhood restaurants and local pubs! I frequently recommend the local brewery up the street, Keuka Brewing Company, for the non-wine drinker in the crowd. They usually have about five beers on tap at any given time, from the lightest (my favorite) the White Cap Wheat, a Belgian style wheat beer made from a blend of wheat and barley, with light hops. They add orange peel and a touch of coriander to give this beer a light, refreshing flavor. Their darkest, the Full Sail Stout Ale, a blended beer with 5 malts, has hints of smoke, coffee and chocolate that has a beautiful, rich flavor and a creamy head.

I tend to encourage visitors to enjoy dinner in the local restaurants that pride themselves on serving Finger Lakes wines, especially any from the Heron Hill collection! One of my favorite restaurants (that carries Heron Hill wines) is the Village Tavern in Hammondsport. It is a European style bar and restaurant, offering an exceptionally warm and cozy atmosphere with award-winning food and beverages…another hint!!! Their specialties include a large selection of my favorites like fresh fish and seafood. I think my favorite appetizer there is the Escargot that is sautéed in garlic, wine and herbs. They also have the most extensive and tantalizing wine list in the Finger Lakes!

Recently I was able to head over to Seneca Lake to pick up a set of horseshoes that I won at a local charity event that was hosted by Hazlitt Vineyards benefiting under-privileged children in Schuyler County whose parents/guardians weren’t able to give them any holiday presents. I love going to the Seneca Santa benefit; they always offer great wine and excellent music and the bonus is that it is almost always on my birthday!

Since I was already on the East side of Seneca Lake, I stopped into the new distillery, Finger Lakes Distilling. It is a breathtaking building with a great view of Seneca Lake. I was so amazed when I walked in to the building; the ceiling is painted a magnificent crimson red with a canoe hanging from it. They carried a great line-up of products; I even bought a t-shirt, koozie and the Maplejack Liqueur. The liquor starts out as an apple brandy made from New York apples. It is aged in a bourbon barrel and sweetened with local maple syrup. I was thinking about putting it on my pancakes!

I really pride myself on the local experience, immersing myself in many local activities or places that are very popular for the locals. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was at the Corning Museum of Glass for their 2300º monthly series. Named for the temperature of their glassblowing demonstrations, these FREE public events feature glassblowing demos, live music and plenty of food with different themes each month. The March theme was “The day after St. Patrick’s Day” with the Town Pants (one of my favorite bands). They totally rocked the house!!! While there I drank the Pinot Noir Reserve from McGregor Winery (east side of Keuka Lake), great job John McGregor!

So, if you plan on visiting the Finger Lakes regions and don’t really know where to begin, stop into Heron Hill Winery and spend some time at the tasting bar with me. I’m more than willing to give you any advice on where to go, what to do and where to stay! Feel free to e-mail me or call me as I am out there are willing to tell you as much as I possibly know. I am a HUGE promoter of the Finger Lakes Region and want everyone to visit the most beautiful (wine) region in the entire world!!!

Bernard Cannac
 
February 10, 2010 | Bernard Cannac

What happens after fermentation

By Bernard Cannac, Winemaker

After all the excitement of harvest and the fermentations, I enjoy the quiet months of winter. By now, the 2009 reds are aging in barrels and the older vintages are maturing. The 2009 whites have to be prepared before being bottled in the spring and summer.




Like Brian explained in his January 15th blog, the white wines have to be treated with bentonite in order to be protein stable or heat stable. After the fermentation, the wine contains a lot of proteins, some of them coming from the yeasts’ cells. But too many proteins would lead the wine to turn cloudy if it was to be exposed to some heat. If you leave a bottle of white wine, or Rosé or Blush sitting in a car for hours in the summertime, the wine might turn cloudy or hazy. Under heat, proteins tend to form a haze. To prevent this to happen, bentonite is added to the wine. It will attach itself to the proteins in suspension in the wine. The result is a heavy molecule, which will drop down to the bottom of the tank due to its weight. The wines are racked after about one to two weeks after the bentonite addition in order to give it enough time to settle down to the bottom of the tank. Then, we just have to pump the clear wine and discard the sediments left at the bottom of the tank. A gross filtration will take care of any molecules that still might be in suspension.

The other stabilization we have to look after is called cold stability. If you have stored a white, Rosé or Blush wine in the refrigerator to chill it, you might notice that some white or sometimes pink crystals have formed in the bottom of the bottle. No, it is not sugar or sand, and it is not dangerous. If you were to drink some with your wine, the only inconvenience would be that it has a grainy texture and it would feel weird in your palate. One of the most important acids present in grape juice is tartaric acid. Grape juice also naturally contains potassium. When these two compounds react together, they form a crystal called potassium tartrate. This reaction happens faster at colder temperatures. That is why a wine that has not been properly stabilized will produce these crystals when being refrigerated. To avoid this happening in the bottle, we actually make the reaction happen in the tank. There are two ways to induce this: we can chill the tank down to about 28 degrees Fahrenheight and wait for about three weeks or we can add some cream of tartar to the chilled wine. We choose the latter because the stabilization happens faster, in a matter of days instead of weeks. The cream of tartar method is also called “seeding” because the small crystals of cream of tartar induce the formation of tartrates around each “seed” of tartar. When the crystal becomes heavy enough, it drops down to the bottom of the tank. Again, we rack and filter the clear wine and discard the sediments. The red wines get stable after their aging in the barrels, and they should not be chilled, so we do not have to heat and cold stabilize them. Moreover, consumers are more forgiving when they notice sediments in a bottle of red wine.

At this time of the year, we also are busy pruning the vineyard and doing some labeling before getting into bottling some 2007 and 2008 reds and the 2009 whites. I hope it wasn’t too technical and that it answered a couple of questions you might have had. Cheers!
 

Tambi Schweizer
 
September 23, 2009 | Tambi Schweizer

Events at the winery and Reserve notes

By Tambi Schweizer, Tasting Hall Manager

Well, it has been great summer, full of lots of free live music on the Blue Heron Café terrace. This past weekend we had Brett Beardslee, a local musician from Hector, NY (East side of Seneca Lake), he was fantastic, singing some of his own tunes while also playing a few of the standard classics! Brett was the talk of the day on Saturday with his amazing 1958 Volkswagen van with the most astonishing paint job!

While Brett was here he had a glass of our newly released Pinot Noir Reserve. (Can you see wine in the photo?) The 2007 Pinot Noir Reserve is a medium to fuller bodied cold weather Pinot Noir. Our Reserve Pinot Noir is gracefully silky with a bright raspberry with a touch of tobacco mid-palette earthiness, finishing with rich raspberry fullness. The crimson color emphasizes aromas of cherry and raspberry, which combines well with the soft touches of oak. This Pinot Noir Reserve tends to be fuller in alcohol, fairly soft in feel and has a light smoke from the barrel. The soft tannins of this Pinot Noir Reserve make this wine a very sleek smooth easy drinking wine that goes well with meats with some degree of fattiness, especially with a twist of pepper accompanied by slightly bitter vegetables on the side. Smoke wood roasted braised beef, lamb and pork are excellent main courses. Another main dish that works excellent is a roasted turkey topped with a cherry salsa.

Another new release that is coming out soon is the much anticipated Pinot Blanc Reserve. This Unoaked Pinot Blanc is energetic and lively with an intense pear aroma, finishing with slight green apple fruitiness. This 2008 vintage release has a great mouthwatering lemongrass and grapefruit tartness that gives it a long refreshing finish. The Pinot Blanc is excellent as an aperitif served with something small to eat, such as creamy dips, crackers & vintage cheeses served with various kinds of finger foods. The vibrant mineral flavors of the Pinot Blanc are enhanced when paired with turkey and chicken dinners.

With these Reserve wines, we only release a very limited amount of cases, anywhere from 100 to 450 cases per release. The Reserve wines are wines that have come from a specific lot of grapes that are of a higher quality than usual, usually only made in a year that had an incredible growing season. Traditionally winemakers would "reserve" some of their best wine rather than sell it immediately, coining the term. Reserve is meant to indicate that the wine is special and has a different unique flavor and a longer aging potential.

We are finally relaxing after the Keuka Lake Wine Trail event that happened this past weekend (Sept 19th & 20th). The Harvest Tour of Food and Wine was an experience of incomparable beauty of the fall season with locally grown foods bursting with the flavors of harvest time in the heart of the Finger Lakes. Almost a 1000 people tasted the exquisite wines of Keuka Lake and sampled dishes prepared from the finest locally produced foods. It was a great celebration of New York's agricultural heartland, an experience that certainly delighted the tastes, pleased the eyes and warmed the soul. Here at Heron Hill, we featured our Classic Heron Hill Pinot Noir with a Garden Harvest Frittata with an Apple and Pear Chutney. The Classic Pinot Noir is lively and exciting, with rich ripe red cherry and raspberries on the nose. This crisp, textured Pinot is accented by an earthy flavor that runs through the pallet. Soft and supple tannins finish this bright, fruit-driven wine. If you missed the Keuka Lake Harvest Tour of Food & Wine, please check out the Keuka Wine Trail website for our last event of the season, the Keuka Holidays Wine Tour. You can ring in the holiday season in vintage form at one of our Keuka Holidays weekends...every year a sell-out! Each winery offers delicious hardy winter foods along with their finest wines. Ticket holders receive a handmade grapevine wreath at their starting winery and collect a Christmas ornament at every winery. The wineries will have holiday decorations and the gift shops will be stocked with unique and local items perfect for almost anyone on your shopping list. Join the fun! Tickets are $35 per person or $55 per couple and they are available as Advance sale only!
 

John Ingle
 
July 15, 2009 | John Ingle

We are one of the "most spectacular tasting rooms in the world"!

There’s some big news here at Heron Hill Winery. We are thrilled to be named as one of the 10 Most Spectacular Tasting Rooms in the World by Travel + Leisure Magazine! Only two were listed in the US: Heron Hill and Opus One in CA. This is a feather in the cap of the Finger Lakes region and an honor for all of us at the winery. I called the architect and builder and congratulated them on the big news this morning, Charles Warren of NYC was the architect and Chrisanntha Construction Coorporation was the contractor. Cheers to you both!

A big part of our vision for Heron Hill Winery is sunshine, music and being able to enjoy a glass of wine on the terrace. The sunshine we’re working on, the glass of wine we’ve got nailed and the music – that is a key ingredient to any and all Ingle activities. There is a lot going on with Heron Hill and music this summer. There's free, live music every Saturday for Tunes on the Terrace from 12:30 - 4:30. Some greats are playing like PJ Elliott, Brett Beardslee and Bill Brown.

Jo and I have both loved music all our lives, Jo is from Motown, need I say more? I love all kinds of music and have followed “Wilmer and the Dukes”, Rochester’s #1 soul music band through high school and college. We met at the University of Denver when we were youngsters and when I found out that Jo had heard of the Dukes, I knew I had found someone special.

In the past several years the winery has sponsored the Doobie Brothers, Susan Tedeschi, Bob Weir, The Rochester Jazz Festival, Rochester Summerfest and many other music extravaganzas. This year we’re proud to sponsor the music and entertainment tent at the 1st Finger Lakes Riesling Festival in Canandaigua this August 15th and 16th. Some of the bands that will be playing are Shama Lama, Blues Family Show Band, Wild Nik West, Campbell Brothers and Nik and the Nice Guys. We are also sponsoring the RPO ROCks beer and wine tasting event with the The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra this July 24th and 25th in Rochester, NY. The RPO is going to be playing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, my kind of music!

The highlight of every summer though, is relaxing in the afternoon sitting on the terrace in the sunshine, enjoying a glass of crisp, zestful Riesling and savoring the sounds of one of our great local bands. Be it rock, blues, country or jazz, it soothes the soul and puts a smile on your face. Take some time to visit our “spectacular tasting room” to taste some of our wines and enjoy our local musicians. It’s the simple things in life that please the most and I’ve found one or is that three or four?

John Ingle
 
May 13, 2009 | John Ingle

May is Riesling Month in the FLX

By John Ingle, Winery Owner

May is Riesling month here in the Finger Lakes and we’re doing our part! We’re offering free shipping for six or more bottles of any of our nine styles of Riesling. This includes Dry, Semi-Dry, Semi-Sweet, Late Harvest, Icewine and Reserves. Since it’s Riesling month, Heron Hill will be featuring a special Riesling tasting flight. $5 to taste Old Vines Riesling Reserve, Ingle Vineyard Riesling, Dry Riesling, Semi-Dry Riesling, Semi-Sweet Riesling and Late Harvest Riesling.

On the vineyard side of things, another cold and anxious night has passed in the Finger Lakes. That “hold your breath” silence is the plight of virtually every grape grower in the region as we collectively pay the price for several days into the 90’s almost two weeks ago. That surge of temperature has accelerated the progress of bud break into the danger zone. Once the vine wakes up and those little “grape nuts” begin to swell and open, they are very susceptible to frost. Each bud holds 2-3 bunches of grapes and if we get temperatures down into the 20’s then those buds and bunches will be damaged.

Last year it was 28 degrees on May 1st and there was damage in frost prone areas, this year all the buds are out and everyone is affected by the possibility of widespread damage. Keep your fingers crossed, watch the thermometer and think of your local grape (and apple) grower!
Posted by John Ingle 0 comments Labels: John, Winery Owner
WEDNESDAY, MAY 6, 2009
What my personal favorites are at the winery
By Tambi Schweizer, Tasting Hall Manager

Upon your visit to Heron Hill Winery in the Finger Lakes, you will find me inside our barrel-vaulted tasting hall. Starting now and continuing into the end of November, this is where I spend most of my time. I am the Tasting Hall Manager for Heron Hill Winery. I thrive on tasting, comparing and educating myself on Heron Hill’s award-winning wines. We have so much to offer in the way of different wines!

I prefer the fuller bodied dry reds and love to drink a crisp dry white in the summer time. Some of my personal favorites are our Eclipse Red and White. They are blends that suit almost everyone. Blends are wines that are made up of a variety of two or more different grapes. I feel that they are often greater than the sum of their parts. They can be smoother and better tasting with more balance than their varietal counterparts.

I think that the best bonus for the Eclipse bottles, besides tasting great, is that they are such beautiful bottles. Being an artist myself, I am intrigued by the way the consumers are so attracted to the bottles. I love watching the faces at the tasting bar as I present the Eclipse series. I have never seen so many faces light up, especially when I tell them that our retail store has Eclipse bottle oil decanters available to take home!!

I am very excited about the Riesling tasting flight that we are offering here at the winery for May is Riesling Month. You can try 6 Rieslings for only $5 per person. My favorite Riesling is the Old Vines Riesling. It is a must for the hot summer months that are soon to come (…hopefully!). I love to drink it when I am sitting on the dock at my grandparent’s cottage here on Keuka Lake. Pairing it with a crisp vinaigrette salad topped with grilled chicken is my absolute favorite. Just a note: We are currently on the last of the 2005 vintage of the Old Vines Riesling Reserve, but I have tasted the 2007 vintage and it is just as good…and maybe better even though it is a little younger.

Don’t forget to come and visit me at the winery, we are always here to answer all your questions. The laid back style of wine tasting that we offer here makes your tasting fun and relaxing. Remember my motto, “There are no dumb questions!”
 

Tambi Schweizer
 
May 6, 2009 | Tambi Schweizer

What my personal favorites are at the winery

By Tambi Schweizer, Tasting Hall Manager

Upon your visit to Heron Hill Winery in the Finger Lakes, you will find me inside our barrel-vaulted tasting hall. Starting now and continuing into the end of November, this is where I spend most of my time. I am the Tasting Hall Manager for Heron Hill Winery. I thrive on tasting, comparing and educating myself on Heron Hill’s award-winning wines. We have so much to offer in the way of different wines!

I prefer the fuller bodied dry reds and love to drink a crisp dry white in the summer time. Some of my personal favorites are our Eclipse Red and White. They are blends that suit almost everyone. Blends are wines that are made up of a variety of two or more different grapes. I feel that they are often greater than the sum of their parts. They can be smoother and better tasting with more balance than their varietal counterparts.

I think that the best bonus for the Eclipse bottles, besides tasting great, is that they are such beautiful bottles. Being an artist myself, I am intrigued by the way the consumers are so attracted to the bottles. I love watching the faces at the tasting bar as I present the Eclipse series. I have never seen so many faces light up, especially when I tell them that our retail store has Eclipse bottle oil decanters available to take home!!

I am very excited about the Riesling tasting flight that we are offering here at the winery for May is Riesling Month. You can try 6 Rieslings for only $5 per person. My favorite Riesling is the Old Vines Riesling. It is a must for the hot summer months that are soon to come (…hopefully!). I love to drink it when I am sitting on the dock at my grandparent’s cottage here on Keuka Lake. Pairing it with a crisp vinaigrette salad topped with grilled chicken is my absolute favorite. Just a note: We are currently on the last of the 2005 vintage of the Old Vines Riesling Reserve, but I have tasted the 2007 vintage and it is just as good…and maybe better even though it is a little younger.

Don’t forget to come and visit me at the winery, we are always here to answer all your questions. The laid back style of wine tasting that we offer here makes your tasting fun and relaxing. Remember my motto, “There are no dumb questions!”

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