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
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!!!

March 17, 2010 | Mike "Ollie" Oliver

Learning wholesale and working with the Switz on Keuka

By Mike "Ollie" Oliver, Wholesale Sales Representative

Highlights from the world of Wholesale Sales: As the newest members of the Wholesale staff, I have had the opportunity to meet a wide variety of personalities. I thought I would take this chance to share some of the more memorable moments from the road.

First and foremost, it’s important for you to know that I have had no sales experience of this type before joining the Heron Hill Winery team. I have learned, the hard way, that there are unwritten rules and procedures to meeting with Wine and Liquor store owners. For example, if you walk into a store and the owner or manager is meeting with another Sales Rep, you have to wait for them to finish. This, apparently, applies even if you have made an appointment! I walked into a particular store and saw this unfolding. I was about to go back outside and wait, when the owner asked if she could help me I introduced myself and was about to explain my intentions, to which she responded, “Well, you can just go outside and wait until we are done!” This was not exactly the warmest greeting that I have received, but after the other rep left, I went in and the owner had a totally different attitude.

Last week, I was in Scotia working with one of our distributor’s Sales Reps. After four mind-numbing hours of driving and a miscommunication with the navigation system, I was able to find the store where I was to meet with the rep. I parked, noticed that I was right on time, and called the rep to see if he was already in the store. He responded with, “At the store? We aren’t meeting until tomorrow!” He dubbed my response as “dead silence”, but let me dwell on it for a moment. Then, he let me off the hook by saying, “Yeah, I’m inside. I just had to start the day off right!” After meeting him, I realized that this was par for the course with him; watching him interact with his customers was comical at times!

I have also had the highly productive visits that ensure that I can continue to come to work. After being introduced by our distributor’s Sales Rep to a store owner and pouring samples for him, he proceeded to order in 9 different wines! As it turned out, he hasn’t been open for very long, but he is slowly trying to build a New York State wine selection. I have learned that this job is all about timing.

Several weeks ago, Paul Wilson, retail manager at Heron Hill winery, and I met with Brianne, the manager of the Switzerland Inn on Keuka Lake. She had approached us about doing a wine and food pairing dinner. She showed us menus that they have used in the past. Suffice it to say that I was very impressed; in general, six courses that showed some real ingenuity and forward thinking! We will be meeting with the Chef soon to start looking at the menu for the event. If he is open to it, I may even offer to take a course or two! Keep an eye out for tickets; they will only be seating 40 for this event. More information will be available soon. 

Kara Smith
March 3, 2010 | Kara Smith

My trip to San Diego

By Kara Wilson, Wedding and Events Coordinator

Six more months until our wedding?! Wow. Time sure does fly. Everything is almost done, however, I keep forgetting about buying the wedding bands. You would think that would be the first thing to come to mind.

Anyways, about two weeks ago I was in San Diego. My finance and I had an amazing time. We ate tons of food; Chinese, Mexican, fresh fruit and so much more. We visited Lego Land, several beaches, Old Town San Diego and a few wineries. My favorite part of the trip was our first day there. We went to a town called La Jolla. The town created a man made breaker on one of the beaches so kids could swim and not get pummeled by the waves. The concept was a great idea, but the seals had an even better idea. They have made the beach their home. They spend all day and night playing in the calm water, laying on the rocks soaking up the rays and stinking up the beach. As cute as the seals are, they are by far the worst smelling creatures EVER.

We visited several wineries in Temecula and Escondido. Orfila Vineyards in Escondido had the most amazing view and good wine. In Temecula, I found Wiens Family Cellars to be very hospitable. Our taster poured me their best wines and educated me on their area and grape growing techniques. What amazing upcoming areas. The scenery is to die for.

Now it is time to settle in. Things have been super busy in the wine shop. The February End of Vintage sale was a huge hit. I am currently working on revamping the gift shop with new wine related items and local keepsakes. If anyone knows of any interesting wine products or a local vendor that we may like to carry, have them contact me, events@heronhill.com

Wedding season is almost here. We have a lot of weddings booked for this summer. Again, it is going to be another busy year for us.

Thanks to Heron Hill team for helping me get acclimated with my new surroundings! 

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