Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

If Your Refrigerator Could Talk

by Ben Peacock, President, Tousey Winery

Dieticians would say that you can tell a lot about a person from a peek inside their fridge.  I would argue you can tell just as much from what's on the outside.  For reasons unknown to me, people seem  desperate to reveal and express themselves via the white and chrome vastness of this kitchen utility's outer surfaces.  All of which are ready to be scanned and analyzed by covert fridge scanners like me.  There's the snotty nose kid on a bicycle, the reminder of a dentist appointment and more often than not, a green takeout menu.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Key to Life?

by Dr. Steven Hickman, Intern Emeritus

“Has anyone seen the key?”

Especially in the fall and summer, this refrain can be heard echoing off the stainless steel tanks and concrete floors of the Fox Run cellar.  The key is not the one that unlocks the cellar door, which is a rather mundane looking item.  Winery hardware is more complicated than that: we're looking for the elusive but necessary key that will allow us to sample the wines in our tanks.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Winery Owner's Screed

by Scott Osborn, President

The big question I hear in the tasting room these days is, “Why don’t New York restaurants carry a selection of New York wines?” This is a one of those hot-button questions that can get a winery owner seething with frustration. I define 'local' as anything made in my state, or better yet, within 100 miles or so of where it's being sold. We see advertisements every day from restaurants boasting that they use only local ingredients. This practice, called Locavorism, is a big selling point at the moment.

But too often you go out to support a good restaurant and the local farmers who they are sourcing from, and the first thing you notice is that the wine list is heavy on west coast and imported products. Often there are no local wines at all, or a token one just for show. How can they reconcile these two practices, one wonders? These folks have a double standard that is not even remotely defensible.

Here are some statistics.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July Reckoning

By: Kelby Russell, Winemaking Team Member

There is no denying it, we are definitely into the month of July.  As much as we might like to close our eyes and pretend that it is still June, Independence Day is now behind us and the dog days of summer are beckoning.  Don't get me wrong, we absolutely adore the glorious sunny days that summer in the Finger Lakes means - especially as those sunny days transform into molten twilights that seem to last forever.  You will notice, however, that I did not employ the normal cliché of "carefree summer days," and that is precisely the point.

Our daily calendar for the month of July is a complete mess.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Update from the Vineyard

With the July sun warming us through here on Seneca Lake, it's time for a quick update on how the growing season is treating our vineyards thus far.  Peter in particular would note that he is a bit cynical about the whole process of trying to forecast the quality of a vintage based on a few weeks of weather; you may remember that he is even hesitant to discuss the quality and direction of a vintage the following May.  It must be said that this certainly represents a very practical way of assessing the grapes and resulting wines: wines take time to come into their own and, even in a brilliant growing season, grape quality can be ruined in an instant after a single tantrum by Mother Nature.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Coolest of Cool Climates

By: Kelby Russell, Winemaking Team Member returned from afar

Having spent the previous four months in Tasmania, returning to the Finger Lakes a few days ago has truly been a joy.  From catching up with family to catching up with friends old and new, the only thing as rewarding has been the sudden change from winter weather to summer weather (and daylight hours) for the first time in nearly ten months.  I may grumble about the increase in temperature and the adjustment to trying to sleep in a room at 70 degrees rather than 40 degrees, but that would be the definition of missing the forest for the trees.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Oregon Trial

by Peter Bell, Winemaker

You could tell from the previous couple of blog posts. People in the wine business tend to be among the world’s most eager practitioners of what the British call a Busman’s Holiday. When we take a break from our wine-related tasks, whatever they may be, what do we have a burning desire to do? Taste wine, meet winemakers, visit other regions, or at the very least, seek out and consume a wine style that is new to us.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In Praise of Rose

by Scott Osborn, Fox Run Vineyards President

There’s nothing like a good vacation, where cell phone signals and the internet are intermittent, to let a person relax and reflect. My wife Ruth, her sister and brother-in law and I recently took a much-needed trip to St. Maarten in the Caribbean. It was a first visit for all of us. It was also a chance to get away from one of the snowiest winters on record and one of the rainiest springs.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Old World Ramblings Uncover Great Characters, Tasty Wines

By Dan Mitchell, Regional Sales Manager
From time to time we experience something that causes to us revisit our understanding of the time-space continuum. Hollywood would have us believe that time moves much more slowly when we go through the daily routine of running away from an exploding vehicle. You and I know that time moves more slowly when standing in line behind someone at the grocery store writing a check. I recently experienced an extreme example, where time actually moved at HALF its normal rate: a seven hour flight across the Atlantic with screaming toddlers on three sides.

Friday, May 27, 2011

In The Post Riesling Hour Haze...

by Evan Dawson - Author of Summer in a Glass: The Coming of Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes

I have the pleasure of standing in for Peter Bell this week - or sitting in, or writing in, if you like - and I'd like to spill a little news about Riesling. It comes from Peter, and I don't know what he'd think about me writing it here, which is all the more reason to post it now and hope he's cool with it later. After all, a colleague in the news business taught me years ago: Don't ask for permission; ask for forgiveness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Update From The Deep South: Harvest is Over!

By:  Kelby Russell, Winemaking Team Member from afar

Greetings once again from the Down Under's Down Under, Tasmania!  Home of wallabies, platypuses (platypi?), freakishly large moths, and birds that only sound quaint in name until their screeching calls awaken you before sunrise.  If kookaburras do congregate around 'the old gum tree,' as the sing-song rhyme would benignly have us believe, then I would seriously consider supporting the otherwise destructive logging industry here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Getting Wine Into the Barrel

In this post, former Fox Run employee Dr. Steven Hickman elaborates on one of his favorite activities: filling barrels. During his time at Fox Run, he emptied and filled hundreds of them. A generous and enthusiastic soul, he also donated to the winery the following:
  • an expensive camera
  • a high-end mountain bike
  • a microwave oven
  • cases of wine to taste and evaluate
  • plenty of his time
  • a gas regulator
  • a car, and
  • a little multi-articulated flashlight, which was so useful that it came to be known as The Hickman Apparatus
How many of us can say that we have a device named after us? Never mind that it was just a scientific-conference freebie: it serves as the ne plus ultra illumination device for barrel filling. Read on...

Friday, May 13, 2011

When Viticulture and Ornithology Collide

By John Kaiser, Vineyard Manager

First and foremost, I would like to clear up my current Avifauna issue. Is it Kildare, or Killdeer? And why am I concerned with this situation? The answer is simple: it doesn’t matter with whom I discuss this matter; no one is certain what this bird's true name is. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tawny Time, Part II: It Was NOT Like Giving Birth

By Peter Bell, Winemaker

As I write this, I’m looking back on the last month or so of work, during which we assembled and bottled our latest Tawny fortified wine. Every time we complete a difficult blending task, there descends on the lab a palpable sense of accomplishment: that almost goes without saying. How to describe that feeling is the hard part.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why I Love My Job

by Kyle Anne Pallischeck, Tasting Room Manager


1.  A group of people living together in one place, esp. one practicing common ownership.

If you travel around to any of the numerous wineries in the Finger Lakes, you'll surely hear someone behind the tasting bar recommending a wine from a winery... other than the one they're working at.  Some people find this surprising, as the expectation seems to be that we are all competitors.  In reality I think it's a true representation of the community that has developed in the wine industry of the Finger Lakes Region.

Monday, May 2, 2011

How Everyone Should Learn About Wine

by Alyson Galipeau

I thought I didn't like wine until my first visit to Seneca Lake, two years ago.  A wine-loving friend, originally from Rochester, directed me there, saying that if I wanted to learn about wine, Seneca Lake was the place to visit. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Tawny Time Again

by Peter Bell, Winemaker

It’s been quite some time since our last bottle of Fine Old Tawny was sold. This is one wine that can’t be made fast enough to meet the demand, and the 40 or so cases per year that we put out tend to get snapped up quickly. So this is what it must feel like to have your wines on allocation!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Update from the Southern Hemisphere: College Is In Session?

By:  Kelby Russell, Winemaking Team Member from afar

Vintages are a rite of passage in the wine industry; each one survived is another notch on the belt of the winemaker.  Most of the time these notches are accumulated one at a time as each fall approaches, but for those entering the industry it is now common to "chase" the vintage from hemisphere to hemisphere to get in two per calendar year.  Chasing vintages is certainly far easier than the hobby of those who can be found chasing tornados any evening on cable TV, but it often feels just as wild and tiring by the end of it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

How I Nourish My Soul

By Sharon Winslow, Fox Run Outside Events and Donations Coordinator

When I was in my mid thirties, my husband gave me a set of golf clubs for Christmas. I was very surprised to say the least.  He said he thought that if I would give it a try, golf might become something that we could do as we grow older together. And he was right: it worked.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

What Can Modernist Cuisine Teach us About Wine?

By Peter Bell, Winemaker

If you’re serious about cutting-edge food and drink and happen to have $625 to spare, you might consider picking up a copy of  “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking”, just out in hardcover. I opted to save my money and read John Lanchester’s review in The New Yorker instead, since most of the food that the authors advance is best sampled in restaurants equipped with a few hundred thousand dollars’ worth of specialized cooking gizmos. Mind you, your meal at one of those places is likely to cost about the same as the book does, per person.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What’s in the Bottle – Shards of Glass?

By Steven Hickman Ph.D., Staff Scientist, Harvard University and Fox Run Winery Intern emeritus

The story, as told by Peter Bell, goes as follows:  a woman calls the Fox Run tasting room one afternoon, in a state of some distress.  She had removed a bottle of Fox Run wine from her fridge, and as she was preparing to open and serve said bottle, noticed shards of glass suspended in the wine.  She was rather upset at the winery, accusing it of at best gross incompetence on the bottling line, and at worst an attempt on her life.  What had caused this strange circumstance?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Mad Scientist's New Intern

By Bradley Ross

The fictional character of Igor has been portrayed in many examples of "Peonism" (see the Bordeax Baritone's guide to his Fox Run internship, currently an internal monologue in progress). He has been personified as both dramatic and comedic characters in many forms of modern media, most recently as a likeable hero in a big-budget animated feature-film. In every example of the role, he has always been the devoted lab assistant, the lowly peon of lore, robbing graves or throwing the power switch to some ungodly machine that produces who-knows-what. Fortunately for me, my chance at the role of Igor was much more pleasant, without the Master's whip or shocking electrical devices.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What I Learn From My Customers

By Dan Mitchell, Regional Sales Manager

I have been known during my time here at Fox Run to collect and archive some of the unusual comments and questions that come from visitors to our winery. These can come fast and furious when the tasting bar is five people deep. My responses are often of little help.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Very Basics

By Kyle Pallischeck, Tasting Room Manager

What do you do with the wine in your glass?

Drink it, obviously.

But if you're at a winery you only get a little sample.  Clearly, what you choose to do with that wee nip can greatly affect your impression of the wine.  If you follow these steps consistently when tasting, over time you'll begin to get more from each experience than just a pleasant buzz.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Blame My Parents

by Stacy B. Brody, Rutgers Student and Enthusiastic Intern

You all know about Fox Run Vineyards, but you don’t know much about me. So I think I should fill you in a bit. I don’t have a complex or anything, I’m not going to go from my birth, day by day, hour by hour (though this is quite interesting and we really should discuss this), but I’ll give you a brief bio about me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's in the Bottle: 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon

by Peter Bell, winemaker

After a whirlwind couple of weeks helping to wrap up the Tierce Riesling blend, serving with Scott and Tricia as a judge at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, and giving a couple of lectures at the Rochester Institute of Technology, I finally found time last night to open and enjoy a bottle of our 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon that I'd found in my cellar.

Monday, March 28, 2011

If You Can't Laugh at Yourself....

by Dan Mitchell, regional sales manager

Wine is intimidating without a doubt. For years I have hosted people in the tasting room and given them a snapshot of cool climate Finger Lakes wines. I never speak about wines from other regions; I know enough to say "I don't know."  After I've given visitors a tour and extended tasting, they often ask, "How long have you been working here?" My answer is always the same: "Today's my first day, but I drink a lot of wine."  And if I'm feeling corny I'll tell them I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Friday, March 25, 2011

There's No Telling Who You're Going to Meet in New Jersey

by Lauren Brunhofer, PR intern 

In college, there are two words that are very sacred to the average student: “Spring Break”. This week-long vacation is more than just a few days off from classes and academic responsibility. It is an opportunity to regain a sense of sanity after the seemingly endless duration of midterms. While some of us were lucky enough to venture off to a tropical oasis, I spent my Spring Break at home in everyone’s favorite state… New Jersey. Although I was unable to sip fruity drinks while sinking my toes into the sand, the weather was steadily above 50 degrees, which was paradise in comparison to the tundra of Geneva, NY.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dispatch from the South. The Deep South. The REALLY Deep South.

by Kelby Russell, winemaking team member from afar

Greetings from Tasmania!  (No, no... not Tanzania.  Look further east and to the south.  Nope, that's New Zealand.  Great place, had a blast making wine there last year, but look back to the west a bit.  It's part of Australia.  No, not quite - down a bit.  The huge island south of the main continent.  Bingo!  That's me waving from the north-central part of the heart.  Can you see me?  Excellent.)  Welcome to a land with a tiny yet hugely friendly population, the highest valued grapes in Australia, and simply unfathomable amounts of road kill -which I say full and well knowing what November in Western New York looks like.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Little Information Is A Dangerous Thing

by Dan Mitchell, Regional Sales Manager & Resident Wise Man

Wine questions can be tough to answer. For years I have harassed Peter for information and was sometimes frustrated when he would answer my question with "I can't tell you why". In retrospect he could tell me, of course he could, but what he was really saying was "the answer is so complicated you will only get confused with the answer". Agreed. I spent six years in the tasting room before making the transition to full time on the road. I answered a lot of questions myself in that time (with Peter's information) and learned a long time ago that the answer to most wine related questions is "It depends on the wine".

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wine, Food, Music & Friends in the Beautiful Crescent

by Leslie Kroeger, Marketing Director

Spending time in New Orleans basically consists of eating, drinking, dancing, and listening to music - the latter being just about the best thing to do. Music is everywhere. When you get off the plane at Louis Armstrong Int'l Airport, the first thing you hear is good New Orleans Jazz. And from then on all you have to do is turn the dial to the best radio station in the world - 90.7 WWOZ; Listener supported radio that plays an amazing array of music from traditional New Orleans Jazz to new and local New Orleans musicians, R&B, Cajun, standard jazz, blues...all from the DJs' own record collections. It is quite eclectic.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

2010 Tierce, Round II: That Selbstgefälling Feeling

by Peter Bell, winemaker

In my previous post on this subject, our heroes the Tierce Brothers (really six guys and a gal) had taken an initial, furtive stab at trying to see what our various tanks of Riesling looked like as a group.

Peter, Johannes, Dave: the Original Tierce Brothers, in a Rare Glamor Shot
This week we reconvened, minus Kelby, lugging bottles of the components that we considered appropriate for further evaluation. Twenty wines were now narrowed down to eight. The first exercise in what was going to become a long day of tasting was to see what the individual wines looked like, six weeks on.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Understanding Wine in One Quick Lesson

by Peter Bell, Winemaker

Yesterday I drove over to Ithaca, New York, to teach a class at Cornell University. The lecture I gave, titled Balance in Wine, has been a regular of mine in that class for 17 years now. I often begin by telling the students (most of whom are not planning to become wine makers) that understanding this concept is probably the single most powerful tool for understanding wine.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lemberger Conquers the Big Apple?

by Dan Mitchell, Regional Sales Manager

I spent four days last week in The City That Never Sleeps and I found an interesting yet possibly not surprising fact: I didn't sleep very well.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ramblings in the Sunshine State

by Peter Bell, winemaker

If you’re in the wine business, you can’t really escape wine, even while on vacation.  I wouldn't even want to really, but I’m often reluctant to tell strangers what I do for fear of what almost inevitably comes next: some variation on “Let me tell you about my experiences with wine…” 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wine Knowledge the Easy Way

Today's post comes to us from Lucille Bell, Peter's 81-year-old mother.

"You're the expert, Lucille. "You choose the wine.'

We are sitting around a table in a French restaurant in Toronto, celebrating a birthday. Five old ladies, chums since dead husbands made them girls again, gossipy and giggly and happy to be out for an evening on the town.

Friday, February 25, 2011

No More Mr. Nice Guy

- by Tricia Renshaw, assistant winemaker

I can’t believe we’ve let Kelby leave again.  Last year, he was off to Marlborough, New Zealand.  This time, he’s gone to Tasmania, the island state of Australia.  We wish we could keep him here, but he has to follow the whisperings of Calliope:  voyage, see, learn.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It All Depends on How You Phrase Your Question

- by Peter Bell, winemaker

I love looking stuff up on Google, mostly so I can learn something new, but also once in awhile for pure entertainment. Often things occur to me in the middle of the night that merit researching the next day. Two mornings ago, my burning desire was to research, of all things, the esterification of tartaric acid and the effects of that transformation on wine taste. Please don’t give up reading this blog post, because I'm not going to talk about what I learned.

Because I’m not a good typist, I really appreciate Google’s ‘Suggest’ algorithm. It’s pretty good at anticipating one’s intentions and filling the search box with helpful shortcuts.

This morning, I asked Google to direct me to sites that would give hints on today’s winery task: topping barrels. In reality, I know all I need to know about barrel topping, after 23 years of winemaking, so I opted to have a little fun instead of divining hard facts. I decided to ask my question in two manners: Lowbrow and Highbrow.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spring Has Sprung?

The 2010-2011 winter has been a long slog here in the Finger Lakes.  Given our latitude, continental climate, and the presence of the Great Lakes (and the lake effect snow that comes with them) you might think that winters wouldn't faze us all that much and, for the most part, you would be absolutely correct.

This winter has been unique in its sustained endurance, however, and that is what has set it apart. Depending on your location in the lakes, there has been snow securely blanketing the ground since just after Thanksgiving.  And even if you were in a part of the lakes that escaped snow until mid-December, that was just a matter of being out of a snow band's reach because the temperatures were certainly cold enough.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fox Run 101

With this post we introduce Lauren Brunhofer, who is working for the next little while with our PR whiz Leslie Kroeger. As you will read, her first days here have brought a few surprises. Being asked to write a guest post for our blog was yet another.

No Rest for the Bloggers
Our lovely new intern, Lauren.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fun With Fortifieds

Peter Howe, our jack-of-all-trades of long standing, is my go-to guy when I need to know about scheduling the bottling of our wine. He does a monthly inventory of our case goods, fills two or three orders a week from our wholesalers, and ships wine down to the tasting room every Friday. So when some product or other is getting low, he’ll be the one to notice.

A couple of weeks ago he was telling me about something non-wine-related, and then he tossed off a casual addendum: “Oh, and by the way, we’re almost out of Ruby Port.” Port is one of the products we are particularly proud of around here, given that the making of it’s such a challenge and that it has such a loyal and perennial following, so the need to make more of it is always met with eager anticipation. It’s our prompt to assemble samples from the many, disparate barrels of Port we have in the winery at any given time, and commence to make a blend that conforms to our house style.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fighting an Enemy We Cannot See

So far as winemaking is concerned, our year can be broken down into two tasks.  The first task is the creation and making of the wine, the incredibly intense and concentrated burst of work surrounding harvest and usually lasting until sometime around Christmas.  The second task, which is no less important, might best be known "protecting" the wine.  There is no mistaking that a lot of work goes into the wines to make adjustments or blend after the completion of fermentation, but there is also no denying that our role during this time of the year up until the wine is safely bottled is anything other than glorified stewardship.

Just as a shepherd must always worry about protecting their flock from the omnipresent danger of wolves, in the winery our primary concern is keeping the wine safe from a pervasive and invisible threat.  This spoilage agent surrounds us, however, and in almost all other circumstances is necessary for life.  I'm referring to oxygen, of course; O2, the eighth element, a molecule that makes up 20.946% of the earth's atmosphere by volume.  You might think oxygen is something we would want to be on good terms with in the winery,* but the fact is that we spend nearly as much time restricting undesired oxygen contact with our wines as we do keeping things clean in the winery.  That is a lot of time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

2010 Tierce Assemblage: the First Run-Through

By Peter Bell, Winemaker 

Yesterday we (Anthony Road winemakers, Red Newt winemakers, and Fox Run winemakers, plus my guest Ben Peacock of Tousey Winery) met at Red Newt Bistro to taste through 20 tank samples of 2010 Riesling, with the aim of getting started on the latest manifestation of Tierce, our three-winery collaborative Riesling blend. This is something we’ve been doing since 2004, and it’s always a highlight of the year for me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Was In The Bottle: 2009 Rosé

The series that Kelby proposed as an occasional blog topic is titled ‘What’s in the Bottle’. In my case, the opportunity to declare this particular wine as still resident in its glass container came and went so quickly that I’m forced to speak in the past tense.

Ah, Rosé, that underappreciated little gem of a wine style that flies under the radar for so many of us.

It’s very counterintuitive: Rosé by its very nature is a straightforward, uncomplicated wine that declares itself on first sight as something that doesn’t need or expect to be taken seriously. You take a bite of food, then follow it with a great gulp of this beautiful, fresh liquid. Why ponder something that is so full of immediacy?

And why would winemakers, of all people, so predictably and consistently put dry Rosé on their lists of favorite wines? Don’t we, more than anyone else, reward complexity and seriousness in our wines? Well in this case, no. 

Perhaps there’s a Proustian aspect to this. The sight of a cool glass of Rosé seems more powerful than other wines at evoking a flood of memories, memories that almost invariably contain some of the very elements we find central to a happy existence: summer evenings, fresh seasonal foods, people we’re fond of at their most engaging. The complete absence of any pressure to sound erudite about any topic at all, and the attendant freedom to just sit there and soak up the many sensory stimuli that are there for the taking: birds singing, people laughing, cutlery clinking on plates.

Yes, in parts of the world (I’m really thinking France here, especially the south of France), this drink really does have a seasonality. While North Americans slot pumpkin pie and turkey into autumnal rituals, the French consume millions of liters of Rosé seemingly every time they sit down to lunch during the summer. In any café or bistro in July or August, and you will see chilled carafes of Rosé being served up to most of the patrons. Along come some chewy bread and a salade niçoise, and there’s your meal. There’s your quintessential aestival experience. 

Chambourcy, France, July 2009: Wish You Could Have Been There

So why am I writing about this wine in the bleak midwinter?

As my colleague Tricia has already pointed out, I am not particularly good at rituals. She's right: I do indeed go to bed at my usual time every December 31st, way before midnight. I become acutely uncomfortable if people deign to make a big deal of my birthday. I can’t reliably tell you when Valentine’s Day is, nor can I pull something off on that day that doesn’t make me feel like an obsequious idiot.

So it is with my Rosé consumption patterns. Yes, summertime and the light refreshing foods we eat at that time of year are absolutely perfect for Rosé, but if I feel like some Rosé in February, damn it, I’m gonna open a bottle.

And that’s what I did over the weekend. This was from a small bottling of 2009 wine we offered to our Wine Club members – note the minimalist label that would never fly in the retail world. We actually made a great deal more of this wine than we bottled; the excess went into our Ruby Vixen blush wine (lucky Ruby Vixen).

What may not strike the casual drinker of Rosé is how excruciatingly difficult a wine it is to make well. There’s even an institute in France whose sole purpose is Rosé research and experimentation. At Fox Run we have been making small, home-winemaker quantities of Rosé,  using many and various techniques, for some years now, just to learn what it would take to be able to ramp up the volume to a commercial scale.

All that experimentation allowed us to conclude some interesting things about what NOT to do, even though they are accepted Rosé techniques elsewhere. 

  • No Pinot noir or Cabernet franc grapes
  • No bleeding of juice off the skins
  • No bleeding of fermenting wine off the skins
  • No barrel fermentation or maturation
  • No malolactic fermentation
  • No obvious residual sugar

Quite a list of prohibitions! But nothing like the ones you see at park entrances in Paris: 

The graffto translates as "What CAN we do, then?"

The wine in this bottle was made from Merlot and Lemberger grapes. We crushed them in the conventional way for red wines, but instead of adding a yeast culture right away we let the juice macerate with the skins and seeds for the time it took to go home, take a shower and get some sleep, and then we pressed them out. The resulting vibrant pink juice was thence made as a white wine: the juice was racked and fermented in a stainless steel tank at a coolish temperature.

How to describe this wine? The older I get, the more trouble I have spilling out colorful descriptors, so I will retreat to the language I use to talk about all wines that are good to drink: it was delicious, and it was refreshing.

By:  Peter Bell, Winemaker

Music of the Day:
  • John Conlee - Classics; "Rose Colored Glasses":

Support Artists, buy the music you like!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Finger Lakes Wine and the Super Bowl?

As I get ready to watch the Super Bowl this evening at one of the millions of small gatherings that will pop up across the country today, it certainly seems like this has become one of the biggest and best holidays in the American canon. For my money it is certainly a better holiday than New Year's: more satisfying foods and freedom to make/bring what works, small gatherings of friends as opposed to expensive parties at hotels and restaurants where you know few people, it occurs during the day, and it centers on an actual event as opposed to the arbitrary turn of a clock.

Like any successful holiday, however, the Super Bowl is a success because it provides yet another opportunity for us to get together and share food - especially food that should not be consumed regularly the rest of the year.  Regardless of team affiliation or a person's feelings about football, the other uniting force is undeniably the joy we take in watching the ridiculous advertisements that surround the game, then discussing and comparing them more than the post-game analysts do the quarterbacks.  Most of the advertisements are ultimately forgettable for the very reason that they tried too hard to be different and got lost in the fray.  Some make a splash by being controversial and promptly disappear.  The best stay with us or manage to launch an ad campaign that lasts longer than a three hour game.

This is what got me to thinking about Finger Lakes wine in the context of the Super Bowl.  Wine pairing with the party food-spreads would be a joke; the food, trappings of the games, the cities involved, even the length of the festivities all beg for beer as a beverage and I wouldn't want to see it any other way.  Rather, the advertisements are what pique my interest when it comes to the wine region I love so much.  Namely, if the Finger Lakes Wine Region was to purchase an ad slot for the Super Bowl - how would we best capitalize on that exposure?  Nevermind that the cost is prohibitive ($3 million for 30 seconds?), or that the demographics might not be ideal, given such a large and general audience how could the Finger Lakes raise their profile in 30 seconds?

I would love to see your thoughts below, because I think our best bet would be to simply introduce our region to the non-wine magazine following world.  Some may desire an advertisement that tries to sell the high quality of our wines and the increasingly impressive scores and accolades we are receiving, but as admirable as that is I doubt it would be the best play to a broad audience.  For better or worse, the scores speak for themselves and will do the job of selling the wine in stores whether or not we drop $3 million to help publicize them and give free advertising to their issuers.  What I want is an ad that, when people are thinking about going to a wine store or enter a wine store, makes them seek out Finger Lakes wines:

Advertisement Idea 1:
  • [Screen opens to a short montage of video showing vines absurdly trying to grow in the chaos and cacophony of New York City; out of skyscraper windows, taxis, sewer manholes, Lincoln Center, etc.]
  • [Sharp cut to video of a vineyard looking up and across one of our brilliant blue and cool lakes on a bright sunny day; all green and filled with the sounds of a calm breeze, birdsong, and lazily humming insects.]
  • [After 10 seconds of that calm video, text and/or a voiceover overlay the vineyard video.]
"That's why there is more to New York Wines than New York City."
  • [Text fades to new text.]
"Finger Lakes Wine.  Good For You.  Great With Food."
  • [Text fades out, leaving behind just the vineyard video and it's calming sounds for final few seconds]

Advertisement Idea 2:
  • [Nearly identical to Idea 1.  Difference in that the opening montage shows a single vine desperately trying to grow out of a sidewalk crack in New York City and getting stepped on, splashed with street water, and the like over the requisite sad and lonely music.]
  • [Unseen figure rescues the poor vine and gets it to the Finger Lakes vineyard mentioned in Idea 1, the rest of the ad continues as before.]

So there are two ideas I've had.  Hopefully, you all will have some more to share and thoughts on whether the idea is a worthwhile exercise or not.  We would love to hear them, our region needs it!

By: Kelby Russell, Winemaking Team

Music of the Day:
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Friday, February 4, 2011

A Mental Vacation From Winter

We live in such a visually beautiful much to be exploited by photos! I've been planning for the arrival of Spring and Summer of 2011 here at the winery, which made me go back and organize some photos from a shoot earlier this year.  This first photo is an absolute magazine cover taken by Glen Sanders, a photographer who has done lots of work for Wine Spectator

Winter in the Finger Lakes!

If only! How nice to remember the vineyards from only a few short (warm) months ago.

It was quite a chore leading the photographer around for 4 or 5 hours, but in the end we think it was worth every penny for these photos - especially in helping us escape the winter for a moment!  Take a look for yourself: 

Peter Bell and Tricia Renshaw
I had to make sure and “style” my subjects, although this one is pretty natural!
Winemaker and Assistant Winemaker
The last time we did this Peter and Tricia wore BRIGHT blue and
BRIGHT red t-shirts.  This works much better in our natural surroundings

Scott Osborn, President
Scott also makes a great subject (we styled him too).
What is this about?
Here, Scott is explaining how turkeys cling to the trellis and flap their wings
so that the grapes fall.  Before you know it two or three rows are stripped. 
Here Comes the Sun
What more could he ask for...
Ruth Osborn, Comptroller
...other than his beautiful wife, Ruth!

 John Kaiser, Vineyard Manager Extraordinaire
Our vineyard manager, however, was not entirely helpful…
he just does not want his picture taken.

 Peter Howe, Winery/Vineyard Wunderkind
Pete Howe is always moving so you have to get him on the fly.

Winemaker, or wine glass holder?
Peter, frankly, would be the first to admit he can be a difficult subject.
 Taking a sample in the Winery
Glen, however, did an amazing job capturing what
I think are some totally natural expressions from Peter.

 10,000 Watt Smile
And then there is always lovely Tricia...
 Tasting in the Winery
...never a bad photo of our Assistant Winemaker!

Finger Lakes or French Countryside?
All in all…a good day.

Of course there are the traditional vineyard photos – but what’s not to love? This property is stunning and certainly makes for a great subject.

By: Leslie Kroeger, Marketing Manager

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Occupational Hazards, Winemaker Style

When I started working at Fox Run more than a decade and a half ago, I took up with a dentist whose office was closer to my new home. After getting my records sent up from my old dentist’s office, I went in for my first exam and cleaning.

Laura, the extremely chatty hygienist, hadn’t been poking around in my mouth for more than a minute or two when she suddenly went quiet and furrowed her brow. “What do you do?” she finally asked, in a way that made it clear she wasn’t just making small talk. “Eye-ay-er,” I answered, which was the best I could manage with a gloved hand and sharp pick in my mouth. She didn’t know what I was saying.

“I look at a lot of teeth,” she said, “but I’ve never seen ones like yours.”

“Uh ake ine.”

“What? Wait a minute while I finish.”

As she continued on her hygienic way, she elaborated. “I can look in peoples’ mouths and tell a lot about their lifestyle. I can tell if they’re heavy coffee drinkers. I can tell if they’re heavy tea drinkers. Pipe smokers have distinctive teeth. So do cigar smokers, pot smokers, tobacco chewers, tooth grinders, bulimics…”


“The backs of their teeth are always badly eroded from contact with stomach acid. Anyway, you are none of the above. So what is it you do?”

“I put small quantities of wine in my mouth all day, hold them there, and then spit them out.”

There was a long pause.

“…..Excuse me?”

Laura told me that in addition to being badly stained, my teeth showed a distinct pattern of enamel erosion, especially at the gum line, which meant that major and costly repair work was in my near future.

“I don’t believe it…that’s what my horoscope said too!” I said, mouth agape.

She glanced down at my chart. “You Capricorns. Always with your superstitions!”

Laura asked me if there were any way I could use a machine to analyze the wines I was making, so as to give my pearly whites (actually they were spongy grays) a rest. I explained that while we do perform a number of lab analyses on our wines – pH, titratable acidity, residual sugar, alcohol content and the like – no apparatus existed that could tell if a wine smelled and tasted good. Hence the need to constantly put wine samples in our mouth, ponder them awhile, and then expectorate. (I didn’t tell Laura that my lab sink and drain bore the worst brunt of all, and needed the attention of a plumber every few years.)

Some time later I took a one-month sabbatical to teach at the University of Adelaide in Australia. One morning my horoscope told me that something momentous was going to happen that day, and sure enough, I happened upon an article in a trade journal titled “Winemakers, Look After Those Teeth!” The author was a dentist based in Canberra who had evidently had enough of whiny winemakers complaining that their choppers weren’t performing up to speed. He recommended using a recently developed product called Recaldent Tooth Mousse, which has the capacity to remineralize teeth and make them more resistant to acid attack.

The stuff is expensive and has to be shipped from Australia, but it really does work. I’ve told all my bulimic friends, who number in the thousands, about this product, as well as any winemaker who happens to complain of problems with tooth erosion.

And this morning I went in for my semiannual dental exam. Laura, the forensic dentistry expert, is long gone, but the staff there know that I am what’s called a Special Needs patient, and they indulge me accordingly. “Good for you!” they coo. “The staining is not that bad today! Good for you!”

By: Peter Bell, Winemaker

Music of the Day:
  • Dan Rooke; "Avenues of Forgiveness:"

Monday, January 31, 2011

What's In The Bottle: 2007 Pinot Noir

In several winemaking regions across the globe, the winter is a time for an annual ritual known as "the burning of the canes."  Given that the winter in a vineyard might otherwise be quite a bleak proposition, what with the standing outside in the cold for hours to carefully prune all the vines, having a festival of some sort only seems fair.  As such, the burning of the canes usually involves the collection of many of the trimmings from the pruning process for the creation of a bonfire for the pruners and assorted friends and family to gather around, cook over, drink wine, and be merry.  Or so goes the idyllic and romanticized view of the event which, it can not be forgot, occurs in the bitter cold.

In the Finger Lakes, the burning of the canes is not a tradition that we really partake in.  Perhaps this is because of the snow we have to deal with, the lack of people around in the off-season, or because it gets truly, arctic cold in these parts in January and February.  Instead, at Fox Run we have a small event we like to call "Sleds and Reds."

Sleds... (see the last photo)
To our safety manager's chagrin, the revelers quickly realized
that the packed snow in the driveway was much slicker than the
path he forged in the middle of the hill.

Some people might look at our winters and only see things to dread in them, thankfully we decided last year to embrace what our winters are.  If it is going to be snowy, we will make use of our wonderful slopes to undertake some epic sledding.  If it is going to be cold, we'll still have a fire, but we'll also stay warm with red wines, red hotdogs, chili, and any other treats that folks decide to bring along.  If it is a time of year when we don't see many people, we'll get as many of our winery and tasting room staff, friends, and family together to keep warm outside, have a great time, and laugh with (and at) one another as they navigate down the hill.

The Real Attraction
The fire was an exceedingly crowded location on the hill.

The kids who come out absolutely love the chance to sled down the hill (if not walking back up) as their parents listen to music, chat with one another, and watch for hours on end.  The dogs have a great time playing in the snow and just trying to figure out what all the crazy people are doing hurtling down a hill, over ramps, laughing, and then running back up the same hill again.  Being neither, my guess is that the parents and the dog owners are also appreciative of how much the afternoon takes out of their respective charges while being so much fun.

Is This Fun?
Maya watches over us quizzically as a child hurtles by on a sled.

In all of this, I did find time to pay attention to our 2007 Pinot Noir.  Unlike our first two "What's In The Bottle" posts, this wine is the current release you can find at our tasting room or in retail outlets and that is a reason why I wanted to write about it.  Yet another reason, however, is the interesting journey this wine has taken since it was produced and bottled.  In full disclosure, this is a wine that we found entirely distasteful only 16 months ago.  In a blind tasting, Peter described it as smelling medicinal or like a bandage.  Tricia and my descriptors were not any pleasanter.

If working in the wine industry has taught us nothing else, however, it is to trust what has been done in the vineyard and winery and let a wine resolve itself.  2007 was a peculiar year meteorologically in terms of heat, so peculiar that none of us had a blueprint for what a standard Finger Lakes "cool" climate Pinot Noir would look like from that year or certainly how it would evolve.  In retrospect a large number of the other Pinots we tasted from the 2007 Finger Lakes vintage at that time also were underwhelming, but hindsight is 20/20.

Regardless, we started tasting this wine seriously again about six months ago and discovered a lovely thing: the wine was aging beautifully.  Gone were the awkward candy aromas or worse from its acne-ridden bottled adolescence, it was coming into its own as a Pinot Noir.  Tasting it yesterday revealed a Pinot that continues to pick up beautiful cherry aromas on the nose that are balanced by a velvety texture and the flavors of mushrooms intermingling with red fruit we hope for in our Pinots.

...and Reds
I promise there were hotdogs and chili in the hot pots
as well, it was just too cold to get them out.

To me, the wine may have seemed a tad bit flat - I would have liked a touch more acid.  But as a winemaker working in the Finger Lakes, that is a regional bias that I doubt applies to the wine drinking public in general at all.  Regardless, it is a wine that is very pleasant and engaging in its mix of cherries and mushroomy earthiness at this moment.  Frankly, it is probably at its peak now and will keep if for another couple of years given that the flavor density is on the lighter side.

Most importantly, it should certainly be enjoyed as I enjoyed it yesterday: with great friends and in the best of surroundings (although I wouldn't suggest hot dogs as a pairing!).

By: Kelby Russell, Winemaking Team

Music of the Day:
  • Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf; "No One Knows"
  • You might think that sledding would involve some beautiful and evocative soft music, Satie or perhaps Guiraldi.  If you are thinking about sledding from inside the comfort of your house, yes.  Out in the cold, however, some strong uptempo music fit the mood much better of moving to stay warm!

Support Artists, buy the music you like!