Yep, it was a while ago. And it was hotter than stink, however hot that is. Put another way, it was very very hot. But, even so, we got in the car and drove to Watkins Glen. In fact, we drove through what we think of as Watkins Glen in the direction of -- gasp -- the race track, where neither of us has been and where the Finger Lakes Wine Festival was held. (Thanks to this site for the image. . . ) It was much further than we thought, and much bigger. And the festival was filled with folks. Not to mention -- several tents of wine tastings and various oddball foodie items as well as thises and thats. For the $30 (per person) admission we got a map of the area and a (maybe) 50 page spiral bound wine tasting notebook, as well as a wine glass. (No, the admission does not cover the beer -- aka brewer's -- garden, for which there was a separate glass, but see more below on that.)
We wandered some and eventually went into several of the tents set up for wine tasting. Our first purchase: some olive oil. The company, called Cosimano e Ferrari seems to sell at the Rochester Public Market too. We got a light and fruity and a more heavy olive oil. Both are very tasty and we'd buy form them again. Our other purchases? Some delicious peanut brittle (from Virginia -- a light, and airy sort of brittle. Very good). The company name? Betty Jane's Sweet Delights. And, we bought two bottles of wine, one from Thirsty Owl, right on Route 89. The pinto gris was delightful. It was so hot we shared a fruit based (non dairy) smoothie, which was quite wonderful, and made by a company which also tantalized us into some almonds with cocoa and cayenne on them. They came in a lovely paper cone (that looked kind of like a handkerchief or blue bandana).The company, from Manlius, is called New York Almond Company and findable on line at www.newyorkalmond.com. The nuts were splendid -- not too hot, just the right touch of savory and sweet. We took home, as well, some lovely cake from Poppleton Pastries as well (they are, we think, from near Corning). It held up well to a day of neglect and made a swell dessert.
In addition to what we actually purchased, we did a few other thises and thats of tasting. There was, for example, some dandy mustard from www.wildmountaingourmet.com and a whole array of startling drink possibilities at the booth for Pazdar Winery, a booth that featured wine concoctions into which were infused lemon (for a lemoncello-like wine), habanero and other chilis (for wines to go with pizzas) and etcetera. They sound weird, I know, or like wines for the youth (aka college kids) among us. Nope -- they were actually tempting. Alas, the signage and some of the conversation was shockingly sexist (caused perhaps by their well known wine, naughty virgin, which is a bloody-mary-like concoction of wine and tomato essence). . . . despite the sexism, the tastes were memorable enough to cause me to try to find them on line since I have lost their card. And, of course, I did.So now you too can consider buying the oddest of odd -- and I should say the sexism was mostly buyers not sellers!
An overall festival review: well, we do wish we'd found the beer (brewer's) garden sooner (and that it was included in the overall price. Seems weird not to include it.) By the time we got there, there were only 2 places that still had beer and so we skipped the tasting. (and thus were deprived of the cute little beer glasses.) The people were totally dissimilar from the crowds at the wine tents -- and likable in many ways. So, too, was the music.We could not tell much about the beer, though it was not as slanted to micro-brewery as one might wish.
All in all, a very hot but very fun summer event where I learned about loads of new foodie possibilities -- not to mention Finger Lakes wines, music and Watkins Glen.And, we actually had to drive across the race speedway to get out; maybe next time a pace car ride? Anyone?