Please note both the pre-conference and post-conference excursions are now sold out.  Please contact kerry@zephyradventures.com to be added to our waitlist.

The Finger Lakes wine region is large, the lakes themselves are long, and there is no way we can see all of the area on the five-hour wine country excursions included on Friday afternoon as part of the conference. In fact, we limit the drive time to no more than one hour from Corning, which means you won’t be able to see the northern half of any of the major lakes.

Because of this, we have partnered with two local winery associations to provide an overnight Pre-Conference Excursion and a day trip Post-Conference Excursion within the Finger Lakes region. The excursions are open only to registered conference participants and are each limited to 50 people. There is an additional cost to both the pre-con overnight excursion ($50 for Citizen Bloggers, $100 for all others) and post-con excursion ($25 for Citizen Bloggers, $50 for all others). To receive the discounted rate, Citizen Bloggers agree to write at least one blog post about each excursion.

To register for either or both excursions, please use our standard WBC registration form if you have not yet registered for the conference or this special WBC excursion registration form if you are already registered for the conference.

Pre-Conference Excursion to Seneca Lake

The 2015 Pre-Conference Excursion will be hosted by the Seneca Lake Winery Association with a visit to the northern half of Lake Seneca. Wineries are spread throughout Seneca Lake and this is the only way you’ll be able to visit the northern half of the region as part of the conference.

The excursion will start with a pickup on Wednesday, August 12 at either the Radisson Hotel (1:00 PM) or Elmira Corning Regional Airport (1:30 PM) and will end no later than 5:00 PM at the Radisson Hotel on Thursday. A block rooms has been reserved at the Hampton Inn in Geneva, New York at the discounted rate of $145 per night, including a complimentary hot breakfast. Please book your own room for August 12th using the link above no later than July 8th.

On Wednesday afternoon, excursion participants will visit Villa Bellangelo.  You will be greeted with a pour of Rose, Moscato or Chardonnay along with a copy of the book A Sense of Place, written by the winery’s owner Christopher Missick. Christopher will provide a presentation on the history of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Attendees will then spend an hour participating in four separate tasting and education stations: 1) King’s Garden 10 Year Vertical Tasting of Finger Lakes Cabernet Sauvignon, 2) Bellangelo Riesling Experience – Brief education seminar concurrent with tasting the dozens of Rieslings they currently have, 3) Side-Hill Acres and Schtayburne Cheddar Cheese samplings – locally produced cow and goat cheeses on display for tasting with some other local fare, 4) “Others” – a tasting of the experimental and alternative wines Villa Bellangelo is making (skin fermented white wines, specialty desert wines, and unusual varietals), and 5) a tour of the cellar.

You will then be able to check into the Hampton Inn in Geneva for an hour’s break at 4:30 PM. This is another opportunity to meet the group for those not making the early afternoon meeting times.

The evening activities will be at Ventosa Vineyards with the theme of Finger Lakes Women (#FLXWomen). Women are changing the way we eat and drink, and have made significant contributions to the sustainable food and farming movement across the Finger Lakes. Women now run about 14 % of the nation’s farms, up from a mere 5% in the 1980s. They have long been involved in agriculture but, even just a generation ago, it was harder for women to take leadership roles on the farm.  The percentage of female farmers has grown 30% in the last decade and is on a steady rise.  The array of scientists, farmers, entrepreneurs, wine makers and professionals included in this event will be engaging and uniquely informative. A short informational seminar will be led by Dr. Anna Katherine Mansfield, Assistant Professor of Enology at Cornell University.  Participants will then have time to meet with the women to get to know a little more about them and the business they represent, all while sampling offerings of locally made cheese, cider, wine, coffee and other woman-made products.  Dinner will be prepared in conjunction with local female Chef Heather Tompkins. Confirmed Panel Participants include:

  • Kas Deys, Biochemist & Grape Geneticist, Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Jenna LaVita winemaker Ventosa Vineyards
  • Heather Tompkins, Chef/Owner, Opus Espresso and Wine Bar, Graduate of the Culinary Institute of America
  • Nancy Murray. Co-Owner of Muranda Cheese Waterloo NY
  • Marti Macinski, Winemaker/Owner, Standing Stone Vineyards,
  • Deva Maas, Cider maker/owner, Red Byrd Cider,
  • Liz Leidenfrost, Winemaker/Grape Grower/Activist, Leidenfrost Vineyards
  • Erica Paolicelli, Partner, General Manager, Three Brothers Winery & Estates
  • Mary Howell, organic agriculture pioneer in the Finger Lakes
  • Susan Friguliette Owner of Java Gourmet, Keuka Lake Coffee Roaster and Seneca Salt Company

Thursday morning the group will depart at 10:00 AM for a morning session at the Anthony Road Wine Company for a presentation on A Family’s Winemaking Lifestyle. Ann and John Martini have been in the heart of the business for over 25 years. They are involved in the varied aspects of the industry – which just isn’t a job for them, but a lifestyle. As John would say “we are farmers first” and since that is where it began with Martini Vineyards growing for Taylor Wine Company, and many home winemakers back in the 70’s, and then transitioning to a farm winery when the grape market bottomed out. Now in their 25th year of production as Anthony Road Wine Company, they will be providing an overview of the region’s history, promotion of NY wines when people thought little of them, and increasing awareness of the quality of grapes and thus wine that the Finger Lakes region has to offer.

You will have a tasting with winemaker Peter Becraft who will introduce his philosophy of winemaking and the challenges he faces while engaged in a lifetime of learning about our regional fruit and wines. This will include some of his small batch wines that were treated differently or that Anthony Road has not produced in the past, like a Grüner Veltliner and a barrel-fermented Pinot Gris. The tasting will then move to the tasting room where participants will be able to taste a variety of wins, beers, ciders, and food products from the local area.

In the afternoon, it is on to Fox Run Vineyards for an Analysis of Terroir. We’ll start with a tour of the vineyard including an overview of the unique terroir of Fox Run compared to other wine regions and different parts of the Finger Lakes. We will also talk about one specific component of terroir: the soil. You will learn what the vineyard managers monitor to promote better flavors in the grapes, see examples of various soil types in the vineyard, and understand the different shorelines that existed as modern day Seneca Lake was formed.

Following the tour, we’ll return to the barrel room for a light lunch, including a selection of foods using local ingredients, each paired with wine tastings. The discussion will continue with respect to how the local terroir affects other types of farms. How is the soil monitored and kept to ideal standards for each type of farming? For a carrot to be considered nutritious, what elements are monitored? How does a farmer grow healthy grass that its animals will eat and finally be sold as a nutritious cut of meat?

Post-Conference Excursion to Cayuga Lake

The 2015 Post-Conference Excursion will be hosted by the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, which has 16 wineries, one cidery, one meadery, and four distilleries. Again, many of these businesses are located on the northern half of the lake, too far from the conference location to visit during the Friday excursions, so signing up for the post-conference excursion is the only way you’ll be able to see the entire Cayuga Lake area.

The excursion will start with a pickup on Sunday, August 16 at the Radisson Hotel at 1:00 PM and will end no later than 9:00 PM back at the hotel that evening. You should plan to book an extra night at the Radisson if needed.

After driving to the area, we’ll split the group in two with half going to Thirsty Owl Wine Co. and the other half going to the Goose Watch Winery. Since each winery is on the lake, we’ll then switch by boat to the second winery, courtesy of Water to Wine Tours. You’ll have the chance to meet all 17 of the winery members at the two wineries:

  • At Goose Watch Winery – Treleaven by King Ferry Winery, Long Point Winery, Montezuma Winery & Hidden Marsh Distillery, Swedish Hill Vineyard, Varick Winery & Vineyard, Knapp Winery, Buttonwood Grove Winery, Toro Run Winery
  • At Thirsty Own Wine Co. – Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery, Hosmer Winery, Lucas Vineyards, Bellwether Hard Cider and Wine Cellars, Americana Vineyards, Six Mile Creek Vineyard

Dinner will be at Knapp Winery & Vineyard Restaurant, with a vineyard and cellar tour to precede dinner. Knapp’s Executive Chef John McNabb will prepare dinner alongside chefs from others member winery restaurants.

You’ll then be dropped back at the Radisson in Corning by 9:00 PM that evening.