A word from Bill — October 2011

For a long time fall has been my favorite time of year. The change of colors lets us know the harvest of local farmers is well underway and the selling of their goods at local Saturday markets is in full swing. It has always been a great time to travel throughout the region to wineries and sample their products as well as watch their process. I’d like to share some thoughts with you about a recent trip we made.

We had a chance to travel a few weeks ago to the Finger Lake Region and found that the wine is getting better year over year and there are other businesses that are capitalizing on the area’s popularity. One of these complimentary products shows the emergence of a cheese industry that focuses on producing some fine products using fresh local raw materials. There is now a Cheese Trail that features ten producers that have samples and products for sale. We came away with two favorites.

One was Lively Run which offers a multitude of flavors of goat cheese fashioned after the French producers including herb, garlic and pepper. Having spent a week in France and having access to a local producer of fresh chevere, I am here to tell you that these folks get it right —it was delicious! If cheddar is your thing, the Muranda Cheese Company offers ten varieties of cheddar that will appeal to every palate. Owner Tom Muranda shared with us that the cheese trail has been so popular he will have to increase the size of both his production and his tasting room. Word of mouth has added to a growing cult following of his cheese that he has been approached by a large New York City gourmet cheese shop and been asked to supply them. Tom wants nothing to do with that as he wants to be able to continue to supply those wanting to buy his products locally and keep his prices reasonable. You’ve got to like that!

We had a chance to stop at the Canandaigua Culinary Institute. Another great opportunity to sample a number of different local wine flights that were nicely paired with fresh fall produce. The Institute hosts a teaching facility with a number of courses offered to the upstate New York locals. It is quite similar to what we offer at Algonquin College and had me thinking how lucky we are to have our facility and programs available to us.

Other stops we made were at the area’s pioneer, Dr. Konstantin Frank’s winery which is a must stop. The wines offered at Red Newt were quite good (especially the Riesling and Gewürztraminer). Best marks for the wine we tasted were at Hermann Wiemer’s winery. The sparkling wines were crisp, well- produced and enjoyable. The Rieslings are highly rated by Decanter magazine and rightfully so! Remember to mention that you are an Algonquin Sommelier Program graduate and a Guild member. We did and were always welcomed with open arms and the staff took more time to answered all of our questions.

We have a full slate of upcoming events including a tasting in November by our friend and Guild Governor Daniel Spec. Couple this with the upcoming Food and Wine Festival and it looks like an awesome fall schedule. See you there!

Cheers, Bill Ellis President