Archives for June 2008

Andy becomes a big time Judge

Andy becomes a big time Judge

I was recently asked to Judge the NYS Fair commercial Wine Competition last Saturday. This definitely was a day to remember – tasting and spitting; tasting and spitting, all day long. Of course, I had never experienced this before…usually I drink my wine. But seriously, there were some VERY good wines from all over the State. One thing I was thinking as I sampled the many different wines, “my own wines would win medals at this competition”. And I plan on entering some of them next year. Wish me luck:)


The committee was pleased to have 20 wineries entering for the first time.  There were 67 wineries entering a total of 437 wines.  On Saturday, June 21, 2008, twenty four judges from the east coast manned six panels to taste wines representing all seven wine producing regions of the Empire State.  The judges were selected on their knowledge of wines made from cold climate grapes.  The judging panels were representative of professionals in publishing, education, distributing, sales, restaurants, broadcasting, advertising, wine making, consulting and journalism.

Nearly every winery won an award.  There were 19 Double Gold awards given as well as 26 Gold, 133 Silver, and 161 Bronze.  The Best of Show “Blue Ribbon Award” went to Long Point Winery for their 2004 Long Point Cabernet Sauvignon.  This same wine took Best of Category-Red Wine.  In addition, Goose Watch Winery’s NV(non vintage) Snow Goose won Best of Category for White Wine.  The Best Sparkling Wine award went to Swedish Hill Winery for their NV Blanc de Blanc.  Hunt Country Vineyards won Best of Category Dessert Wine for their 2006 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Estate Bottled.  The Best of Category for Fortified Wine went to a first time entrant, Hudson-Chatham Winery for their NV Paperbirch Raspberry Fine Ruby. The Best of Category Fruit Wine was Torrey Ridge’s NV Scarlet Red.   Penguin Bay was awarded Best of Rosé/Blush with their 2007 Rosé of Chambourcin. As examples of consistency in winemaking, as well as judging, these last two wineries won the same awards in 2007.  A complete list of all the winners can be found online at

A crew of 14 dedicated volunteers worked hard to keep up with the washing and polishing of glasses, pouring and serving the wines, and data entry of the wine scores, all while maintaining the integrity of a totally blind judging.  The State Fair Entry Department was notified of the results at the conclusion of the competition.

The committee was especially pleased with the 37 awards won by wineries that had entered for the first time.  Several judges commented on the high quality of wines entered this year.  We are excited that our competition continues to grow and improve.  We wish to express our thanks to all who participated and our congratulations go out to all the award winners.

Fairgoers can view the top award winning wines, which will be on display in the “Giant Wine Bottle” in the Horticulture building during the fair.  Samples of wines entered in the competition are available to fairgoers following most of presentations in the Demonstration Kitchen in the lower level of the Arts and Home Center.  Again, volunteers will be on hand to serve wine and answer questions.


I received a call today from Troy at NYS Assemblyman Bill Magee’s office. He said, ‘your bill passed the Assembly by a unanimous vote”. MY BILL?, I think. WOW! UNANIMOUS!

For close to a year I have been trying to get legal permission to do in New York State what has been legalized by the Federal Government for probably 7 years. And now it’s finally here folks: permission for people to make their own wine at a Licensed Winery. The following are the exact words of BILL #7194:

Section 76 of the alcoholic beverage control law is amended by adding a new subdivision 7 is added to read as follows:

7. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a winery licensed pursuant to this section may engage in custom crush wine production allowing individuals to assist in the production of wine for sale for personal or family use provided, however, that (a) the wine must be purchased by the individual assisting in the production of such wine and (b) the owner, employee or agent of such winery shall be present at all times.

But, this is only one hurdle. A more difficult task is approval by the State Senate, in particular Senator John DeFrancisco, who is co-sponsoring this bill. Please give him a call at (315) 428-7632 and tell him how much you want Bill #7194 passed. They will be recessing for the Summer I think next week, so don’t put off your call.

In the mean time, you can continue to make your own wine as a privilege of membership to our FREE wine making club.


p.s. There is another bill in the works that will allow people to make wine at a facility NOT licensed by the State Liquor Board. They would be able to get a separate license just for that purpose from the State Department of Agriculture and Market. The wheels turn slowly in government…but they do turn.

Silver Springs Winery WOW’S our Wine Club

Silver Springs Winery WOW’S our Wine Club

A few weeks ago, our wine club the Syracuse Wine Meetup Group caravaned into the Finger Lakes Region of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. Using designated drivers, we stopped at several different wineries, some very ostentatious looking buildings having mediocre wine. Our last stop was this little ‘hole in the wall’, and our group was blow away by their wines. Silver Springs Winery only had a small number of red wines, but we agreed they were the best reds we had that whole day.

I’m coming from a history of not liking wines until only a few years ago (I’m 53 now). As one liquor store owner told me last week: “The taste of 95% of our wines aren’t worth selling”. I had the unfortunate experience of not tasting wines before I purchased them. All that has changed since I began making wine at Lakeland Winery. Because of the thousand’s of different wines (and the tastes change EVERY year) being produced,  my advice to new wine drinkers is take the recommendation of a trusted source. Than, as your experience and tastes grow, trust yourself. I’m still not to the point where I appreciate the driest wines, but who cares. I’m having fun along the way:)

New York Wines win International Gold Medals

New York Wines win International Gold Medals

This came from the most recent Uncork New York publication. Thought you should know…hopefully Lakeland Winery’s wines will be able to compete in the future. Always keep in mind, even if it’s “Best of Show” doesn’t mean you need to like them. It just means every single judge felt it deserved a gold medal, and more. And never feel ashamed you can’t taste the difference between what you like and what other so called experts like, because your preference is personal. That’s one thing I’ve learned: You may love it but the person standing next to you will make a face that sends a different message! Please be patient, your appreciation of different wines will change as you explore a larger variety of wines.

NEW YORK GOLD keeps flowing in, most recently from the International Eastern Wine Competition, one of the country’s oldest and largest judgings, this year with 2,250 entries. New York won a total of 245 medals, topped by the Casa Larga 2005 Vidal Ice Wine (Best of Show Dessert Wine), Rooster Hill 2006 Semi-Dry Riesling (Best of Class), and the Peterson family-owned triad of Goose Watch, Penguin Bay and Swedish Hill racking up 3 Double Golds, 5 Golds, 16 Silvers and 14 Bronzes. Their Double Golds were Goose Watch 2007 Traminette, Penguin Bay 2007 Pinot Grigio and Swedish Hill Blanc de Blanc, accompanied by Golds for Goose Watch 2007 Viognier, Penguin Bay 2007 Gewurtztraminer and Percussion, and Swedish Hill Blue Waters Riesling and 2007 Cayuga White. Other New York Double Golds went to Cayuga Ridge 2006 Cayuga White, Dr. Frank 2005 Merlot, Eagle Crest 2006 Cayuga White, Earle Estates Apple Enchantment, and Sheldrake Point 2007 Riesling Ice Wine. Other Golds went to Brookview Station 2007 Whistle Stop White (Apple Wine), Jamesport 2005 Pinot Noir, Keuka Spring 2006 Crooked Lake Red, Lieb 2006 Pinot Blanc, Lucas 2007 Dry Dock, Peconic Bay 2005 Chardonnay, Red Tail Ridge 2006 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, and Ventosa Vineyards 2005 Cabernet Franc and Tocai Friulano. Perhaps most significant, out of 250 New York wines entered, 245 won medals (only five did not), reflecting the “quality revolution” in New York across the Board in terms regions and varietals.


Andy’s How to Make Wine Videos — Step 1

Step 1: Starting the process of making wine from a juice concentrate kit. Let me know what you think!