When I think of a winery, I think of more than just wine.  Big or small, a winery should be about the whole experience – the friendships, the food, the winemaking process, and of course, the natural beauty of a vineyard.   The murals adorning the interior walls of Lakeland Winery depict rolling hills and harvest images of such a place – I can never look on them for long without feeling a bit “transported.”   On one such occasion last year my thoughts changed from “Ah, I wish…” to “Hey, let’s do it.”

After many months of planning, weeks of preparation, and days of hard labor, Lakeland Winery now boasts a vineyard of 94 Riesling vines. Thank you Liza, Jenn, Bob, Janis, Andy Bashford and family, Mike, Kathy and husband for your pleasant company and assistance with the preparation and planting!

Riesling was an obvious choice.  Like Central New Yorkers, Riesling vines are a hardy breed that weather the cold Syracuse winters. I chose grapes from Hermann Wiemer’s nursery because they’re earning world-class notoriety, winning gold medal awards at some international wine tasting competitions. What could be nicer than a gold medal from the Taster’s Guild International competition, won by Lakeland Winery!   For now, the vines simply provide ambiance and greenery.  But when they’re mature in five to seven years, the little vineyard will produce about 280 gallons (that’s 47 carboys) of delicious wine!   After primary fermentation in new large stainless steel tanks, the wine can be racked to glass carboys and customized to individual tastes via the “adopt a jug” program.   From there, the possibilities are almost limitless – more or less sweetness?   French or American oak flavor?  Perhaps a slight hint of elder flowers?   While the vineyard won’t produce enough grapes to sell directly to customers, it may yield a few clippings for you to grow your own vines.   (Of course, then, you would be expected to carry on the proud tradition of these grapes, enter a competition, and win gold for yourself!)  By the way, our next-door-neighbor, the owner of Lakeland Car Wash, wants me to plant vines on his property too.   I’m still thinking about that one…