As I sip on my favorite sweet white wine from Bagg Dare Winery, I’ll begin my story. You know how sometimes you have something planned and look forward to it for so long that when it actually gets here, it’s slightly disappointing? Yea, I’ve been there. But not this trip! This trip was so relaxing that we were able to truly unwind in only a few days. We had more fun than we had in quite a while — and Tom and I were able to get away — just the two of us.
Although, I felt connected to all my friends and family. My brother, Bob was texting us and emailing me as to where to go and what to see. And, If you’re connected with me on Facebook, you may have followed our trip through my Instagram posts! I had so much fun relaxing on a bench by a waterfall in the sun — or in a winery tasting wine — or in a restaurant, getting hot dogs at a place known for chicken — while documenting everything on Instagram. And we laughed — we laughed at stupid things — we laughed when we ended up where we weren’t supposed to be — and, Tom made me laugh with his “bathroom” stops — me finding the absolute closest winery — him driving as fast as he could to get there. I think I spent $150 on wine just because I felt like I had to buy something while he was using their bathrooms. And, my favorite quote of the weekend from Tom, “I just drive — (and drink)” — very ho-hum as I flipped through the map, directing him where to go. We had a blast wine tasting.
Oh, the Sheldrake Point Winery. That was the best laugh of all. So, I directed Tom down a back road that was supposed to end on the Cayuga Lake at some “beach.” Well, it turned out to be private property. I got the giggles while he was trying to turn around, completely annoyed at me for taking him on private property — yet again! I still laugh at that 12-point turn around. Shortly after that, he asked me to find the closest winery. Thank goodness we got a map from AAA and all of the wineries were indicated on this map. The Sheldrake Point Winery was the closest vineyard to us — and not one of our scheduled stops.
We get there, we notice that they have an event tent set up. Tom’s going as fast as he can, asking me where I thought the entrance was. A woman steps out from the tent and asks us if we’re there for the herb and wine tour. I nod “no, we’re just here for the regular wine tasting,” and she points me to another entrance. Tom is about 10 feet ahead of me and is practically running past the taste bar, as the guy asks him if he wants a wine tasting. He says, “no, where’s your bathroom?” And the guy points toward the back. I’m still laughing now as I sip my wine. The moment was priceless.
So, I’m standing there with this guy, and I tell him that I’ll do the wine tasting. It’s $5, and I gladly hand that over to him. And then, we realize he doesn’t have any sweet wines — only dry. So, this is going splendidly awkward. But, he does have a dessert wine — Ice Wine. For my $5, I can only get a sip of that. But, it was fantastic — the best wine I have ever had — and $70 a bottle. And, while I waited for Tom for what seemed to be 15 long minutes, I learned that they harvested those grapes at the end of January while they’re still frozen on the wines. This condition can only exist in certain climates — like the NY Finger Lakes. I also learned that if a bottle of dessert wine is called “Iced” instead of “Ice”, then it’s fake. It’s still a dessert wine, but it’s made from grapes harvested in early Fall and then the juice is frozen. Those wines are cheaper — like $25 a bottle.
The grounds at the Sheldrake Point Winery are amazing. The grass is so green — and I find Daffodils blooming everywhere. We walk up a hill and find a bench that has an amazing view of the Cayuga Lake. The weather is perfect. Behind me are fields and fields of vineyards. I wish they had their leaves, because they still look barren. We take some time to soak it all in. We’re in no rush and our agenda is completely flexible!
So, I jumped ahead a bit. Our first night, we spent in Seneca Falls, NY and went downtown to eat at Parker’s Pub and Eatery, while exploring the town a bit. It was a very cool pub with awesome food — it reminded me very much of the pub we went to in downtown Ellicottville, NY near Holiday Valley Ski Resort back in 2011. There just aren’t places like that in Pittsburgh.
Back in the winter, I bought this fantastic reference book on the Finger Lakes. We had decided before going that we wanted to do more than just stop at wineries along the two lakes. So this book was invaluable to us as it helped us plan our trip. It included all kinds of tips and recommendations. We learned from this book that Seneca Falls was the inspiration for the town featured in the 1946 movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This movie is definitely my top Christmas movie and makes my top five of all time movie favorites.
We also drove across the bridge that in the movie George Bailey jumped off of to save the Angel, Clarence. The town has named it’s cornerstone hotel, Hotel Clarence. We drove to a small gazebo area along the water, where I took a photograph of a tree that it’s leaves were just beginning to sprout. Spring was definitely a few weeks behind Pittsburgh. As we sat on a bench there, a couple of teenagers came to get Prom pictures in the gazebo. I really enjoyed just sitting on the bench in the 75° temperature with the warm sun — it was so nice to have no where to be and we weren’t in any kind of rush.
Sunday we drove along Rt. 89S, along the Cayuga Lake, headed toward Ithaca. Absolutely beautiful — and Tom and I talked about how wonderful it would be to own a home there. The weather was gorgeous on Sunday, and we decided to visit all of the waterfalls that we could get to without having to hike a long distance.
The first was the Taughannock Falls State Park, located along Rt. 89 and the Cayuga Lake and featured the Taughannock Falls, the tallest falls east of the Mississippi. Bob had told me that little fact — and that when he was there last August, this waterfall was completely dried up with not even a trickle of water. I found that hard to believe as it was gushing and just amazing — these gorges were formed millions of years ago by glaciers. You’re allowed to swim at many of these waterfalls. I couldn’t believe this is right in our back yard — who knew!
We stopped at another five or six falls, all located on the southern end of the Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. But the most amazing site was at Aunt Sarah’s Falls, south of Watkins Glen, NY. The day had become overcast, but as I was taking Tom’s photo, a glow from the sun was breaking over just those falls, but you couldn’t see the sun itself or the glow anywhere else — it was truly magical — truly amazing — and I believed God was showing us his presence among us, reminding us how beautiful he made this earth.
We had a wonderful adventure on Monday! We started at our favorite winery — Three Brothers Wineries & Estates. This winery is made up of three separate wineries and one brewery. Bagg Dare is my favorite winery and this year they introduced a dessert wine — we bought two of that without tasting it. We also stocked up on our favorites, “Well Hung,” and “Poor Limp Richards.”
Then we headed over to Stony Lonesome, another winery on the estates. We were invited to do a wine tasting to help them choose their 2013 dessert wine! What an honor that was!!! They only had a few bottles of their current dessert wine from 2012 on the shelves. The wine maker was there, as well as one of the brothers and some other members of their family or maybe some were employees. And they had marked three bottles of wine — in clear glass bottles — with masking tape. One was marked 6%, another 8% and the last was marked 10%. The wine maker explained how he made the wine, why he needed us to test it — and told us the higher the percent on the bottle, the more sugar that was added to the batch. We met two other couples — one from Massachusetts and the other from New Jersey — and we each selected a different bottle as our preferred choice. We preferred #2, or the bottle marked with 8%.
The owner gave us what was left of that bottle to finish in our room that evening. We finished it with awesome dessert from our hotel at the Belhurst Castle (the hotel we stayed at for Sunday and Monday evenings).
I could go on and on about the people we met at the wineries, the sites we saw and the adventures we had. It was a very special weekend for us, celebrating the good news we had received in February. We look forward to going back in July for the Musselman Triathlon that Bob is participating in. So, I raise my glass to all those who showed us a good time this past weekend.
To clean glasses and old corks! Cheers.