Written by Stacy Gray, Tasting Room Manager
Your BFF is getting married! Your sister is turning the big 3-0! What better way to enjoy a day out in the beautiful Finger Lakes than to charter a limo or bus, gather up all your besties, and check out these amazing wineries you’ve heard so much about!
Ok… so… where do you start?
What IS a wine tour, anyway? A wine tour is an excellent opportunity to sample some wines in order to choose your favorites to bring home with you – in a beautiful setting with friendly staff to help you along the way! It’s best to aim for 3-5 wineries in a day, with a planned stop for lunch along the way.
The first thing you’ll want to do is choose a lake to visit. There are many great wineries surrounded by beautiful scenery throughout the Finger Lakes, so you may want to pick the lake closest to home, or one with a wide variety of wineries. Or maybe, like many of our guests, you have a favorite must-visit winery and plan your tour around that area.
Ok, great! Next, it’s a good idea to do a little research about the wineries you’d like to visit. Check out their websites for group tasting policies, amenities, and events. You may discover a winery has live music, a unique restaurant, or any other number of things going on. One thing to check for is “Wine Trail Events” – this is something you may want to participate in, or, you may want to avoid the crowds! At Glenora you can reserve a special Chocolate & Wine Experience, or a cellar tour to see how the wine is made. You can also plan to have lunch at our restaurant, Veraisons, or even stay overnight with us at our Inn!
Next, you will want to pick a date – aiming for at least a month out is a good idea. An insider tip – Saturdays are the busiest day by far along the trail, so if you’d like a little more personal attention without fighting the crowds, picking a Sunday or weekday is a very smart idea! Here at Glenora, through the end of August, our reward members get double points on Wednesdays and Fridays… just sayin’! Not familiar with our Rewards Program? Learn more here.
Once you’ve decided on a lake and a date, you can start calling your chosen wineries to make reservations. The folks at the wineries are eager to help arrange your visit and are happy to answer your questions. Keep a notepad, a pen, and a credit card for deposits handy when you call. Most wineries have a cut off time in the afternoon for larger groups, so try to reserve your first tasting right when the first winery opens – usually 10am. Glenora’s tasting room opens at 9am during the summer months, so make a point to see us first!
Of course, you’ll want to hire transportation or designate a driver for your adventure. There are many options for limos, buses, and even a company that will drive you around in your own vehicle. It’s well worth the peace of mind to know you have a safe, sober, experienced driver at the wheel. The transportation companies and drivers are knowledgeable and can make suggestions for must-visit wineries, restaurants, and best routes to take.
A few other tips for a successful wine tour:
When traveling with multiple friends, it can be hard after a while to remember who bought what wine bottles once they start accumulating in the trunk. A great idea I have seen, is folks bring along different colored stickers (for example, garage sale price stickers), and each person has their own color to put on the top of the bottles they buy. Super easy and super smart!
Something you might want to bring along is water and snacks, or even a packed lunch, if you don’t plan to stop at a local restaurant. Our tasting room cheese cooler is always stocked with local cheeses, charcuterie and crackers if you need a pick me up during the day and we have many picnic tables around our property, perfect for taking in the view of Seneca Lake while snacking on some local wares. Many wineries offer the same throughout the wine trail.
Another bit of friendly advice, wineries need to abide by the law, which means they are prohibited from serving folks who are intoxicated. Making sure your group is aware of this is always a good choice!
We hope you’ll include Glenora on your next wine tour! We offer a wide variety of wines to please any palate, friendly staff, an incredible restaurant and inn, and the most stunning views of Seneca Lake! But wherever you end up, I hope this post has been helpful and informative, and that you all have a great time here in Finger Lakes Wine Country!
To celebrate the long-waited arrival of Spring, we wanted to share a delicious and fun sipper, perfect for the sunny days ahead. This recipe comes from our talented team at Veraisons and marries two Finger Lakes wine favorites into one tasty concoction : Riesling and Dry Rosé. The infusion of lemon thyme adds a unique touch to this refreshing and light drink. Make a batch and enjoy with brunch or sip some on a sunny Spring afternoon!
Glenora Wine Cellars Riesling Rosé Sangria
1 bottle Glenora Riesling
½ c sugar
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 orange, sliced into thin rounds
1 pineapple, sliced into thin rounds
1 bottle Glenora Dry Rosé
4 sprigs lemon thyme
¼ c pineapple vodka
2 cup sparkling water
Written by Sous Chef Sarah Hassler of Veraisons Restaurant
Veraisons is not a vegan restaurant, but we have become a vegan-friendly (very friendly!) restaurant. When people learn of my passion for creating delicious meals free of animal product, they assume I must be vegan myself. My answer typically surprises people; while I am allergic to gluten and dairy, I am not, in fact, vegan.
A classically trained chef, I was taught the techniques of the French – none of which were animal-friendly by the way. There were no classes on vegan cooking; there were barely dishes to be served to the few who would attend. I was vegetarian upon entering the CIA – two months of eating polenta and mushrooms and I conceded.
As my school days have long since passed, I have discovered that I enjoy a challenge and a direction when creating dishes. The world of food is far too vast to create and streamline a meal without some frame to work within. Anything can play the role of the framework, preferences, theme, restrictions – veganism is just one more box to work within. That is why I chose to study food and become a chef – the knowledge is far beyond what one man could hold, and the chance to transform ingredients to suit is ceaseless. Chefs are truly students for life.
Orlando and I have a lot in common when it comes to the kitchen. We lead with our hearts, cook with our stomachs, and source food with our brains. When a guest walks into our dining room, we want them to have an amazing meal and a pleasurable experience. This goes for every guest, regardless of dietary restriction.
The dinner table is the place where humans come together. We all need to eat – it’s that basic. Regardless of color, creed, gender, or even (GASP!) political allegiances, seated at a table we are all equally human, fulfilling that common need. Why should it be any different for people with dietary restrictions?
Some of my chef-friends argue that the folks with “legitimate” reasons for having restrictions are “ok”, but those who choose to eat a certain way and expect restaurants to work around them are asking too much. To this I would reply – When did it become the right of the chef to take the choice away from the diner?
Perhaps this is a sign that we’ve taken our profession a few too many steps away from the blue-collar days. When we stop being grateful for the people walking through our doors and paying us to do something they could do themselves – and then post later on Pinterest! – we might want to check ourselves. The food isn’t about us – it’s about them.
The line that vegan food is somehow more “chemical” or made “in a lab” is also antiquated. Our world is filled with factory-farms and our shelves stocked with highly-processed foods, no longer recognizable from their original state, so this seems a bit high-brow to say. The reality is that all food is chemical…and it all equates to chemical energy. See? That student-for-life line wasn’t a lie!
My passion for creating vegan dishes comes from the same heart that creates dishes for omnivores. I remain endlessly grateful for the opportunity to pursue my passion as a career, to feed people delicious food, and to be consistently challenged to become a better cook…for humans.
As we gear up for Buen Provecho (simple Spanish translation: “Bon Appetit”), our first wine pairing dinner of the Spring season this Saturday, we’re shining a light on Chef Orlando’s menu inspirations, as well as what led him to become a chef, which means going back to his roots to where his love of cooking began…in his grandmother’s kitchen.
Throughout his childhood, Orlando could usually be found in her kitchen during family gatherings. He would watch large family meals come to life, take in the delicious aromas and join in the familial kitchen banter that many of us know and love.
A Connecticut native with Dominican heritage, Orlando is constantly inspired by his upbringing and culture, both of which play an integral role in his cooking, and of course, bring back many fun memories…like fighting with his aunt over who gets the pig tail.
Read on for more…
What sparked your interest in cooking?
My interest in the kitchen started as a young child. I was told that I would go into the kitchen cabinets and take out pots and pans to play with. All the family would get together on the weekends and make a massive family meal and everyone would help out. I would always hang out in the kitchen and watch my grandmother and my aunts prepare food. I was always impressed by the fact that they would dice onions and peppers in the palm of their hands (not a safe method by the way) never cutting themselves. I loved the smell of the peppers, onions, and garlic on the stove cooking that would linger in the air as they cooked, even still to this day. There wasn’t much I didn’t eat; I remember having arguments with one of my aunts about who was going to eat the pig tail. At the end, we would always end up sharing when there would be a pig roast.
I started to cook at home at the age of 8, not sure if I was just being scammed into making sandwiches, grilled cheese, and omelets, but my sisters always said I made the best food. They still swear that it was the truth to this day. Honestly, I think they just still want me to cook for them.
Did your grandmother use ingredients or any special methods that you use in your cooking today?
My grandmother and my family members still use a mortar and pestle, which is used to grind up spices and herbs. I also use a wooden one at my home.
Do you have a favorite dish or recipe of your grandmother’s?
I had the honor of helping out my grandmother marinate a pig a few years ago for Christmas. I say it was an honor because my mother and aunts told me later that no one was ever allowed to help marinate a pig with Grandma Carmen so I should feel privileged, which I was. Yes, the mortar and pestle was used that day, and no, I will not let you in on her secrets.
One of my favorite dishes is Mondongo. It is stewed tripe soup. Whenever family comes to visit my grandmother goes out of her way to make some and send it to me.
Can you tell us about the traditional Dominican treat Morir Soñando?
It is a traditional drink made with orange juice, milk, sugar, and vanilla. The translation of the word is died and gone to heaven.
What dish are you most excited about on the menu for this weekend?
Well, it would have to be Mondongo, of course.
With infinite options to ponder when it comes to ringing in the New Year, we thought we’d make it a bit easier on you and narrow down the ways to best celebrate the arrival of 2016 right here in the Finger Lakes at the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars.
Your evening could look something like this…
1. BUBBLES! Check in and enjoy your complimentary bottle of Glenora bubbly in your room while taking in the beautiful view of Seneca Lake.
2. The eats. If you haven’t dined at Veraisons before, NYE is a great time to do so as the options for delicious local cuisine are endless. If a multi-course meal is what you’re looking for, our NYE Tasting Menu is the just the thing for you. Looking for something on the lighter side? Enjoy appetizers in the Harvest Lounge followed by an entrée selection or small plate from our traditional dinner menu.
3. OPEN BAR. 3 hours. Enough said.
4. Dancing. Been yearning for a good night of dancing? Now’s your chance – B&B Sound won’t disappoint!
5. Hungry from all that dancing? Find some late night snacks in the Harvest Lounge to keep you going!
6. Midnight Balloon Drop & Champagne Toast. Usher in 2016 over a glass of bubbly while balloons cascade around you!
7. Don’t want to miss the Time Square festivities and the quintessential crystal ball? Watch it live in the Harvest Lounge all night!
8. Photos – NYE isn’t complete without the perfect photo op! Snap a selfie with friends or pose with your sweetie at our ‘oh-so-cold’ photo booth on the terrace. Peak your interest? Only one way to find out what we have in store!
9. When you’ve had your fill, mosey on down to your room to sleep and wake up to the panoramic view of Seneca Lake on New Year’s Day. For you early risers, try to catch the sunrise – you’ll thank us later! Don’t forget, a decadent Breakfast Buffet will be waiting at Veraisons and check out is late.
We hope you’ll consider joining us for what will be an exciting, unique, and not to mention, delicious evening!
Written by Sous Chef Sarah Hassler of Veraisons Restaurant
Autumn in New York might be a romantic cliché, but it is truly a chef’s dream season in the Finger Lakes. Farmers from all over the region send me emails every day with lists of available produce. Yes, farmers market via e-mail, welcome to the future everyone. Squash, beans, brassicas, apples, pears, grapes, and still the summer produce winds in with tomatoes, corn, peppers, eggplant, and melons. It is bounty at its fullest.
At Veraisons we have always taken the time to prepare a special feast that celebrates the season. For years our annual Harvest Dinner has marked a time to honor our farmers and our winemakers, to toast the end of tourist season, and to wind down into the quiet of winter – like a late-night bowl of Mom’s soup before bed.
This year our Harvest Dinner falls on Halloween, an occasion that happens only once every seven years. Talk about adding special to already-celebratory! Orlando and I wracked our brains to come up with spooky ideas – at one point there was a chicken pot pie with a clawed foot sticking out of the crust as a potential idea, quickly vetoed, but nonetheless memorable. Finally, one of us said “Let’s just go all out and do Harry Potter.”. Neither of us spoke for a bit, wondering if it might be ridiculous, and after a moment’s silence, we pounced.
Images of bountiful feasts rolled into our heads. Having read all of the books several times over (especially the audio versions – total #jimdalefangirl), I know how strongly that imagery takes hold. A young boy coming from a cold home he doesn’t belong in finds himself at an enormous table, surrounded by friends and food…so much food! Rowling nailed the relationship between food and comfort, highlighting the intimacy of breaking bread with friends and finding joy that multiplies.
Think about your favorite food memories. I’m willing to bet that they rarely, if ever involve you eating alone, dining on something you made yourself. Most likely they revolve around family, or a longing for family (care packages from Mom while you were at college anyone?).
The equation so far:
Autumn harvest romance + deeply imbedded nostalgia + chefs = truly awesome dinner plans
So the idea was born – do a Hogwarts themed dinner, serving the food family style at communal tables. We plan to separate guests into houses and leave the platters for sharing and available seconds. We’ll serve Butter Beer and Polyjuice Potion and the dessert course will be nothing short of a child’s dream – treacle tart, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate frogs, ton-tongue toffee, and trifle. We’re leaving the rock-cakes at Hagrid’s hut for the night.
The books we read play a role in the direction of our lives. Harry Potter and his tales have long been in a thread in mine. Attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York felt very much like my own Hogwarts adventure – only with more food and less house elves. Click here for an article I wrote for their alumni magazine, Mise En Place, back in 2011 on the subject.
Whether the plan is to wind down the season and shake the hands of our farmers or to immerse yourselves in the world of magic (at least the of culinary sort), I hope to see you at our Great Harvest Feast this year!
Author Bio: Sarah Hassler is the Sous Chef of Veraisons Restaurant. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a native of the Finger Lakes region, Chef Hassler has a keen understanding of flavor and nuance and a reverence for the agricultural community, bringing local ingredients into her cooking as much as possible. She has been a member of the Glenora team, in between her time at CIA and professional experiences in the Hudson Valley and Corning, since 2009.
In late August, we began a project to repaint the winery to match the colors of the Inn and Veraisons; quite the exciting time for us as it would be the second time the winery received a fresh coat since our opening in 1977.
Earlier in the summer, we learned from our maintenance team that repainting the building was on the agenda before fall’s arrival, and after a few color scheme discussions, the idea to match the Inn was born and we took off running. We could envision the beautiful, cohesive look it would create and as the painting began, we could see it becoming a reality. There isn’t a better feeling than that!
As the paint job neared completion, a new and improved awning was next on the list, replacing the original which went up in the mid-90’s. We documented the process all along and have compiled some before and after images for your enjoyment! If you haven’t seen our new look in person, we hope you can visit us soon!
As we get closer to summer and local produce begins to arrive more steadily to Veraisons, Chefs Rodriguez and Hassler have set out on a mission to highlight the many wonderful farms who provide delicious and unique ingredients for their menus year in and year out. They work closely with more than a dozen farms and always pack their menus with local produce, meats and cheeses, typically called out on the menu by their farm name, however this season they’d like to let diners know a little bit more about the farms that make these menus possible.
To do so, they put their heads together and came up with a new method for daily dinner specials. Each evening or as ingredients are available, dinner specials will feature ingredients from a specific farm, as well as details about that farm.
Last week marked the first “Featured Farm” special menu and Lucky Dog Farm of Bradford, NY was in the spotlight, specifically their asparagus, which was the first to arrive at Veraisons’ backdoor this year. From late March to November, they also provide a steady supply of salad greens.
This week the focus shifts to Evergreen Farm in Rock Stream, NY, just down the road. As you might guess as its still early in the season, rhubarb is the focus of the special menu this week and it isn’t just limited to food. A new cocktail, the Rhubarb Cosmo, features Finger Lakes Distilling Vintner’s Vodka, house-made rhubarb simple syrup and a splash of Cointreau and lime juice. Thanks to rhubarb’s influx in early spring and the efforts of our chefs, this cocktail will be available all summer long and even into the fall. Evergreen Farm also provides a variety of ingredients during peak season like Romaine lettuce, baby carrots, heirloom tomatoes, and much more.
Take a peek at this week’s menu and consider joining us for an innovative, locally sourced meal! Strawberries have just started to roll in so chances are some delicious, summery specials are on the horizon.