Finger Lakes (FLX) 2018 Trip

Finger Lakes map

Happy Sunday, wine lovers! We are excited to share our Finger Lakes (FLX) vacation experiences with you.

We visited the FLX from December 5 – December 9, 2018. Although it is a snowy and cold time of year to visit anywhere in upstate NY, we are so happy with our choice. If you love a nice, calm experience during your wine tastings, this is the best time of year to vacation in the FLX. We visited a total of 24 wineries during our trip and 90% of those tastings consisted of just us and the wine tasting associate. Having the time to chat one-on-one with the experts at each winery made our vacation much more educational and engaging.

If you do decide to vacation in the FLX during this time of year, pay close attention to off-season hours for the wineries. We received recommendations to do the same, but still experienced a few locations that were not open and their hours were not 100% accurate on their website.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Penn Yan, NY during our trip. The hotel seems to be on the newer side and the staff were all friendly. There were only a few couples/families staying at the hotel as well, so the experience was very relaxing and calm. For anyone unfamiliar with a Hampton Inn, the breakfast is complimentary and we enjoyed the offerings that were available. Staying in Penn Yan was somewhat convenient for visiting the wineries at each lake. The one lake that was more difficult to get to from Penn Yan was Cayuga Lake. There does not seem to be a convenient route, unfortunately.

As mentioned above, we were able to visit and experience a total of 24 wineries during our trip. We did not get to visit all of the wineries on our wish list, unfortunately. The one winery that we wish we could have visited was Heart and Hands. This was at the top of our wish list, but we ran out of time on our last day. We will definitely visit on our next trip!

See below for our notes from each winery. Please keep in mind that our experiences may differ from your own if you have visited or plan to visit in the future. Experiences will vary greatly depending on the associate working, other customers, palate, etc. Those marked with a ‘Yes’ under ‘Recommend?’ are considered our favorites. If one has a ‘Maybe,’ we we would revisit if we have extra time available. If a winery has a ‘No,’ that means we would not revisit on our next trip to the FLX.

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Some great food options we experienced during our trip were Ports Cafe, FLX Wienery, Silverbird Woodfired (great and quick bar food in Penn Yan, bit of a dive bar atmosphere), and Top of the Lake (right next to our hotel).

All in all, we enjoyed our vacation to the FLX very much. We came home with a total of 60 bottles (yes, 60!). We highly recommend you visit if you have not done so before. Please let us know if you have any questions or need any recommendations. We have made a few friends that are much more experienced with the FLX winery trails that may be a helpful resource as well! A huge shout out to both Terroir Twosome and Wino_Dino_ on Instagram who were helpful in us planning our trip!

Have you been to the FLX before? Have any favorites not mentioned on our list? Let us know!

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed

Finger Lakes Trip

The NJ Winery Reviewers are excited to announce that we will be heading to the Finger Lakes, NY this week! We have planned a trip filled with great wine and great food. We cannot wait to document our trip and bring back some great recommendations for you!

We will be visiting the Finger Lakes from Wednesday – Sunday of this week. While there, we plan to visit the following places (if time permits):

Winery Name
Americana Vineyards
Anthony Road Wine Company
Billsboro Winery
Bloomer Creek Vineyard
Fox Run Vineyards
Dr. Konstantin Frank
Fulkerson Winery
Glenora Wine Cellars
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
Hermann J. Winemer Vineyards
Heron Hill Winery
Hosmer Winery
Keuka Lake Vineyards
Lamoreaux Landing Winery
McGregor Vineyard
Ravines Wine Cellar
Red Newt Cellars
Sheldrake Point
Shepherdess Cellars
Wagner Vineyards

*If time permits, we would also like to visit Magnus Ridge Winery, Belhurt Castle and Winery, Miles Wine Cellars, and Hearts and Hands Winery.

With so many wineries in the Finger Lakes, we narrowed it down to this list from articles and recommendations from friends and fellow bloggers. We will do our best to take copious notes and bring back the best of this recommended list!

See below for the map of this list (did our best to color code the wineries by location). The yellow locations are the few we will visit if we have time available.

Thank you for visiting our page! Come back over the next few weeks for a recap of our trip.

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed

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Wine Club Memberships- An Overview

Good Evening, Wine Lovers!

We come to you on the night of the first snowfall of Fall/Winter 2018. So therefore, we are snowed-in and figured we would write a post!

We thought it would be helpful to write a post about our experiences with various Wine Club Memberships throughout New Jersey (and one in NY). With our experiences, we thought we could make recommendations on the best ones to join (based on the benefits). See below for a list of our current Wine Club Memberships:

  1. William Heritage Winery (Quarterly shipments)
  2. White Horse Winery (Tri-annual shipments)
  3. Sharrott Winery (Quarterly shipments)
  4. Amalthea Cellars (No wine shipments)
  5. Hawk Haven Winery (No wine shipments)
  6. Tomasello Winery (No wine shipments)
  7. Mount Salem Vineyards (Quarterly shipments)
  8. Unionville Vineyards (Quarterly shipments)
  9. Bedell Cellars (Quarterly shipments) (NY)

Some of these memberships do not require commitments or wine shipments (quarterly or tri-annually). Our current memberships that fall under this category are Amalthea Cellars, Hawk Haven Winery, and Tomasello Winery. Amalthea Cellars and Tomasello Winery require a fee to join their wine club and you receive benefits (discounts, wine-related gifts, etc). Hawk Haven Winery required a total purchase price of $300 in wine in a single transaction for an annual membership into their club. With their club, you get many free tastings (both regular and premium). From this set of Wine Club Memberships, we highly recommend the Hawk Haven Winery club. If you find yourself visiting the Cape May area throughout year, the free tastings make this wine club valuable!

The other six memberships that we belong to require wine purchases/shipments throughout the year (both quarterly or tri-annually). These memberships include William Heritage Winery, White Horse Winery, Sharrott Winery, Mount Salem Vineyards, Unionville Vineyards, and Bedell Cellars. From these, our favorite would have to be William Heritage Winery. The benefits of joining their wine club are extremely valuable. You receive free tastings to William Heritage Winery as a member (all of the time). The remaining wineries on this list either give you a limited number of free tastings or none at all. We understand that free tastings will cut into a winery’s gross profit, but William Heritage Winery really knows how to make you feel like a VIP. Oh, and their staff has actually gotten to know us (is that bad?). They will truly make you feel special if you join their wine club.

*Update– We found out that the membership at Unionville Vineyards will give you free tastings every time you visit (similar to the membership benefits at William Heritage Winery).

Through our experiences, we truly feel that the Wine Club Memberships all provide their own type of value to a consumer. The majority do not require a fee and your only costs are purchasing wine throughout the year. Those wines do tend to be discounted, which is a huge plus. The benefit to the winery owner is that they have a guaranteed group of consumers that are committed to purchasing their wines. It’s nice when the winery owner is kind enough to pass that valued benefit along to us, the consumer!

We highly recommend that you join at least one Wine Club Membership throughout New Jersey. You are helping to guarantee the success of a local business owner! We do not plan on cancelling any of the local memberships that we are currently signed up for. We love to #supportlocal ! Let us know if you are involved in any memberships and what you think of them. We are dying to hear!

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed

Unionville Vineyards- 10/27/2018

Today, we come to you with a review of Unionville Vineyards. Unionville resides in Ringoes, New Jersey which is located in the scenic Hunterdon County. Not only does Unionville offer delicious, estate-grown wines, they are also a member of the New Jersey Winemakers Co-Op (https://www.thewinemakersco-op.com/). Unionville opened their doors in 1993 and first planted their vines in 1988.

We planned on stopping in, doing a tasting, and purchasing some bottles before heading off to the next winery of the day. What was planned to be a short visit turned to two hours of delicious wine tasting, an engaging tour of the property and wine making process, and meeting and greeting with many experts in this industry. Oh, and did we mention that we opted to join their wine club as well?!

Our tasting was conducted by one of their tasting experts, Karen. We’ve visited Unionville before and got to know Karen during one of the prior visits. What a great brand ambassador she is! Not only is Karen knowledgeable and passionate about Unionville wines, she’s extremely charismatic and takes the time to walk you through every step of the wine tasting journey. After doing another tasting with Karen, we knew that we would need to join their wine club and pop back in frequently for more visits.

Unfortunately, we forgot to grab our tasting sheets and notes from this trip. Here is what we tasted (from memory, so we apologize for any mix ups):

  1. 2016 Chardonnay- Fruit forward, we believe this is done in stainless steel. If there is any oak, it is very light and not used to overpower the beauty of the fruit.
  2. 2014 Pheasant Hill Chardonnay- Bright and balanced, fruit comes from their Pheasant Hill vineyard. We had to leave with a bottle of this gem.
  3. 2014 Eureka- Riesling blend, we believe there was a small percentage of residual sugar in this one. Still would classify it as an off-dry and not sweet.
  4. Fields of Fire- Their Rose offering, beautiful dry rose that has bold and bright fruit on the palate. Opted for a bottle of this as well.
  5. Revolutionary Red- Red blend, easy drinking red wine that is available.
  6. Syrah (cannot remember the vintage)- This beauty was decanted before serving, high in tannin and bold, it was delicious after a bit of oxygen. We can imagine this aging well.
  7. 2014 The Big O- What a name! This was a bold, red blend that we enjoyed. We’ve purchased before and enjoyed it after a little decanting as well.
  8. 2017 Cool Fox Lady- White, dessert-style wine. Not 100% sure, but we do not think this is a fortified wine.

As we noted above, we left with a bottle of the 2014 Pheasant Hill Chardonnay and the Fields of Fire Rose. We also purchased two of their 25th anniversary wine glasses (large and deep bowl which is great for swirling).

After our tasting, we were pleasantly surprised to hear about a tour that was coming up. The tour was free, so of course we opted in to join! We were lucky to have Zeke as our tour guide. Outside of giving educational tours, he is heavily involved in the wine making operations at Unionville.

Zeke gave us a full experience tour, first talking through the process of the vineyard operations in great detail. We then moved to the lower level in the barn where you will find large tanks of wine fermenting. It is here where we ran into John Cifelli, General Manager of Unionville Vineyards and Executive Director of the New Jersey Winemakers Co-Op. We hope our paths cross again very soon!

Our experience tour then led us to the crush pad and finally to the building where their crushed grapes are being stored. During each step in the tour, Zeke provided an educational lesson of the entire wine making experience which was fantastic to hear about!

All in all, it was a fantastic visit to Unionville Vineyards and one that we will always value. We are excited to be wine club members and look forward to many future experiences here. Hats off to Karen, Zeke, and John for a great customer experience!

Please see below for our rating of Unionville. We apologize to John in advance as our rating system has changed! If we were still giving out a numbered rating, this experience would have definitely warranted a 10!

Have you been to Unionville Vineyards before? Let us know your thoughts!

Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed

Unionville

Cedar Rose Vineyards- 9/30/2018

Hello again, Wine Lovers! Today we are coming to you with a review of Cedar Rose Vineyards in Millville, NJ. Cedar Rose is currently open to the public by appointment only.

We stopped by Cedar Rose on our way back from the shore on a Sunday afternoon. The winery is located conveniently off of NJ Route 55 (exit 29 or 32).  When we pulled up to the property, we were surprised by the level of beauty the property has already. For such a new winery, you can truly see the hard work and dedication that the Owners have put into the operation. We highly encourage you to review their website (https://cedarrosevineyards.com) for their story (see Dig Deeper section). This page will give you the background on their journey.

The tasting room is outfitted with all types of reclaimed wood and materials that make for a tasteful, impressive, and modern design. Their ability to reuse and appreciate all types of items, that may have been otherwise discarded, is impressive and admirable.

Now on to the important stuff…the wine! We had the opportunity to taste up to eight of their 11 varietals at the time. Here are our notes:

  1. 2016 Traminette- Similar to an off-dry riesling, beautiful floral notes on the nose
  2. 2017 Chardonnay- Fermented in stainless steel and in a sur lie style (white wine fermented with yeast for a longer period of time, similar to a red wine; gives body)
  3. 2017 Chambourcin Rose- Dry, crisp, balanced acidity rose (We also had an opportunity to try the Cabernet Franc Rose at a wine festival which was also VERY good!)
  4. Kindling Edition 1- Very similar to a Cabernet Franc on the nose and in taste
  5. 2015 Chambourcin- Smooth and big bold fruit flavors with this one
  6. 2015 Samara- Blend of Blaufrankisch/Cabernet Franc (54/46), smooth and dry, great for fall and winter seasons
  7. 2016 Blaufrankisch- Smooth and delicious (unfortunately these are all of the notes on this one, we were slacking by this point, clearly!)
  8. 2016 Thundergust- Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Chambourcin (30/30/30), this was our favorite, we plan on stopping back for this blend

We left with bottles of their Traminette, Chambourcin Rose, and Samara.

We highly recommend you stop by this gem of a winery, soon! If you live further away, plan to visit Cedar Rose and some of the other wineries in the Outer Coastal Plain AVA region. We recommend making a trip out of it!

As mentioned above, Cedar Rose is currently open by appointment only. You can schedule an appointment with them via their Facebook page (Facebook). We believe they will be open fully soon with regular operating hours, but we recommend scheduling an appointment with them now to guarantee a personalized experience. There’s been a lot of hype around Cedar Rose Vineyards (for good reason), so get in before the crowd!

Please see below for our scorecard for Cedar Rose Vineyards. Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed

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Beneduce Vineyards- 9/15/18

Good evening, all! We regret to say that it has been far too long since our last review on this page. We have consistently been posting updates on our Instagram page (@njwineryreviews) every day, but posting formal reviews on this site has been less consistent. For that, we are sorry!

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Tonight, we come to you with an experience review from two weekends ago. We ventured up north to Hunterdon County, New Jersey to visit an old favorite, Beneduce Vineyards. Beneduce is in Pittstown, NJ and their first vines were planted in 2009. They are a part of the Winemakers Co-Op in New Jersey and are joined in this Co-Op by four other wineries in the state (we’ll review this during a later post!).

During our visit to Beneduce Vineyards on Saturday, 9/15, we decided to do a tasting with food pairings included (deluxe tasting). We had the opportunity to taste five wines in our tasting with local cheeses, cured meats, and bread included. The price for the deluxe tasting was $15/person (wine tasting alone is a bargain at $5/person).

outside glass

The five wines that we tasted were (tasting notes included):

  1. Gewürztraminer (2/3 stainless steel and 1/3 oak, would go great with Chinese food. Dry style, not like a Finger Lakes region Gewürztraminer)
  2. Charddonay (Well balanced, not an oak-ey Chardonnay, light citrus notes, would go well with many types of foods)
  3. Row’s End Rose (Made with Blaufrankisch grapes, vines are six years old, dry French style rose, refreshing) (pictured above)
  4. Centerfold (Pinot Noir) (Named after its long legs, silk-like tannins, smooth and bold)
  5. Blue 2 Blaufrankisch (Same grape used for the rose above, smoky aroma, ultimate Autumn wine, goes well with any smoked meats)

grapes

We could not recommend Beneduce Vineyards enough! They are one of our favorites in New Jersey and clearly have a great Winemaker. Their staff has always been attentive and friendly when we have been. We have many of their wines and cannot wait to try them all someday.

FYI- When you go to do a tasting, please note that you do not get to pick your tasting options. They have pre-selected the wines that you taste during your time (which may explain the cost-effective tasting price). Not a bad thing, just want to make sure you’re aware if you have never been.

Please see below for our updated experience review sheet. We’ve decided to do away with numbers in an effort to keep our reviews as consistent as possible. Our thought is that a numbered rating may mean something different to us than others, so we felt that ’emojis’ may be a better option. We are open to thoughts!

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Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed

Va La Vineyards- 8/25/18 (PA Winery)

Welcome back! Another winery experience review for you guys. This time, we are reviewing Va La Vineyards in Avondale, Pennsylvania. Definitely one of our favorites so far!

Last weekend we took a day to visit three wineries in Southeastern Pennsylvania (Delaware & Chester Counties). We visited Grace Winery, Penns Woods Winery, and Va La Vineyards. All three were great, but Va La Vineyards was definitely the highlight of the trip! They were awarded a spot in the Top 101 wineries in the United States for four years in a row. That’s saying something!

wine display

The experience is unique. The vineyard offers five styles of dry wine only. All styles are blends made from a variety of varietals and clones grown on the estate. The five styles of wine we tasted were:

  1. La Prima Donna (2014)- Amber colored white blend made from Malvasia Bianca, Petit Manseng, Pinot Grigio, Tocai, and Fiano varietals
  2. Zafferano (2015)- Bronze colored white blend made from four clones of Pinot Grigio, Fiano, Tocai, and Petit Manseng
  3. Silk (2016)- Dry Rosato (Rose) blend made from Corvina Veronese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Petit Verdot, and Lagrein
  4. Castana (2015)- Red wine blend made from Petit Verdot, Carime, Barbera, Lagrein, Sagrantino, and Teroldego
  5. Mahogany (2015)- Their flagship black wine made from Barbera, Malvasia Nera, Charbono, Petit Verdot, Carmine, Teroldego, Lagrein, and Sagrantino

Each of these wine blends were magnificent and unique. We thoroughly enjoyed all five styles and their complimentary food pairings (included with the tasting). We ended up leaving with a bottle of La Prima Donna, Zafferano, Silk, and Castana. The only one we did not purchase was Mahogany; although not for any specific reason!

We are fairly unfamiliar with the majority of varietals and clones used in their blends (some we have never heard of!). Some of the varietals used are very uncommon to wineries in the Northeast (and possibly even the US). Their team of Tasting Associates were extremely knowledgeable about each one and walked us through each blend thoroughly.

If you’re a lover of unique, dry, and full bodied wines, we highly recommend stopping in to Va La Vineyards for a tasting. Tastings are $20/person and include a food pairing for each blend.

See below for our score card for Va La Vineyards. If you visit, please let us know how your experience is! Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend, all!

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Wine is calling, we must go!

Nick & Ed