Posts Written ByEvan Dawson

“The Greatest Finger Lakes Wine Dinner Ever” — Notes from a Special Evening

Evan and his far-better half, Morgan.

If wine can be a portal to another time, well, the wines poured last Monday night at the Hole in the Wall restaurant were a vessel to my book-writing days. These wines had never been in the same room before. Given how few bottles are left of each, it’s safe to say they will never be in the same room again. Hole in the Wall is a restaurant in Perry, NY, run by the dynamic Billings family. Co-owner Jacquie Billings-Barlow decided two years ago that she would track down most of the wines from Summer in a Glass, and her husband…

NY Wine Spotting: Is this the Campaign that Finally Gets More NY Wine into Local Restaurants?

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For years, the New York wine industry has wondered how to convince local restaurants to carry local wines. They’ve tried a variety of approaches, all of which have largely failed. That could be all about to change, starting in Rochester. Michael Warren Thomas, host of the Savor Life radio programs on WYSL AM, has launched an ambitious new program. It started with Thomas visting more than 100 restaurants in the greater Rochester area. At each stop, he examined the wine list, tracking how many Finger Lakes wines were offered. “It was a lot of work, but I thought it was…

Hegel Meets Riesling: Introducing the Winemaker Taking Keuka Spring to Places No One Has Considered Before

Keuka Spring Vineyards winemaker August Deimel

Maybe the problem is that you don’t often enough consider the Hegelian model. You think about wine, right? You think about which bottles to buy. You think about pleasure. You think about what to lay down, what to drink now, what to open for what guest. But are you taking a Hegelian approach? First, imagine the pleasure of wine in its truest, most savage form: drinking it. One person, drinking one bottle. Then, restrain that savageness, and invite a group to enjoy the wine together. Yes, you’re sublimating the instinct to drink it all yourself, but in so doing, you…

Summer in a Glass Dinner Event: Rare Wines, Local Food, One Time Only

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When Summer in a Glass was published, I wondered if there could ever be a dinner event that brought together all the wines from the book. It seemed like a wonderful idea, but I figured it would remain only an idea. The work of pulling together such an event would be overbearing. But now it’s actually happening. On Monday, July 22, the Hole in the Wall Restaurant in Perry is hosting the Summer in a Glass-themed dinner. Tickets are still available for $150 apiece. If that price seems high, consider this: the restaurant is still probably going to lose money on…

In Death, a Finger Lakes Grower’s Impact, Achievements are Made Clear

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In the final days of his life, when 53-year-old Paul Wellington didn’t have the strength to feed himself, Tom Higgins would make the drive over and offer to hold Paul’s bowl, or spoon. Or his hand. Higgins had become a close friend of Paul Wellington and his wife, Carol Prendergast-Wellington. Wellington was the skilled grower and vineyard manager at acclaimed Hobbit Hollow Vineyard on Skaneateles Lake. At first, Higgins loved the fruit. In the end, Higgins loved the man. Wellington passed away on May 15 after a rather lengthy battle with brain cancer. His death is a blow to the…

Should More Finger Lakes Winemakers Travel to Europe? Q&A with Hector Wine Company’s Justin Boyette

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An artist can only do so much without an understanding of art history. A filmmaker is limited if he or she hasn’t seen the great films of all time. And winemakers, we can assume, are holding themselves back if they’re not familiar with the great wines of the world — particularly the great wines made with the same varieties they’re using. With that in mind, I’m always surprised at how few Finger Lakes winemakers travel to Europe, or to other parts of the world. I’m even more surprised at how many Finger Lakes winemakers reply, when asked what they like…

Sheldrake Point’s Madill Joins Team at Red Newt Cellars Too

Bob Madill pouring barrel samples for a customer at Sheldrake Point

Bob Madill, one of the founders of Sheldrake Point Vineyards on Cayuga Lake, has accepted a new role as Wine Director of Red Newt Cellars on Seneca Lake. Madill, the longtime general manager at Sheldrake, says he will perform duties for both operations. At Red Newt, Madill will oversee the wine program from the tasting room to the restaurant, and already there are changes. Madill wants to take advantage of Red Newt’s extensive wine library, which contains dozens of older Finger Lakes wines, some more than a decade old. To combat the consternation some diners might have when it comes…

No Shortcuts: Villa Bellangelo Steams Forward with Ambitious Plan to Establish a New Sense of Place

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Lindsay Prichard, an avid NYCR reader who wanted to share his passion for Finger Lakes wines with other readers.  The long, cold weeks of winter provide a well-deserved rest between the frenzy of the previous autumn’s harvest and the bustle of the upcoming spring and summer. In the vineyards, snow blankets the ground and the vines hang silent and bare. In the wineries, the long hours of the previous harvest are over. Winter is a time for the region to catch its collective breath before the vineyards burst back to life and the migrating multitudes of…

Morgen McLaughin Leaving Finger Lakes Wine Country to Lead Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association

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Morgen McLaughlin, President and CEO of Finger Lakes Wine Country since 2007, is leaving to take the position of Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Assocation in California. McLaughlin has spent the past six years with two simple, if challenging, goals: bring more people to the Finger Lakes, and bring more Finger Lakes wines to the people. She has aggressively pushed wineries in the region to submit wines for critical review. She has urged Finger Lakes wine professionals to engage with customers on a wide range of platforms, including social media. And she has piloted a number of tourism initiatives. This is…

Replacing Unwanted Vines with Better Varieties: Field Grafting Offers Solution for New York Producers

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Spend time with grape growers, and you’ll eventually hear them lament, “I’d love to rip X variety out of the ground and replace it with Y variety, but it would cost a fortune in time and money.” It’s true; the process of plowing up acres of vine, then planting new rows, can be cost prohibitive. I’ve heard from many winemakers over the years who tell me they’d love to get rid of their hybrid varieties. They’d love more riesling, for example. But it’s not like pulling up a Rose of Sharon and replacing it with a bed of Impatiens. Vineyard…