Monday, May 27, 2013

#155 Tour The NY Finger Lake Wineries

Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.
Benjamin Franklin 

I couldn't agree more. You see, I'm not much of a beer drinker. I do enjoy a Yuengling lager from time to time but there is no doubt I am a whiskey and wine kinda gal. Having ancestors hailing from Ireland, Italy and Greece no doubt has some influence on my preferences, I can't deny that, but I like to think I came into the world of wine all on my own. For me, one glass is enough to take the edge off just about anything from nerves to stress. One glass is enough to boost my happy spirits to the next level. One glass is enough to just sit back and savor the day or....forget the day depending on how the coin was flipped. Regardless of whether it is heads or tails, for a true wine lover, having just one glass is a rather difficult task, at least for me.

In fact, as I sit here writing this very blog I am drinking a gorgeous bottle of Niagara from Glenora Wine Cellars. Yes, a bottle. LOL! I can sip wine, sure. I can be "almost" classy when the occasion calls for it, but truth be know, I drink wine like others drink beer. I swig it. And by swig I mean....chug. Before I know it, half a bottle has disappeared. Practicing self control doesn't come easy to me. I admit that, but it is because wine is just so much fun. If it wasn't, it wouldn't have lasted through the ages. It wouldn't have spawned it's own culture and lifestyle. And by this I mean, fellow wine drinkers become instant friends. Forget the snooty image that is often attached to drinking wine. The modern day wine drinking community transcends status, race, ethnicity, gender and religion. Wine drinkers are some of the coolest cats on the planet. If you don't believe me go to a wine festival or tasting. Tour some vineyards. See for yourself. 

Clifton Paul Fadiman

I had accomplished my bucket list item of attending a wine festival several times over, but I had never gone on an actual tour of the wineries represented at the wine festival. This was something I had wanted to do since my first visit to Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards several years ago. The atmosphere at Hazlitt was infectious. Everyone was having so much fun. People were smiling and laughing. They were perusing the racks of wine bottles looking for their favorites from the tasting. There was such a positive, spirited vibe at Hazlitt. I wanted to experience that. I wanted to visit as many wineries as possible. What is even cooler is, wineries have even joined together to create a passport you can purchase to visit many of them for free tastings. That was awesome because wine tastings can become pricey if you visit several places. 

Hazlitt 1852 is located in the The NY Finger Lakes region. This region is not only visually stunning and breathtaking, it is also the Northeastern part of the country's version of the Napa Valley. Over 200 wineries, vineyards, distilleries and ale houses reside in this area. Most of them are concentrated along Seneca and Cayuga Lake, the longest and deepest of the Finger Lakes, but there are many others scattered among the other nine Finger Lakes. The concentration of wineries is what makes the Finger Lake region a great place to experience a tour of wineries. Unlike Pennsylvania, which has it's own fair share of wineries, the Finger Lake wineries or Wine Trails, are easily accessible. You do not have to drive very far to go from one winery to the next, where as in PA, there may be a 30-45 minute gap in between wineries. 

Touring the Finger Lake vineyards was not at all planned for me this past May. However Becky had been contemplating going to visit her father in Watkins Glen. He had recently put his boat back in the water for the season and she wanted to help clean it and get it in order for the summer. She knew I needed to get out of dodge for a little while just as much as she did so she asked me if I would like to join her. I jumped at the chance to escape reality for a few days. 

Close friends contribute to our personal growth. They also contribute to our personal pleasure, making the music sound sweeter, the wine taste richer, the laughter ring louder because they are there.

Judith Viorst 

As usual we traveled by night to the boat. It is a three hour drive. Not only do I enjoy traveling by night but it is also less congested. Traffic runs so much smoother. The only drawback is sometimes it is more difficult to see. There has been a lot of construction on our route over the last two years since they are building a new interstate, I -86. Here is a little piece of useless trivia for all of you. Even numbered Interstates always run east to west and vice versa. Odd numbered interstates run north to south and vice versa. Now there's a conversation piece for ya. LOL!! We were lucky in our travels. Construction was at a minimum. It was smooth ride.

Once we reached the boat, we were exhausted. I was aching for sleep. Before we both hit the hay, Becky had suggested if I wanted to go see some wineries Saturday, she was up for it. She knew how much I wanted to visit the wineries because I talk about my love for the area sooooo much. This is why she is such a dear friend. She pays attention. She helps make things possible for the people closest to her. She is a sweet soul who unfortunately gets treated like a doormat sometimes. I can so relate to that which is one of the many reasons we are such close friends. We relate on many, many levels. As friends we bring out the best in each other. Our positive spirits break through the negativity. We can completely be ourselves around one another, no images, no personas, no acts, no bullshit. This is why we have so many good times together. 

As I lay down I started mentally recalling what wineries I would like to visit. There are maps of the wine trail located in most places of business. I figured at breakfast I would seek out a map and take it from there. As I nodded off I had what was probably the best night sleep in months. For some reason I sleep very soundly on boats. Could be the gentle rocking in the water, just like a baby in a swing or cradle. I find it amazing the little things from infancy, which we cannot recall personally, that still can have a profound affect on our adult life. I believe I am destined to one day own a boat. Just need someone to drive it, perhaps the man of my dreams, because driving a boat is definitely not one of my strong points. 

The following morning I awake to the sound of rain. Normally I love rain but today I am really hoping it stays away. I do get my wish. The day turns out to be beautiful but at the moment I am sulking a little. Finally I see the sun peeking through the clouds. I go outside to the back deck to have a smoke. I notice a cute little boat that I know I could definitely handle attached to the boat next to us. I laugh as I think " Yes, that is a Chrissy sized boat. Perhaps I should commandeer it. " As the thought goes through my head a really skinny hippie man in his late 40's /early 50's appears on the boat next to us. We strike up a conversation. He is definitely a loopy fellow. He is very skinny and jittery. I am waiting for him to fall off the boat. He doesn't but it would have been funny if he had. (That is so terrible.)

I can so drive this boat with the oars. Driving it with the motor would be another story. 

I decide to excuse myself and go see what Becky is up to. As I walk back into the boat she starts busting my ass. " You have such long pretty golden hair. It is so beautiful. My name is Rob. What is yours?"  I just shoot her a look. She starts rolling with laughter. "He is one skinny dude. He is either on a lot of pills or he smokes something and I don't think it is just pot. Did you hear how fast he talks? But...He seems nice enough." I tell her. Who the hell am I to judge right? I don't. I observe, yes, but everyone gets a fair shot in my book. 

We get ourselves ready to go explore. We are still not sure what the day has in store for us but we are going to get in the Jeep and take it from there. Becky wears her blue dress and cowboy boots, me, my disco pants and my cowboy hat with white feathers which are actually earrings but look better on the hat than in my ears. (I am so damn creative it kills me.) After breakfast Becky heads towards Ithaca NY and Cayuga Lake. Once upon a time I had checked out Cornell University and Ithaca College. 

Cornell was a tad bit out of reach for me academically. I was close, believe it or not but too much time screwing off in high school was all the difference. Close but no cigar. I don't have many regrets in life but I do regret this. That still stings to this day. Lost opportunities. You can never get them back, however, you can always make new ones. I do know this now that I have lived more life. If there is no path, pave the way yourself. If you come to a dead end, start paving another path. Aging has a way of putting more perspective to life. At the moment, the path I am trying to create in my life is smack in the middle of a thick, twisted, damned near impenetrable jungle. Where's the machete? Lol!

Anyways, as we are driving towards Cayuga we see a gorgeous waterfall along the side of the road. This is actually something quite common along the Finger Lakes I have come to find. Talk about scenic drives. I get so excited when I see the falls. Becky turns the jeep around so we can go back and take some pictures. You could feel the cold spray and chilly mist coming off the falls but it is so refreshing, even on this brisk mid morning. We both sit there for a few minutes and take it all in. The sound so is soothing. The flowing water is so pristine. I would love to climb in there and let the water run all over me, washing away all my troubles. Of course one wrong step on the sharp slippery slate could be a death sentence. That would also take away my troubles. Better to just observe in this moment. I find myself at peace sitting in front of Hector Falls. The feeling is wonderful. Prince Hector of Troy I think to myself. It seems very random I know but in my head it makes so much sense. 

Hector Falls NY
Hector Falls NY 
Seeing how entranced I am with the waterfall, Becky wants to take me to see more of the gorgeous nature surrounding us. We leave Hector Falls behind us and head northeast along NY-79. We pass quaint little cottages, beautiful shingled homes, wood cabins, pastures filled with cows and horses, fragrant lilac trees growing wild, and gorgeous colorful spring trees in full bloom. This is why spring is my favorite time of year. Screw my allergies. I've had them my whole life. I've adapted. I don't cry about them. The bloom and beauty of nature is to be appreciated. It is the priority. It is the catalyst for new life to bloom from old life. It makes everything right in the world. 

I love everything that's old, - old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.
Oliver Goldsmith 

As we are taking in the spring beauty we arrive at our destination. It is a scenic overlook. Becky has not really told me much about what we are going to see, so my curiosity is peaked but guarded. I have experienced scenic overlooks where I have quite literally said WTF? I did not know what to expect but I know Becky wouldn't drive all this way to see a field of cows. We walk across the parking lot to the overlook. I still can't see anything even though we are getting close. It is not until we are at the fence that I get my first view. 

I gasp. Never in my life would I have expected to see what was before my eyes. I was speechless. I just look at Becky with astonishment. I am going to post pictures but I kid you not when I say they do not do any justice at all to what was in front of my eyes. It is so profound that is must be experienced in person to actually grasp just how beautiful, how uncomprehending, this masterpiece of nature is. We are at the scenic overlook of Taughannock Falls. 

Taughannock Falls NY
Taughannock Falls where even the most eloquently spoken are left speechless.
I've already resigned myself to the fact that this is going to be one of the longest blogs I have written. It is not going to be a short read so I am going to spend as much time explaining what was going on in my head at this moment as possible. I'm a deep person. There is no doubt in that. Those that know me well won't argue. The waterfall itself is very pretty but it is not the waterfall alone that caused me complete astoundment. The waterfall is not the most abounding, most energetic, most exquisite waterfall I have ever seen. I've been to Niagara Falls. Not much can top that in terms of fierce, lush waterfalls. What left me speechless was the entire view.

It reminded me of a secret garden for lack of better words. It took me back into the world of JR Toilken's Middle Earth, Rivendell. The colossal rock walls encompassed the waterfall and the gorge beneath like massive guardians, protecting all who took solace amongst their presence. You are safe here. You are protected. You have made it to this magical place, rest easy now. Clear your mind, make a wish, inhale then exhale slowly; breath. I began studying the area more visually. The rock walls were older than I could comprehend. Was this once a river or a lake? The smoothness and design of the stone made me believe that is was once entrenched in water. This is something only time and water could produce.

Taughannock Falls
Only time and nature could create such a magnificent view. 

Was this a residual of the ice age? In Pennsylvania there are many rock and boulder fields that came to be during the glacier shifts of the ice age. Boulder Field in Hickory Run state park was a prime example and very cool in it's own right. Becky found a sign that explained this gorgeous phenomenon was not in fact produced by glacial shifts. It was created by streams that once ran rampant through this area and still do. The reason the gorge is so deep is because ice sheets had eroded the valleys creating pits just like this one, creating a hanging valley.

Wow! Ice sheets huh? I tried to picture that in my mind but all I could conjure was Lake Francis frozen over for the winter. I kept thinking was how short the human life is in comparison to the very surroundings we reside among. This place was here way before I was born and this place will be here way after I am long gone. It will continue to change and adapt to the conditions surrounding it, but the human eye will never really be able to absorb that change because it can take hundreds to thousands of years for even the smallest change to become noticeable. Only an act of nature itself has the power to make a visible change in the lifetime of a human being.

One other thing Becky had mentioned was that this waterfall was 33 feet taller than Niagara Falls. I had trouble believing that. I mean, obviously it was true. They would not have made that claim without the facts to back it up. Some geologist obviously measured it, yet Niagara Falls seemed so monstrous compared to Taughannock Falls. I had even been on a boat in the waters beneath the behemoth that is Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the park. I guess it was all about perception.

Taughannock was dainty and calm compared to the ferocious, foamy onslaught that is Horseshoe Falls. It was not nearly as wide or magnificent as Horseshoe Falls. I stood by the wooden fence and studied Taughannock while visually recalling Horseshoe Falls in my mind. A 33 foot difference in the scope of such magnitude was rather difficult to gauge but nonetheless I tried. I looked down to the gorge then back to the top of the waterfall and....I came to the conclusion that yes, Taughannock was taller. I could see that.

Becky in her lovely blue dress. 

What I do and what I dream include thee, as the wine must taste of its own grapes.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

We took a few more pictures of this resplendent design created by nature then hopped back in the Jeep to do more exploring. Becky and I barely played the radio the whole trip. All we did was talk about anything and everything. She told me I needed to stop trying to be so strong for everyone else all the time and allow myself to open up, to break down, to let everything out. That it was okay. I do my fair share of surface bitching and complaining but I never realized just how rare it was for me to take the floor and just let go with what is going on in my head. I really am that guarded.

Two gals and a waterfall

Part of me does not want to be burdensome to anyone else, part of me is so used to just being the listener, and part of me believed no one really did care. And maybe most people don't care, in fact a lot of people have proved that to me over the past few years, but I do know who really does. Over the past few years I had built another wall. She was absolutely right. And the only way I would have truly believed it was if it had either come from her mouth or Wayne's. I did let go a little on this trip. I did open up to my dear friend. For some in our lives a wall is necessary, but for others there is no need for one at all. I need to better distinguish this. I was very happy that she told me this. She opened my eyes. For that I am so grateful.

We are driving along Cayuga Lake. Becky turns to me and says "What's next kid?". I tell her I am ready for some wineries. Lucas Vineyards is up the road. We start driving North on NY-89. We pass Americana Vineyard. Fess says no to Americana Vineyard. The whole weekend Fess hears how Americana Vineyard is great. Fess kicks herself for saying no. Oh well. Here we are at Lucas Vineyards home of the Nautie girls, which happen to be the owner's family. Very cool!

Lucas Vineyards
First stop for the Nautie Girls. 
The inside of Lucas reminds me of a classy restaurant. It is very Napa Valley. The hostess greets us and asks if we would like a tasting. She brings us to Laura. I think that is her name. The tasting is $4.00 for five samples. A little steep but at the time I did not know that. Later I find most vineyards charge you $3.00 for 5-6 samples or $5.00 for 5-6 samples with a free wine glass. However, some vineyards also offer coupons for money off wine. Lucas gives each of us a $2 coupon towards a wine purchase. Unfortunately it has to be used for wine and not merchandise. I saw a wine sippy cup I really liked. Yes. I said wine sippy cup. If you ever saw me drink a beverage you would understand the need for a sippy cup.

Becky and I select our wines from the tasting list. We try to taste wine that was not available at wine fest although I do select to sample the Butterfly wine. It is my favorite Lucas wine. Becky and I also choose the Tugboat Red. I am not going to lie, I do not personally care for most of Lucas Vineyards wines. That doesn't mean much in the big picture because there are a lot of wines I like and dislike that most people do or don't. It's all good. We try the Tugboat Red last. Laura informs us that Lucas does not bring red wines to the wine fest. The whites are their biggest sellers. After tasting the Tugboat Red I believe they are making a mistake. It is one of their best wines. They should reconsider bringing that to the wine festival. I think it would do well. I really like Tugboat Red but the Butterfly is still my favorite. I also get a butterfly T-shirt on clearance. Score for me!

People mature with age and experience. I hope I more resemble a fine wine than bad vinegar.
Rick Kaplan 

As we leave Lucas, I see maps for the Cayuga wine trail. I grab a few to plan our route. Turns out the Cayuga Lake wine trail is America's first wine trail. It is celebrating 30 years. I am so pleased Becky and I are participating in their 30th anniversary. Outstanding!! Wait....30 years? I am older than America's first wine trail?? Awww come on! Why don't we just say I'm older than dirt too while we are at it. How about space? Why don't you just point out I'm older than space too you arrogant wine trail pamphlet thingy. This getting older shit blows! I am not taking this all! Now I really need more wine STAT. We start heading further North on NY-89. We pass a few vineyards I have never heard of before or did not notice at wine fest. To be honest, there aren't many on the trail I can recall.

Thirsty Owl
We had a Thirsty Owl moment

As we approach a sign for the Thirsty Owl Wine Co. Becky suggests we stop there. I agree with her mainly because I think owls are so cute. We drive down the long driveway to the winery, which looks like a regular  house. When we walk inside it is filled with racks upon racks of wine. Unlike Lucas, there really isn't much merchandise, just wine. They aren't messing around here I think to myself. Becky leads me to the Red Room to have our tasting. I don't get it at the time, I just follow her. However when I look at Facebook later I realize Christian Grey had a red room. ( I didn't get that far in the book. I am one of the few women in the world that thought the book sucked.)

Thirsty Owl
The Thirsty Owl Wine Company

The wines here are New World, they have to be because unless it is produced in Europe in the traditional wine countries, it cannot be called Old World, however, the feel of their wines resonates a homage to their Old World counterparts. Their wine list is very sophisticated without being uptight. They have several rieslings on their list. The Finger Lakes are especially known for their Riesling wines. The surrounding lakes provide the perfect conditions for a Riesling wine. Of course I am not a fan of Rieslings. I feel they leave an after taste that is somewhat off putting. I can't explain the taste, all I know is I am not a big fan of it.

I decide to try the Thirsty Owls's 2011 Reserve Riesling at the urging of our pourer. Why not right? I even forgot I checked it. I went about tasting my samples and Becky hers. When it came to the Riesling, I figured if I didn't like it I would chug it. This girl does not dump wine into those little bucket thingys on the bar. No wasting. After she poured my sample, I swirled the glass then brought it to my nose. It smelled aromatic, which is common for a Riesling. I took a small taste of the wine. It was then and there I stood corrected. I took another sip, swirling it around in my mouth this time. This was heaven on my tongue. Honey and apricot undertones combined beautifully with the reisling grapes. I gave it a few seconds, waiting for the after taste but it never came. Of course it was a younger wine. That does make a difference with a Riesling but wow. So, I bought myself a wine glass and a bottle of Thirsty Owl 2011 Riesling reserve. I got a $3 coupon so it was like the wine glass was free. Free bling rocks!

Thirsty Owl Company
I love this place!

I love when I stand corrected. I love being proved wrong. The Thristy Owl gave me a Riesling I did not just like, I loved. This was a great little visit. And for our next stop, Swedish Hill, home of Jackass Red. All aboard. Of course Swedish Hill is way up the road. We pass a few wineries along the way but I am feeling the buzz. Need to give myself a breather. The samplers in NY state are generous. Each tasting equals anywhere from a glass to a glass and a half of wine. As I am conjuring up in my head how many glasses of wine I must have consumed at last year's wine fest something happens. I can't explain it or quite put it into words although I am going to try. You see, there was this field we drove by. And in this field were.....sheep. I know right? Who ever heard of a field of sheep? I told Becky I have seen a field of cows, a field of horses, a field with A sheep or two but, I have never seen a field full of sheep. This was just insane!

I could hear them. They were screaming.

Becky stops the Jeep on the side of the road. I start taking pics. So does she. We watch the babies stay close to their mommies. Wherever mom went, the little lambs followed. They were so cute. None of them seem to notice the two broads on the side of the road in the bright red jeep. I check out the fencing. It has to be electric wire fencing.  I wanted to climb in and pet the little lambs but I was not willing to gamble electro shock therapy at the hands of a fence. Then again maybe it would have knocked some sense into me. I start quoting Silence of the Lambs because why wouldn't you in front of a field of sheep.

As soon as the words leave my mouth one of the sheep looks up and notices us. He just stares. We stare back at him. He lets out a Baa! Then another one. I kid you not, Becky and I sat there for fifteen minutes just staring at the sheep. I think that sheep hypnotized us I tell her. She tells me she can't seem to look away. so, we just sat there and kept staring at them. Finally Becky snaps out of it. Pretty soon I do as well. What time is it? How long were we here? Neither of us know for sure but we are definitely a little dazed and confused.

I tried to save them but I could only carry one. He was heavy.  And it was cold, so very cold.

We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine.
Eduardo Galeano 

Once we break free from the enchanting aura of the sheep we turn the bend and find Swedish Hill but not before Becky explains to me which tractors at the tractor dealership by the winery are the best tractors and which are junk. She knows her stuff that is for sure. Swedish Hill does not look like a tractor dealership, it looks like a barn. Well, there is a real barn on the property. That barn is the home of Doobie, the poster boy of Swedish Hill's Jack Ass red which I happen to be drinking now. (I kicked the Niagara hours ago.) I did not know Doobie was there at first. It wasn't until we went in the back room of the winery that I noticed a drunken lady ask if Doobie was there. The nice lady at the cash register said he was out back. The drunken lady and her friends fly out the door to find the donkey.

I follow them, Becky in tow. I look across the field but I do not see Doobie. The drunken ladies are now down on the grass by the fence near the barn. I follow them. Becky stays on the deck. She also suggests I not fall in the pond near the barn. ( Always has my back!) I carefully make my way around the pond. The grass is slippery but I manage to not take a header. I still do not see Doobie. The original drunken lady does this side step maneuver to get around the narrow strip of grass between the fence and the pond closer to the barn.

I debate doing the same but I decide against it. I don't want to end our fun day early by falling in the pond.  Looking and smelling like swamp thing is not on my agenda. The lady gets as close to the opening of the barn door as possible, reaches her had around the fence and waves into the door, calling for Doobie. After a minute or two, Doobie appears in the doorway. He is an old fellow, slow to move, but very adorable and friendly. With a little more coaxing from the lady, he languidly comes out of the barn and stands in front of the drunken lady.

Doobie coming out for a visit!!

Her friends are still hanging on the far side of the fence by me. We are all staring at the drunken lady with donkey envy. So not fair! Finally I decide to take my chances and make the maneuver through the narrow slippery patch of grass so I could pet Doobie too. I manage to not fall in the pond. Yes! I walk over to my new donkey friend, stick my hand through the wooden fence and begin stroking his head. He is a handsome fellow and surprisingly his fur is very soft. The lady's friends soon follow me. I take some pictures of them with Doobie. They take some pics of me with Doobie. See, wine drinkers are so affable. Finally everyone goes there own way leaving me to get some quality time alone with Doobie. He's a model. His pictures are all over wine bottles and T-shirts. He loves PDA. He doesn't pull away when I pet him. He's very affectionate. I converse with Doobie for a few moments. He is such a great listener. That is a rare gift.

Doobie Swedish Hill Winery
Such a cutie!! 

Becky shouts down to me to smile for a pic. I turn and give her my best smile. It's not everyday you meet a supermodel. I want to hang with Doobie all day but I can't make Becky sit there for twelve hours while I bond with a jack ass. She's been there done that before with me. LOL! So it's with a sad heart that I have to say goodbye to my new celebrity friend. As I make my way across the field towards the deck, Doobie starts crying. It is one of the most heart breaking things I've heard in a long time. I turn and look at him. He is just standing by the fence watching me. I turn back towards the deck and he cries again.

Do not feed Doobie wine!!!!

Becky starts teasing me about making the donkey cry. I tell her I feel really bad. Doobie is still crying. I see some people walking around in the field. I yell to them that need to go visit Doobie because he is craving human attention and is feeling depressed. I don't think they heard me but they are making their way towards Doobie so I feel better. Becky and I go back inside the winery and sample some wine. The Just Peachy wine is totally fabulous and full of peach flavor. I also enjoy the Doobie Blues white. I am thrilled because they do sell this one in the state stores around my area along with Jackass Red. Score!

After our stint at Swedish Hill we notice it is nearing 4:00 PM. We look at the map. 3 Brothers Winery is west of us but Montezuma Winery is North past Seneca Falls. We both enjoy Montezuma wine but I looooove 3 Brothers Wine. Becky does a little research and sees that 3 Brothers is open until 6:00 so we do have time to visit both places. To Seneca Falls is it. Yippee! Becky points out that Seneca Falls does not in fact have any waterfalls. I look at her funny. Why would they do that? All this trickery!! I thought only Pennsylvania liked to mind fuck people with their tripped out names like Intercourse, Bird in Hand, Blue Ball, Asylum, Jersey Shore ( which is no where near the Jersey Shore), Free Love Valley, Climax, Overshot and Pancake. (There is a whole bunch more but this blog is already super long.) Guess I was wrong.

On the way to Montezuma Becky decides that there are 4 requirements to living in upstate NY.
1. You have to have more toys than you do house. In other words, if the square footage of boats, quads, tractors, motorcycles and cars is greater than the square footage of your house, then you belong here.
2. At least one part of your property must have a tarp on it. It can be a roof, a garage, or a boat, but it is required that you have a tarp. Preferably blue.
3. You MUST have at least one lilac tree growing in your yard. No exceptions.
4. It is required that a ladder be leaning against your house at all times. No ladder? Then you best move your ass to Jersey and buy yourself some tan in a can because we don't want you here.

She was dead on. Even the really manicured, well kept homes had this going on. It was a funny but great observation.

Entering Seneca Falls. I knew this because there was a big water tower that said Seneca Falls.

Wine, like food, is so emotional. If you think about it, so much of the courting ritual is surrounded by wine and food. There's a built-in romance to wine.
Padma Lakshmi 

Seneca Falls is a beautiful little city with a canal and brick and stone colonials mixed with colorful Victorians. It reminded me of a town Thomas Kinkade would have painted. It reminded me of what Hazleton once looked like when I was growing up, minus the canal. (Although technically during really bad rainstorms the sewers back up in a matter of seconds causing little canals on every street in Hazy.) I tried taking pictures of the homes but they came out blurry. I am blaming it on my camera and not the person taking the pics. Just outside the city there was an albino cow. Seriously, there was. Becky saw it. Wonder if it had blues eyes? Does it matter? Why am I making this blog longer? We are only on day one.

So a little further up past the albino cow was Montezuma. It was smaller than I expected but so much fun inside. Also, by this time my British accent is in full effect. Being loud and British and calling the restroom the loo and losing Becky and yelling her name while she is in the loo can draw some attention. The people on the limobus, that seemed to be always at the same place we were, accused us of stalking them. We told them "Hell yeah we were stalking them." Limo buses are hawt! I debated asking them if they witnessed the hypnotic field of sheep or the albino cow but then I noticed the grain alcohol and apple brandy on the counter and my train of thought went elsewhere.

Becks and I step to the counter. They have crayons and laminated tasting sheets for us to use to make our choices. This must be a "green" winery I think to myself. That's cool. I am all for a greener planet. I grab a crayon with my left hand. ( I am not left handed. Both my kids are, mom is not. ) There is nothing to clean the previous selections so I just start rubbing the crayon off with my finger. I am also eating the oyster crackers on the bar like it's my job. As I make my choices with my left hand ( Why I did this I honestly have no clue. My right hand was working.) I become bummed because the distilled alcohol is not an option. Why do they even have them on the counter if I can have none? So not fair!

My check marks looked like brown scribbles. Glad our pourer knew what she was doing. 

The pourer is very busy but spriteful and friendly. She kind of reminded me of a girl scout leader that took a few too many hits off the crackpipe. Hey, we all start our day off differently right? What ever gets you going I guess. Becky and I finish making our selections. I am eager to try the Golden Delicious wine as well as the Pear Perfection. I also sulk a little. The pourer and Becky start talking about something, I'm not sure what they are talking about because I am gazing longingly at the honey brandy and apple brandy which I CANNOT have. They even had pour spouts on them. WTF kind of sick joke is this? Then I hear the pourer mention Old Forge. I look over at Becky. Becky is like "Yea, Old Forge, PA." Our pourer literally says " No! Old Forge NY you silly goose."

"Silly goose?" Did she just say that? The look on Becky's face was priceless. She just got owned by the female version of Mr. Rogers. She was both dumbfounded and speechless. "Did she just call you a silly goose for real?" I ask Becky while laughing my ass off. Becky slowly turns to me, the look of surprise still on her face and says " Yes, She did just call me a silly goose." I don't think anyone has used that term since like, I don't know, the 1800's? Maybe, just maybe, the early 1900's perhaps. I was so amused by this. I want whatever our pourer is having.

"I guess I should watch the F Bombs in here then." I laugh. Don't want to offend our pourer with my sailor talk. We watch her taking care of some people from the limobus at the other end of the bar while we sip our wine. I chugged mine but for the sake of the story I will say I sipped it. The Golden Delicious wine is stunning. It tastes just like apples. Becky notices the guy in the party is inquiring about the spirits on front of me. Our pourer says you can sample any of them for a dollar a piece. My face lights up for a second, then it goes dim. I have no cash on me. One thing I will definitely remember when traveling on the NY wine trails is to make sure I have cash. There are no ATMs perched anywhere. Seriously, I even scanned the fields of grapes and cows thinking maybe there would be some random ATM in the middle of a pasture but no dice. Even the wineries we have visited thus far, did not have any ATMs.

Our pourer makes her way back to us. She gives us two more samples then flies down to the other side of the bar again. Watching her move is like playing a 45 record on 78. ( Now I am definitely dating myself.) For the younger crowd reading this, she is like fast forwarding through a movie on a DVD player or commercials on the DVR. As I "sip" the heavenly Pear Perfection which tastes just like pears, she comes flying back down through the bar again and over to some boxes. She starts tearing through them like a mad woman looking for god knows what, then stomps her feet and says " Oh sugar cubes!" This was a choke on your wine moment and that is exactly what I did. I look at Becky whom is still reeling from the silly goose comment. I swear to god if she says "Fiddlesticks" next I'm going to ask her if she has a Mr. Rogers cardigan because if she doesn't, she should totally get one.

Our pourer .....Silly Goose! 

Becky whips out a dollar and tells me I should have a shot of alcohol. I agree completely. She looks for our pourer who is now at the other end of the bar again. I didn't even see her go by but obviously she did. She is saying her goodbyes to the limobus people. Once they leave Becky yells " Hey you silly goose, we would like a shot of alcohol." Oh no! She did not just go there. I have this huge, amused grim on my face. Our pourer finds this humorous as well. Good thing too because Becky and myself pretty much ate an entire bowl full of oyster crackers. In fact I may have been working my way through another bowl situated behind me on the other bar as well. You are only really supposed to eat a few. It's not a buffet people.

She makes her way down to us. "Which one would I like to try?" she inquires. I tell her I am torn between the honey brandy and apple brandy. " You are not going to have the corn whiskey?" Becky asks. I let out a big sigh. " Give her the corn whiskey." Becky tells our pourer. The pourer looks at me. She then joins Becky in strongly suggesting I try it. In other words, they pretty much called me a pussy without actually saying the word. I think "pussywillow" could have been an acceptable word for Mrs. Rogers to say. I should make a suggestion that she add that to her Barney the Dinosaur vocabulary. In fact, I find myself ALMOST suggesting it. The words are on the tip of my tongue. Instead, I shrug and say "Fuck it. Ooops I mean sugar cubes. I'll have the damn corn whiskey because my friend the pusher knows my weaknesses." Such peer pressure! LOL!

Distilled treats at Montezuma Winery
Distilled treats for $1.00

Becky calls me a silly goose. I almost lose it. The funniest thing about all of this is that our pourer is completely oblivious to Becky and I pretty much busting her balls to her face. They are probably crocheted balls with little jingle bells on them I think as I watch her pour what is almost a half a wine glass full of corn whiskey. Didn't help that Becky was egging her on. My eyes grow wide. Holy fuck. This is it. This is the end. I am so much done after this Judd's corn whiskey stuff.

I take the glass and stare at it a moment. I'm so fucked I think to myself. As I raise the glass to my mouth my nose catches a whiff of the highly potent alcohol. This is gonna hurt in 3...2....1, Houston....we have lift off. I'm a shot person. It is very rare that a shot of anything trips me up. Sometimes a strong bourbon does but not much else. This shit tripped me up. It was so strong that I had to take it in two gulps instead of one. It tasted awful, like jet fuel going down my throat, not that I have a throat anymore thanks to the burn. The aftertaste reminded me of the worm that soaks in a bottle of mescale. Ten years ago I ate the worm at the bottom of a bottle of mescale. I made a vow that I would never, ever do that again unless there was a million dollars cash sitting in front of me.

It is one of those tastes you only need to experience once to remember the rest of your life. It tasted like chewy, grainy paper that has been sitting in rubbing alcohol and sand for 30 years. This corn whiskey brought me back ten years and one bottle of mescale. I can feel the sway moving in. Before I go completely stupid I ask our silly goose friend to get me a bottle of Golden Delicious Apple Wine and a bottle of Fat Frog Red for Becks. I think that is what I got Becky. I was starting to slip. We say our goodbyes to our zippy, animated pourer, I make my purchase and outside we go.

The air hits me hard. Becky needs to use the phone. I lean on the jeep for dear life. You think this would be the pivotal cut off moment for Fess. You would think after being reminded of one of the most horrible tasting experiences on the planet I would say stick a fork in me but oh no.... This gal has got some misguided confidence flowing through her bloodstream along with the grain alcohol. The 21 year old frat boy is coming out now. Let's drink! Hey, I didn't feel nauseous, and as long as I didn't feel that, I wasn't going to say when. 3 Brothers here we come!!

For me the ideal date would be to drink wine in the backyard under the stars, listen to music and just talk. Then we'd eat steak and, later, dessert. If all went as planned, we'd save some of the dessert and play with it while making out.
Karen McDougal 

While driving to 3 Brothers, just about every house we pass, Becky named the exact color and brand they have used from Lowe's for their doors, houses, garages  decks, fences. She is the sharpest paint manager ever to work at a Lowe's in my opinion and I am usually right. I am very impressed with all of this. We see a big bunch of metal silos clumped together further up the road. I am from Pennsylvania. Silos are everywhere, yet I have never seen such big ones all together. We are thinking it is a grain processing plant. It looks neat so I snap a pic.

grain silos
This could be the scene of an action or horror movie.  Yes...that is how my mind works.

The 3 Brothers winery isn't too far from the silos. When arriving on the property I become confused. There are four different wineries and breweries none of which say 3 Brothers. I ask Becky if we are at the right place. She says this is where the GPS has taken us. She entered 3 Brothers. I slowly climb out of the Jeep so not to get my foot stuck and fall head first into the gravel driveway. Stupid drunken injuries are quite common with me, so I need to proceed with some air of caution. As we start walking towards the first building we notice the sign 3 Brothers Wineries and Estates. Ohhhh! It is plural. Learn to read Fess. Wineries not winery. Makes so much more sense now.

3 Brothers Wineries and Estates
Duh...learn to read Chrissy!

We also notice a sign post with the many different buildings on the compound  I did not realize they owned all of these places. I may be a little confused still but I try to hide it by asking Becky about 17 more questions. (Sarcasm people) This is definitely the equivalent of an amusement park for the over 21 crowd. It's too much for words. There are a lot of drinks at this place. Can't wait to try everything. Of course, I am forgetting how inebriated I already am. I look at Becks. Let's do this she says. I know I'm in.

3 Brothers Wineries and Estates
Where should we start? 

Becky points to the entry to the first winery, which turns out to be Passion Feet. "Pleasure, Passion, Adventure," Becky reads. Why would we not want to go in such a passionate, pleasurable place? So.... we do. Inside are racks of wine and lots of girlie accessories such as hats, jewelry, more wine sippy cups, etc. We have fun looking through everything. I FINALLY find an ATM too. Thank You Jesus!! We are in business. Of course there is an exorbitant withdrawal fee but it is the first ATM I have seen all day. I suck it up and get some cash.

I find Becky trying on some of the hats. She looks amazing in all of them. Some people can pull off hats, some people cannot. Becky definitely can. As she peruses the fashion, I check out all the cute little wines they have. I love the hand drawn art on all the labels. The names are catchy and cute but catchy or not, for me, the wine still has to be good.  Some people will buy a bottle of wine just for the name, not this gal. A unique name will catch me eye, of course but I need substance or I will not put down my hard earned money. Case in point, last year at wine fest hoards of women were lining up at the Happy Bitch wine stand. The woman running the stand was an author of a book called Happy Bitch. She and her friend also started their own line of wines.

The name was catchy, the bottle was black and pink, she had stickers and tattoos and all sorts of fun, free little treats for the ladies to enjoy. She was a marketing genius for the 30 and 40 something women of the world finding themselves single again and having to rebuild their lives. I admired her courage, her openess and her go getter attitude. She was a very nice lady. However, her wine needs to be fine tuned. I did not like it. I wanted to show my support by purchasing her wine, but I had a budget. I wanted to spend my money on wines I enjoy. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions. Sometimes a great name is just that, a great name.

This hat goes perfect with Becky and her new blue dress. I have to get her one like this!

Passion Feet Winery
Their marketing strategy to appeal to the female gender is genius. 

The Passion Feet Winery is definitely geared towards the female gender. Names like Nearly Naked (which is really good), Flirtation, Take Me Home, Heart Pounding Crush ( My new favorite) and Scandelicious, line the racks near the cashier. How could they not peak a female's interest with their dainty female nymphs complete with innuendo...especially a single female looking for love in all the wrong places. They also make slushies with their wine. This year at the wine fest I plan to stock up on two or three because the deal there is phenomenal and the slushies taste like a fruit flavored heaven. 

Passion Feet Slushie
This is the one!! They better have it at winefest! It was sooo good! 
I make my way to the bar to have a tasting. I have tried most of them but Heart Pounding Crush and Scandelicious were two I have not. The pourer suggests I get the passport for $11. It includes samplings at all the buildings. To do each one individually would cost $24.00. I look at Becky. "Do it kid." She laughs. I head over to the cashier to get my passport. It is going through my head that this is going to be a lot of alcohol but I feel okay enough. I am a big dawg! Of course I only have an hour to hit all four places so we need to get a move on. 

I do my tasting at Passion Feet and realize Flirtation, which was another bottle I bought at wine fest last year, is not as good as I remember. It's just okay. Turns out I prefer the darker wines. I have to remember to write down the wines I like for wine fest in July. Before I head over to my next stop, the War Horse Brewing Co., my pourer gives me a generous free sample of the Heart Pounding Crush slushie. It is bursting with a sweet grape flavor, like grape juice gone wild and.....slushie. LOL! I will definitely get this at wine fest for sure. This will be perfect for warm summer nights in the cabana with a few good friends. I'll even force the guys to try it. LOL!

My passport 

I thank my pourer, then head to the brewery which is in the same building. I am not a beer drinker so I find it humorous that I am about to try microbrews that only distinguished beer lovers could genuinely appreciate. I feel somewhat like a poser. But....just like I have recently come to discover I love Yuengling lager on occasion, as well as Hoegarden, which my friend Rob likes, maybe there is something in here that I would like as well. You never know unless you try right? 

As we slide up to the counter, you can tell the barista is pretty much done for the day. She is nice enough, but seems very eager to just get the day over. I do not get offended by this. I know what it is like to spend all day serving people. That last hour of work seems to drag on forever, your feet are killing you, your patience has worn thin from dealing with the public, especially drunken men, you have a million and one clean ups you must finish, and you have absolutely zero energy left. Even the nicest person on the planet is ready for the day to just be over. I get it. 

The War Horse Brewing Company
The War Horse

The War Horse Brewing Company

She places the sample menu in front of me. There are no choices to make. What you see on the paper is what you are going to sample. I am actually quite relieved by this because I have no clue. Since I have sensed our pourers vibe, I try to make it as painless as possible for her. I tell her I am all set to go right down this list. We start with a Riesling ale. I do NOT like it at all. It tastes like both beer and wine but in a weird way. It's like a really carbonated, crackling club soda with a hint of grapes and hops. I chug it but I am not a fan. Becky had a sip. She thought it was okay. 

The Dear Jon Raspberry Wheat Ale was so-so. I am still on the fence about fruit flavored beers, just like I am fruit flavored coffees. It stresses my taste buds too much. Keeping the ball rolling, we move on to Lt. Dan. Black IPA ( But you have no legs Lt. Dan. LOL! ) Our pourer does warn me that this is a very strong, very bitter beer that is definitely not for everyone. I mentally prepare myself for the taste. As I lift it to my lips and take a sip, I make the most bitter beer face ever. OMG this is horrible!! Becky is so intrigued and amused by my expression that she needs to have a sip. I gladly hand it to her. She has the same exact reaction as me. 

She hands it right back to me. The barista is amused but sympathetic. I try to muster one more sip but it is just so bitter. I cannot believe I am about to say this but for the first time I ever, I dump alcohol in the bucket on the bar. I know if I try to finish it I will be sick. The next beer is also dark and strong our barista informs us, but it has undertones of coffee and chocolate making it more appealing to the taste buds. She pours my sample. Reluctantly I bring it to my lips. I am nervous about this one because it is almost as dark as the previous one. 

I taste it and wince a little. It is not as strong, I can definitely taste all the flavors, but this is another heavy hearty brew. Becky has a sip and agrees it's not nearly as bitter as the previous sample, but still hardcore. I debate dumping this one too but two in a row is too much for me to bear. ( Let's see how many times I can use a version of the word "to" in a sentence. ) I chug it and pray it stays down. I think I have begun to break a sweat and I must look a little distressed because our pourer has begun reassuring me that she is about to give me the best root beer on the planet. I will definitely enjoy this. I don't have the heart to tell her I don't like root beer. 

She pours it and I give it a go. It's actually very strong for root beer, but it does taste nice, for a root beer. I give the rest to Becky. Becky does agree it is the best root beer she has ever tried. I'm glad to hear that because I really wouldn't know. I am not a fan of flavored sodas. They literally make me sick. Diet coke, sometimes diet cherry coke and ginger ale are about as exotic as I get. Sprite I can handle mixed with plain alcohol but even flavored vodka I prefer with diet coke or diet ice tea. It's weird. I'm weird. I must say I was happy to be done with the War Horse. We step outside and play around with the jeep and the airplane in the back of the brewery. 

This gal loves her Jeeps!!

The War Horse Brewing Company
Fly me to the moon. Actually I don't need a plane, all the alcohol has given me zero gravity. 

I collect art, and I drink wine... things that I like that I had never been exposed to. But I never said, 'I'm going to buy art to impress this crowd.' That's just ridiculous to me. I don't live my life like that, because how could you be happy with yourself?

Becky looks at her watch. We are running out of time. We start scanning the area for the next winery Bagg Dare. We cannot see it anywhere. All I see is what looks like an old run down path and what seems to be an old run down building? It reminds me of old abandoned gas stations or little shacks you see on the side of the Pennsylvania back roads. I turn to Becky and ask her if she thinks it could be back there (bagg dare....get it? LOL. I do now.). We don't see any people walking around down there, maybe that is where they make the wine or maybe it is employees only. We decide to take a gander anyways just to be sure.

Bagg Dare
Once upon a time USA. 

We start cracking up when we see what it says on the wooden archway above the path. Bagg Dare (bag dair), Cajun speak for back there. Ladies and Gentlemen we are about to enter the backwood swampland moonshine shanties of Looziana right here in the Empire State. I know I have redneck blood running somewhere in my veins because I love this stuff. I feel connected. I know how to use duct tape and electrical tape. I even know how to use threading tape. I own five different saws, a half dozen hammers, 30+ screwdrivers, super glue, two by fours and twine. I can't measure for shit; I do not throw away paint. I pick furniture and other things from the side of the road because I love turning trash to treasure. My kids even bust my ass about it. I am okay with that. I am an American redneck and I'm proud of my redneck McGuyver skills. 

Bagg Dare

Becky and I are cracking up at all the crap laying all over the place. As I stumble down the dirt path I start snapping pics. I wonder if this the winery that makes Well Hung and Skirt Lifter, both of which are great, fun wines. We see the shanty up ahead. This is so awesome. There is a redneck deck and some plastic Adirondack chairs overlooking the bog complete with a rusted child's bicycle. I jump on the deck and take in the view of muddy water and catty nine tails. The bugs are subdued this time of year but give it another two weeks and this will be skeeter city.

I may have an old truck in the back of my yard right now!! 
Bagg Dare
Wonder if there are any catfish, crawfish or bass in this pond? Maybe a few Sun Perch aka Sunnies. 

This place is so awesome!! I have been on two roadtrips down South. I have been in genuine moonshine shanties complete with a drive thru window. I have taken exits off the interstate only to make a U turn and get my ass right back on the interstate because it was dark and scary and I've watched too many movies. I have been in classic old time general stores and ancient little diners and grease pits. This reminded me of my road trips, one of which was to Naw'leans. It was one of the best times of my life. This place took me right back there. That and I was a huge Dukes of Hazzard fan as a kid. LOL!

Bagg Dare
Cooters garage? I've been there before. 
Bagg Dare
Lovin the greenstamps sign!
Bagg Dare
Hubcaps....why wouldn't there be? 

Becky has now formally taken on the role of babysitter, something she is used to with me. I trust this woman with my life, can't say that for many people. Anyways, I am so busy screwing around in Redneckville that I forget time is not on our side. She shoos me into the winery. There are people in here! I may have shouted that but I cannot recall. I skip over to the bar next to a few men in their late forties, early fifties. Our pourer comes over with the tasting list. Sweet! This is the winery with those wines. I so much want to try them all. Becky informs me I am going to try them all. Did I mention I have a death grip on the bar to keep upright? Cuz I do!

Bagg Dare
The Tasting List at Bagg Dare.
As we go through the list, the female pourer, Becky and myself have a really good time with the names. In fact, we make the men blush so much, one is now quite the shade of beet red. 69 Ways to Have Fun is 69 ways to fantastic and you don't have to be horizontal to enjoy a mouthful of that. Poor Limp Richard is also fabulous. Not at all limp in flavor, definitely a rock hard solid wine when inserted properly. Well Hung is slightly less sweet but when you stick that in your mouth, it bursts with flavor. Dog Head Red is also very flavorful and if the carpet matches the drapes well..... Skirt Lifter is definitely my favorite. And with the amount of alcohol I have had, it's a good thing I'm not wearing a skirt. It's also a good thing Bone Dancer was not available to sample because lifting a skirt to dance with a bone sometimes happens in the company of such great spirits. 

And yes, the men are now all a bright burning shade of red. One may have had to walk away. Bet they weren't expecting these rowdy broads to show up in this gin joint/wine shanty. Yes fellows, sometimes the ladies are a little more hardcore than the men. Deal with it. You love it!  All I know is I am going to be broke at wine fest. I liked all of these wines very much. And they liked me back. Now let's go play with the stuff in the general store. 

She kills me! 
Oooh! Voodoo dolls. I should get the Virgo one and stick pins in myself. LMAO!
I could so be Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me ( drunken misguided confidence at it's peak)
Awww! Messages in a bottle. How sweet!
Memories of the good old days. You don't see these around much anymore. I would love to have one. 

Bagg Dare
Time to leave Bagg Dare. 
We were having so much fun with all the toys that we forgot time again. Becky tells me she doesn't think we will have time for the last winery. I tell her I will be fast. As we exit Bagg Dare I become distracted by the skeleton in the rusty pick up. I want a picture with the truck. Obviously the employees of 3 Brothers have encountered other drunk off their ass patrons trying to climb in the truck with Mr.Bones because there is fencing all around the truck preventing me from getting to the other side to open the door and sit inside with my new dead friend. 

I debate climbing in the back of the pick up and climbing over all the rusty junk to get on the cab. As soon as Becky sees me lift my leg to take a gander she tells me not to do that. She does not want to have to take me for a tetanus shot. I tell her I already got one last December so I should be good. She gives a half smile and says there is too much rust. I mull over the truck. She is right. No pic with Mr. Bones for me. But I did climb on another truck...well sort of. Maybe I just leaned on it. 

Bagg Dare
Mr. Bones

You should celebrate the end of a love affair as they celebrate death in New Orleans, with songs, laughter, dancing and a lot of wine.
Francoise Sagan 

After I am done messing with the rusty hunks of junk we make are way to the last winery. I don't even know what it is. All I know is it is hard stumbling fast up a dirt path. When we arrive at the winery, I take a pic so I can remember where I was. Stony Lonesome winery is where I was. Not Lonesome Dove, Stony Lonesome. We climb up the steps, well Becky climbs them, I teeter up the levels and stumble through the doors. I look around. This is a fancy one I think to myself. I have to behave classy in here. I straighten my posture and walk over to the bar. I'm not fooling anyone.

I ask the bartender if I still have time for a tasting. He says of course I do. He pulls out the tasting menu. I am now leaning on the bar just to stay upright. He asks is I like red or white, sweet or dry. I say yes much to Becky's amusement. She is giggling like a schoolgirl. I am trying not to do a faceplant into the menu laying on the bar. That would not be classy. Becky helps me out a little and suggests he give me sweet white wines. I have no idea what is going on by this point. I am just trying not to pass out at the bar. Such a class act I am.

Stony Lonesome
This is Stony Lonesome. Thank god I took a pic!

He starts running through the selections, pouring wine in my glass. I have no idea what he is saying. I try to have a conversation about...something. I am trying so hard to sound like I know what I am talking about and somehow I must pull it off because he is nodding and agreeing with what I am saying. Glad one of us knows what the hell i'm talking about. I can only imagine what he is thinking in his head. As he gives me another wine and tells me the back story on it, I may have inadvertently chugged it and put my wine glass back on the bar a little too forcefully. 

I feel so bad. This man is genuinely trying to do his job and all I can do is nod and mumble. I do know a lot about wine. I really do. I think I may have even told him that. He smiled and laughed. As we get to the last wine, I can honestly say for the first time today, I feel relieved that this will be the final sampling I have today. I am raising the white flag. Chrissy is officially done. Veni Vidi Vici. Now I want to just lay down in a bed and pray the room does not spin. Becky comes to collect me. I thank the man for putting up with me and that I really do know a lot about wine, just not now. He smiles and says goodbye. 

Becky shows me a picture near the exit of the winery. It says "All about Fess and Beck 2013". I look at her shocked. "How did they know?" I asked her innocently. She is rolling at my question. "Did you make that?" I ask excitedly. She tells me she did. I love it! I hope the people aren't mad she wrote on their stuff. She says it is magic. 

Becky is magical!! 

Truth comes out in wine.
Pliny the Elder 

Once I am strapped in the Jeep we head back to the marina. I am near passing out. Becky keeps me awake on the ride home pointing out tractors and grills and decks and all sorts of home project stuff from Lowe's. She sold like 7 grills and 4 tractors in one week at Lowe's. I was so impressed because these are big ticket items. She said one guy showed up in the store and wanted a grill and a swing. The swings were high up in the shelves so she arranged to have them delivered to him for free. He was so happy with her courtesy that he ordered another grill and another swing. A little kindness goes a long way for many people. Becky knows it's all about the little things. That is why she is so awesome. And she knows her paint! 

The rest of the evening is a little blurry. I remember Nicki and her boyfriend coming to visit us. I remember eating dinner at Chef's with Mr.B, Becky, Nicki and her boyfriend. I remember we were going to go back to the boat and build a fire outside (because...building a fire inside would be wrong? Sometimes I need to point out the obvious in my ramblings.). I remember going back on the boat to change. I remember talking to Jere. I remember talking to Joe. I remember playing with the boat kitty. I do not remember going down to the bottom bunk and falling asleep. I wake up around 11 PM  I try to stand but end up falling back into the bunk. I need to use the bathroom and I am craving nicotine so I attempt to get back up and climb out of the bunk. 

I manage okay but almost fall backwards on the two steps going up to the deck. Thankfully I braced myself and was able to step down one step, otherwise I would have knocked myself out on the wooden beam and twisted my back crashing against the wall five feet away. Becky and her dad are talking at the table. I excuse myself and go outside. There is only a small gap between the deck and the boat, I pray to god I do not fall in the small space between the two into the canal. 

As I find myself safely on the deck I notice the hippie guy next door to us making his was back from the bathroom. I catch myself trying to back up to the boat so he can't see me. "What the fuck are you doing goofy??" My mind screams at me. Oh shit! I manage to stop myself right before stepping into the open space between the boat and the deck. It's funny just how quickly one can sober up when faced with the possibility of a broken neck. Man that would have really hurt. I breath a little and stay very still until he passes by our boat. I light a smoke and wait a little longer before I make my way to the bathroom. 

Once I get back to the boat, I am ready to sleep some more. I remember briefly talking to Becky and her dad about Sunday's plans. Next thing I know it is 6:00 AM and I am up with the birds. I lay there for a little while then decide to go for a walk. I really like walking around the canal. There is a path on the opposite side that I ran on last year. I am in no shape for running right now, haven't gone on a run since last October, but a brisk walk couldn't hurt. 

I am way wobbly on my feet this morning. I almost fall going up the steps again. So much for being graceful and quiet. I make my way outside. It is freezing. I have my hoodie and my ballcap but I am wishing I had gloves too. As I walk from the boat I turn back because I thought I forgot my lighter. The hippie man is staring at me from the window of his boat. Goddamn, does that guy ever sleep? Fuck the lighter, I turn and start walking very quickly up the road. I by pass the first bathroom even though I really have to go because I do not want to run into hippie man. I make my way all the way up to the bathrooms by the ice cream stand near the end of the marina. 

I stare across the canal to the stone bridge where the path is. My fingers are turning white from the cold. I spend a few minutes debating whether I should bother with the walk. It is almost four miles back and forth. If I had gloves I would be okay but I don't and I am too unsteady to walk with my hands in my hoodie. I need them for balance since I am residual drunk aka reasonably sober. I hang by the ice cream stand a little longer looking at the geese with her goslings, then make my way back to the boat. 

The big blue machine in the background is what they use to put the boats in the water. 
The stone bridge

George Herbert 

Hippie Man is nowhere to be seen thank god. I step on the boat, quietly entering as to not wake anyone. I am wide awake. I begin looking through my pictures from yesterday. When I am done with that I start looking at all the maps and flyers I collected yesterday. Once everyone is awake, we decide to take showers at the shower house rather than on the boat. I could use a nice warm shower. After an extensive search for the key to the shower house, which includes passing hippie man's boat (he was watching both of us through the window this time) so we could search our friend John's boat, we are good.

There is one thing I need to note about the shower house. You cannot get to hot without going through cold. When you have short arms like me, you cannot stand outside the shower and turn the water on. Trust me I tried. What I should have done was point the shower nozzle straight down, but I did not think of that. Why would I? As soon as the cold water hit me I let out a blood curdling scream scaring the hell out of Becky three stalls down.

She started yelling " Are you okay? What happened?" All I could manage to say was "Cold!". My toes were turning white. Finally the hot water came on and It felt sooooo good. I could have stayed in there for an hour. Upon leaving the shower house, that warm fuzzy feeling was all but gone. It was hailing little snowballs outside. WTF? Come on already with the fucking snow. It's May for Christ's sake. Hippie man is watching us again as we get back to the boat. He is creeping me out. Yesterday before we left he appeared out of nowhere by Becky's Jeep and kept sticking his head in the window so he could talk really, really close to us.Then he wouldn't leave. We were like "Ok, goodbye" but he kept sticking his head in the window. I hope he is not up here for wine fest weekend.

Becky and I plan our day. Since we are going back home we want to be on the road by four at the latest. I tell her I don't have to go to too many wineries today. I want to take it easy today. Wait, let me rephrase that, I don't want to take it easy, I need to take it easy. I would like to see Hickory Hollow and Glenora. She wants to see Torrey Ridge. We plan our route and make our way up the wine trail on the west side of Lake Seneca. As we drive to the top to work our way down, I see a little vineyard called the Fruit Yard winery. I do not recall them from wine fest. It looks cute and I love fruit so I tell Becky I would like to stop there on the way back. 

As we head further North we see a horse and buggy. The we see another one, and another one. Becky says they are coming back from church. " Oh right, It's Sunday." I murmur. Unless someone is dead or getting married, I do not go to church anymore. I have my reasons and I do believe in God but I do not openly discuss my views on religion except to say I don't judge anyone either way. 

The infant grapevines sprouting about along Lake Seneca.

Up ahead we see a sign for a scenic overlook. I have to admit, the view so far on the drive has been gorgeous. Baby grapevines just leaving the infancy stage are growing all along either side with Seneca as the back drop. The sky is blue and full of white, fluffy cumulus clouds. Seneca is huge, commanding and beautiful. It is also extremely deep I have read. Perhaps once I jumped into the majestic lake in my underwear but that is in another blog. Becky decides to pull over into the scenic overlook lot. We are so excited to see the view but all we see are.......cows? Lots and lots of cows. What the hell? Then Becky notices way way in the background a small view of Lake Seneca. 

If you look on the bottom right hand corner of this pic, way in the back, you can see Lake Seneca.

Really? Of all the places on this road to put a scenic overlook this is where you decide to put it? I think someone was having a few tastings along the wine trail when they decided to choose this location as the scenic overlook. There are way better views of Seneca all along this route. Not that there is anything wrong with a field of cows, I'm not saying that. It was just so..... unexpected. What is even more amusing is the historical sign explaining how the Finger Lakes were settled. 

All about the Finger Lakes

Becky starts rolling when she sees that it was settled for celibacy and communal living. Somehow potent wine and celibacy creates a paradox only the strong willed can truly practice. I snap a few pics of the "scenic" overlook before we take off for Torrey Ridge, home of the redneck wines. I am hoping it is as cool as 3 Brothers was. Wonder what redneck contraptions they have going on here. When we see the sign to enter the winery we are really confused. I have had no alcohol at this point so the confusion is real.

Torrey Ridge is a huge pristine white building with a royal blue roof and big fancy arched windows. It reminded me of a home a wealthy horse breeder would own. "Is this really it?" I ask Becky. She says the sign says it is but it is too fancy to be the home of redneck wines. We pull up the driveway. No one is here. With the exception of the wind gusting, it is eerily quiet. I start thinking of the movie "The Shining". I need to stop doing this to myself I laugh. We decide to go in since we have driven all the way up here. Upon stepping inside we see all the redneck wines and two employees. This was so not what I was expecting. It was very nice, but I was expecting another Redneckville. I'm not gonna lie, I was a little disappointed. 

Becky and I browse the shop for a few minutes then head to the bar for our tasting. They have eccentric mix. The redneck wines are mixed in with some very classy, top of the line wines. I sample the whole spectrum. They have a stunning strawberry rhubarb wine that is so clean tasting you would think it was a Glenora wine. I loved it. When I checked the price my heart sunk. It was $17.00 a bottle. Not that it is a bad price, wines can go into the 100s and 1000s but I was not in a position at the moment to spend that much money on a bottle of wine. I also take into account the way I drink wine. I can't help but be a chugger, especially when I really love the wine. Need to work on that. I am bummed but make a note that if they have it at wine fest, I will grab a bottle. 

Torrey Ridge
Redneck wines

I am also excited to try the newest addition to the redneck wines, Lucky. I am not sure what to expect because I do not like most of the redneck wines, yet the few I do like, I love. Cous'N Emmy Lou and Cous'n Hick a Billy are great wines. As I bring the glass to my lips, swirling it, it smells really nice and fresh. I become thrilled by my first taste. It is fantastic, by far their best redneck wine in my opinion. I inquire if they will be bringing it to wine fest. The owner assures me they definitely will be bringing Lucky. Sweet! My list of wines to buy at wine fest is becoming rather large, but if I start saving now, I will kick some major ass!

We say our goodbyes to Torrey Ridge and make our way South. We pass several wineries but Becky is officially in DD mode because of the drive back home so I want to limit how many we go to. That and I keep reminding myself I need to take it easy. I am starting to feel an allergy attack coming on from being outdoors so much. Becky sees my post on FB about taking it easy. She finds this absolutely hilarious coming from my mouth. She proceeds to tag me at every winery along the trail on Facebook. 

Torrey Ridge
Awwww! Too cute! Lucky Wine. 

Becky and Fess Rockstar Winery Tour 2013

Happiness is a wine of the rarest vintage, and seems insipid to a vulgar taste.
Logan P. Smith 

The wind has picked up, the chill is still in the air but the sun is shining and it is no longer hailing mini snowballs. We come upon the Fruit Yard. We take a pic of ourselves in the lot, hair whipping in the wind. We are both so happy right now. We enter the Fruit Yard and immediately I spot a basket by the register with wine corks. There is a sign that says free. I grab a handful for my friend Angelique. She is doing some kid of project at home and needs them. I am such a thoughtful friend! LOL!

The Fruit Yard
The little gem of the Finger Lakes

The Fruit Yard is a really cute winery. We walk around and check out all the little bottles of fruit wines on the shelves before we head to the bar. Our pourer happens to be the sweetest woman on the planet. She gives us both a menu. Becky informs her she is designated driver. Our pourer offers a selection of juice to choose from. That is so cool I think. As she comes to me I pull out some money and ask her how much the tasting is. She waves her hand and says they do not charge for tastings. My mouth drops. I think this is my new favorite place. 

I am so excited to taste some wine at my new favorite winery on the planet. I notice the list has fruit specific wines. I check peach, pear, strawberry, blueberry and plum wine. She comes back with a big bottle of Welch's juice for Becky, then places these cute little glasses in front of both of us. We both ask if the glasses are for sale. She tells us they used to be but then they sold too much of their stock and do not have enough for the tastings. They are expecting more to arrive in July. For a split second the big purse special goes through my mind but I couldn't do that. This place is way too cool for that.

The DD enjoying some delicious Welch's juice

As I go through each wine, I am not only very impressed with the flavors, but also the prices. Granted the bottles are smaller than the average wine bottle, but fruit specific wines tend to be more expensive than grape based wines. They are a great deal. I really enjoy the blueberry but I know we are stopping at Glenora, and they have my favorite blueberry wine. I really want to give this winery business so after much debating, I decide on the strawberry wine. I am getting it for my mother for mother's day. She doesn't drink wine very much but she loves strawberries. I think this little bottle will be perfect for the relaxing weekends they spend at the Lehigh Gorge campground. 

The Fruit Yard
Tasty fruity wines

I ask our adorable pourer if they do the wine fest. She says they do not do the wine fest because it is such a small winery. They do not produce the volume of wine necessary to meet the demands at wine fest. It is also not as cost effective for them as it is for the bigger wineries. I assure her that when we come up here for wine fest in July, I will make it a point to come back to her winery and get some more wine. I am so happy we stopped here. As we are checking out, I take another handful of corks because there are so many. Becky laughs. They also have the tall wine glasses buy one get one so I get two of them. Before we leave, she asks us if we are moms. I tell her I am a mom and Becky is a godmother. She let's us choose a carnation from the bucket behind the counter. They are the only winery we attend that day that did anything for mothers. This little winery was a class act. A little gem among giants. Very impressed and pleased with their service, their quality and their deals. They now have huge fans in both Becky and myself. 

Hickory Hollow
I need a barrel of wine this size for my thrist. 

Maybe it's because I'm getting older, I'm finding enjoyment in things that stop time. Just the simple act of tasting a glass of wine is its own event. You're not downing a glass of wine in the midst of doing something else.
David Hyde Pierce 

Right across the street from the Fruit Yard is Hickory Hollow (spit or swallow), our next stop. Hickory Hollow is a very nice vineyard but there is nothing in particular that stands out about it. I was expecting more because they are a fun, rowdy bunch at the wine fest. The atmosphere is very subdued here. It is Sunday though I tell myself. One funny note, they actually had to write a disclaimer for their Liquid Wisdom wine stating that drinking this wine WILL NOT in fact, make you smarter. I find it hilarious that someone out there in this world actually believed there is a wine that will make you more intelligent if you drink it. More honest perhaps, but not more intelligent. God bless us one and all, even the tools in the shed that are not so sharp because some days that is me. 

I sample some wines and stash some pretzels in my pocket for later but am eager to hit Glenora. It is getting late in the day. Almost time to go home. I can feel the dread starting to creep in at the thought. We leave Hickory Hollow and travel down to the "diamond" of the Finger Lake wineries. Glenora Wine Cellars produces the most beautiful, clean, smooth tasting wine I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. This is strictly my opinion but I am sure others agree. Their Niagara wine is sold in Pennsylvania State Stores and is very popular amongst my fellow wine drinking friends. 

Glenora Wine Cellars
The Diamond

Glenora Wine Cellars
The art on the Glenora Niagara 

The winery is huge, and every bit as fancy and upscale as I would have imagined. The staff however, is very friendly and down to earth. It may look snooty but it is absolutely not. This winery is about roots and purpose. My pourer Linda takes the time to talk to me about all of my wine sections. She pairs different Yancy cheeses with the wine, something the other vineyards did not do. I tell her how in love I am with Glenora's Blueberry Breeze wine. I cannot put into words how unbelievably amazing this wine is. She recommends some dark chocolate to nibble while drinking the fruit wines, which is something I normally only do with port. This is a great idea! In fact, they have several fruit wines, and the Peach Passion wine I sampled is just as amazing in flavor and smoothness. I have my heart set on a bottle of blueberry though. I haven't tasted it since last years wine fest and regretted not getting any bottles. Now I have a bottle to tide me over until wine fest in mid July, where I most surely will go broke. 

Glenora Wine Cellars
A wine bottle tree. How Clever. 

We wander around the rooms of Glenora. They have so many wines. Probably the biggest selection I have encountered on this wine tour. I get a big kick out of the wine bottle trees they have displayed. Very clever idea indeed. I take several pics, the wheels spinning in my mind on how I could replicate them. I would probably have to get a custom wire frame made and stringing the lights through the bottles would not only be tedious, but when they burn out, a pain to replace, but it is something to consider. I have quite a few wine bottles saved. I would love to do something with them. 

Glenora Wine Cellars
Another bottle tree. Couldn't fit it in the Jeep. 
As we climb down the steps of the winery back to the jeep, I feel a little woozy but not nearly as train wrecked as I felt yesterday. Becky asks where else I would like to go. I tell her I am good. As much as I would like to spend more time here, I have neither the cash nor the time to. So, we hop in the jeep, return to the Marina to say goodbye to her dad then head back on the road towards Pennsylvania.  

We stop in Horseheads so Becky can get a coffee at Dunkin Donuts. After waiting in the drive thru for several minutes, she gets her coffee. It is burnt. As we are sitting at a stoplight I watch her furiously typing a text on her phone. Next stop light she is furiously typing again. Then she turns to me and tells me she just tweeted on Dunkins page that their coffee sucked and she is very disappointed. I told her if they don't send her some coupons, then they really do suck. 

I have dreamed in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte 

As we are driving home, I slowly feel the sadness creeping in again. It is inevitable. It is time to go back to reality. I am dreading reality. How sad has it become that my reality is so disappointing to me. When did this happen? I started this year off so positive, so full of hope, so happy, yet I find myself going through much of the same things I was going through last year. Where did I go wrong? How do I fix this? What can I do to make my reality better? I spend a good deal of the drive home just quietly looking out the window. My head is spinning. I hold back the tears. I am trying to fight all of this but I am so tired of everything. I am tired of fighting. I am tired of rolling with the punches. I'm tired of being punched. I'm tired of disappointment. I am mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.

I need change. I have several things in the works that are going to help me achieve the changes I need to make. All of it is going to take some time, I know this, but I am impatient. I just want to get there already. Time is not on my side anymore. I need to keep in a positive frame of mind, something that at one time came so easily for me, but is now a daily struggle. Each day is a roller coaster. Every hour I experience a different emotion. My mind is so overwhelmed by all of this that in order to protect me, it is making me numb. I don't want to be numb. I was never a numb person. This weekend I was me. And it was much needed. It reminded that I need to get back on track. I need to get my ass in gear. I just need to find the energy, determination and the strength to do so. 

I need to dispel the negative from my life anyway I can, even if it means making some really hard decisions. And.... making hard decisions has always come fairly easily to me. It's all the little things attached to the hard decisions that can trip a person up. 

As we enter Pennsylvania, Becky has finally become fed up with drinking her burnt sucky coffee. She pulls into McDonald's for an iced coffee. As she gets out of the Jeep she asks me if i would like one too. I tell her to get me a regular coffee. I am starting to fade. She makes her way inside. I do not want to think anymore so I start looking at my pictures again. I screw around on FB. I text some of my friends. I get so caught up in what I am doing that I do not realize how long Becky has been gone.

I start getting worried. I turn to look at the building when she appears by the Jeep and yells "I just almost lost my shit in McDonald's." For a second I take her literally. Was she not feeling well? I ask her if she made it to the bathroom. She laughs an insane laugh. "No. I just had to ask for money back in a fucking McDonald's. I had to make a return IN A FUCKING MCDONALD'S!!." I notice she is not carrying any coffee.

She climbs in the jeep. "What happened?" I ask her. She sticks her keys in the ignition, twists them, starts the jeep then begins firing away. " All I want is good tasting coffee. Why can I not get that? It's not a hard request is it? I told the kid in there several times what I wanted. I had to explain it to him in great detail. After I did that I watched him proceed to put ice and coffee in the small Styrofoam coffee cup. I told him that is not what I asked for and he looked at me like I was the crazy one. He does work there. How can he not know how to make the iced coffee that they are advertising for a fucking $1?"

I don't know what to say. She is right. I point out that there is a Tim Horton's across the way. We can go there and I will buy her a coffee. She does not hear me. "Then, I hear the manager shout so that the entire restaurant can hear "Make sure you are washing your hands after you use the bathroom." Why would she have to yell that. I just wanted my money back by this time and they were giving me a hard time." I am trying so hard not to laugh. She has obviously been traumatized by all of this. " I just want good tasting coffee. Damn you Dunkin Donuts and McDonald's."

I tell her to breath and drive over to Tim Horton's. She relaxes and does what I say. When we get to the drive thru I point out that there are $1 iced coffees. She cracks me up as she places her order with the girl. She explains that she wants the $1 iced coffee they have advertised on their menu board. She wants it to taste good and she wants exactly what they have pictured on the board. She then asks the girl if she could do this. The girl says yes. She then orders my coffee. 

When we pull to the window the girl takes our money and hands us our coffee. Becky tells the girl she did a great job giving her exactly what she asked for. She thanks her for her kindness and good service. The girl is obviously confused by all of this but is happy for the compliment. Becky takes a sip from her straw. This is a big moment. I am on the edge of my seat, praying that her coffee tastes as good as mine. She smiles and says " Now that's good tasting coffee!" And all is right with the world again. 


Bagg Dare
Redneck woman!

Wine is bottled poetry.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Links to the wineries and other places we visited:

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