If you ask winemakers and those in the know about up and coming wineries in the Finger Lakes, Red Rail Ridge is always on their tongue. We visited this Seneca Lake winery a couple years ago when they just opened, so we were anxious to stop during our recent visit to the area to check their progress.
The tasting room remains small and unpretentious, plunked in the middle of a gravel parking lot a short distance from their abundant vines. Inside the walls display area artwork and the feel is light and casual. Sarah Cavanaugh greeted us and proved to be a knowledgeable host who guided us well through the tasting.
To knock off some road dust, we sampled the 2012 Estate Dry Rosé. The wine is 100% Pinot. It seems everywhere we go, whether it is British Columbia, Oregon or New York, dry Rosé is gaining in popularity. This is a clean, refreshing wine with bountiful fresh strawberry flavor.
Our attention then moved to the 2011 Dry Riesling. This is a solid effort with citrus and lemon flavor notes. The finish is crisp and the wine exhibits a tasty minerality.
The 2011 Semi-Dry Riesling trumped its Dry stable mate with a much richer flavor palate. This has 1.6% residual sugar and tickles the tongue with tropical flavors and a touch of tartness. This was my favorite wine of our visit.
Venturing into red territory, I opted for the 2011 Dornfelder, a casual sipping German grape. This is made with estate grapes and is a dense, fruity wine. This had some enjoyable earthy notes in addition to blackberry and cherry. This is a cool wine.
I mentioned the Rosé trend earlier. Another big trend in the Finger Lakes is the production of outstanding Blaufränkisch (also known as Lemberger). The grape thrives in the Finger Lakes terroir and Red Tail Ridge has been earning a passel of awards for it.The 2010 Blaufränkisch has light flavors of black cherry with layers of spicy pepper, cedar and herbs to give it some great complexity. This wine is a real treat.
We wrapped up with the 2011 Good Karma. This is a blend of estate Riesling with a touch (17%) of Chardonnay. It has a somewhat sweeter finish (2.9% RS) and generally wasn’t our “cup of tea.” However, Red Tail Ridge gets high marks here because 10% of the gross profit of sales goes to the regional food bank. Good Karma indeed!
The wine selection here is somewhat limited compared to larger Finger Lakes wineries, but what is offered is very good. The tasting room is just that, and doesn’t offer amenities such as a restaurant or large deck overlooking the water as some other wineries do. That is certainly small potatoes, because this is an operation producing outstanding wines.
We’re glad to see Red Tail Ridge thriving and we’re sure they’ll continue to soar!