Friday, July 1, 2011

Finger Lakes Winery Visit: Lakewood Vineyards

Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen, NY, bills itself as being “on the cutting edge of tradition.” Its history dates back to the 1950s when the Stamps family purchased on farm on Seneca Lake and began commercial grape production. Today the winery has 75 acres of vineyards including vinifera, French-American hybrids and native labrusca. Lakewood produces fine quality wines that have caught the attention of national wine experts as well as wines for playful sipping on the patio.

During our previous two trips to the Finger Lakes, we had missed Lakewood. This was due in part of poor time management – it’s easy to lose track of time in the many tasting rooms. We had a quick trip to Rhinebeck, NY, and on the way back made a short detour to Seneca Lake. Our first stop was Lakewood. It was a great choice.

The sky was bright and blue with the sun gleaming down on the beautiful winery grounds, which features picnic tables with picturesque views of Seneca. We stepped inside to a bustling tasting room with a long tasting bar that seemed to go on forever.

We gravitated to the dry flight being offered at the tasting bar and started with the 2007 Pinot Gris. This was a tangy and tart white with an aroma of melons and the taste.

Next up was the 2008 Dry Riesling. The Finger Lakes is known for its spectacular Riesling and we couldn't wait to sample Lakewood’s well-regarded version. It didn’t disappoint. The aroma of limes wafted from the glass. The flavors are bright with fruit undertones and a crisp finish. This was our favorite white and we purchased a bottle of this.

The Long Stem White 2008 is a blend of Cayuga and Vidal Blanc. At under $8, it is intended as a casual white sipper. It’s perfectly good in that role but is a bit of a clunker compared to the more elegant wines like the Pinot Gris or Dry Riesling.

We rounded out our tasting of white wines with the 2007 Gewürztraminer. This is a well balanced, mellow Gerwurz that was named as a top wine pick by the New York Times. The floral notes accent the wine but do not overwhelm. A very nice food wine.
Leading off for the reds was the 2008 Crystallus.

Tasting Team members Wine Chick and Sax Man turned us on to this great wine blend of Lemberger (84%), Pinot Noir (8%) and Cabernet Franc (8%). This has a great jammy bouquet and an earthy finish with a dash of pepper. This is a winner at just under $17.

The Long Stem Red is an interesting blend of four French-American hybrids. This is worth a whirl at only $8.99.

Our favorite red was the 2008 Cabernet Franc. It has a heady aroma of blackberry, tea and green pepper. It has smoky flavor notes with dark berry traces. Green Dragon said she got the flavor of asparagus. (I cut her off the wine samples after that.) Seriously, this was a great wine and we bagged a bottle before we left.

Lakewood is a great wine experience, blending scenic lake vistas and friendly, professional staff serving memorable wine.

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