The WineGeese 2018 tour took place in New York’s Finger Lakes region. The trip was the first under the new Chairmanship of Kevin Curley and also marked the expansion of the Society as a number of Young Leaders attended for the first time. The area is the largest and most acclaimed winemaking region in the Eastern United States. While local wineries produce many wines, with the cool climate grape, Riesling, has become the signature Finger Lakes varietal wine known the world over.
The trip began with a dinner in one of New York City’s most unique settings, The River Café. Nestled riverside under the Brooklyn Bridge with sweeping views of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Here guests enjoyed a 4-course dinner with wine pairings from the Finger Lakes region. Kevin Curley paid tribute to the late John Sharkey who was a co-founder of the WineGeese Society and was represented on the night by his wife Helen and children Maria and Jacqueline. Guest speaker on the evening was Kimberly Guilfoyle who spoke of her connection to Ireland through her father and her time as a student there.
The following morning the group departed New York City for the Finger Lakes. They stopped en route for lunch and a tour of Scranton University kindly hosted by The Ireland Funds America Board Member, Kip Condron before continuing on Ithaca, New York.
Following check in at Hotel Ithaca, the first stop in the Finger Lakes was Sheldrake Point Winery, a beautiful lakeside winery on the shores of Cayuga Lake. Here everyone enjoyed a private tour with owner Chuck Taught followed by a tasting of their award-winning ice wine which was paired with local cheese.
Last stop on day one was Good Life Farm and the Finger Lakes Cider House for a tour of this diverse ecological farm and the traditional cidermaking process. Following the tour everyone enjoyed a cider pairing dinner made with local ingredients from the farm and its neighbors.
On Friday morning, the first winery stop of the day was Silver Thread Vineyard, a sustainable boutique winery that has one of the oldest vineyard sites on Seneca Lake. Owned by Shannon and Paul Brock since 2011, their premium-crafted, single vineyard Rieslings have been annually recognized by Wine Spectator as some of the best in the region.
Guests then experienced a private Irish-inspired wine-pairing lunch at Suzanne Fine Regional Cuisine. On the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, Suzanne prides herself on local farm-to table Finger Lakes cuisine crafted at the most elegant level in the region.
Following lunch the next visit was to Damiani Wine Cellars for a Sommelier-led wine tasting paired with locally crafted chocolates. Damiani has an unparalleled dedication in the region to crafting quality red wines. They have received more accolades for their red wines than any other winery in the Finger Lakes.
That evening, the WineGeese walked to Simeons Restaurant on Ithaca Commons for a specially-prepared dinner with wine pairings and Sommelier service.
Saturday morning was an early start as the WineGeese headed to the Corning Museum of Glass. This is a world-renowned museum, home to the world’s largest collection of glass, showcasing 3500 years of glass art and history. Here, everyone took part in glass blowing as they crafted their own pieces and enjoyed a tour of the museum highlighting some of the Irish pieces in the museum.
Following lunch at the museum, it was back to the vineyards as the WineGeese visited Lakewood Vineyards for a private tasting. With over 80 acres of vines, they have cultivated amazing grapes for over three generations.
That afternoon, a private sailing on Seneca Lake took place aboard the historic Schooner True Love. Built in 1926 as a racing sailboat, her beauty caught the eye of Hollywood. Her featured role came in High Society, where Bing Crosby serenades Grace Kelly with the song “True Love” aboard her actual deck.
Dinner on the last evening was at Coltivare Farm to Bistro Culinary Center where guests enjoyed a four-course demonstration dinner with regional Finger Lakes chef, Brud Holland in center’s cooking amphitheater.
On the final morning in the Finger Lakes, breakfast was al fresco and lake-side at The Ithaca Farmers Market. The last stop on the trip was a unique and special wine and port experience at Ports of New York where the group was met by owner Frederic’ Bouche before returning to New York City.
Photos: Sheryl Sinkow, Jim Higgins