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Snowy wine adventures

What to do with a long weekend? Drink, naturally. So for the MLK break, I headed upstate to test out the satisfaction level of wine tasting in the depths of winter. Conclusion: the warming effect of wine is highly satisfactory in 12° weather.

We hit two destinations on the Seneca Wine Trail between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Since there were two of us with no chauffeur (sigh, life as a commoner), we had to be conservative so as not to end up in the lake. So first stop was Hector Wine Company, recommended by a mutual friend of the owner. Great thing about small places is that you can meet the owners (when they’re not getting massacred by boozy busloads). Biggest surprise of all? We loved their red wines. As the owner pointed out, if you’re expecting a California red, don’t. Rid yourself of that preconception and then you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Second stop was the well-established regional favorite, Swedish Hill Winery, of which we are long-time devotees. They make a damn good riesling and bottle of bubbly. So take that Mosel and Champagne! (Can you tell I’m nerd-ily proud of New York’s wine making abilities?) Now since I love SH’s wines, visiting their tasting room was what I’m calling vinoMecca (should I copyright that? Just kidding! #stopSOPA). They also make a glögg that is dee-lish. It’s made from Concord grapes (don’t worry, not totally Welch’s),  infused with spices, so it’s pretty sweet, but oh-so yummy and comforting when heated up.

And here are a  few random facts we picked up along the way that the dork in me couldn’t pass up sharing:
1. How do they grow wine in a tundra, you wonder? It’s because the lakes rarely freeze over and warm (comparatively) air makes it ever so slightly more hospitable for the vines.

2. Salt is still actively mined from salt veins 500 to 2,800 feet underneath Seneca Lake. Seneca Salt Company (and others) harvest it by producing a brine using lake water and then evaporating it to produce a culinary-grade flake salt.

Learn something new every day, right? Bottoms up! xo

[Photos, clockwise from top: Hector Wine Company, Seneca Lake salt, Swedish Hill glögg and the Swedish Hill vineyards under a blanket of snow at twilight]

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