Thursday, December 02, 2010

News from the Seneca Lake Wine Trail

Dear Fans of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail:

Whew, it has been a whirlwind since you last heard from us, and we have many new, exciting things to tell you about!
As usual, a brief list summarizing this email, for those with too little time to carefully read through the entire message which, we're obligated to warn you, is a long one!

- December Deck The Halls Reminders
- Watkins Glen Village Christmas Celebration
- Winemaker Wednesdays Announced
- Polar Passport and Most 2011 Tickets On Sale
- New Winery Joins the Trail for 2011
- New Website Deployed
- New Brochures Released with Contests
- Seneca Lake Wine Trail 25th Anniversary
- 2011 Event Co-Sponsors

December Deck The Halls Reminders
For those of you attending this holiday-themed, wine and food pairing weekend event, a few reminders and last minute suggestions. Firstly, the weather forecast at this point is looking great. Light snow showers, and predictably brisk temperatures, and rest assured that we were not blanketed by the storm that recently slammed the city of Buffalo, about two hours away. Our December Deck the Halls Weekend is sold out, however folks do sometimes realize at the last minute that they can't attend the event, and want to sell their tickets for face value. We are suggesting that both people that want to try and sell their tickets, and those wanting to purchase tickets, meet each other through our Facebook profile, posting what they want, or what they have, on our fan site and connecting up that way. Once again The Christmas House, a totally unique retail shop in Elmira, NY is our event co-sponsor. For those of you acquiring your 12 Wine Days of Christmas bottles, The Christmas House is where you can receive your final, complimentary bottle with proof of purchase of the first 11. More information on this program was enclosed with your tickets we mailed you. Please remember to keep your ticket, and upon arriving back home, take a few minutes to complete our online survey located here:
By completing this survey, you're not only helping our member wineries continue to improve their tasting room and their events, but you'll also be entered in a contest to win free tickets to an event next year. You will need your ticket to complete the survey.

Watkins Glen Village Christmas Celebration
The Watkins Glen Annual Village Christmas, presented by Watkins Glen Promotions, will be an evening full of activities, food and crafts.  A terrific event complimenting our Deck the Halls Weekend, Village Christmas will be held Friday, December 3, 2010 on Franklin Street downtown Watkins Glen, and will begin at 5:00 p.m. Live entertainment will be taking place throughout the evening at various locations on Franklin Street.  Included in the mix will be musical groups from the Watkins Glen Schools, Odessa Montour Schools, the 12th Street Players, and Freedom Village. The Lake Country Players children’s cast will present a new family skit “Snafu at Santa’s Workshop” in the Village Hall. One of the highlights of the evening will be the Christmas Parade sponsored by the Seneca Lake General Store.  Commencing at 6:30 p.m. the parade will be where Santa and Mrs. Claus will make their entrance to the street festival.  The parade will also be judged by a panel who will give awards for “Judges’ Choice”, “Most Christmas Spirit”, “Most Decorated” and “Best Decorated Fire Truck.”  Santa and Mrs. Claus will then be at the Seneca Lake General Store to greet all the children at the festival. The 6th Annual Chowder Cook-Off takes place this evening as well, with the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, winner of the past two contests, sponsoring the cook-off this year.  Entries will be set up on Franklin Street and festival-goers may pick up passports to participate in the chowder tasting.  Passports are $3.00 per person and may be purchased that evening at the booth in front of Famous Brands. Santa’s elves, Kathie and Mickey, will be back this year personalizing Christmas ornaments at Wags to Riches.  Make sure you stop by and purchase one for your children and grandchildren. Bring your skates to Clifford Motors where, weather permitting, we will have a ice skating rink for all to enjoy. Weather permitting, the Winter Wonderland fireworks display will be held over Seneca Harbor Park at 8 pm. For more information please call 607-535-3003 or visit their site at

Winemaker Wednesdays
People oftentimes call our office with general questions, one of which is commonly "When is the best time of year to visit the wineries?" The answer, which for many is counter-intuitive, is winter. Granted, during the summer and fall months, ours is a beautiful place to visit, gorgeous vistas abound. During that time of year, however, the wineries are predictably busy with not only more customers, but also intensive winemaking activities like maintaining the vineyards, and harvest itself, to name a couple. The winter, on the other hand, is a time of relative calm at the wineries, and is the perfect time of year to visit the wineries and spend more relaxed time at the tasting rooms with senior staff, owners and managers. With this in mind, several winery members of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail are opting into our Winemaker Wednesday program for the next handful of months. Each participating winery will present relatively unique, educational, detailed tasting experiences on the second Wednesday of each month, starting in December, and ending in April. Oftentimes these experiences will be led by an owner, winemaker or vineyard manager. Here is one of the many different experiences being offered for our first Winemaker Wednesday, scheduled for this coming Wednesday, December 8, 2010. 
This two part experience starts out with the Fulkerson Winery Production Facility Tour and 2010 Wine Tank Sampling (wines undergoing fermentation from the 2010 harvest). Followed by the Fulkerson Winery Riesling Vineyard Excursion (Riesling vines across the road from the winery), and includes visiting the Fulkerson Scottish Highlander Cattle. Customers interested in this incredibly unique opportunity must make reservations for one of three slots on 12/8: 11am, 1pm & 3pm. Owner Sayre Fulkerson himself will be giving the presentation and tour, which will be approximately 90 minutes long. Call the winery for reservations: 607.243.7883.
To see a more complete list of the participating wineries, and some of their varied offerings, click here to visit our dedicated web page:

Polar Passport and Most 2011 Tickets On Sale
Just in time for the holiday season, and coinciding with the launch of our newly retooled website, both our Polar Passports and our spring 2011 tickets are now on sale, online through our secure website. Tickets for our 2011 Deck the Halls Weekends will be going on sale next week. All of these products make seriously terrific gifts, especially for the person in your life that "has everything". Acquiring a Polar Passport, or event tickets, for a friend or loved one, gives them the peerless gift of an excellent experience. Please know that all our event tickets and passports are tangible things that we must mail to you via USPS, they are not e-tickets. Therefore, if you do intend to give tickets as a gift this holiday season, which of course is a fantastic idea, please order them soon enough in advance that you will receive them by the holiday. Our team is incredibly efficient at mailing tickets out promptly, but cannot control the speed with which the USPS gets them to your home. If you know you want to get tickets for somebody as a gift, but aren't sure which event is best, you can also mail us a check to purchase Seneca Lake Wine Trail gift certificates in $25 increments that can be used to purchase tickets from our office, or wine from our member wineries. Just mail in the check for the appropriate amount, and the completed form located here, and we'll ship them out to you promptly. You can see much more information about all our events at our website:

New Winery Joins the Trail for 2011
Located in the booming southeastern corner of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, not far from Atwater and Catharine Valley wineries, is JR Dill Winery, our newest member of the Trail. As is true of literally all of our member wineries, JR Dill is committed to making his excellent wines in the region, using grapes grown within the federally recognized Seneca Lake Appellation (which is just a fancy term for "region", like the Champagne region of France). While JR Dill Winery won't technically be a member until January 2011, they are part of our Winemaker Wednesdays program, and are also a participating winery in our Polar Passport booklet. We encourage you to stop by and visit this newly minted winery and say hello to the owner/winemaker, Jeff Dill, who oftentimes helms the tasting room. J.R. Dill got his start 8 years ago making wine as a hobby in his parent's basement.  Things progressed from there and in 2009 J.R. Dill Winery was founded.  J.R. Dill's great grandfather, H.J. Dill worked in the vineyards here over 100 years ago. Looking to continue the tradition, J.R. Dill takes his passion for wine and the Finger Lakes and puts it into every aspect of the winery.  J.R. Dill personally invites you to visit for a tasting, and more likely than not J.R. will be there to greet you. To learn more, visit their website:

New Website Deployed
While our previous site design (built by Dave Whiting, who also happens to be the award-winning, innovative winemaker at Red New Cellars) was perfectly satisfactory, there were a few things we wanted to evolve. And, rather than addressing those few necessary modifications individually, we opted to basically rebuild it from the ground up. At the same time, as frequent readers of this email have probably noticed, we also changed up our email provider for these periodic messages to our customers. In both instances there is still much work to be done. The core features of the site are fully functional, the secure ticket ordering area tested and safe, though inevitably there are various typos still appearing on some pages, some pages need to be rebuilt, etc. We ask that you please be patient during the next few weeks as we labor to complete the site, making it better than ever.

New Brochures With Contests
Our 2011 brochures are just now being released into the wild, should be available at most of our member wineries now, and will be distributed throughout the northeast and mid-atlantic states in the coming weeks. Ordinarily the release of our annual brochure probably wouldn't even merit mention in one of these infrequent emails we send out. This year, however, in celebration of our 25th Anniversary, we have added some new, one-time bonus features to the brochure, including two contests. The easy contest is a random giveaway for an ultra-deluxe package of tickets to all our events, a cookbook, and copies of both our Passport booklets, among other prizes. 25 randomly selected, lucky winners will receive those packages. The second, fun contest, is "Guess the Winery" contest in the pull-out centerfold of the brochure. Customers must identify which abstract picture goes with which of our 34 member wineries, fill the form out identifying the answers, and mail it into our office to be entered in this contest, with one lucky winner receiving another of our deluxe prize packages. Please note: the pictures were principally taken from the public areas of each winery. You do not have to wander into restricted areas of the wineries, nor amidst the vineyard, to complete this contest and we humbly ask that you refrain from doing so. Additional information and rules on both contests are listed in the brochure itself, and online at our website.

Seneca Lake Wine Trail 25th Anniversary
We are happy to announce that 2011 is our silver anniversary! While not the oldest wine trail (our neighbor, the Cayuga Wine Trail, holds that title) we are certainly one of the oldest, largest and (subjectively speaking) the very best! We have many programs, products and activities to help celebrate our anniversary, and will be announcing those in the coming months. One exciting aspect of this celebration is that Riedel Crystal is the official glass sponsor of our spring 2011 events roster! Ticketed attendees of the following events will receive an appropriate, customized Riedel glass as their gift item: Pasta & Wine, Chocolate & Wine, Cruisin' The Tropics, and Spring Wine & Cheese! By attending all four events, you will end up with a matching set of glasses, with each superlative Riedel glass designed for a certain type of wine. Founded in 1756, Riedel Crystal is known worldwide for designing the finest drinking instruments for every level of wine sophistication. For more details on Riedel, and the glasses event attendees will be receiving, check our website in a week or two.

2011 Event Co-Sponsors
While Riedel Crystal is the overarching co-sponsor for the bulk of our 2011 events, we also are fortunate to have event-specific, excellent sponsors for most of our events. Once again, Bridge Brands, manufacturers of the popular "Wine Lover's Chocolate" series, will be co-sponsoring our Chocolate & Wine Weekend in February. Virtually all recipes prepared by the participating wineries will employ the high quality chocolate from this company in the dishes they've prepared. Our Spring Wine & Cheese Weekend in late April will once again be co-sponsored by our longtime friends McCadam Cheese and their sibling organization, Cabot Cheese. These cooperatives exist to help make, promote and sell cheese made by their state's dairy farmers, and are themselves noble organizations. So next time you're tearing into a delicious block of their Horseradish Cheddar (one of my personal favorites) know that you're not only enjoying award-winning cheese, you've also helped New York's dairy industry and responsibly purchases a locally sourced food! Next up we have Java-Gourmet, also known as Keuka Lake Coffee Roasters, assuming co-sponsorship of our inaugural Smokin' Summer Kickoff in June, 2011. This brand spanking new event will explore the rarely considered pairing of wine with grilled, summer foods. And Java-Gourmet, a locally owned purveyor of cooking products like Java Rub, Java Brine, marinades and more. Yes, many of their products use coffee. And yes, on the surface, especially to folks like me that only know how to boil water, mixing coffee with a sirloin steak, for example, doesn't sound right. In fact, coffee has been used for years as an overall flavor enhancer, not unlike salt in its use in cooking. Adding coffee to savory flavors such as herbs, spices and salts makes coffee a "natural flavor enhancer". You will not experience a coffee/mocha taste as you do when coffee is added with sugars and chocolates. Last, but by no means least, The Christmas House will be co-sponsoring both of our 2011 Deck The Halls Weekend events. Their main store, located in nearby Elmira, NY, is a brilliantly restored Queen Anne Mansion, and is truly a "destination" retail store, meaning that people visit their flagship location like they would a museum: it is that amazing and beautiful. To view a 4 minute, relatively simple little interview between myself and The Christmas House co-owner Mark Delgrosso, in their store, click on the link:

Whew, if memory serves, this is probably the longest message we've sent you in at least five years! And, believe it or not, it could have easily been twice as long. And we promise to weave more media, pictures, video clips and more into our next email: just ran out of time on this one! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this email, for being a fan of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and most importantly for your passionate commitment to our excellent, award-winning member wineries. We hope you have a terrific, safe holiday season and look forward to seeing you on the Trail in 2011.


Paul, Janice, Glenda
The Seneca Lake Wine Trail, A Tasteful Experience

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