News & Events

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Local Wine News

February 07, 2015

The latest local wine news from around the Country.

Can the Local Wine Shop Survive in the Age of Amazon?

VinePair - 4 days ago
Two years from now, it will have all seemed inevitable. You will want wine, and instead of going to your local brick-and-mortar store, you will log onto your Amazon Prime account, do a quick search,...

Legislative wine committees come to Napa to talk industry issues

Napa Valley Register - 4 hours ago
The joint hearing, held at Napa Valley College, brought together the leaders of both the Assembly Select Committee on Wine, chaired by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, and the Senate...

Wood Wine and Blues Festival hits Storm Lake this weekend

Spencer Daily Reporter - 46 minutes ago
STORM LAKE — One unique feature to Storm Lake is having not one but dozens of wood carvings all around its parks. Storm Lake United is adding five new wood creations to the parks by having its...

Good cause of grapes and auction

Santa Ynez Valley News - 4 hours ago
Santa Ynez Valley residents can't go wrong at St. Mark's Summer Classic Benefit, which combines the blissfully shady, outdoor setting of a local church with a fine gourmet meal, exquisite...

New tap room in Hagerstown plans high-tech beer, wine dispensers

Herald-Mail Media - 1 day ago
There will be a bar in addition to the beer and wine dispensers, which raised questions for liquor board commissioners about monitoring the amount of alcohol consumed — and stopping customers...

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Local Wine Chosen for Illinois Inauguration

January 10, 2015


A local wine is headed to Springfield for Governor-elect Bruce Rauner’s inauguration.

Bottles of sparkling wine made by Illinois Sparkling Co., of Peru, will be placed in the hotel rooms of Rauner and the members of his staff.

“We appreciate that our wine was purchased to be a part of this celebration,” said Mark Wenzel, owner and winemaker. “As a business, we don’t take political sides, but we can definitely appreciate Gov. Rauner’s goal to ‘Bring Back Illinois’ and feel this goal is definitely worth celebrating with Illinois bubbly.”

Vine Alliance wholly supports and encourages the use of local wine. It not only supports local viticulture and in-state constituents, it’s also tasty too!

Finger Lakes + Ice Wine = Perfection

January 07, 2015

Story courtesy of the
Though a number of Finger Lakes wineries aren’t harvesting grapes for ice wine this winter, they say there will still be plenty of the specialty beverage to go around.

For some wineries, last year produced a bumper crop of ice wine grapes — which are left to hang on the vine much longer than table wine grapes to develop their sugars — so they didn’t plan to make the wine this year.

Other wineries did not leave grapes on the vine for ice wine.

For Gene Pierce, a Finger Lakes grape grower for almost 50 years, unfortunate weather over the weekend put an end to plans for harvesting ice wine grapes this week.

“Our friend, Mother Nature, stepped in again,” said Pierce, owner of Glenora Wine Cellars in Dundee, Knapp Winery in Romulus and Chateau LaFayette Reneau in Hector.

The stage was set when vineyards normally used for ice wine that are located at Knapp Winery sustained damage from the dramatically cold temperatures in the early part of 2014, he said.

Late last week, Pierce thought those vineyards might have in neighborhood of 3 to 4 tons of grapes to be harvested, but fierce wind and driving rain over the weekend — plus the stress the vines had undergone earlier — meant this year’s harvest was not to be.

“There was a very limited amount of grapes here to begin with, and then what we’ve encountered this past weekend with the high winds and the rain, they all went right to the ground,” he said.

Ice wine lovers should not despair. There is inventory because the wineries had a great crop in 2013 in terms of quantity and quality, and what they did harvest in 2014 was great as well, so it’s all going to come out OK in the end, Pierce said.

“Ice wines are a true labor of love, and full of risk,” said Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation in Canandaigua.

During their longer “hang time” on the vine, ice wine grapes are subject to possible disease, bird damage and other risks, he said. They also shrink in size significantly, meaning much less tonnage per acre.

“Because ice wines are much more rare than table wines, they are typically sold in small half-bottles and seem relatively expensive,” Trezise said.

Finger Lakes ice wines start around $25 for a 375-milliliter bottle. However, customers need to take into account the cost of production and the fact that a couple of ounces of ice wine, rather than large glasses, are consumed, he said.

Ice wine is great by itself or with certain desserts, along with some cheeses such as Gorgonzola or blue, he said, calling the very sweet wine “the nectar of the gods.”

Other wineries, such as Hunt Country Vineyards on Keuka Lake and Sheldrake Point Winery on Cayuga Lake, had such an abundant harvest of ice wine grapes last year that they are not harvesting them this year.

“We are not planning a harvest this year. We had just enough last year. The quality was great. We’re in good shape now until next season, and we’re kind of glad,” said Jim Alsina, general manager of Hunt Country Vineyards in Branchport, noting the currently frigid temperatures. “It’s not so great to be out harvesting.”

Heron Hill Winery in Hammondsport did not leave any grapes on the vine this year for ice wine, said Erin Rafalowski, marketing and public relations manager.

“We did a late harvest, but we just did not do an ice wine,” she said. “What we usually do is net the vines to protect them not only from birds but also from just falling. I believe we had netted some things, but the vineyard manager and winemakers decided the best was to use that for a late harvest. I think it was picked in November.”

Heron Hill will be releasing ice wines from previous vintages, probably in the next couple of months, Rafalowski said.

There are no statistics available on ice wine production, sales or revenues, as wineries are basically small, family-owned businesses that don’t share such information, and there are no publicly available sources, Trezise said.

“However, anecdotally we know that there is certainly enough consumer interest to sustain the industry and justify the risk and hard work that ice wines involve,” he said.

Trezise pointed out there are two types of wines that are often confused: ice wine and iced wine. To be legally labeled ice wine, the grapes must be picked when they are frozen on the vine and then immediately processed, he said.

An alternative process that is perfectly legal as long as it is labeled correctly as iced wine, is to pick the grapes when they are not frozen, put them in a freezer and then process them while frozen, he said. Some wineries make both variations.

“Both types can be excellent, and there is debate as to whether people can tell the difference in blind tastings,” Trezise said.

Among those making iced wine is Lakewood Vineyards on Seneca Lake, which prefers the method because of the fickle ways of Mother Nature, according to partner Liz Stamp.

“We do it just so that we can be sure that we’ll have a crop. We kind of hedge our bets, in that sense,” she said. Even if you didn’t lose grapes to wind or wildlife, you could also lose them to quality degradation, as cold air tends to be drier and could cause grapes to slowly “raisin” and dry out, she said.

“The varieties we use don’t tend to hang as well and raisin as Vidal or Riesling, which are the most common ones used for ice wines in the Finger Lakes,” Stamp said. “We use Delaware and Concord, and they are just a different textured grape with a thicker skin, so they don’t tend to get raisined.”

Follow Ray Finger on Twitter @SGRayFinger.

Finger Lakes Winery Makes Winery to Watch List

December 30, 2014

1410-wtw-redridge There are thousands of quality wineries around the Country, many close to your backyard. We love when national media takes notice as smaller wineries do not get the notoriety they deserve. Today’s post comes courtesy of Wine & Spirits Magazine
New York’s Finger Lakes

Nancy Irelan was running research and development for enology and viticulture at E&J Gallo in Modesto before moving with her husband, Mike Schnelle, to the west side of Lake Seneca in 2004. Schnelle cleared the land and planted the vines and you might think, sensibly, that Irelan had come here to grow riesling…. But then why is the bottom half of their 35-acre estate dedicated to blaufrankisch, teroldego and dornfelder? In the Finger Lakes, these Alpine reds may well thrive. Teroldego and dornfelder grown at Irelan’s Red Tail Ridge make rustic country wines, ready for charcuterie on a hike in Watkins Glen, but her blaufrankisch is in the running to become a classic New York State red, with the sort of hearty elegance these northern climes bring to wine.

Three Oak Vineyards and Winery

December 28, 2014

three-oaks-wineryALBERT LEA, Minnesota- Just in time to ring in the New Year, 3 Oaks Winery in Albert Lea is selling some of their products, and after a long journey to start 3 Oaks, the owners are excited to start selling their products after facing the challenges of being a new business.

“It’s money, money is always a challenge, says Jay Enderson, one of the owners of 3 Oaks Winery. “Funding is an issue, and of course, beyond that, weather is an issue.” Whether you have 2 acres, or 2,000 acres, you are still a farmer.”

The wine is available for sale by appointment. To set up an appointment you can call (507) 383-1273 or check out their Facebook page.

A New York wine to pair with your turkey

November 24, 2014

New York WinesNew York wine is winning a place at the table. While the Empire State has always taken a back seat to California in the wine world, that could be starting to change. The state has seen a boom in the number of wineries: More than 200 new ones have set up shop since 200, bringing the total to close to 400, according to the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. And the wines they’re making are garnering praise. In fact, Wine Enthusiast recently named New York its “Wine Region of the Year.”

All of which suggests that when it comes to picking the wine for your Thanksgiving feast, it might be time to ditch that California cabernet in favor of a New York…riesling. Yes, the popular German varietal is being grown — quite successfully — in the state’s Finger Lakes region. Dr. Konstantin Frank, a Finger Lakes winery started in the late ‘50s by its namesake, a Russian-born viticulturist, is especially hailed for its dry rieslings — it’s won eight gold medals for its 2013 vintage alone. (The winery also produces sweet rieslings.) As winery head Fred Frank, the founder’s grandson, explains, riesling is a natural fit for the Finger Lakes because the region “has a cool climate similar to Germany.” And Frank says that dry riesling is indeed perfect to pair with your holiday bird: “You have a crisp acidity that complements the turkey.” Plus, as Frank notes, the wine’s moderate alcohol level (12%) makes it very table-friendly.

View the full story courtesy of

Vine Alliance Launches

October 28, 2014

Like a breaking a bottle of bubbly across the bow of a ship, thus begins the maiden voyage of VineAlliance.