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Where to stay and play in Upstate New York.

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Green Travel: Keeping It Real in Upstate NY

September 3, 2008 at 12:00 PM | by | Comments (0)

If you're looking to do some green travel, and do it right, look no further than the Pollywogg Holler Eco Resort. Nestled up north in western New York state, this place is the real deal.

Surrounded by nothing but untouched nature, you can get away from it all while roughing it in high style. Just don't call it glamping.

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Upstate Wineries Worth Visiting: Chateau LaFayette Reneau

July 3, 2008 at 2:05 PM | by | Comments (0)

Earlier this summer, we went wine tasting in New York's Finger Lakes region. Not all the wine we had was worth drinking, but these places deserve a stop.

Make sure to step over the cat when you walk into Chateau LaFayette Reneau. This winery, on the east side of Seneca Lake, keeps things rustic with its tasting room in a converted barn and its famous-for-Upstate feline mascot.

Like many vineyards in the area, Reneau levies a tasting fee of $4, but you'll get to keep the glass--and you get to try up to 12 wines. (Or more! On our recent stop, they let us sample all 20 offerings.)

After your epic flight of Rieslings and Chardonnays, stake out a spot on the back porch and unroll your picnic supplies. If you'd like to linger longer, there's also an inn on the property.

Related Stories:
· Chateau LaFayette Reneau [Official Site]
· Upstate New York Travel Map [Jaunted]

[Photo: FLWR]

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Upstate Wineries Worth Visiting: Dr. Frank's

Where: 9749 Middle Rd. [map], Hammondsport, NY, United States, 14840
July 2, 2008 at 4:30 PM | by | Comment (1)

Earlier this summer, we went wine tasting in New York's Finger Lakes region. Not all the wine we had was worth drinking, but these places deserve a stop.

No real trek through the Upstate wine country is complete without a stop at Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars. It's a bit of a drive to get there, but if it weren't for Dr. Frank, there might not be Finger Lakes wine.

Growing up in the Ukraine, the doctor studied methods to grow high-quality vinifera grapes (think Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Riesling) in colder climates. When he later moved to the Finger Lakes, his winery, started in 1962, was the first to grow these European varieties in the area--and the first to prove it could be done.

After Dr. Frank passed away in 1985, his family took over, continuing the production of top quality wines. You'll also find some more esoteric stuff here, like Rkatsiteli (a white), Fleur de Pinot Noir (a non-vintage red) and a Blanc de Blancs (a Champagne-style bubbly).

Related Stories:
· Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars [Official Site]
· Upstate New York Travel Map [Jaunted]

[Photo: Dr. Frank's]

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Upstate Wineries Worth Visiting: Six Mile Creek

Where: 1551 Slaterville Rd. [map], Ithaca, NY, United States, 14850
July 1, 2008 at 4:15 PM | by | Comments (2)

Earlier this summer, we went wine tasting in New York's Finger Lakes region. Not all the wine we had was worth drinking, but these places deserve a stop.

Despite the name, not all the wineries in this region actually overlook lakes, and the best of that bunch is undoubtedly Six Mile Creek. Just a 7-minute drive from downtown Ithaca, the winery is almost urban in its setting at the south end of Cayuga Lake.

Owners Nancy and Roger Battistella opened their vineyard in 1987, focusing on small yields and the local microclimate. Unlike many of the other wineries north of Six Mile Creek, where the deep lake provides a moderating influence, the growing season is particularly short in Ithaca. Because of that only white wine grapes are grown on-site.

That said, all the vinification and bottling happens here, and thanks to the Battistella's use of grapes from other regions, the reds are some of the best made in the Finger Lakes. Particularly interesting is Quintessence, a blend that varies in composition from vintage to vintage. Also distinctive is Six Mile Creek's grappa--though it's not for the faint of heart!

Related Stories:
· Six Mile Creek [Official Site]
· Upstate New York Travel Map [Jaunted]

[Photo: doctor paradox]

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Upstate Wineries Worth Visiting: Villa Bellangelo

Where: 150 Poplar Point Rd. [map], Dundee, NY, United States, 14837
June 30, 2008 at 5:00 PM | by | Comments (0)

Earlier this summer, we went wine tasting in New York's Finger Lakes region. Not all the wine we had was worth drinking, but these places deserve a stop.

Unlike many of the wineries on Seneca Lake, Villa Bellangelo sits a little bit off Highway 14. We actually drove right past it, but after whipping a quick U-turn, we realized that there's a big sign marking the drive.

Bellangelo rocks an Italian vibe, complete with a Vespa on the porch of the tasting room. The theme continues in the wines, which are mostly dry. You'll find plenty of crisp whites--we liked the stainless steel-aged Chardonnay--and an atypical-for-the-region Sangiovese. (That's the same grape Italians use in Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino.)

Perhaps the biggest surprise at Bellangelo, though, isn't the wine on offer. The tasting room has free WiFi and plenty of seating, making it a great spot for checking in with the office while enjoying a glass of wine and a sweeping view of the lake.

Related Stories:
· Villa Bellangelo [Official Site]
· Upstate NY Travel Map [Jaunted]

[Photo: Villa Bellangelo]

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Upstate New York Travel: Niagara Falls Icewine

November 21, 2007 at 10:05 AM | by | Comments (0)

Our Upstate NY Travel Map will get you there.

Ice wines are to Niagara Falls what margaritas are to Mexico. Both elixirs are so tart, they mask their high alcohol content. And it doesn't look like the residents of either place mind being fooled.

Though they sound chilly, ice wines are a nice way to warm up in the tundra of Upstate New York this season. The wine is prepared by picking frozen grapes, which retain higher sugar and flavor concentrations. This practice helps wineries, er, squeeze, another season out of their vineyards during the winter months.

In January, Niagara Falls celebrates its domination of the ice wine industry by hosting the Niagara Icewine Festival. Though technically the event is on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, New Yorkers can cross the Peace or Rainbow bridges and still glimpse home across the river while touring along the waterfront Ontario wine trail.

The festival runs January 18-27, 2008. Wineries build ice bars and frozen art exhibits and roast chestnuts for the event. Sometimes gimmicks are fun and should be embraced. And in Upstate winters, we take any fun we can find.

Related Stories:
· Niagara Ice Wine Festival [Official Site]
· Upstate NY Travel Map [Jaunted]
· Niagara Falls Hotels [HotelChatter]

[Photo: vivianh]

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Global Warming Destroys Crappie Competition

November 14, 2007 at 10:00 AM | by | Comment (1)

Our Upstate NY Travel Map will get you there.

As the weather grows colder, we start loosening our definition of "fun" outdoor activities. Today's pick: ice fishing in New York.

But be warned: As doomsday predictions of balmy Northern winters become a reality, lakes aren't freezing hard enough. Unless bone-chilling temperatures set in soon, the thick layer of ice needed to sustain ice fishing shacks and burly men may not form.

Things are so bad that organizers have already canceled the annual Crappie Derby in February, New York's largest ice fishing competition that usually happens on Whitney Point Lake, near Binghamton. (Funny, we'd call any event requiring us to sit on a frozen lake all day crappy, too.)

So far, it looks like the most reliable place to plan an ice fishing trip will be the northern heights of the Adirondack Mountains in what is really the upstate of Upstate New York. Lake Pleasant is shallow and at elevation, meaning it forms ice easily. And it's stockpiled with brown and rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, walleyes, pickerel, lake whitefish and yellow perch. Sushi on ice, anyone?

Related Stories:
· Ice Fishing Becomes Endangered [NY Times]
· Upstate NY Travel coverage [Jaunted]
· Mancations coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo: 416style]

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No Joke: Western New York's Best Skiing

November 7, 2007 at 12:00 PM | by | Comments (7)

Our Upstate NY Travel Map will get you there.

Sure, the rolling hills don't qualify as mountains. And yes, an "upscale" trailer park exists where one would normally find cabins and chalets. But Holiday Valley in Ellicottville, NY gives residents of the Rust Belt a place to pretend they don't live in the armpit of America. Skiers come from Ohio, Canada, Pennsylvania and other parts of New York to take advantage of the one decent place to ski near the Great Lakes.

The resort, located about 45 minutes south of Buffalo, offers 56 slopes and 13 lifts, a snowmaking and grooming system that comes in handy in these warming winters and a network of base lodges and hotels. Adjacent is the clumsy man's version of a ski resort, The Holiday Valley Tubing Park. In preparation for the 2007-2008 season, the complex underwent $2.9 million worth of improvements. Highlights include a new lift, three new slopes and hotel renovations. Take that, Vail.

Related Stories:
· Holiday Valley [Official Site]
· Upstate NY Travel Map [Jaunted]
· Ski Hotels [HotelChatter]

[Photo: jstar]

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Wine Travel: Sheldrake Point

Where: 7448 County Rd 153 [map], Ovid, NY, United States, 14521
September 7, 2007 at 3:35 PM | by | Comments (0)

Okay, it's not Napa, but there are some great finds in New York's Finger Lakes wine country. We'll be drinking it all in this week, and mapping our favorites.

Down by the shore of Cayuga Lake, Sheldrake Point is another off-the-main-drag winery and tasting room that we love. It also has a nice bistro that makes it a perfect stop in the middle of a marathon day of wine tastings.

First, though, the wine: Sheldrake offers up a combo of free tastes and a premium list, so you can decide how much you'd like to drink. The list of wines is fairly large, and it's estate grown, meaning the stuff in the bottle comes from the vines you just drove past. Most of the basic bottlings are quite nice; don't bother with the over-priced barrel reserves.

After a tasting, it's lunch time. Sheldrake's Simply Red Cafe has some cheese plates and appetizer-y stuff, but go for the entrees. The mussels are steamed in green curry, and the quiche is nice and hearty. Just make sure to leave room for the "Slow Ass" molasses, apple and raisin spice cake.

Related Stories:
· Sheldrake Point [Official Site]
· Upstate NY Travel Map [Jaunted]
· Wine Travel coverage [Jaunted]

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Wine Travel: Miles Wine Cellars

Where: 168 Randall Crossing Rd. [map], Himrod, NY, United States, 14842
September 6, 2007 at 1:45 PM | by | Comments (0)

Okay, it's not Napa, but there are some great finds in New York's Finger Lakes wine country. We'll be drinking it all in this week, and mapping our favorites.

Miles Wine Cellars caught our interest from the get-go, mostly because it shares a name with Paul Giamatti's loveably pathetic character in Sideways. A short jog off the major highway running down the western shore of Seneca Lake, Miles is a perfect spot for a picnic and, of course, some wine tasting.

Before you get to the bar, though, take a walk through the Greek Revival tasting room and HQ. Owners Doug Miles and Suzie Hayes say spirits occupy the house, though it was early enough in the day that we didn't see any apparitions on our visit.

When it comes time to taste, the deal here is the same as at Rooster Hill: Five tastes cost $2.50, and you'll keep the glass. Miles has a fairly small production, so they decide what you get to taste. (This keeps the good stuff in stock.) When we were there, the '05 Pinot Noir was drinking quite nicely, as was the '05 Riesling.

Related Stories:
· Miles Wine Cellars [Official Site]
· Upstate NY Travel Map [Jaunted]
· Wine Travel coverage [Jaunted]

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Wine Travel: Rooster Hill Vineyards

Where: 489 Route 54 S. [map], Penn Yan, NY, United States, 14527
September 5, 2007 at 4:00 PM | by | Comment (1)

Okay, it's not Napa, but there are some great finds in New York's Finger Lakes wine country. We'll be drinking it all in this week, and mapping our favorites.

Overlooking the eastern fork of Keuka Lake, just south of Penn Yan, Rooster Hill Vineyards churns out some surprisingly good wines. Fortunately, the winery's friendly staff is happy to pour you a taste or three.

Just pop in to the rustic-chic tasting room and belly up to the marble-topped bar. You'll get five tastes for $2.50 and you keep the wine glass. (A few winks and a nod might score you an extra sip or two... Not that we'd know.)

We liked the award-winning Traminette, which had a little sweetness, but a crisp acidity to balance out the sugar. On the red side of things, Cabernet Franc is a safe bet in the Finger Lakes, and the '04 we tasted delivered. We also snuck a taste of a surprisingly good Pinot Noir that was on the reserve list when we dropped in.

Related Stories:
· Rooster Hill Vineyards [Official Site]
· Upstate NY Travel Map [Jaunted]
· Wine Travel coverage [Jaunted]

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Wine Travel: New York's Napa

Where: 800 S Main St. [map], Canandaigua, NY, United States, 14424
September 4, 2007 at 1:35 PM | by | Comments (3)

Okay, it's not Napa, but there are some great finds in New York's Finger Lakes wine country. We'll be drinking it all in this week, and mapping our favorites.

Any trip to the Finger Lakes--at least any trip revolving around food and wine--should start with a visit to the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua, New York. The two-story visitors center is way more fun than "visitors center" makes it sound thanks to casual wine tastings, wine pairing and cooking classes and a stellar cafe serving up dishes made with local, organic products.

The tasting room, as nice as it is, doesn't deliver a lot of value. Wine flights lack focus and are overpriced. You're likely to end up convincing yourself that New York wine isn't worth the trouble. The Taste of New York lounge upstairs is the place to go for drinks.

Outside on a deck overlooking Canandaigua Lake or in the dining room, the wine list in the lounge reps the best New York has to offer. Finger Lakes wines are prominent, but Long Island's best make appearances, too. Paired with a charcuterie plate or cheese board, a Dr. Frank Riesling or Bedell Cellars Merlot will make you forget all about over-hyped California wines.

Related Stories:
· NY Wine and Culinary Center [Official Site]
· Upstate NY Travel Map [Jaunted]
· Wine Travel coverage [Jaunted]