Friends on The Trail

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The sun was finally shining yesterday and we were itching to get out of work and go enjoy some fresh springtime air! With Ashley staffing the tasting room, Dad told Uncle Rob and I to grab our coats and go for a ride… And I knew that meant we would be visiting some of our neighbors on the trail!

With the radio up and the windows down we finally made our first visit to BlackBird Cider Works! As we all know from my first Tour of the Trail, I’ve become a die hard fan of Leonard Oakes’ Steampunk Cider, so I’ve been looking forward to trying the newest addition to the Niagara Wine Trail- (which is also the first full-fledge cidery!)

As someone who spends a whole heck of a lot time in a tasting room, you can imagine that’s the first thing I took note of. The setup was warm and inviting (and the bathrooms are cute too, in case you were wondering!), and I couldn’t resist snapping pictures of pretty much everything. While Dad got a special tour of their operations room, Uncle Rob and I began our tasting and quickly picked out our favorites (and we all left with a bottle!) With my palate starting to change, I had a feeling I would prefer something on the dryer side, and sure enough I oohed and aahed over the first cider Kelly poured for me: Classical Wood Aged. Despite preferring unoaked wines, I really enjoyed this spicy cross between a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir. What I ended up purchasing, however, was their “Organic Oak Barrel Aged Semi-Sweet Cider,” which was a little too sweet for me, but I knew it would make the perfect addition to my boyfriend’s Easter Basket… (Don’t tell him that though, it’s a surprise!) And after he opens it up, I’m sure a return visit to BlackBird is in my near future so he can have the full tasting experience, too!

On our way back to Long Cliff, I insisted Uncle Rob stop at Victorianbourg since he had never tried their Vika Verzay before and my supply had run out back at home. We spent a long time chatting with Daniel (which I love, love, loved because it gave me ample time to try almost everything)! Unoaked Chardonnay, Gspritzin and Vika Verzay are still my favorites, but I found myself really admiring their Pechette, and wishing I was sitting on a picnic blanket by the lake, enjoying a nice big bowl of vanilla ice cream & sharing a bottle with friends… (This girl is in dire need of some sunshine….) So with a bottle in hand we took the scenic route and headed back to Long Cliff, and I can’t think of a better way to have spent our first Sunny Sunday of 2013.

How lucky we are to not only have The Niagara Wine Trail right in our own backyard, but to actually be a part of this little community of wineries (and now a cidery!) where everyone is treated like family. Whenever I have a customer come in and I make a recommendation about where their next stop should be based on what they like (dry/sweet/red/white/etc.) they look at me kind of funny and ask “why are you recommending another place to me? You guy’s aren’t competitive?” And I have to laugh, because we are and we aren’t. I mean yeah, everybody wants to make a sale, but at the end of the day it’s about making the customer happy, and looking out for our fellow trail members, we’re all in this together after all! A lot of what we do is about working together for the good of the trail.

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It’s kind of like, Cheers, you know? Where everybody knows your name! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s nice having friends on the trail!

And I’ll Raise my Glass to that!!
Bottom’s Up!
-d. ❤ xo.

Sweet 16

For those of you who have followed my adventures in wine tasting, you’ll be happy to know that after nearly three months, I’ve finally finished my journey, stopping at winery number 16 yesterday.

I took a day off from the tasting room and traveled with Jamison to Spring Lake Winery, where the vineyards had just been kissed by our first snowflakes of winter!! Honestly we couldn’t have picked a more perfect day!

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Like our own wine list, we found that Spring Lake is (as dad always jokes) “a dry house,” and I was immediately glad that I had saved them for last. When I first started tasting the other wines on the trail, nearly anything below a 4% residual sugar wasn’t sweet enough for me- but as I’ve learned more and tasted more I’m beginning to prefer dry wines, and I don’t think I could have fully appreciated Spring Lake had I visited them back in August. Yesterday however, I’m happy to report I enjoyed everything I tasted.
We started with their unoaked Chardonnay, (slowly becoming one of my favorite wines, I’m finding) and their 2010 Estate Riesling- which was distinctly unique from all the other Rieslings I’ve tried. The last wine we tried, their semi-sweet Zia Minx was the winner of the day. While the residual sugar is low, it offered a natural sweetness, with hints of fruity cherry and raspberry. Jamison not only bought a bottle for himself, but treated me to one as well!! (and in case you’re interested in trying it too, they’re running a special on the purchase of 3 bottles this month!)

Before leaving, we started chatting about things back at Long Cliff and they asked me what our “Estate” wine was… I had never put much thought into it before, but I suddenly realized how unique we are, & felt a sense of pride in being able to say “Currently, ALL of Long Cliff’s wines are Estate Grown.” It hit me for the first time that this is something Grandpa, Dad and Uncle Rob deserve some major kudos for!! Their devotion in the vineyard is what makes my job so easy in the tasting room. The wines nearly sell themselves.

So now that I’ve sampled a little something from all 16 of the wineries on the Niagara Wine Trail, I’ll be staying put in our OWN tasting room this month, preparing for Christmas and all the excitement the holidays bring.
We have lots of upcoming specials to look forward to, including a discount on all 2010 vintages this coming weekend ONLY, November 8-11th, in celebration of Long Cliff’s First Anniversary!!. A special discount to our first 250 Facebook Fans on our 2011 Pinot Noir releasing THIS DECEMBER. And a **very special** Thanksgiving promotion- details coming to Facebook SOON!

Until Next Time!!
-d. ❤ xo.