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FingerLakes Road Trip

August 31st, 2015

It has been sooo long since we have gotten out of Dodge I almost forgot what the rest of the world around me looks like. Something to do with 4 kids & a wife in Graduate school…….anyway finally got Grandmas to babysit and we fired up the Camaro and off we went. Our destination today was Lameroux Landing winery located on the east side of Seneca lake on Route 414 out of Watkins Glen. Beautiful hour & 1/2 drive from Apalachin. I used to carry a bunch of Lameroux wines back in the day but have sort of  let them slide over the past few years. Big mistake that was! We had a private tasting in their spectacular tasting room. Every single wine we tasted was top notch!. No reason to drink wines for other areas when you have world class wines being produced right in your own back yard! Some of our favorites were both of their semi dry & dry Rieslings,  Estates red & white (yummy consumer friendly quaffers) unoaked Chardonnay & 2 delectable Cabernet Francs. Lameroux grows all of their own grapes and all production and bottling ooccures right on premise. You will see these wines coming soon and we will be having Jackie from the winery come down to do a in store tasting this fall so stay tuned!!

We finshed off the day by celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary at a restaurant called Stonecat. From the front it doesn’t look like much, you might even drive by and not figure it for a fine dining establishment. My advice, stop! The food is fantastic with most of the ingredients organic and sorced form local farms. The restaurant was actually once a fruit and veggie stand and it retains much of its rustic charm. If you can, grab a table on the open deck out back, beautiful views! My wife the semi vegetarian had the Organic Risotto which was absolutely delicious and I had their signature cat fish, equally good. With a fantaistic assortment of local wines and homemade deserts we gave the Stonecat two thumbs up! I have said it once and I will say it again, NYS wine country is beautiful, great food and wine right in your back yard… need to go all the way to Napa….its an hour drive away!

12 year anniverseary

August 22nd, 2012

Wow! somehow through the fire and brimstone we have made it to 12 years of marriage! 4 kids, 2 dogs and a cat! As your wedding anniversaries march on, it gets harder and harder to impress-the wife since I used up all the easy stuff already! We agreed no gifts so I couldn’t use gods gift to men, the Pandora Bracelet. When-in doubt just add a charm to it and shes happy!  Anyway, So I set out on an Internet searching frenzy to find that magical restaurant, finally settling on a a place called Suzannes, which is located on 414 just south of Lodi, NY on the east side of Seneca Lake. The restaurant is basically the downstairs of the the owners house, tastefully decorated in early period decor. We sat in the fireplace room next to the large windows with a beautiful view of Seneca lake. I knew I had scored huge when the menus came customized with our names and wedding date!! (I took full credit for that even-though I had no idea that was going to happen!) It got even better when the appetizer featured heirloom tomatoes from the garden out back! I had  maybe the best filet  I have ever had and my wife had leeks in  puff pastry with a marina sauce (who knew leeks could taste that good!) We both enjoyed 2 great glasses of wine. I had Shalestones red blend with was phenomenal! My only disappointment is that I cant get any for the store, they only sell from the winery. My wife had an old friend, Hermann Weimer Chardonnay. I had forgotten just how good this chard is, delicious fruit with just a touch of oak, way better then many Chardonnays I have tried from California. This was easily the best meal we have ever had, perfect from the beginning right down to the unique deserts. Most of the ingredients come from local farms, many of them organic. I cant recommend Suzanna’s enough, its not cheap but the quality and atmosphere are exceptional, we will be making a return trip in the fall, supposed to be stunningly beautiful with the changing foliage. (Screwed myself through cuz I don’t know how I’m going to out do this for next years anni!) lol

The Great Flood of 2011

November 7th, 2011

Just when you think your ship has come in, life takes a sudden turn for the worst. The time frame was the first week of September. We were eagerly awaiting the opening of Aldis grocery store and the added business that it would generate, then the rains began. Hurricane Irene primed the rivers and streams with 2 to 4 inches of rain. Then the remnants of Hurricane Earl began his assault. Between 8 and 12 inches drenched our area in 24 hours, a quarter of our yearly average rainfall. The results were not surprising, devastating flash flooding followed by record river flooding  caused massive destruction. Our neighbors to the West in Owego were virtually wiped of the map. Here at 4 corners, we thought we had made it through the worst. While our parking lot partially  flooded, the stores were high an dry.  The river had crested and began to drop, I figured we had made it through and planned to open the store in the morning. Instead, water began flooding into the plaza.  Come to find out that the levee behind our plaza was overtopped and pumps failed. We frantically moved up all the product we could and sandbagged the doors. While this effort helped immensely,  a foot and a half inundated the store. We lost 23k in product and the store was destroyed. As soon as we could with an army of friends, family and customers, we emptied the store in 3 days and put all of the salvable product into secure storage. From the bad comes the good, our landlord, Ramour and Flannigan, then came and put a beautiful  brand new store in for us. I invested in new shelving and computers and thus began our climb back up the hill to recovery. One solid week of 16hr days and the store was filled with product and we were ready for business. On October 28th, after almost 2 months of being-closed, we reopened for business. Our first week open, I didn’t know what to expect but the support from the community has been amazing. The lesson for all businesses is when you treat your customers well through the years, they will return. Its not always about price, its about the relationship you form with customers which keeps them coming back in no matter what. Recouping the losses will-take years but we are off to a good start. There are may business through the area that will never reopen and we are greatful to have an opportunity to make a go of it again.

Road Trip

July 2nd, 2011

 I love when my brother and sister in-laws come to into town, I can get away with stuff that would usually lead to divorce. For example, I took my brother and sister in-law  to the Maroon 5 concert and rolled in at 4 in the morning and the only thing she asked  was if I had a good time. Going to try to get away with the strip joint next time their in town! Anyway, I was charged with providing entertainment for the entire day on Monday, so my thoughts turned immediately to a road trip to wine country.   So early Monday morning, we fired up the convertible and off we went to Cayuga Lake. First of all, you can say what you  want about NYS, but the scenery is beautiful. The only fly in the ointment is navigating  Ithaca, NY. Lets see, there is route 96, 96a, 96b, 79, 79E, 79, 89, 13a and 34 and they all converge in downtown Ithaca. As many years as I have been going up three, I still get dazed and confused. Once you find your way to route 89, the views are outstanding as the road rises along the lake shore. Our first stop of the day was Thirsty Owl Winery. I haven’t been to the winery in many years and I was amazed at the growth. They have a new beautiful tasting room and excellent food out on the deck overlooking the lake.  They have award winning wines that run the gauntlet from sweet to suprisingly good dry reds such as their Pinot Noir and Meritage. I highly recommend their Dry Riesling, Chardonnay and Diamond. We got the retailers bonus and got to taste wine out of the barrels with the wine make, really cool! Next we walked over to Cayuga Ridge Winery. Firstly, their tasting area is inside an old barn and is about as rustic and cool as it gets. Their flagships are Cranberry and Peach flavored wines, these are no brainers for summer entertaining. I was also highly impressed with their Rieslings which  just received gold medals. Beside wine, they have local cheeses and other neat gifts and souvenirs. Time flies and we only had time for one more stop, so we finished up at Sheldrake Point Winery which won Winery of the Year accolades.  Sheldrake has a beautiful tasting room of course stocked with lots of award winning wines. I highly recommend their Rieslings, luckystone White and Waterfall Chardonnay. We finished up the day with a memorable dinner out on the lawn at Sheldrake, perfect! Lesson here, you don’t to travel to Napa to experience wine country, its right here in your own backyard.

Time Off

January 29th, 2011

I apologize for neglecting the travel blog and website in general, we have been busy anticipating the arrival of our 4th child. Elliot was born a healthy boy on 1/11/11! Now it is back to work, website has been updated and look for a new post soon!

Chi Town

August 7th, 2010

We just completed our yearly trip to Chicago to visit my sister in law. This year, I realized that the person sitting next to me on the trip (my wife) also knows how to drive. So instead of suffering  through the entire 12 hour trip myself, my wife split the drive with me.  I actually arrived chipper with no caffeine induced hangover. Since this is a trip  for the kids to visit with their cousin, there wasn’t much time to engage in drinking, however we did sneak in a few memorable wines.
     If you are a steak lover, then eating at Harry Caray’s Legendary Steak House is a must . There are 3 of them in the Greater Chicago area, we ate at the one in Lombard, IL. They specialize in fantastic dry aged steaks.  Even my wife who boarders on vegetarianism at times thoroughly enjoyed hers. Always looking to try new wines, I picked out J.Lohrs Los Oso Merlot. I was very impressed, smooth and silky with enough grip to handle the rib eye, we both loved the wine. I am now carrying in at the store, great buy for $13.89.
      I always like to bring something form the wine cellar, this year I brought Beringer’s Private Selection 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon. You can say all you want about the great bargins in wine out there, but there is simply no substitute for a fantastic $100 bottle of Beringer California Cabernet. We had this wine with steaks and it simply blew us all away. Incredibly complex but at the same time perfectly balanced it was truly one of the great wines I have tasted, unfortunately very hard to find but totally worth it if you stumble across it.  We also sipped on some Kendall Jackson Chard and Chateau St. Jean Cabernet during the week. These  are workhorse wines for me at the store and  I haven’t had either of these wines in a long time. I enjoyed both,  they represent  great values and over-deliver for the price, good every day drinkers.  
     Finally for some quick must sees in Chi Town, check out the Science Museum and take the U-505 sub tour, simply amazing! Check out the Children’s Museum in Dekalb, kept the kids busy for the entire day, play golf at  White Pines Golf Course in Bensenville, nice 36 hole layout & reasonably priced ($50 with cart) & finally if your traveling into Chicago, take the Metra! Nice, quick clean train ride from virtually any western suburb that the kids will love!

Fingerlakes Wedding

June 18th, 2010

My wife and I had the recent pleasure of taking a beautiful road trip up to Belhurst Castle in Geneva, NY for a friends wedding.  It is has been years since I have been up to the Finger Lakes region and after this trip, I am asking myself why?  For one, it is hard to find a more scenic drive then up route 14 along Seneca lake. We took my recent mid-life crisis 2002 Camaro Convertible and it was a truly pleasurable drive with the top town. There are tons of wineries to stop at. On the way up, we stopped at Fox Run Winery for lunch. Food & wine were  delicious as we sat outback on their beautifully landscaped patio, no crowds around, quite and peaceful.
     Belhurst Castle is a famous Fingerlakes Landmark. We were a little hesitant about staying there due to a good amount of negative reviews on some of the travel sites. However, our room was in the new section of the property. They have recently added a 6 million dollars addition called Vinifera Inn which contains new rooms, spa and catering hall. Our room was very nice, huge hot tub & very comfortable although a little pricey at $300 per night. The wedding ceremony and cocktail hour was outside right along the lake and very nicely done. The dinner & dancing was in their new hall, food was decent and we all had a good time.   All in all, it was a nice  experience at Belhurst and certainly didn’t reflect the negative reviews.
     The next day, we had breakfast at Geneva on the Lake where we got engaged many moons ago. It may have been the most expensive breakfast we have ever had, but the food and scenery out on their Greek revival patio are exquisite. No trip up to Seneca is complete without a stop at Watkins Glen State Park. This 2 mile, relatively easy hike up the gorge is unbelievable. Waterfalls and unparalleled scenery  reinforces just how many beautiful natural features we have in NY. My wife who is an aspiring photographer took so many pictures I though her camera was going to overheat! We finished off the day at Castle Grisch Winery which is located just outside Watkins Glen. This winery sits  on top of the mountain and the views are spectacular. We sat on their outside deck eating excellent home cooking, sipping wine as we watched a storm roll up through the valley below, perfect! Skip the trip to Napa and check out the Finger Lakes for excellent wine, food and scenery right in your own backyard.