I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my email last week to find an invitation to a special barrel tasting event at Standing Stone Vineyard.
I’ve done a lot of wine tastings where you belly up to the bar, but I’ve never tasted wine straight out of the barrel (with the exception of the glass carboy we use for making wine at home). Since this sounded like a unique opportunity, and a great learning experience, I eagerly accepted the invite.
Now, please keep in mind that I am a regular Josephine where wine is concerned. I am not a wine snob, nor will I ever be one. I’m just a non-biased taster.
Standing Stone Vineyards is located on St. Route 414 on the East side of Seneca Lake in the Town of Hector, NY. The winery is perched just high enough on the hill to give folks that visit there a beautiful birds eye view of the lake.
Upon arriving at Standing Stone, hubby and I, along with four others, met up with Marti Macinski. Marti and her husband Tom are the owners of this 21 year old winery.
Just prior to starting our tour Marti armed each of us with a rather large piece of baguette (from Tribeca Oven), an empty wine glass, and a clip board that held the list of wines that we would be tasting. She then lead us off to the “Old Steel Barn” to get down to some serious tasting.
The brisk, unheated barn was indicative of a great wine making environment. And it’s there that we found rows of oak barrels marked with the type and year of deliciousness that each one contained.
Marti was a great tour guide. She explained the varieties of grapes, the conditions in which they strive, and in some cases, the conditions that they don’t. As she talked wine she also shared personal experiences as a grape grower and wine maker and she filled our tasting event with interesting facts. For example, did you know it costs about $20,000.00 to plant one acre of grapes. I had no clue!
For this specific event we tasted a total of five wines. A 2010 Reserve Chardonnay (available this summer), a 2011 Reserve Chardonnay (available this summer), a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2010 Merlot, and a 2011 Petit Verdot which may be Standing Stones one and only. The three later wines are currently available for purchase and will be ready to pick up in May of 2013. My favorite wine in this selection? The 2010 Reserve Chardonnay. So good!
As a bonus we got six additional tastes of Standing Stone’s 2012 Pinot Noir and Saperavi in a yeast trial.
Once we finished tasting the five wines in the “Old Steel Barn” we headed to the basement of another barn. This is where we got to be part of the yeast trial. It sounds kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-ish doesn’t it?
A yeast trial is the winemakers way of searching for unique and individual tastes in their wines. Each yeast offers different characteristics and works differently from one another.
Yeast (natural or otherwise) plays a very important role in the fermentation process of winemaking. When added to grape juice (must) it converts the sugars to alcohol.
I recognized that some yeasts gave the wine a smooth finish, while others gave the wine a much more acidic finish. And while I liked the flavor and finish from the first barrel of the Pinot Noir, my husband’s favorite came from the second barrel. All of the tasters were all able to identify subtle flavors and characteristics in each of the wines that we tasted.
Following the barrel tastings we were offered some tasty snacks including Muranda Cheeses before heading back to the tasting room for yet more wine. It couldn’t have gotten any better than this – great wine, great bread, great cheese, and great company.
I couldn’t help but notice that while everyone was busy tasting till their little hearts content, the ducks just outside of the tasting room were having a little fun all of their own.
Before leaving Standing Stone Vineyards we found a few more things to sample – a great variety of delicious local dipping and barbecue sauces, and salad dressings.
This was a super fun event. It’s not your typical wine tasting. If you’re looking for something completely out of the ordinary in wine tasting – this is definitely a must do!
My suggestions for barrel tasting. Dress warm and comfortable, go in small groups, listen up because there is a lot to learn, and as always, have a designated driver with you.
Information on Standing Stone Vineyards can be found at this link, or by calling (607)582-6051.
Please note that while I did receive a complimentary barrel tasting, I was not compensated to write this post, and the opinions expressed here are my all my own.