Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Catharine Valley Winery: On the Seneca Lake Wine Trail

On a cool and blustery April Sunday morning in Upstate New York we decided to visit Catharine Valley Winery while driving home to Maryland. We only had time to visit one winery and we are glad that we chose to stop at Catharine Valley where we visited with Don, the owner who was manning the tasting room that morning.

Catharine Valley Tasting Room

We found Don to be full of information not only about the winery, but about the grapes he grows, the soils of the vineyards, and the local history--we always enjoy learning more about history. Sadly, Bob failed his pop quizzes about wines and grapes; but we enjoyed sampling his wines and also enjoyed tasting wines made from two new grapes while visiting the winery. 

View out the Tasting Room Window
Situated on Seneca Lake's East Shore in Burdett, NY, a short drive from Watkins Glen along Route 414, the winery is the first one on the left, headed north, and the view from the tasting room is astounding. The vineyards and the lake provide stunning scenery to further enhance the wine enjoyment experience. The grass was green in the images we took that day, but Spring was not in full swing yet as evidenced by the bare tree limbs.

But enough about the scenery--let's talk wine. The day we visited Catharine Valley was tasting 10 wines ranging from dry to sweet. We found something interesting in each of the wines. The varietals presented nicely and we were excited to taste wines made from grapes that we experienced for the first time: Noiret and Geneva Red 7. They are both red wine grapes and produce very interesting wines. 

Geneva Red 7 is the principal grape in Catharine Valley's Cardinal, while the Noriet is named for the grape itself. Cardinal has a $14 price point and we found it to be a nice red table wine with vanilla and raspberry flavors that help to make this wine light and enjoyable.

The Noriet, priced at $18, has nice oak tones and was pleasantly dry and although  it lacked complexity it had a very nice peppery finish.

The highlight of the visit was the Traminette, which, with a $14 price point, is an excellent buy and a great wine. It shows well from its Gew├╝rztraminer heritage and is spicy and floral with honeysuckle, jasmine and a hint of citrus. 

The sweet wines were also nice and featured some different varietals: Catawba and Concord as well a Baco Noir. I found the names for the wines,
some of which are taken from local legends and lore, like The Lost Irishman, to be both fun and creative. The winery website recounts some of those legends and also the history of the name of the winery.

RECOMMENDATION: This is a MUST visit winery on any Seneca Lake Wine Trail tour. The prices are moderate and the wine quality is high. The ambiance of the tasting room is excellent and, coupled with the view of the lake, makes Catharine Valley a great place to enjoy some wine and relaxation as we did early on a Sunday morning during April.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

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