Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Six Mile Creek Vineyard: On the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail

Needing a diversion from life, we decided to make the short visit a few miles outside Ithaca, NY, to the Six Mile Creek Vineyard on a cool mid-April Saturday afternoon. Despite visiting Ithaca multiple times every year, I had never checked out this vineyard which is located away from the lake and many of the other Finger Lakes wineries that I frequent.

The drive up State Street on Route 79 from downtown Ithaca is easy and the vineyard sits strategically atop the hill. It is well marked and has ample parking. The tasting room is located within a rustic barn-like structure and the theme is continued to the tasting area inside. The windows of the tasting room overlook the six acres of vineyards which slope down the hill. It is a beautiful and peaceful location. Despite the cool day and early springtime scene, the view was absolutely stunning and I imagine that the back deck provides a great area to sip wine on a sultry summer afternoon.
Six Mile Creek Back Deck

We were met immediately upon entering the tasting room. Allison, our tasting hostess was very knowledgeable about the vineyard and the wines which we tasted. The vineyard was tasting 14 wines including 5 whites, 5 reds, 1 rose, and 3 sweeter style wines. The $3 tasting fee is very reasonable and we did not feel rushed during our tastings. As an added benefit, the vineyard also has 6 spirits available for tasting for an additional small fee. 
The Vineyards Ready for Growing Season

The whites are grown on the estate, for the most part, while the reds are sourced principally from other vineyards along Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. 

The wines were tasting very nicely. The whites, as a group, possessed nice subtle tones with desired fruitiness for the varietals. The whites are Riesling  Chardonnay, Cayuga, and Seyval Blanc. The 2012 Chardonnay and the Ithaca White were the best of the whites in my mind. The Ithaca White is a blend of Cayuga and Chardonnay. I felt the Ithaca White would be a great "sitting around the pool on a hot summer afternoon" wine.

Party and Reception Pavilion
I was pleasantly surprised by the red wines I tasted. New York is principally defined by white wines, but there is  continual work to develop and produce solid red wines. The Ithaca Red is a light and fruity blend which should appeal to many wine drinkers especially given its $10.99 price. The varietals included a 2011 Pinot Noir, 2011 Merlot, and 2012 Cabernet Franc. The vineyard also uses Cabernet Sauvignon and Marechal Foch in some of their blends. I was impressed by the Pinot Noir which is notoriously difficult to grow especially in the wildly changeable upstate New York weather during the growing season. The Cabernet Franc was tasting very nicely. It reminded me of a Syrah with its deep color and spicy tones. I found their Meritage, the 2012 Quintessence which is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon; was a very enjoyable blend with deep color, and nice flavors of plum, and a bit of pepper with pleasing tannins.

RECOMMENDATION: Take some time out of your day and visit this vineyard. If you are traveling the Finger Lakes Wine Trails, don't forget this vineyard--it is off the beaten path, but nicely located near Ithaca right along Route 79, the major highway to the nearest interstate, I-81. This vineyard definitely needs to be on your Finger Lakes visit list.

-- Bob and Christina Doan, Elkridge, MD

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