Finger Lakes Riesling Festival
August 9-10, 2014
On a hot Sunday afternoon I attended, with a friend, the Riesling Festival along the beautiful shores Canandaigua Lake. The venue was mostly outside on the pier and in and outside of the New York State Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua. It was a great event that had more than you anticipated.
To attend the event, we decided to park at the CMAC parking lot and partake in the free and short shuttle ride to the event location. This turned out to be hassle-free and would definitely do this again. We arrived in the early afternoon and the festival was in full swing with many attendants.
The gorgeous Culinary Center was holding classes in their auditorium, providing cheese samples to hungry festival goers, and giving wine tastings at their tasting room. The Upstairs Bistro was serving lunch and drinks to patrons and it was not an easy decision to pass on dining there. We purchased a few items at their gift shop before heading outside to purchase our tickets.
There were a series of white tents that provided much needed shade and a festive atmosphere to those sipping wines hailing from all over New York State. For the twenty dollar admission fee, you received a canvas bag that could hold 6 bottles, and one wine glass and one beer glass for the tasting. There were approximately 18 wineries present who brought their Rieslings and also some other offerings for those who were curious. Of course, Riesling is king here in the Finger Lakes but I must admit that I had a wonderful red blend from one winery that I should purchase next time at the store! This was also a great opportunity to try offerings from wineries outside of the Finger Lakes appellation. Kudos to the establishments who travelled from downstate and also the southwest corner of the state.
The wine tents were quite busy with many lines forming at each table. However, the beer tent was packed with people reminiscent of a bar or club. There were local favorites including CB Craft Brewers and Ithaca Beer Company and also other less known, large and small operations. I could only try McKenzies hard cider due to my gluten intolerance and found the Seasonal Reserve was quite refreshing.
After sipping enough alcoholic beverages, it was time to find something to eat. So we ventured out of the tents and along the pier bathed in summer sun. There were many booths offering everything from vacations, fresh market vegetables, jewelry, to locally made condiments. There were food trucks and trailers providing enticing eats found at most festivals. My friend devoured a satisfying brick oven-baked pizza while we sat in the shade overlooking the lake and frolicking boaters. Music from a nearby stage completed the festive atmosphere. Even the kids were not overlooked as there were hula hoopers next to the stage trying to keep the beat and the hoop up in the air.
In all, the event was worth the price and the venture down to scenic Canandaigua. Especially for those who need to compare and contrast Rieslings or are just getting into the wine world, this event is a perfect introduction to enology. This was the best dressed festival that I have attended and we both felt a bit too casual for the occasion. Although there were attendees of all ages there, there was an overwhelming Millennial presence complete with fashionable sundresses and heels kicking around. Note to self: wear something besides a t-shirt, shorts and sneakers next time…