No sheep dip to be found at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival – just great local wine

October 18, 2010 7:31 pm - Posted by Roland Hulme in Drink

If live sheep and local wine doesn’t seem like an immediately obvious combination, don’t feel bad. As far as wine pairings go, it’s one even Wine Portfolio host Jody Ness might balk at!

But at the annual New York Sheep and Wool Festival, held last weekend in Rhinebeck, NY, it’s proven to be a surprisingly successful combination year after year.

In fact every October, in amongst the breeders and vendors at this famous agricultural event, you’ll find a number of local winemakers eager to let a new audience discover the fruits of the labor. This year, those exhibitors included:

  • El Paso Winery, of the Hudson River Valley, who offered tastings of a variety of wines made with traditional grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and the ever-popular Riesling. What really seemed to appeal to the crowd, however, was their brand new Cabernet Franc blend, Mike’s Mud – a delightful and modestly-priced vin de table.
  • Pazdar Winery, of Scotchtown NY, offered some truly original products – including three varieties of chocolate wine. Their signature product, Eden’s Pleasure™, was the first commercially-produced chocolate wine in the world and has set the standard for those that followed. More in tune with most palettes, however, was their crisp semi-dry Riesling, which truly makes the most of the New York climate and is well-balanced, refreshing and rich with fruitful accents.
  • Montezuma Winery, adjacent to the National Wildlife Refuge of the same name, impressed tasters with some truly unique fruit wines, such as their Cranberry Bog and Pear Perfection. For those with more traditional tastes, their signature reds consistently prove spectacular. Their latest, Canvasback Red, is a hybrid blend of DeChaunac, Leon Millot and Maréchal Foch grapes and stands out as a truly great example of what winemakers in the Finger Lakes are capable of when they shy away from the more traditional grape varieties that dominate the domestic wine market.
  • Thousand Islands Winery is located on the cusp o f the New York/Canada border, and their best wines reflect the northern climate. Particularly impressive was their Wellesley Island White, made from a blend of Diamond, Catawba, an d Cayuga White grapes.
  • Finally, the Cascade Mountain Winery lived up to their bold claim that they make ‘the best wine in the Hudson Valley.’ Their Beaujolais-style Couer de Lion, the newest release from the winery, turned out to be an exceptional example of Old World wine-making brought bang-up-to-date with New World innovation.Although there were many fine wines to enjoy at the festival, this was my personal favorite – light-bodied,  flavorful wine and rich with character.

Of course, no wine tasting would be complete without some local produce to enjoy as well – and the New York Sheep and Wool Festival never disappoints. From locally produced cow, sheep and goat’s cheese to delicious jerky, there were a host of mouthwatering treats to try – each of which would pair perfectly with one of the wines on offer. It was impossible not to go home without bags laden with goodies!

And while wine and food wasn’t the focus of the event – it was the sheep, goats and alpacas people had driven hours to see it was still a real treat to find some culinary curiosities nestling in between the wool merchant stalls and sheep pens.

8 Responses to “No sheep dip to be found at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival – just great local wine”

  1. Kevin says:

    Great story on the joy of local food & more importantly giving local wine a try

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  5. In case it’s helpful to anyone, here’s what we accomplished in a 1-night trip to Niagara Falls, arriving the day before Easter. We traveled by car from upstate NY. Arrived 8AM at Rainbow Bridge (toll on US side before crossing to enter Canada); no line at border. We traveled with our 2 daughters (14 and 9) and one of their friends, for whom we had a passport and a notarized letter saying we could travel with her, and the border agent asked for the letter, so I’m glad we had it.

  6. Dallas Baar says:

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