Erie and Chautauqua Region
Winery Reviews - New York
Blueberry Sky Farm Winery - As we drove up the gravel drive towards this South Ripley, New York winery, I was really excited. This was our first trip to New York, and the building ahead of us looked very nice. As we got closer, I realized that the beautiful building that I thought was the winery was actually a house. We noticed a small building to the side...which didn't have much power to draw us to it. We realized it must be the tasting room. We parked the car near the small building and walked inside.
We walked past a picnic table sitting outside and walked through the door. When we stepped inside, the lights immediately came on. I'm not sure if the woman we saw had been sitting inside in the dark...or if she noticed us drive up and came from somewhere in the back. As we walked toward the tasting counter, I kept trying to figure out what the strange smell was. The woman behind the counter said hello...but then just stood there without saying anything else. Gary and I picked up a tasting sheet and started chatting about the wines. The woman behind the counter finally told us a little bit about the fruit wines they offered...as well as a few cooking wines that they make. That's when I realized that the strange odor that I first noticed was probably a combination of the jalapeno and garlic from the cooking wines they produce. It was the last thing I wanted to smell while wine tasting...but we decided to try a few anyway.
Because of the winery name, I figured we should sample the blueberry wine. We also sampled the Dandelion, Peach, Plum, Elderberry and Rhubarb. I did find the Elderberry quite nice. During the tasting I could tell Gary was freezing (I wore my coat inside). I thought maybe we could go outside and sit in the sun for awhile. I asked if they sold wine by the glass or bottle but the woman told us they were not licensed to sell for on-site consumption. We purchased a bottle of Elderberry wine to take with us and headed for the car. The minute we walked out the door, Gary said he was very happy to get outside because he had never been so cold in his life. I was chilly with a coat on...but Gary froze without one.
This small fruit winery had a couple of nice wines...but during the tasting our hostess hardly said a word and didn't make us feel very welcome...and we were the only customers. It was also freezing inside the tasting room and the odd smells turned us off. We might have actually enjoyed more of their wines in a different atmosphere. Favorite: Elderberry.
Vetter Vineyards - We stopped into this boutique winery in Westfield, NY on a Tuesday afternoon. We were on our way home from a family vacation to Niagara Falls, and I couldn't help but stop at one winery on the route back. They had a very nice tasting room and it was free of other visitors while we were there...but that would be typical of just about any winery on a Tuesday. One of the owners welcomed us in and invited us to sample their wine. They offered a fantastic selection and I had a hard time choosing a few wines to sample. I didn't want to sample too many since my son was with us.
I felt compelled to start with their Chambourcin, since it is one of my favorite grapes. Gary and I both sampled the Barcelona White, Brig Niagara, Concord and Sweet Cherry (which was sampled with dark chocolate). Our hostess informed us that we could sample the Niagara, but they didn't have any in the tasting room to purchase. Her husband was actually bottling it that day. There were two other wines I wanted to try before I left...the Blueberry Chambourcin Port and the Late Harvest Vignoles. All of the wines we sampled were very nice, though I found the Blueberry Chambourcin Port to be magnificent. The flavor of this wine was just wonderful and it gave me a nice, warm feeling inside. It's definitely the "must try" wine at Vetter Vineyards, even if you're not usually a Port drinker.
Our hostess was very friendly and welcoming. She even made my son feel welcome and had a nice chat with him about the video games he likes to play. You can tell that Vetter Vineyards enjoys visitors and gladly welcomes wine lovers into their tasting room. We were also happy when her husband walked in and put a few freshly bottle of Brig Niagara on the shelf. It was one of my favorites and I was hoping to take some home.
Our visit to Vetter Vineyards was very pleasurable. We enjoyed a relaxing tasting in a friendly atmosphere. Their passion shows in their wine and I feel there are many great things to come from this small New York winery. Favorites: Blueberry Chambourcin Port and Brig Niagara.
Willow Creek Winery - At first glance, we were not expecting much from this Sheridan, NY winery. It didn't look like much from the outside. They had a gravel parking area and the tasting room was in what appeared to be an old house. We were on our way to Niagara Falls, so I had my 8-year old son with me. We decided to stop at one New York winery on the way to Canada, and we chose Willow Creek. It would be my son's first experience in a winery. He has been wondering what mom actually does when she travels. As we got out of the car, I was wondering how impressed he was going to be at his first winery.
A man was outside and shouted hello to us as he walked toward the tasting room. He said that there was a swing set out back if my son Morgan wanted to play while we were inside. Morgan was a little uneasy and opted to stay with me for the time being. We went into the small room and looked through their wine selection in the retail area. The man said to come on back to the tasting bar whenever we were ready. When we went back to taste, there were two wine glasses and a plastic cup set out. Morgan was poured a generous sampling of Hawaiian Punch while we decided which wine to start with. We worked our way through several of the wines, which were all very good....nothing spectacular....but all well-worth drinking. Morgan got bored at one point and went outside to check out the swing set. We continued to sample and talk with our host...who was very friendly. He told us about some other area wineries that were worth visiting and mapped us out easier directions to get back on the interstate.
We wanted to purchase a bottle of wine to drink in the hotel room that night in Niagara Falls. We decided on Willow Creek's Concord. It was a different color than most Concords...more of a red with no purple tones. It wasn't overly sweet and was very light and quite drinkable. We purchased our wine and took off outside. When we rounded the corner of the tasting room, we were quite astonished. This is where all the beauty was hidden at Willow Creek. There was a swing set right behind the tasting room...but there was also a small lake, a beautiful gazebo, and vineyards in the distance. There was also a huge, covered pavilion for large groups. We decided to take a walk out to the gazebo and the vineyards. We had been in the car for a long time and it was a good opportunity to stretch our legs. The three of us took a leisurely stroll and relaxed at the gazebo for awhile before heading back to the car.
If you're planning a stop at Willow Creek Winery, you might want to bring a picnic lunch. Besides the gazebo...there are several picnic tables near the lake. It's the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat accompanied by a bottle of New York Wine. You can't always judge a book by its cover...and you definitely shouldn't judge this awesome winery by its appearance from the road. And for my son's first impression of a winery: He said if all wineries had Hawaiian Punch and swing sets...we could stop at as many wineries as we wanted. Favorite: Concord.