Briali Vineyards

We were the first to arrive for the family gathering, my sister dubbed “Susirinkimas” which is Lithuanian for “meeting”.  Have I mentioned I am Lithuanian?  We needed something to do while we waited for the others to arrive and there were two wineries in the area.  So after we unpacked the car into our room at the inn, we headed out for tastings.

Our first stop was Briali Vineyards.

What a fun winery with an eclectic decor!  They even had an upright piano that had been repurposed for wine bottle storage.  I regret I didn’t get a photo!

As we sampled their wines, all poured by their owner and wine maker,  we enjoyed fabulous conversation and wine making tips and thoughts.  We shared what has become our signature chocolate covered bacon.  We learned that Briali Vineyards tended to create wine in smaller batches and that the wine maker was self taught!  So amazing and encouraging to us!

His wines were excellent and also featured a creative and unique flair.  Between the three of us (our daughter had joined us for Susirinkimas), we sampled all his offerings.  Delicious wines!  We settled on the Malbec, Brianna, and Bourbon Barrel Apple with its kick of pepper.

What a fun winery!  My only regret was that his Aglianico was not ready for tasting.  This is definitely a must visit winery!  We look forward to returning the next time we are in the area.

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Catching Up

Nearly six months ago I posted that we were back.  Well that’s what I thought.  And then there were a number of challenges.

I discovered I could no longer use the photo hosting service I had relied on for a number of years.  It took a bit of research and testing until I found a solution that would work for me.  I decided to use Google Photos and found the perfect solution in the following support article:  https://www.labnol.org/internet/embed-google-photos-in-website/29194/  The steps in the article work perfectly and I can resize the photos as I want.  And the best thing about it?  It’s free!

Life happened.  Shortly after I posted the article announcing my return to blogging, my mother was hospitalized.  We received a terminal diagnosis and that she would need to be moved to a nursing home.  She is still with us and we try to visit her twice a week.  Some visits are good.  Others are not.  It can be exhausting and I have had to make sure that I am taking care of myself.

I was overwhelmed.  I had four folders of tasting sheets from a year and a half of winery visits about which I had not written.  Catching up seemed monumental and I kept avoiding working on it.  So last night I made an executive decision.

We had just returned from our vacation that included 20 winery visits.  Those were the wineries about which I wanted to start writing.  I realized that even if I posted everyday about the past adventures, it would be months before I would be caught up.  For my own peace of mind, it was time to cut my losses and just move ahead.  I filed all those old tasting sheets in the appropriate notebooks so that I can start from now.  And it feels so good and so freeing!

I regret not being able to feature the wineries of the past two years, but I will give them a shout out as I intend to post “2017 in Wineries” and “2018” in Wineries” complete with photos.

Here’s to new beginnings!

We’re Back!

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The blog articles might have been absent for a time, but our wine cork holder provides the evidence that we are still wining.  In the past year, there have been plenty of tastings, winery visits, and wine making.  We look forward to catching up and sharing our adventures.  Be sure to check back.  There’s lots more to come!

Presque Isle Wine Cellars

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Our final winery stop on the Classy Canine Road Trip was the tasting room and gift shop at Presque Isle Wine Cellars. From their ample list, we tasted as many of their wines as we could.

  • 2013 Pinot Noir
  • Blaufrankisch NV – Also known as Lemberger
  • 2013 Merlot
  • Carmine – A cross of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carignan grapes
  • 2013 Cabernet Franc – Their Cab Franc was out of this world fantastic.
  • 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2012 Noiret
  • 2015 Riesling – This was a sweet and fruity version of Riesling.
  • 2015 Reflections – White blend of Riesling, Cayuga, and Vidal. This was a nice blend with a delicious tartness.
  • 2016 Bianco Fresco – White aperitif
  • Freeport White NV – White blend of Seyval and Cayuga. This wine had an interesting nose. The Seyval dominated over the Cayuga.
  • 2013 Vignoles – With 4% residual sugar, I found this to be like a dessert wine but I’m sure it would have a nice appeal for sweet wine drinkers.
  • Creekside Red – Red blend of 55% Fredonia, and 45% Chambourcin. Once again, we couldn’t pass up sampling the Fredonia. And a blend with Chambourcin was very intriguing. We found this wine to be very grapey.
  • Creekside Niagara
  • 2016 Niagara – While this was my preference over the Creekside Niagara, I could detect a slight diesel aroma on the nose which can sometimes occur with Niagara.

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  • BluSecco – Sparkling blend of Niagara and Blueberries.  This was absolutely delicious and our selection for this years New Years Eve toast.
  • 2015 Falling Waters – Sparkling blend of Seyval Blanc, Traminette, and Valvin Muscat
  • True Blue – Blueberry
  • Port, Touriga Nacionale NV
  • 2013 Eskimo Kisses – Ice style blend of Vidal, Peach, Apricot, and Melon. This was a very sweet dessert wine just as you might expect.

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  • 2013 Hot Kisses – Ice style Vidal with a single Thai pepper. Hot and sweet, this wine was unbelievably fantastic with a VERY long hot pepper finish. It rivaled the Cab Franc and BluSecco as my favorite.

Presque Isle Wine Cellars’ website features a downloadable Wine Catalog with detailed information about each of their wines.

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Following our tasting, we trekked across their campus where we purchased fresh Niagara juice and some wine making supplies. Their staff was cordial and helpful and even days later when we had questions, were available with wine making tips and advise.

Presque Isle Wine Cellars is another not-to-be-missed winery and a great stop for those who are interested in home wine making.

Courtyard Winery

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Having made it through our list of dog friendly wineries with time to spare, we took a second look at the list of remaining wineries.  Courtyard Winery had a patio where the Classy Canines could hang out and their wine list was extensive, so we took a chance.  I waited at a table outside with our furry boys while Bushmaster went in to check out our options.  He returned within moments with Anthony who would be our host throughout our tasting.  Anthony met the Classy Canines and immediately invited us all in.

What a treat this winery turned out to be!  Anthony was extremely knowledgeable about the wines with a flair for the dramatic.  We couldn’t have envisioned a more fantastic experience!

As mentioned previously, their wine list was extensive.  We took our time working our way through that entire list with Anthony guiding us every step of the way as well as visiting with others who had come in to sample Courtyard’s fantastic wines.

  • 2013 Chardonnay
  • Great Lakes Beach Glass Captain’s White – White blend of Vignoles and Traminette.  Sharp and citrusy, the Traminette more prominent.
  • Soleil Blanc – Geisenheim – Bushmaster found this wine to be too Chardonnay-ish.  It reminded me of a fruity Chardonnay.
  • 2015 Chardonel
  • Dry Rosé – Noiret.  This was a very unusual rosé.
  • 2014 Vignoles
  • 2013 Riesling – This was a very crisp wine.
  • 2013 Lemberger also known as Blaufrankish
  • Great Lakes Beach Glass Captain’s Red – Red  blend of Cabernet Franc, Corot Noir, and Frontenac.  It had an interesting fizz as well as some sediment deposit.
  • 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – This was a very easy drinking drinking red wine.
  • 2014 Noiret – Aged in a smoked barrel, the pepper and smoke notes were prominent.
  • 2016 UnEven Keel – Ruby Port style.  Normally tawny ports are our preferences but we found this ruby to be very nice.
  • Great Lakes Beach Glass White – White blend of Traminette and Chardonnay.  This was a really nice white blend.
  • Razzle – Blend of Cayuga and Niagara – In the words of Bushmaster, “Damn good combo!”
  • White Lies – White blend of Geisenheim, Traminette, and Vidal.  Worthy of another quote, “Wow! Crazy blend!” was our consensus.
  • First Kiss – White blend of Cayuga and Catawba. This was a delicious sweet white.
  • Mamma Mia Sangria – Blend of Raspberry, Catawba, and Concord.  Nice and tart, I thought this wine could be used to make a dynamite margarita.
  • Ruby’s Rouge – Blend of Concord, Catawba, and Peach.  Although it had a peach nose, the Concord tended to dominate.
  • Lazy Daze – Blend of Fredonia and Steuben.  Surprisingly, this wine had a Cherry flavor.  It was like dessert in a glass.
  • Twisted Red – Red blend of Noiret and DeChaunac
  • Sassy Blue – Blueberry
  • Chocopelli – Red wine infused with chocolate.  Usually I am not a fan of the chocolate infused wines, but this was by far the best chocolate wine we’ve ever had.  We learned that the secret was to use cocoa.
  • Merchant – Ice wine
  • Late Harvest Vidal – Absolutely delicious!

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We tasted and visited until closing.  We had such a wonderful time.  After such a lengthy tasting, the Classy Canines were a bit concerned that they might be left behind when Bushmaster took our purchases out to the car.

Courtyard Winery most definitely tops our lists of the Pennsylvania wineries we visited on this trip.  Anthony truly made our experience memorable.  We are looking forward to a return visit.  We are SO glad we didn’t miss this one!

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Penn Shore Winery and Vineyards

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Penn Shore was another winery that topped our list because of they were dog friendly.

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The Classy Canines posed for a photo under the grape arbor that canopied the entrance. We couldn’t linger there too long as they were very interested in the grapes that had fallen.

I’m not sure what happened to my notes, but somewhere my tasting sheet went missing. I reviewed the wine list on their website. From the best of my recollection, we sampled the following:

  • Noiret
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Baco Noir
  • Merlot
  • Chancellor
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Vignoles
  • Reflections – Semi-dry Riesling
  • Bianca – Semi-sweet white
  • Diamond
  • Pink Catawba
  • Kir – White wine with Black Currant
  • Bubbling Niagara
  • Bubbling Catawba

All their wines were quite enjoyable and if there was something I didn’t like, Bushmaster did. The Noiret and Baco Noir were our favorites.

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Peanut made himself right at home and all three Classy Canines enjoyed the attention from the staff and other visitors. Another good stop with an enjoyable tasting experience!

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Heritage Wine Cellars

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Heritage Wine Cellars was certainly an interesting looking facility. With a tremendous variety of wines to try (48 at our count), we were looking forward to sampling as many as we could.

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Herding the Classy Canines to get them to pose for a photo turned out to be quite the challenge as they too were excited to get inside.

The rustic tasting room featured a large L shaped bar with a huge selection of wines.  Their tasting format was different from any winery we had been to before. Stacks of small plastic tasting cups were amply available and you poured your own samples. The free tasting was limited to seven samples. As per our norm, we each selected seven and then shared our samples with each other so that we could taste as many as possible. With so much to choose from, it was difficult to narrow down our choices.

  • Delilah Rose – Red blend of Isabella and Elvira – Both of these were new varietals to us, so of course we wanted to give them a try.
  • Pink Catawba – This wine was mild with very little tang.  We thought it would have been better cold. We found this to be the biggest draw back to the pour your own format. All the wines were served at room temperature.
  • Isabella – We found this solo version to be grapey and sweet.
  • Heritage Red – Red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Fredonia – Once again we could not pass on the Fredonia. This blend came off sweet.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Niagara – This was a very sweet version of the local grape.
  • Heritage White – Elvira – Another wine that we felt needed to be served cold. At room temperature, we did not detect a whole lot of anything going on.
  • Cayuga – Again, this needed to be cold. We could not find a lot of anything going on.
  • Almonderia – Almond dessert wine – This wine was very sweet and very much like the Amaretto liquour.
  • Kir – Blend of Currant and Blackberry.  Although it wasn’t, we thought it almost tasted fortified.
  • Winter Pear – Very sweet like pear candy, Bushmaster was completely enamored with this one.
  • X-Treme Elderberry – 100% Fortified Elderberry.  Surprisingly, this wine did not come off as overly sweet but had plenty of Elderberry flavor.
  • Flagship Red – Concord Port – Rightfully so, Heritage Wine Cellars is quite proud of this wine which received an International Double Gold Medal, the highest award in the competition.
  • Matt’s Mash – Grape Brandy – Very popular and very grapey, but we still preferred the Flagship Red.
  • Johnny’s Jack – Apple Port – A rather unusual port, this one had more appeal for me than it did Bushmaster.

We had a lot of fun at this tasting. The staff and winemaker were very helpful at guiding us to our last few samples based on our preferences.

The Classy Canines gave this winery a “paws up” rating as they got to share in the popcorn that was available for palate cleansing.

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Lakeview Wine Cellars

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We had been looking forward to visiting this winery ever since we called to ask if they were dog friendly and were told by the owner, “Of course! Our Irish Setter runs the place!”

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Their tasting room was fantastic with a view overlooking Lake Erie. The tasting bar wrapped around the sizable room and was ready to accommodate any number of customers.

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The bar top itself was covered in glass with sectioned areas beneath the glass. Each one featured a different beach from around the lake, the United States, and the world. Maps pin-pointed all the beaches that were represented. The sand and artifacts had been provided by patrons who had come from everywhere to visit the winery.

After being completely charmed by the facility itself, we couldn’t want to taste their wines.

  • 2015 Noiret – A very excellent red!
  • 2015 Baco Noir
  • 2013 Shipwreck Red – Red blend of Baco-Noir, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, and Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Sunset Blush – Semi-dry blend with a touch of Steuben
  • Red Sky – Blend of Concord and Niagara with Concord dominating
  • Cavitation – Sparkling Steuben
  • Traminette
  • Shipwreck White – White blend
  • Riesling
  • Niagara
  • Captains Select – Dry Sherry

Their wines were very well done and we liked most everything. The Noiret topped our list.

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When the winery dog, Cabernet, arrived, he, Peanut and Brody were quick to make friends.

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Before we left, the Classy Canines took a break from socializing to pose for a photo.

We had such a nice time visiting with the owners and sampling their wines. You definitely do not want to miss this winery!

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