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Wineries are destination for weekend jaunts

October 7, 2008

Wineries are destination for weekend jaunts

Indian summer always puts me in the mood to take weekend trips, especially to wine country. Right now, the wineries are in full harvest, the leaves are colorful and that crisp scent of autumn is in the air. Put on a sweater, grab a cup of joe and pick a trail.

Here are a few well-kept secrets that are off the beaten trail, and ones that are well worth a visit.

Twenty is the magic number at Thorpe Vineyard in Wolcott, Wayne County. Fumie Thorpe, owner and winemaker, is celebrating her 20th anniversary this year, but Fumie has also garnered that same number of awards this year for her outstanding wines. One of my favorites is Tooley's Traminette ($14), a crisp and aromatic white that pairs perfectly with autumn flavors. The Traminette grape is a descendant of the Gewürztraminer grape and has similar floral and spicy flavors. This delicious wine took the gold at the recent 2008 New York Wine & Food Classic.

On your way, don't forget to pop in at the new winery in Williamson, Wayne County, Young Sommer Winery, where winemaker Jan Klapetzky has cranked out an impressive first vintage. In addition to the fine grape wines, Young Sommer is taking advantage of its location to produce some of the best fruit wines ever, particularly apple wines. Superb with holiday meals.

To the south of Rochester lies another hidden wine path, The Little Finger Lakes Wine Path (www.fingerlakeswest.com), with Eagle Crest Vineyards and Deer Run Winery.

Eagle Crest shares its home with two pairs of nesting bald eagles, thus its new name. Winemaker Bob Beckman produces sacramental wines for parishes in New York and Pennsylvania exactly like they did it 135 years ago. In 2005, his modern-day wine enthusiasm led him to produce the first vintage of the "Hemlock" wines. You don't need to be in church to enjoy them. Standouts include the crisp and mouth-watering Hemlock White (a blend of Seyval Blanc and Vidal Blanc grapes, $10) and Solar Flare (a luscious dessert wine made from 100 percent Diamond grapes, $14).

Down the road, you'll find Deer Run. George Kuyon has been making wine since 1975 and realized his dream when he opened his winery and tasting room in 2003. Look for an incredible unoaked Chardonnay ($13) and a lovely semidry Riesling ($14). Deer Run will be presenting a Vintner's Dinner on November 1. For more, go towww.deerrunwinery.com.