Fox Run Vineyards, Finger Lakes, NY

Fox Run Vineyards was the place I started my winery adventure on Day 1 of checking out these fun establishments in the Finger Lakes.

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It was raining so a good distractions on a day to be inside. I had just googled places to visit and this one stood out. It was an eye-catching building and because when I went it was before the true start of a holiday weekend, it was pretty quiet.

Their grapes were planted in 1984, but it wasn’t until the ‘90s that they made their wines and opened the tasting room. This year they turned 26. When visiting you could select one of their flights for $5 (I opted for Flight A), with thee wines. You also received a Welcome Wine and then a wine of choice from their menu.

The Welcome Wine was the 2014 Reserve Chardonnay. Cool-climate with subtle oak img_9698influence and medium body. RS 0.2% $15 — subtle nose, not too oaky, which is nice.

The components of Flight A included:

2016 Chardonnay. Crisp and vibrant, fermented in stainless steel. RS 0.4% $18 — nice and crisp for a chard. Not a hint of oak on it. Love finding these type of chards.

2014 Dry Riesling. Riesling is king in the Finger Lakes, earning international recognition and consumer demand around the world. RS 0.7% $18 — nice and dry, metallic nose.

2015 Lemberger. A grape variety that truly thrives in the climate of the Finger Lakes. RS 0% $21 — pepper, blackberry, raspberry all around, very nice.

For my extra tasting I opted for the 2016 Dry Rose. A fruit-forward wine that is crisp and refreshing; there is no match to its food-pairing versatility. RS 0% $18 – dry is the word; awesome.

Since it was pretty quiet they were very kind and offered me some extra pours. I opted for the:

2015 Cabernet Franc. A classic, cool-climate red wine that is giving the Finger Lakes international renown. RS 0% $25 — nothing exciting.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. A medium-bodied, cool-climate version of this world-renowned grape variety. RS 0% $25 — fruit and jam in the taste.

This was a great way to start off the adventure. Very much enjoyed this place. I ended up purchasing a bottle of the Reserve Chardonnay. And by doing this, you end up getting $2 off your tasting. Cheers!

Billsboro Winery, Finger Lakes, NY

As I was checking out some wineries in the Finger Lakes, another one visited was Billsboro Winery.

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They are “committed to crafting dry classic European varietal wines grown by Seneca Lake’s best vineyards.  We are dedicated to focusing on small scale production, allowing us to devote more attention to providing a high quality product for our customers.  Our commitment to quality is evident both in the glass and the experience we provide in our tasting room.”

It was quite busy when we were there and we had to wait in line for a bit to get up to the tasting station. We were close to leaving, then finally got a spot.

They charge $5 for a tasting and we also chose to each taste different wines so we could cover the menu together.


A Billsboro first! This sparkling dry Riesling pops with aromas of lime and bright citrus, followed by a surprising burst of black cherry and nectarine across the palate. Brilliant acidity and intense fruit flavors follow right through to the finish. This bubbly, dry Riesling is our recommendation for your next celebration!  $18  – This wine uses 2 Riesling (grapes). Doesn’t taste like Rieslings, fun with the bubbles.

2016 Pinot Gris

This 100% Pinot Gris has aromas of orange blossom and honeysuckle, giving way to crisp Golden Delicious apple and mouthwatering honeydew melon that lasts right through the finish. With its zesty and refreshing acidity, this Billsboro favorite pairs well with fish tacos, lobster rolls, or roasted chicken.  $17 – Very good fruit, smooth and dry.

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Crisp and fruit forward this Sauvignon Blanc bursts with ruby red grapefruit. Notes of lemon zest and peach dance across the palate in this cool climate wine. Enjoy this wine with fresh oysters or local goat cheese.  $18 – Not much nose and not overly citrusy. Just very crisp.

2015 Chardonnay

Back by popular demand, this bone dry Chardonnay is fruit forward at the start followed by undertones of oak balancing out the finish.  A highly constructed wine, 30% of the grapes were fermented on their skins in an Orange Wine style.  The remaining fruit was pressed with 56% of the juice sent directly to the tank to ferment, and the remaining 14% spending the next 9 months fermenting and aging in neutral French oak barrels. Pairs well with pan seared salmon or Moroccan spiced chicken.  $18. – No nose, was nice that it was more of a non-oaked Chard.

2015 Barrel Fermented Dry Riesling

This special release Riesling is 100% barrel fermented and aged for 8 months in neutral French oak barrels, giving this wine a weighty mouthfeel and roundness on the palate.  Subtle citrus and slate flavors abound. $20 – No thanks, that’s all I can say.

2016 Kashong White

This perfect lakeside sipping wine is 100% Vidal Blanc. A crisp and fruity wine with notes of grapefruit and lime zest. Enjoy this wine with Asian stir fry or Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry Dressing. $12 – Subtle notes of citrus. Nice crisp bite.

2014 Riesling

This medium-sweet Riesling, offers a whisper of sweetness amid vibrant tropical fruit. A versatile food partner, this wine is a natural for taming the heat of spicier foods while leaving a touch of sweet on the palate. Try pairing this wine with pulled pork or spicy Thai coconut soup.  $17 – Super sweet.

 

2016 Dry Rose

This classic representation of Finger Lakes rosé opens with crisp acidity balanced intense fruit for a refreshing finish that is sure to invigorate the taste buds. These grapes were destemmed and soaked for just 6 hours on the skins. Pair this versatile wine with a sharp Italian cheese or asparagus and prosciutto.  $17 – Had a subtle smoke note to it. Very nice.

2015 Pinot Noir – Sawmill Creek Vineyards

Warm cedar delicately frames notes of smoke and clove, followed by a burst of cranberry across the palate. A hint of truffle lingers as it finishes. Pair with Wild Mushroom and Burrata Bruschetta or Garlic and Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin.   $25 – Very light, was almost ‘cheesy’.

 

2015 Cabernet Franc

A toasty bouquet precedes complex notes of ripe raspberry, orange zest and clove, followed by a savory and peppery finish.  Pair this Bordeaux varietal with   Wood-fired pizza or duck breast with a cherry reduction.  $25 – Light, not much to it.

*90 points, Wine Enthusiast Magazine 

2014 Cabernet-Syrah

This unique blend (66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 34% Syrah) projects a fragrant nose of dark fruit and vanilla bean.  The palate is a generous mix of lush plum with an underlying hint of Applewood smoked bacon and spice.   $30 – Heavier, not bad.

*90 points, Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Not bad but not great. Regardless, very fun to check out.

Ravines Wine Cellars, Finger Lakes, NY

While in the Finger Lakes awhile back, I decided to visit some wineries. It had been awhile since I’d checked out said establishments in that area and I was impressed with what has come about in the past decade. It’s still not the same as what the west coast provides, and definitely not the price, but it’s sure fun to visit!

One of wineries visited was Ravines Wine Cellars, which opened in 2003.

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It is a nice barn-like building with an open area that has large tables and then a more closed area for tastings. A tasting comes with 5 wines for $10, of which you pick whatever you’d like from their ‘menu’. So my friend and I decided to each pick 5 different wines and sample each other’s so we could taste the entire menu.

Dry Riesling 2015
Ravines Dry Riesling is a unique and elegant expression of the Finger Lakes terroir. The bouquet of the wine is delicate with intricate aromas of white flowers mingled with pear, apple and citrus notes followed by a lingering mineral finish and a vibrant acidity. Not much nose, very dry.

Dry Riesling 2015, White Springs Vineyard
The White Springs Vineyard is a unique site with protected slopes of limestone soil. This Riesling is an elegant, dry style with delicate aromatics, distinct minerality and vibrant acidity.  Better than the first one!

Beautiful aromas of rose petal, citrus, and lychee fruit with a bright acidity and spicy finish. Super sweet and heavy.

Keuka Village White 2016
A refreshing blend of Cayuga and Vignoles with delightful tree fruit flavors of bosc pear, green apple, and honeydew melon. Very light green apple taste, nothing overly exciting about the wine.

Chardonnay 2013
Refined and elegant, this wine has great balance between fresh fruit, minerality, crisp acidity, and lightly toasted French oak. Nice minerality to it, not too oaky, which is what I prefer.

A classic Provençal Style Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir. Fruit on the nose. Perfect picnic wine.

 

Pinot Noir 2013

A winemaker’s passion for perfections produced this complex, French-style Pinot Noir. This true representation of Ravines is engaging with ripe cherry, plum and sultry spices, and earthy aromas. Super light — see through. Berry on the nose. Cherry notes.

A fruity blend of Noiret (hybrid) and Cabernet Franc. Ripe red fruit and a distinct peppery finish create a fresh, un-oaked and casual wine. White pepper nose, peppery and smooth on palate.

Ravines Cabernet Franc is deliciously fruit-forward and spicy with perfect balance, soft tannins and a round mouthfeel. Medium body, definitely my favorite.

Maximilien 2013
This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Cabernet Franc (18%), and Merlot (17%) boasts a beautiful deep ruby color with aromas of plum, cherry, cedar, and cloves. Soft tannins are created by extended barrel and cellar aging, while also increasing complexity. ‘Dirty’ but enjoyable.

Ayre 2016
A Prosecco style semi sparkling wine made from Valvin Muscat. They were very nice and gave us this extra sample. Forced carbonation in tank, not in bottle. Not as sweet as expected. Had fruit notes.

Nice start to visiting Finger Lake wineries.

Satt, Reykjavik, Iceland

Our final night in Reykjavik, Iceland was short & sweet. We returned from Greenland and had just 12+ hours, including sleeping and getting to the airport the next morning, which was over an hour away. So it was just a matter of enjoying a final dinner. We decided to just stick with what was in the hotel, because we weren’t really near anything. The restaurant was Satt, which is Icelandic for true.

 

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As we read over the whole menu, we opted for an appetizer, the Bruschetta 2150 kr.

Grilled sourdough bread, smoked salmon, watercress

This sounds great and a nice way to start off the meal. Well, after waiting a long time, it came out. You can see to the far right that there is a bit of cream colored stuff. Well, they add a dairy-based spread on top of the bread before topping it with the salmon. This was frustrating because it’s not noted in the description and I had told the waiter I was lactose intolerant when asking questions about the menu overall. Once the bruschetta eventually came out again (honestly about 20 minutes, and the place wasn’t busy), it was quite good.

 

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Main courses at the table came down to:

Risotto — Fennel, tomatoes, fava beans, herb salad, Parmesan cream 2790 kr.
Good, traditional risotto, per the one who enjoyed it.

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My main course was a 1/2 Satt House Salad with Chicken, 1890 kr. Nice and filling — delicious, huge croutons. A good basic salad.

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We had also ordered a half carafe of wine to go with this, some Drostdy Hof Cabernet Sauvignon to be exact. Nice body to this, not overly heavy for a cab, and some nice fruit notes.

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When we had problems with the bruschetta, the manager came over to apologize. And it took so long to get the bruschetta that our wine was gone (and we were not drinking quickly). She very kindly brought us a 2nd carafe (that was topped to the brim, so more than the normal amount) and it was comped, as was the bruschetta. While our waiter wasn’t up to par, the service from the manager was outstanding.

So, we had a final meal in Iceland, have had better meals, have had worse. It was mostly the service from the waiter that made it not great.

I will also say, their brunch the next day was quite nice, so their food is decent.

Wrapping up Greenland

The final day in Greenland meant there was a lot to do. We took a beautiful boat ride, during which we were supposed to see whales. This was in early June, but whales don’t tend to come out until July. Nonetheless, the scenery was amazing. Can’t parallel it.

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That night for dinner we wrapped it up with a meal dinner at Restaurant Ulo, which is in Hotel Arctic. They were having one of their special dinners where it offers pretty much all local fare providing for a true taste of Greenland. What was missing were veggies (unless you grabbed lettuce from displays).

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I was able to get pictures of most of the stuff, some labeled, some not. Overall pretty darn good. There was reindeer, halibut, mussels, shrimp, whale skin, snowcrab, dried whale, and much more.

This last night in Greenland, we got to stay in an igloo! So, ok, we didn’t make a big pile of snow, but nonetheless, so much fun!

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The next day, we left this amazing island, with view of ice and snow below. I can’t wait to go back and explore other cities. While there, we found out their tourism is growing greatly and I have found/checked out their (very good) website. So much to explore on this island. Add it to your list, and let me know when you go and if you need a travel companion, I’m game!

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Greenland Beer

Of course, when vacationing, one must try the local brews. And, Greenland does have a brewery. One of them I tried was the Brewery Immiaq‘s Aasaq Juniper. A light body beer with a hint of juniper. Can’t go wrong with juniper. The other one from this brewery was out.

The other beer was the Tuborg Paskebryg, which had a nice medium body, golden color and tiny bit of spice and super mild hops. And this isn’t local brewed, but hey, it was consumed locally.

These were quite nice to sit outside and enjoy in the 30+ degree weather in the bright sun.

An evening & night in Ilulissat

As we continued exploring the city, more cuisine came about. On the 2nd night there, we dined at Inuit Cafe (they don’t have a true website and their Facebook page doesn’t have much, which is why I went with the Trip Advisor link). It was ranked very high among local restaurants and had two of the things I’d been wanted to try — Whale Steak and Reindeer.

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The restaurant was just a very local one and could get quite busy. It was one where if you don’t have a reservation you go order at the counter and they give you a number to put on your table. We had made a reservation so we could get special treatment, but I still had lots of questions about the menu, so went to the counter and just ordered there.

As mentioned, we ordered whale steak and reindeer and split each one. In Iceland we’d has a small serving of whale. It was quite tasty. This was definitely a different cut of whale and was quite tough and chewy. Not all that exciting. The reindeer was nice and lean, but a bit overcooked. Nonethless, a nice pleasant dinner of something you don’t get at home.

After dinner we had a night cruise. It started at 10:30pm, while the sun was still shining, and was just amazing. We finished around 12:00am in broad daylight. We saw amazing scenery, icebergs, sky, glaciers…words can’t describe it.

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This is not sunset, I was just playing with my camera on this one.

Tasting & Exploring Ilulissat

When we arrived in Ilulissat, there was the need for some quick food before exploring the town on Day 1. The most common thing we had for the few days we were there were the sandwiches at the hotel. They were absolutely delicious and revolved around 3 choices; smoked halibut, shrimp and reindeer. Just simple ingredients and amazing taste.

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After fueling, we headed into town. Most things were walkable, though there were quite the hills. If needed, there was a shuttle bus back to the hotel, but it only ran every 30 minutes, and you could likely get back to the hotel by then. There were also a ton of cabs there, for a small town. And, in this town you don’t go anywhere but the town because the only way in/out is by boat or plane.

Some of the scenery, with the video being my favorite:

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The houses & buildings aren’t so colorful because of the potentially dark winters. It’s historical and was to help residents identify buildings. The colors ID’ed the function of the building: Commercial houses were red; hospitals were yellow; police stations were black; the phone company was green and fish factories were blue. Those don’t necessarily apply now and residents can just paint their houses any color they like. It just makes the town vibrant!

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At one point, sled dogs were nearly equal in population to humans (3,500 to 4,500 humans). But in mid-2016, the was a distemper outbreak and this wiped out a good amount of the dogs. They are working the rebuild the population and this could take awhile, as this is recent.

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Welcome to Greenland

After Iceland, I traveled a bit West, and North, before returning to the US. I wanted to check out Greenland and visited Ilulissat, which is north of the Artic Circle. And, hey, even got to stay in a 4-star hotel!

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Being in the far north right around the summer equinox, the sun never set (see below). And 30 degrees wasn’t that bad for June! It got up to the upper 30s by mid day and the sun was pounding on us (side note, we didn’t see a drop of rain after having it pretty much the entire time in Iceland).

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The night we arrived in Greenland, we received a Welcome Dinner. This was with the other tourists, most of which happened to be on the same plane. It was a two-course meal with a quick bite before.

The bite was fish skin with an asian-like flavoring on it. Good to try but not going to add that to my list of favorites.

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The first course was halibut, or shall I say happiness. I was pretty much halibut carpaccio. Super thinly sliced with garnish. So nice to have this!

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The main dish was Muskox, served two ways. The one on the bottom right was a tenderloin and underneath the onion was some of the meat that just melted in your mouth. Almost BBQ-style. Very nice taste to all of it.

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Very nice intro to Greenland cuisine.

Skólabrú, Reykjavík, Iceland

On the last night in Iceland we were in Reykjavík. We strolled down the ‘main’ street and looked at various menus to see what might be a fun place to eat. I had been wanting to try puffin so was also looking for a restaurant that offered that. We finally decided on Skólabrú.

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We opted to split a first course, which offered the bird I was looking for. Villibráðar tvenna: Léttretyktur lundi með geitaosti; kryddjurtum og ferskum berjum og gæsa carpaccio með rauðlauk á salati, trufflum of sítrónu sósu, or in English, Wild-duo: Lightly smoked puffin with goat cheese, herbs and fresh berries and wild goose carpaccio with red onions, herb salad and truffle-lemon dressing. ISK 2,500.

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The smoked puffin (the one on the left) was nice – in addition to the magnificent presentation! Very tender, mild unique taste. This is what’s great about traveling, enjoying different food. The goose was also amazing. Very different – a bit chewier. Very glad I got to try this.

For the 2nd course we went with Steinbítur með mango, chili og engifersóso, grænmeti og hrísgrjónum or Seawolf with mango, chili and ginger sauce, roasted vegetables and rice. ISK 4,200.

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Had never had Seawolf which is what tempted me about this. It was a bit sweet of a fish, had some ‘body’ to it and just great taste. Another one that would be nice to find at the store at home.

The wait staff was excellent and attentive so check this place out if you are in Reykjavík.

Prior to all this, had a great time seeing some points of interest while driving down to Reykjavík that day.

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