Sep 26, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
When the last bottle of wine finally was corked at Mirbeau this past weekend, the second year of the annual New York Wine Festival was deemed an unqualified success that drew double the crowd from last year’s event.
“We were absolutely thrilled by the turnout,” said Mirbeau general manger Christopher Pulito. “It exceeded our expectations this year and we’d love to keep on building it. The New York Wine Festival will continue to be held the last weekend of September every year — anyone who missed it or attended and wants to come again can already put it on their calendar.”
The festival was held on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Mirbeau Inn & Spa, and featured tastings of New York wines from the Hudson Valley, Long Island and the Finger Lakes, interactive workshops, a local farmers market, artist’s exhibit, delicious food and live music. In addition to the events at Mirbeau, there also were tastings and winery tours at Anyela’s Vineyards on West Lake Road and tastings at the Village Bottle Shop on West Genesee Street.
The festival kicked off with a wine-paired dinner at Mirbeau on Friday night and concluded with a champagne brunch on Sunday morning, both of which were sponsored by Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars, one of the main sponsors of the entire festival.
Susan Eisenhart, a sales associate for Dr. Frank’s who poured tastings and educated attendees on Dr. Frank’s wines all weekend, said the company was happy to be part of the event for a second year. “We’re excited to see how this event continues to grow,” she said.
More than 400 people attended the wine festival on Saturday, with both the inn at Mirbeau and the Finger Lakes Lodge sold out for wine event weekend packages, Pulito said. This doubled the number of attendees last year on the Saturday of the event.
Seventeen wineries participated in this year’s events, including Glenora Wine Cellars, Sheldrake Point, Red Tail Ridge Winery, Ravines Wine Cellars, Standing Stone Vineyards, Long Point Winery, Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, King Ferry Winemaker of Treleaven Wines, Anyela’s, Beak & Skiff, White Birch, Millbrook Vineyards & Winery and Lieb Family Cellars.
Dave and Renee DeMaris, from Fairport, said they attend a many wine festivals and celebrations throughout the state, and the wine festival at Mirbeau was an excellent addition. “We love these things,” they said. Halfway through Saturday, they had decided that Long Point Winery was their favorite up to that point, and they had already purchased “lots of bottles” to take home.
Attendee Carole Estabrook from Auburn came to the festival in 2011 and said this year’s event was even better. “The grounds are beautiful, the leaves are just starting to turn, the rain held off, it’s just wonderful,” she said.
Rochester resident Anita Weiland, who was celebrating her 80th birthday the day of the festival with her daughter Annette Barber, also called it “wonderful: the area, the wines, everything about it.”
Ed Clawson, Mirbeau food and beverage manager who also gave two wine seminars on Saturday, said he was pleased and impressed that the turnout was significantly more than the previous year. “People should really try New York state wine; they definitely have a lot to offer — and that’s basically why we’re doing this,” he said.
Down West Lake Road at Anyela’s Vineyards, where more than 200 festival goers rode the free shuttle, owner Jim Nocek gave two winery tours while the tasting room was continually filled. “It’s been a great day,” Nocek said. “There’s been a lot of interest in our wines, some good questions and real nice tours.”
Skaneateles’ only winery also used Saturday to debut its newest offering, a non-alcoholic white grape cider, made from the Cayuga White grape.
Festival attendees not only got to taste wine, but also vote for their favorites for the People’s Choice awards. The winners were: Red wine — Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Merlot; Best white — Long Point Winery Vidal Blanc; Best overall wine — Ravines Meritage.
Also at the festival, Mirbeau sold official wine festival wine glasses for $3 each, with 100 percent of the money being donated to the PARCS Austin Park playground renovation project. More than 300 glasses were sold and more than $900 was raised, Pulito said. Mirbeau ordered 500 wine glasses for the event, and will continue to sell the remaining glasses over the next month in its wine bar and spa to continue to try to raise money, he added.
For next year’s festival, Mirbeau already has plans to make the event bigger, better and more accessible to attendees. The goal is to have more than 20 wineries participate in 2012, with a stronger presence of both Long Island and Hudson Valley wineries; to partner with a second or even a third additional tasting location in the village, in addition to the Village Bottle Shop, to bring more visitors into the village; to hire larger shuttles to meet the increasing demand to travel to the off-site tasting locations; and to increase the size of the festival by at least 200 people.
“We were thrilled with everything this year, and next year some of the feedback we received will allow us to get even better,” Pulito said.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.