Celebrate: Grape idea – Local wines as gifts

Glasses are poured at Fossil Stone Vineyards in Greenville Center.
Glasses are poured at Fossil Stone Vineyards in Greenville Center.

When you shop local, there are no worries about goods sitting on container ships unable to reach their destinations. And in a time when many are seeking to minimize belongings, a consumable gift is perfect.

Capital Region wineries offer a wide selection of locally made products that would make great gifts for friends and family who imbibe. Plus, the shopping can be fun if you visit the winery’s tasting room to sample before you buy.

Franca DiCrescenzo, event coordinator at Altamont Vineyard & Winery, suggests two wines the vineyard uses as a base for sangria. One is the Dolce, a semi-sweet red wine made from the vitis labrusca (fox grape). The other is the Edelweiss, the vineyard’s flagship wine, a semi-sweet white.

“Another very popular one, especially among men, is our red aged in bourbon barrels, Eclipse,” DiCrescenzo said.

Mike Spiak, owner of Fossil Stone Vineyards in Greenville Center, grows his grapes on the historic Fossil Stone Farm, formerly Carver Farm. If turkey and cranberry sauce are on the menu, he suggests the vineyard’s rosé, a fruit-forward, dark-colored wine with hints of cherry and flora. For the heavier meals often eaten at Christmastime, his pick is the oak-aged Marquette.

Index – Celebrate: There’s still so much to Celebrate

“I recommend the heavier wines; it’s cold outside,” he said. Fossil Stone Vineyard’s wines are available at Purdy’s Wine and Liquor, Putnam Wine Market and Greenfield Liquor.

Galway Rock Winery in Burnt Hills has this year launched a substantial wine-gifting program, from gift cards and bundles to wine subscriptions.

“We’re trying to pull a lot of different price points,” said owner Kate Soldani.

Given that, one of her top recommendations for holiday gift-giving is the Saratoga Sparkling Rosé. “It’s our most popular rosé, and you can’t go wrong with sparkling wine around the holidays,” Soldani said.

She also suggests one of the winery’s whites, such as the dry wines Reserve Chardonnay, Robinia Hill Reserve Riesling, Vignoles, or on the sweeter side, the Semi-Sweet Riesling. “These are going to cut through the richness in a way that complements it very well,” Soldani said.

Gary Akrop, owner of Ledge Rock Hill Winery in Corinth, suggests two of the winery’s white wines that pair well with turkey. One is the Melody, a medium-bodied dry white wine made from melody grapes. The other is the Traminette, a dry white made from traminette grapes, a new premium wine grape developed by Cornell University.

At Middleburgh Winery in Schoharie County, Don and Tonda Dunbar grow 14 varieties of cold-climate grapes and produce 20 different wines. Tonda’s choices for holiday gifts are the Seyval Blanc, a white wine, and the Marechal Foch, a fruity, full-bodied red.

“I picked these two because they’re very good mulled in a crockpot,” she said.

She added that the Seyval Blanc “tastes like you’re biting into a green Granny Smith apple, so you get that nice apple tart with it.” The Marechal Foch offers a taste of pomegranate and wild blueberry.

Dunbar puts either wine in a slow cooker and adds cloves, cinnamon sticks and star anise in a cheesecloth bag. She leaves the spices in for about five minutes. “You don’t want to over-spice,” she said. She also adds orange and apple slices, which remain in the wine, and suggests adding simple syrup if you want it to be sweeter. “It’s perfect to warm you up in the holidays,” she said.

Northern Cross Vineyard in Valley Falls is part of the newly minted Upper Hudson Wine Trail. Owner Andrew Weber recommends the winery’s Battenkill Red, a full-flavored wine that’s a blend of frontenac and marquette grapes.

“You can definitely taste both the grapes in there,” he said. “The Battenkill Red is just a nice wine to have when you have company over.”

Weber also recommends another red, the Frontenac, which won a gold medal for best of class at the 2018 New York Wine Classic.

“I would say the reds pair well with a dish that has thyme as an herb,” he said. Northern Cross Vineyard’s best-selling white, Prairie Star, is Weber’s choice for a white wine that would go well with turkey or pork.

Index – Celebrate: There’s still so much to Celebrate

Amy Greth, marketing manager for Saratoga Winery in Saratoga Springs, has two holiday picks. One is the Saratoga Red, a semi-dry blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Lemberger, and pinot noir that pairs well with a roast. “My lighter choice would be our No Way Rosé,” Greth said. This wine, made from Cabernet Franc and Lemberger grapes, is fermented in stainless steel.

Valerie Feldman, owner and operator of Stable Gate Winery in Castleton-on-Hudson, recommends the winery’s Baco Noir, made from a grape that is a French-American hybrid of the pinot noir grape grown on-site.

“It’s a little bit heartier than a pinot,” she said, noting that the grape is special to the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes. “It has a bit of cranberry and black tea, and [is] great for pairing with the whole plethora of holiday offerings and food.”

Feldman’s other pick for the holidays is one of the winery’s meads, honey wines made from honey produced by bees on site.

“It’s raw, natural, and organic,” she said, noting that it comes in an original flavor as well as spiced, herbal, coffee and candy shandy. “They’re also very nice for New Year’s because they’re sparkling.”

Gerry and Mary Barnhart own Victory View Vineyard in North Easton, where they grow their own grapes for the six wines they currently produce. Gerry Barnhart had a few holiday picks for gift-givers. A popular choice is the Abigail, a semi-sweet wine made from la crescent grapes.

“It’s a good wine if you don’t know what the person likes,” Barnhart said.

Another choice is Revolution, a dry red made from marquette grapes and aged in oak barrels. “It’s a really nice, all-purpose red table wine,” he said, noting that if someone wanted to gift a pair of bottles, the Abigail with the Revolution is a good choice.

For those who enjoy a Cabernet or red Zinfandel, he suggests Turning Point, a full-bodied dry red also made from marquette grapes. Another popular holiday choice is the Charlotte, a dry German-style wine that Barnhart describes as “between a Riesling and a gwürsteminer.”

If your gift recipient is a history buff, all of Victory View Vineyards wines have names related to the Revolutionary War era. Abigail refers to first lady Abigail Adams; Charlotte is the former (1772) name for Washington County and the name of King George III’s eldest daughter; Turning Point refers to the Battle of Saratoga; and Revolution speaks to the War for Independence. The vineyard is located across the Hudson River from Saratoga National Historical Park.

Capital Region winemakers have a great deal of variety to offer, all made locally and ready for holiday gift-giving.

Index – Celebrate: There’s still so much to Celebrate

Categories: Celebrate 2021, Life and Arts

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