Jillian Auerbach lives right down the road from Johnston’s Winery in Galway, but it took a 20-minute drive to Saratoga Springs for her to try the wine.
Auerbach tasted the Bliss Road winery’s McIntosh Apple Wine at Saturday’s inaugural Taste of Upstate Wine, Food & Music Festival at Saratoga City Center.
“It tastes like apples, like apple juice — but with a kick,” the 30-year-old Galway woman said. “I live right near there, so this is exciting to know this is right down the street from where I live.
“I knew about Johnston’s Winery before, but I never thought to go there.”
Margot Johnston, who has run the winery with her husband, Kurt, for 22 years, hoped having a table at the event would give her business that kind of exposure.
“Because we do not do this,” she said, taking a quick break from pouring apple, blueberry and strawberry wine, Grenache and Pinot Noir to a long line of potential customers. “We are never at any of these things.”
For John McDougall, such events are a more frequent affair. McDougall opened Lake George Distilling Co. in Fort Ann with his wife, Robin, in September and brings his whiskeys to a new tasting event every month.
“Any event we go to is a little more exposure for us, which is great,” he said after pouring moonshine into a potential customer’s plastic shot glass.
Saturday was no exception, as by 1 p.m., 900 tickets had been sold for the event that ran from noon to 6 p.m. There were 55 vendors at the event, which was presented by the Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail and featured wineries, breweries, distilleries and food from across New York state.
Julia Sirois and Moe Patrick of Saratoga Springs hesitated before counting to three and taking a shot of Lake George Distilling Co.’s apple pie-flavored moonshine, a 50-proof whiskey that blends the distillery’s 32 Mile Moonshine with cider made in Malta Ridge.
“It’s good, but it’s moonshine,” said Sirois, 24, who admitted she is more accustomed to drinking wine.
Patrick, 23, said it was “definitely strong” and that he wouldn’t want to try the 32 Mile Moonshine and Indian Kettles Smoke, two corn-based whiskeys he thought would be stronger.
“At least with the apple pie, it gives a little sweetness to it,” he said. “It’s definitely unique.”