It’s been a few days, and we have some catching up to do.
Day 2: Geneva to the Finger Lakes National Forest
Before departing Geneva on bike, JH, my wonderful host in Geneva, drove me around to a couple of the wineries in his area. We stopped in for a late morning tasting at Fox Run Vineyards and Anthony Road Vineyards. This is the part of the trip where I regret not having the hauling capacity for some bottles of wine (can you imagine how shaken up and sun-scorched they’d get strapped to the back of my bike for a week?), but at least I’m able to try these tasty beverages.
Fox Run had some delicious rieslings and gewurztraminers of both the dry and off-dry varieties. Their whites were nicely balanced on the whole. The complexity of their cabernet franc really wowed me, but the winner of the tasting in my opinion was the reserve cabernet franc. The reserve CF had a pleasant spice both on the nose and on the palate. It’s smokey, finely structured finish with just the right amount of oak and tannin is what sold me the most on it. Definitely one to remember.
We also sampled the Fox Run tawny port, which I’m told is made primarily in an Australian port style as opposed to a traditional one (but the host at the winery was unable to elaborate on the meaning of that, so I’m still at a bit of a loss myself). It had the right amount of sweetness and a pleasant nutty note to it, but for whatever reason, there was a fairly intense alcohol/medicinal burn to it that kind of put me off.
Moseying on a bit further down route 14, we stopped in at Anthony Road. There we were able to sample the 2005 Tierce dry riesling (a joint effort between Fox Run, Anthony Road, and one other winery that eludes my memory at the moment). I enjoyed this quite a bit. It had a strong mineral/flinty component to it that was balanced out with some good passion fruit notes and a crisp acidity. The Anthony Road Devonian Red (blend of cab franc, pinot noir, and lemberger) also quite surprised me with it’s almost bourbon-esque vanilla nose and clove spice flavor, especially given it’s $10 price point.
So, with the first two wineries of the tour under my belt, I set off on my bike from Geneva around to the east side of Seneca Lake and on down I went. I passed a few wineries along the way that I thought about stopping in at (the picture above is near Ventosa Vineyards, I believe), but with my late start on the day and the many miles I had yet to go, I limited myself to one stop in at Lamoreaux Landing.
At Lamoreaux I mostly sampled their whites, pairing the reserve riesling against the red oak riesling and the dry gewurztraminer against the semi-dry. The reserve riesling had a nice pomaceous crispness and a pleasant minerality. It seemed much more dignified than the red oak riesling, which comes from younger vines. The red oak riesling had a more intense floral nose, and more of a tropical fruit thing going on. Both of the gewurztraminers had a good nose of lychee and rose petal, as well as some good baking spice on the finish. The semi-dry had a fuller body to it, owing to the extra sugar, while the dry felt a little more balanced with its fruit notes on the palate.
I also sampled the reserve cabernet franc, which was a beefy, full, rich, red wine that I could see going really well with game meats and barbecue. Dark chocolate and dark fruit on the nose paved the way for some nice dark cherry and baking spice notes on the palate. It finished off with subtle oak and tannins that rounded the whole thing out nicely.
The afternoon was getting on, so it was time to figure out where to sleep. I figured I’d head up to the national forest and set up a tent for the night (I love national forests). It was a beast of a climb getting up there, though. I rode up Ball Diamond Rd from route 414 into the forest and it was an intense climb. It was a three mile long stretch that gained probably 1,500 feet of elevation from the lake’s shore to the forest. I was ready for some rest after that haul. I walked the bike about a mile down the trail and found a nice patch of land for the tent. I was out by nightfall.
Day 3: Finger Lakes NF to Taughannock State Park
Morning came upon the forest and my legs were still mad at me from yesterday’s climb. Might want to take it easy a bit here. Fortunately, rolling down from the forest was a nice coast on down. I went out the other side of the national forest headed towards Trumansburg and Cayuga Lake. I stopped over at a diner in Trumansburg for some lunch. There was one place I wanted to check out along the lake before heading in to Taughannock.
A few miles up route 89 and I was here, at Bellwether Hard Cider, the only cidery that I know of in the finger lakes region. I’m a big fan of a nice, dry, crisp, hard cider, and this place delivered. They have seven different ciders in their line up, ranging from the dry to the sweet and including both sparkling and still ciders. I enjoyed quite a bit the Spyglass cider, a dry, still blend of northern spy and liberty apples; the King Baldwin, a dry, sparkling blend of tompkins king and baldwin apples; and surprisingly the very sweet Black Magic, a rich blend of black currant with cider. I’m not usually a fan of the sweeter beverages, but the flavor of black currant is both delicious and hard to find, so I was very happy to see it’s use. The hostess at Bellwether (the cider-maker’s daughter, I believe) was also very nice and answered all of my nagging questions about cider without hesitation.
After that excellent tasty, I headed south on route 89 toward Taughannock Falls. My original plan was to camp again in the national forest, but that hill was not something I wanted to climb again, so I caved and got a spot in the state park here. I arrived mid-afternoon so I had some time to hike around the falls a bit. It’s a short, relaxing hike with a decent waterfall at the end. There’s also a good lake view from the park that I was able to take in while relaxing and munching on some snacks. I, of course, took a few pictures:
Day 4: Taughannock to Ithaca
I knew it was going to be a leisurely day into Ithaca, as it’s only about 10 miles from Taughannock. It gave me time to set a quiet pace and explore a bit, as well. First order of business was to mosey on south a bit and check out Buttermilk Falls. It was a very sunny day, and turning into a fairly hot one as well. A bit too hot perhaps (I rather enjoyed my 60 degree days near Geneva). I hiked a few miles around the falls, and enjoyed the trails there, as well as the many wonderful watery sights. It’s a bit of climb compared to Taughannock, but there are more falls to see, and they’re much nicer to look at, I think (nothing against Taughannock, but only have the one real fall at the end was kinda disappointing).
Finally, I made my way back into Ithaca in the early afternoon. I strolled around the downtown area for a while including a very nice walking/shopping district called The Commons. I chatted with a few random people about touring and all that fun stuff (having a fully loaded bike can be a great conversation starter). The evening rolled on in, and I met up with my host here in Ithaca, for a tasty dinner and some good beer at a couple of the pubs in the area.
It’s been an exciting few days, to say the least, but I’ve made it so far. I’ve got a couple long days ahead on Friday and Saturday, so I’m enjoying some down time today to rest up for putting in the miles again this weekend. We’re almost done with this brief little tour, now, so I’ll check in again when it’s all said and done.