Saturday, June 05, 2021

A Finger Lakes weekend, two train journeys, and lots of wine.

Our friends Chris Bennem and Lisa Moore invited us to spend the long Memorial Day weekend at their house near Canandaigua Lake (photo above), one of New York's glacially carved Finger Lakes, so called because they are long and narrow, and all oriented north to south.
To get there we took Amtrak's Empire Service from New York City's Penn Station to Rochester. The Empire Service follows the former New York Central's "Water Level Route": north along the east bank of the Hudson River to Albany, then westward paralleling the Mohawk River and Erie Canal to Rochester and Buffalo. The scenery along the Hudson is gorgeous. The photo above shows Storm King Mountain, with some cloud cover.
The Hudson is navigable for ocean going ships as far north as Albany. Here's the small tanker Palanca Rio heading southward, having discharged her liquid cargo somewhere upstream.
There are lighthouses along the Hudson to warn navigators away from shoals. This is the Hudson Athens Lighthouse, near the town of Hudson, New York.
Past Albany, we continued on the "Water Level Route," now going westward instead of northward. The tracks paralleled the Mohawk River and Erie Canal, which for some distance, including the stretch near Herkimer shown in the photo above, share the same watercourse.
At the Utica station a New York Central (which later became part of Penn Central, then Conrail, and now CSX) 0-6-0 yard switcher was on display. A family with a very chubby Corgi were waiting to greet someone arriving on an eastbound train.
Chris and Lisa met us at the Rochester station. On the way from Rochester to their house some miles south, Chris took us on a tour of some of the spectacular houses, mostly Victorian, to the south of downtown Rochester. There was also this Frank Lloyd Wright "Prairie Style" house, built for the widower Edward E. Boynton to give to his daughter, Beulah, for a cost in 1908 of about $50,000. (Photo by Martha Foley)
On the way we passed through the small city of Canandaigua, at the north end of the lake. Just past the city's south end there's a club where people have boathouses with small living quarters above the boat storage, for use during times of serious boating. (Photo by Martha Foley)
Here is Glen Hollow, our home for the long weekend. We had the guest cottage in the back.
Here's some information about its history. Humphrey Bogart grew up on the Willowbrook Estate.
Saturday evening was chilly, so Chris lit a fire. Lisa gave us a sumptuous steak dinner.
On Sunday morning I took a walk along this inviting forest path leading westwards from the house.
To the left of the path was this stream, known as the Seneca Point Gully.
The Senecas, or as they call themselves, the Onondowaga, "People of the Great Hill," were here before any European interlopers arrived. Some years ago I did a blog post about, among other things, their creation myth, that had them emerging from Clark's Gully (not their name for it) on the opposite, eastern shore of Canandaigua Lake from where we stayed.
The Finger Lakes are now an established vinicultural region. On Sunday afternoon, we went on a wine tour. These are the Ingle vineyards at Heron Hill, our first winery stop at their satellite location near Glen Hollow. I was especially impressed by Heron Hill's Gewürztraminer, an Alsatian white varietal that does well in the cool Finger Lakes climate. I also liked their Cabernet Franc, a Bordeaux red of which I've had good examples from the North Fork of Long Island and, believe it or not, Cape Cod's Truro Vineyards.
Our second stop was Ravines Wine Cellars, near Geneva on Seneca Lake. Highlights for me were "Cerise," a blend of Pinot Noir and Blaufrankisch, a red grape from Austria and Germany, and their "Agricolae" Pinot Gris, another Alsatian white varietal. 
Our final winery visit was to Domaine Leseurre, on Keuka Lake, which can be seen in the background of the photo above, near Hammondsport. When we arrived the owner, Sebastien Leseurre, showed us into the tasting room and graciously provided us with platters of charcuterie to enjoy with our Cabernet Franc Rose. After the rose, we had glasses of their fine Dry Riesling.
Here are our favorites from the tastings, left to right: Heron Hill's 2017 Gewürztraminer and its 2017 Cabernet Franc; Ravines' 2019 Cerise and its 2017 "Agricolae" Pinot Gris; and Domaine Leseurre's 2017 Dry Riesling and its 2019 Cabernet Franc Rose.
Monday, Memorial Day, was sunny. Here's a view from the window of the guest cottage where we were staying.
Chris and Lisa treated us to a hearty lunch, with a shrimp cocktail platter from Wegman's (members of the Wegman family have houses on the lake shore near Glen Hollow), Zweigle's delicious Rochester hot dogs, and, of course, more wine.
After lunch, Lisa, Martha and I took a walk along Seneca Point Road. We passed this neighborhood amenity.
This fierce gargoyle defends the palatial garage of the estate of the one of the Sands brothers, whose wealth comes from Constellation Brands, which came from "humble beginnings in 1945 as an upstate New York wine producer" to a major consumer package goods company with a "premium portfolio of iconic brands, including Corona Extra, Modelo Especial, Kim Crawford, Meiomi, The Prisoner, SVEDKA Vodka and High West Whiskey."
Another view of Canandaigua Lake, as seen from Seneca Point Road.
Early Tuesday afternoon we boarded Amtrak's Maple Leaf (which now, because of Canada's COVID restrictions, originates in Niagara Falls, New York instead of Toronto) at Rochester station for the return journey to Penn station and New York City.
Once again we were following the course of the Mohawk River and Erie Canal; their joint waterway is seen here.
We crossed the Hudson River at Albany before turning southward towards New York City.
At the Albany/Rensselaer Station, which is across the river from Albany, another Amtrak train was waiting to head south. In the background is the Empire State Plaza's skyscraper, a monument to Governor Nelson Rockefeller's "edifice complex."
As we headed south along the Hudson I caught this view of the Catskill Mountains from near Hudson, New York.
The sun had set as we passed under this bridge at Rhinecliff, New York.
I had thought the bridge at Rhinecliff would be my final photo of the journey, but there was still enough light to get this picture, taken just south of Poughkeepsie, of a sloop anchored in the Hudson and Pollapel or Bannerman Island and Bannerman Castle beyond. 

We arrived at Penn Station on time, and were home in time to get a good night's rest after a most enjoyable short holiday.