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Canalside Chronicles

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Canalside Chronicles

The Student News Site of Canalside Chronicles

Canalside Chronicles

A second chance
May 7, 2024

Wine tasting outside of the Finger Lakes


By: Michala Schram

The ‘Whites’ flight at Living Roots Wine & Co. in Rochester, N.Y. on March 22, 2024.  Canalside Chronicles photo/Michala Schram

Crisp, acidic, and smooth are some of the many descriptions used to explain the complexities of wine. As the scents brighten after a light swirl, the first impressions of the tastes can carry into what people buy.

Over the last 200 years, the Finger Lakes has grown to become a hot spot for wine tastings. In towns outside of the heart of New York’s wine country, there are opportunities to try and purchase wine a little closer to home.

Autumn Moon Winery is a traditional winery tucked away in the town of Bergen. It’s located in a small cabin with a casual atmosphere. Tables of wine trinkets and home items are in the front, and toward the back wall are the shelves of wine. Tracy and Jerry Birge started Autumn Moon as a hobby and have kept it that way since starting 12 years ago.

Owners of Autumn Moon Winery, Jerry (left) and Tracy Birge (right) on March 24, 2024 in Bergen, N.Y.  Canalside Chronicles photo/Michala Schram
Wine glasses displayed at Autumn Moon Winery. Canalside Chronicles photo/Michala Schram

Keeping their establishment casual and relaxed for customers is something that Tracy says they value as a business.   

“We just want people to find stuff they like. We’re having fun with it. We’re not trying to gouge our prices or anything. We put out what we like to do ourselves if we were customers,” Tracy Birge said.

An added feature of their easy-going business model is not charging for wine tastings. Some competitors charge upward of ten dollars per person.

“We’d rather have people find what they like. We have so many people that have said they come through and you get four [tastings] and they’re charging a whole lot of money. We’d rather have people buy the full bottle versus just pay for the tasting; some people are looking to just do that, which is fine. This is what we decided to do a little differently than other places,” Tracy Birge said.

Some of their most popular wines are Tres Noir which is a light blend of three grapes, Blackberry Merlot; a smooth blend of their sweet blackberry wine and dry Merlot, and Red Sangria; a delicate, fruit-forward sweet wine.

Leaning more on the dry flavor scale, Living Roots Wine & Co. offers wine in Rochester, the Finger Lakes, and Adelaide Hills, South Australia.

With a variety of traditional and experimental wine making, Living Roots takes an upscale approach, and creates a curated tasting experience with four groups to taste from; Bubbles, Whites, Slightly Sweet and Reds at $16 per person.

Wine displayed at Living Roots Wine & Co.  Canalside Chronicles photo/Michala Schram

Tasting room associate, Emily Wagner has worked at Living Roots for over six years. She says that depending on how close to the water grapes are grown it can result in the crop you get.

“The Finger Lakes is such an interesting area,” Wagner said after talking about how the growing experience is in that region.

Their ‘Whites’ flight consists of Bone Dry Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer all 2021 vintage wines from the Finger Lakes.

Wagner said their popular red wines are Red Rizza 2022, Cabernet Franc 2021 and from their Australia location, Sparkling Red 2020 vintage.

Production area of Living Roots Wine & Co in Rochester.  Canalside Chronicles photo/Michala Schram

“We’ll do some more small batch, experimental stuff up here [in Rochester.] But our production has moved down [to the Fingerlakes],” Wagner said.

Due to the climate of the Finger Lakes, varieties of grapes are not on the vine as long creating a lighter, less developed flavor. The longer the grape is on the vine in the sun, the bolder the flavor of the wine.

The Finger Lakes region in New York State offers plenty of options that for many palettes. With 130 wineries and 950 acres of Riesling grapes, there’s plenty to sip, swirl, and taste.

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