New York State of wine: spending an afternoon at Brimfield Farm Winery

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“I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I’d opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity.” -Virginia Madsen as “Maya” in the movie “Sideways.”

Brimfield Farm Winery in Clinton is a beautiful refinished barn that opens onto a patio with a breathtaking view that overlooks their driving range and, in the distance, the foothills of the Adirondacks. Their products are all New York State wines from the Fingerlakes region.

Melinda Parastury poured me a glass of dry Riesling. I told her about Madsen’s famous monologue.

“Soil, climate, rain, and of course the grapes, so many factors determine the taste,” she said. “That’s what makes wine unique.”

I sat at the beautiful polished cherry wood bar between my friends Mary Ann Bacon and Donna Morreall and looked at the list of wines they have available for sampling. I asked MaryAnn what I should try first.

“I like the Riesling,” she said. “I don’t usually like dry wines, but it just tasted good.”

It’s described as having “notes of citrus and apple at the front, moving to a subtle cedar finish with mouthwatering acidity.”

I tried it and said that it reminded me of “sour patch kids,” I meant it as a compliment.

“You’re not a wine connoisseur!” Mary Ann laughed.

Melinda poured another Riesling. This one was carbonated. It is called Hananiah.

“I know you can’t call it champagne because it’s not from France,” I said. “But this is so great it’s what you wish champagne actually tasted like.”

The winery describes it as having “forward notes of rich mandarin and raspberry, finishing with hints of lemon zest and cherry blossom.”

“I like sweet wines that have a real “grapey taste,” I said thinking back to the famous scene from “Sideways.” “I want to feel like I’m drinking something that came from grapes. Something that tastes like sunlight, and rain, and daytime and moonlight.”

In the recording I made on my phone I sounded very poetic. I think the wine was starting to work it’s wonderful magic on me (Jim was my designated driver.)

Donna Morreall pointed to Centennial on the list.

“It’s sweet, but not too sweet,” she said.

While Melinda poured a glass, I took in the surroundings. The winery is in what used to be the hayloft. Above us, the nozzles to milking machines have been transformed into light fixtures that hang from the track of a hay elevator. My first job was throwing hay on a dairy farm, so even though the cows were in a pasture across the road I was sure I smelled fresh hay and summertime.

“You’re drinking them out of order!” Donna laughed.

“I already know it’s going to be my favorite,” I insisted and read the description on the list. It said “sweet red fruits on the nose and candied raspberries on the palate. Finishing with flavors of strawberries and cherries.”

Just as we headed out to the patio it began to rain. Mary Ann’s daughter Kim Meyer, her husband Ken, their son Stephen, and my partner Jim Hale and Donna and I went up stairs to the finished hayloft and sat at a long wooden table with a mason jar tied with bailing twine and filled with wildflowers.

“This is a wonderful place with beautiful scenery,” Kim said bringing up the winery’s website brimfieldfarmwinery.com on her phone.

“The dry Riesling is refreshing on a hot humid day,” Ken said opening a window that overlooked the pasture across the street. “I would pair it with spicy foods.”

They sell cheese curds from Grassy Cow Dairy in Remsen, NY. I poured them out of the bag onto a real wooden cheeseboard. 

Stephen who will be a senior in high school this fall in Greensboro, North Carolina where the Meyers live had never tried cheese curds before. I asked him what he thought. 

“They’re very cheesy,” he said.

The rain stopped and my group headed back outside. 

“I’m out of wine!” Mary Ann said to her daughter.

“I’ll get us another glass of Pinot Gris,” Kim good-naturedly read from the paper. “It’s got full body and it has fresh fruity aromas to greet the nose.” 

Before we left, I wanted to tell the owners, John and Teasha Hughes what a great place they had. The wine bar was bustling with happy customers, but finally I got a moment to ask Teasha what her favorite wine was.

“District 10,” she said. “We named it after a one-room schoolhouse where my husband, John’s father and aunt went to school.”

The little schoolhouse is still on their property and they rent it out. John’s grandfather bought it in in the mid-1930’s for $75 when the district centralized. They have a piece of wood onto which an early 20th century student carved the initials S. B. Those belonged to a student named Stephen Bennett who went on to become a justice on the New York State Supreme Court!

I asked her why she and her husband had started the business.

“It promotes agriculture,” she said. “These are wines made in New York State from grapes grown in the Fingerlakes. We also sell local dairy products, local honey, and local syrup, and we promote the local musicians who perform here.”

She urged me to check out the winery’s social media page at Facebook.com/BrimfieldFarmWinery.

As we all walked out to the patio, I stopped for a moment to take in the view of the fields and the trees. The rain had stopped, and a light fog rolled up the hills. We live in the foothills of the Adirondacks and Saturday they looked, and smelled, alive with growth and summertime.

“What is so special about wine?” I had asked Teasha before I headed back out.

“Wine is agriculture,” she said.

I took another sip, looked around, and knew what she meant.

Ron Klopfanstein welcomes your questions, comments, and story ideas. Like him at  Facebook.com/BeMoreWestmo and follow him at Twitter.com/BeMoreWestmo.

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