By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief
Lindsay Stevens, winemaker at King Ferry Winery/Treleaven Winess grew up in the Finger Lakes region and she went to college there as well, earning her bachelor’s degree in Food Science, concentrating in Fermentations, in the fall of 2004 at Cornell University just before they began enrolling students into their Enology curriculum.
During her years at Cornell she worked part-time in the vineyard and tasting room of Sheldrake Point Vineyards.
After completing her schooling, she served as the full-time cellar assistant at Sheldrake for two years.
In August 2007, Lindsay moved on to King Ferry where she continues the winemaking traditions set forth by owners Peter and Tacie Saltonstall.
And now, our standard set of questions:
What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
When I would go visit my father and step-mother at their house on the east side of Cayuga Lake for holidays, they would always offer us kids our own bottle of Cayuga Ridge Winery’s Cranberry Frost. Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed extra special because we each got to drink a grown-up drink out of a real wine glass.
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
At college, I discovered that I really loved the Finger Lakes region and I wanted to remain in the area because my family was here.
I was hard pressed to come up with a job path that I would enjoy and also be able to stay in the area. Then it hit me, why not wine? At the time Cornell was just beginning to develop the Enology curriculum. I took all the courses that were offered at the time that would become part of the major. I was their guinea pig for the curriculum. The only classes that I couldn’t take were the ones that they hadn’t hired faculty for yet. The Food Science Department at Cornell was great in allowing me to tailor my studies with the intention of going into winemaking.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
My favorite wine is the 2008 Dry Riesling. It’s estate bottled so it has a defined identity. Crisp, refreshing, with mineral, candied lime and white grapefruit zest. The Dry is a stellar example of the 2008 vintage, where rieslings virtually made themselves.
What has surprised you most about being a member of the Finger Lakes wine community?
I think the great part about the Finger Lakes wine community is that it doesn’t really just include wineries and vineyards; it’s bigger than that. It’s about serving and selling our wines at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market, the Syracuse Farmer’s Market and the Green Markets in New York City because that makes the wine more accessible to people. It’s about seeing Finger Lakes wines being offered at restaurants and at liquor stores not because of obligation but because the wines are competitive with world wine markets on price and quality and because customers ask for them. The wineries and vineyards are just a part of the personality that makes the Finger Lakes Region a destination for travelers and what makes it great to call the Finger Lakes region home.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
It’s not really alcoholic but it’s kind of cool, and definitely the drink I drink everyday: My husband roasts his own coffee using an air popcorn popper. We order the green coffee beans from www.sweetmarias.com We get the 8 pound sampler pack and most varieties that they send are from single grove small farmer operations that they source from all over the globe. It’s great stuff and I can see a lot of similarities in coffee and what we do with single vineyard wines.
If you need an alcoholic selection: in the wintertime, my guilty pleasure is a slightly above room temperature snifter of Kelt VSOP Cognac and some Reese’s peanut butter cups. It’s an unconventional pairing, but one of my go-to desserts when it’s cold outside.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
I am not very fond of pairing sweet desserts with sweet dessert wines. Most of the time the dessert gets lost and overwhelmed by the complexity and richness of the wine. I much prefer dessert wines with cheese, something robust enough to match and complement instead of cover up the flavors.
Wine enjoyment is about more than just the wine itself. Describe the combination of wine, locations, food, company, etc. that would make (or has made) for the ultimate wine-drinking experience.
My favorite wine drinking experience isn’t at a fancy restaurant (although I don’t mind that either) it’s at my mom and step-dad’s house. They live just past Greek Peak Ski Resort in Virgil, NY.
It’s usually a lazy weekday dinner that usually includes an evening of any number of us kids and mom and dad grazing while standing up in the kitchen.
We start with opening up a bottle of wine from either King Ferry Winery or Long Point Winery where my husband, Dan is the vineyard manager. Depending on the time of year the menu can vary. In the summer, the menu typically includes home made chicken spedies (we prefer the Salamida Original State Fair Spedie Sauce) and corn on the cob from Fall Creek Farm. They pick the corn on a regular basis during the busy parts of the day so it is super sweet and not starchy at all. It’s like dessert you put butter on.
We’ll have a baguette with local Lively Run goat cheese and caramelized onions, it’s serve yourself and usually the onions come right out of the pan using the bread, no utensils required. There is a big bowl of melon, and a green salad that gets put together after you have had your fill of cheese bread and onions. Dinner is usually finished up by 9 or 9:30pm, about when you are ready to go out and sit on a rocking chair on the porch to finish the rest of your wine.