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Winemaker for a week contest on Cayuga Trail

The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail located in the heart of the Finger Lakes with Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance and Greek Peak Resort ran a contest through the summer titled “Winemaker for a Week”. Each entrant either had to submit a video or written submission on why they thought they would make an excellent candidate on how to be a winemaker. Our winner was unanimously chosen by all three entities, Don Schafler from Alpine, NY near Mecklenburg.He is a veterinarian at the Cornell Vet School and his wife of 30 years, Judy Appleton is an immunologist also at Cornell. They live on a 104 acre farm where they used to raise cattle, sheep and horses and are presently raising field crops. Recently though they have speculated the thought of raising animals again and have started to raise chickens. He loves a big garden, enjoys living in Upstate NY and entertains the idea that someday he will make good wine.Part of the package included a one week stay at the Greek Peak Resort in Cortland, the harvest experience at three wineries, a wine tour package plus visits to Corning Museum of Glass and Museum of the Earth to round out the week. His first experience took place at the Cork and Fork event in Seneca Falls where he helped with a wine and food pairing demo. On Sunday at Lucas’ German Fest he helped judge the best German Potato Salad contest. There was a tie and Ruth Lucas owner of Lucas Vineyards broke it and picked the winner. The idea behind the varied package was to give the person a full spectrum on what it means to be a wine maker in the Finger Lakes.The first winery he went to visit was Long Point Winery located on the east side of Cayuga Lake. Here he emptied out one year aged wine from wine barrels, to a tank and then washed out the barrels for reuse. The wine from the tank will go back into the barrels for more oak aging to bring out the berry characteristics says Gary Barletta, owner of Long Point Winery. Don commented as he climbed the tank to see how full it was “The wine smells so good”.It was a beautiful picturesque day as Don and Dan, vineyard manager of Long Point strolled through the vineyards to see if the Chardonnay was ready to pick. Here Dan explained how they go through each row and pick berries randomly to get an accurate brix (sugar) reading. After the grapes are picked they are crushed for their juice and are checked with a hydrometer to see if the juice is sweet enough, thus determining if the grapes are ready to be harvested. It’s not a go yet, says Dan. On Thursday they will be at Knapp Winery and on Friday King Ferry Winery.

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