Mountain Home, October 2020

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M O U N T A I N

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Champagne Moments

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Brews and Brats in Trumansburg Bald Birds Brewing Lands in Jersey Shore Goat Yoga Kicks Off in Savona

In Pleasant Valley Wine Company’s Grand History, Caroline Kennedy Strikes Twice By Mike Cutillo

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OCTOBER 20201


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Volume 15 Issue 10

14 Marriage Isn’t Give and Take

Champagne Moments

By Maggie Barnes ...It’s hoard or toss.

By Mike Cutillo In Pleasant Valley Wine Company’s grand history, Caroline Kennedy strikes twice.

16 Brewing Patience By Linda Roller

Bald Birds Brewing finally finds a roost in Jersey Shore.

Mountain Home Wedding

26 Over the Moon

6

By Gayle Morrow

Tickling the Soul

Moon’s Big Red Barn is a new, old-fashioned venue.

By Dave DeGolyer Downward dog...er...goat at ZiegenVine Homestead.

32 Inn on Quarry Glen By Maggie Barnes

Yesterday and today merge at Towanda venue.

39 The Eagles Have Landed By Karey Solomon

22

42 Back of the Mountain

EnGaiged and Then Married

By Curt Weinhold Leaf peeking.

By Karey Solomon Painted Post’s Minister Robin Gaige (left) makes it official.

30 Cover by Gwen Button. Cover photo: Caroline Kennedy, age 9, christened the John F. Kennedy ship on May 27, 1967. Also pictured are her mother, Jackie; her brother, John Jr.; and the president of the shipyard, D.A. Holden, courtesy Jon Beckman, Works Design Group. This page (top): An unopened bottle of Great Western Champagne that was used to christen the USS John F. Kennedy CVN79 in December 2019, courtesy Jon Beckman, Works Design Group; (second) courtesy ZiegenVine Homestead; (third) Minister Robin Gaige; (bottom) by Karey Solomon.

The Best of the Wurst By Karey Solomon Brews and Brats brings Germany to Trumansburg.

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w w w. m o u n ta i n h o m e m ag . co m Editors & Publishers Teresa Banik Capuzzo Michael Capuzzo Associate Publisher George Bochetto, Esq. D i r e c t o r o f O pe r a t i o n s Gwen Button Managing Editor Gayle Morrow S a l e s R ep r e s e n t a t i v e s Patti Bandy, Joseph Campbell, Beverly Kline, Richard Trotta Circulation Director Michael Banik Accounting Amy Packard Cover Design Gwen Button

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Contributing Writers Maggie Barnes, Pamela Collins, Mike Cutillo, Dave DeGolyer, Melissa Farenish, Carrie Hagen, Don Knaus, Janet McCue, Dave Milano, Cornelius O’Donnell, Brendan O’Meara, David O’Reilly, Linda Roller, Jan Smith, Karey Solomon C o n t r i b u t i n g P h o t o g r ap h e r s Don Biresch, Bernadette Chiaramonte, Diane Cobourn, Lonny Frost, Roger Kingsley, Christy Lamb, Beate Mumper, Jerame Reinhold, Peter Rutt, Jody Shealer, Travis Snyder, Linda Stager, Sherri Stager, Travis Snyder, Mary Sweely, Sarah Wagaman, Curt Weinhold, Deb Young

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Champagne Moments In Pleasant Valley Wine Company’s Grand History, Caroline Kennedy Strikes Twice By Mike Cutillo

M

ike Doyle knows a thing—or three—about business. With a master’s degree from the University of Virginia’s celebrated Darden School of Business backed up by a law degree from Syracuse University, he has the paperwork to prove his pedigree. That is, if he felt inclined to do so, which he normally doesn’t. However, it is a decision Doyle made about twenty-five years ago that defied anything he learned in any classroom that has come to define him, and will be his legacy. In 1995, he broke from standard conventions and bought into a path dictated by his heart, rather than his business acumen. He leased—and later bought—Pleasant Valley Wine Company, which had barrels full of history on its side but not much else at the time. “It was an emotional decision. It wasn’t a business decision,” Mike says with an easy laugh, a portrait of the winery’s founder, Charles Davenport Champlin, looking on from over his right shoulder. “I wouldn’t have done it if it was a business decision because there was nothing here—no brands, the facilities had nothing to sell, so we kind of had to build from scratch.” While the spirits industry in the Finger Lakes region has exploded in recent decades and now is home to about 200 wineries, distilleries and cideries, Hammondsport’s Pleasant Valley was the very first one. A farmer, Champlin opened it along with twelve other investors on March 15, 1860. At the time, James Buchanan was the fifteenth president of the United States, the Civil War wouldn’t begin for another year, and not a drop of Jack Daniels, America’s quintessential whiskey, had yet been poured. Later in 1860, Champlin’s PVWC became the first bonded winery in the United States, officially becoming a commercial enterprise that could produce and store wine under a bond that guaranteed payment of federal excise tax. Or as current Sales and Marketing Director Matthew Healy jokes, “It gave us the great opportunity to be the first to pay taxes on our wine.” The actual Pleasant Valley was fertile, fruit-producing terrain just off the southern tip of Keuka Lake, the Finger Lakes’ only Y-shaped lake. The winery named for it was constructed just outside the similarly historic Steuben County village of Hammondsport, founded in 1827 and later known as “The Cradle of Aviation” in honor of native son Glenn Curtiss.

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PVWC got off to a rollicking start under famed French winemakers Jules and Joseph Masson, making its first shipment of wine in 1862, shocking the wine-drinking world by winning its first award in Europe in 1867 in Paris, and then capturing a gold medal for its Great Western Champagne in 1873 at the World’s Fair in Vienna, Austria. While today’s Finger Lakes AVA—or American Viticultural Area—is known more for its rieslings, chardonnays and rosés, sparkling and sweeter wines were favored in the early days; the early, award-winning champagne was made primarily from native grapes, Delaware and Catawba. In 1961, just after its centennial anniversary, PVWC was acquired by its neighbor, the Taylor Wine Company, touching off a veritable merry-go-round of transactions. Taylor sold it to the Coca-Cola Company in 1977, which sold it to Joseph Seagram & Sons in 1983, which sold it to Vintners International in 1987. Mike was general counsel for, and later president of, Taylor and was also general counsel for Wine Spectrum, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola. He slowed down the carousel when he first leased PVWC in 1995 and then completely shut it down when he bought it outright in 2002, bringing in his sons Patrick and Matthew to help with operations. These days, the Doyle family—bolstered by fifty or so employees that are treated like family—are eyeing a return to the glory days while also preserving the winery’s rich history, especially its Great Western Champagne, which has been used in celebrations in Cooperstown, at Watkins Glen, at the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, and has ties from the Finger Lakes that extend all the way to the Kennedys’ Camelot. More History—Fieldstones and Caves Mike loves spinning yarns as much as he enjoys running PVWC. Maybe more. Relaxing in the dark wood-paneled boardroom, his tales run the gamut from secret doorways, legendary Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim, alleged ghostly sightings around the winery, real estate developer Robert Congel, and the newspaper industry before he gets back around to the topic at hand: Pleasant Valley Wine Company. “My plan was not to own a winery,” he says with a chuckle. “I got out of the service early to go to law school and then went to See Pleasant Valley on page 8


Courtesy Jon Beckman, Works Design Group Back to the future: Caroline Kennedy christened the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) last December at the Newport News Shipbuilding division with a bottle of Great Western Champagne, the same bubbly she used for the purpose in 1967. 7


(2) Courtesy Jon Beckman, Works Design Group

Pleasant Valley continued from page 7

Jan Cutillo

work for a law firm in Rochester, Nixon Peabody, that represented the Taylor Corporation. They sold to Coke, and Coke sold to Seagram. I survived the sale to Seagrams, and I survived the sale to Vintners, then, after that, we didn’t see eye to eye. The chairman wanted me to fire half the people who were here, put blood on the streets of Hammondsport. We didn’t do that, so I left for awhile and then bought this place back from the bank.” When asked about his plans upon buying Pleasant Valley, Mike laughs again. “Plans? None. Actually, it was a save. I just wanted to keep the place going. If you looked up the road four miles, Gold Seal was falling down. Taylor was no longer a winery. My intent was just to kind of save it because I had spent a lot of years here and wanted to keep it going.” First came the purchase of the winery property and its ten handsome buildings, eight of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the exteriors are built out of fieldstone, which is similar in appearance to cobblestone, while the interior features are stone and solid wood. There are twenty-six caves, which the original owners carved deep into the hillside to use as cellars, “riddling” rooms to store Exuding greatness: and work champagne, and high-vaulted rooms Patrick (left) and Michael for monstrous oak barrels and stainless steel tanks, J. Doyle, president of some of which hold 40,000 to 99,000 gallons of Pleasant Valley Wine wine. The smell of wine and oak permeates many Company, stand in front of a portrait of of the older rooms. original founder Charles Beyond the physical property, with its 425,000 Davenport Champlin; square feet that can store fourteen million gallons (middle) the front of of wine, Mike set about buying the rights to the the winery is one of brands that would stock Pleasant Valley’s portfolio: many historic structures primarily Great Western Champagne, Gold Seal, projecting old-world Charles Fournier, and Widmer. ambiance; (bottom) How ironic that as the rest of the Finger Lakes The new $4 million wine region boomed, the bellwether had fallen out state-of-the-art bottling of favor, was in disrepair and usually was overlooked equipment at Great by the thousands of wine trail-trekking aficionados. Western Winery helps However, in just a short period of time, Mike’s blend old-world charm “non-plan plans” were off and running. with modern advances. A key in recent years has been tapping into other local businesses, creating jobs and a sense of community. One of those is Works Design Group of Hammondsport, hired to freshen up PVWC’s labels and packaging. “They started working with us and we started updating and bringing in some new packaging and labeling for them,” says Jon Beckman, WDG director of business development. “What a huge success story if we can bring PVW from forty or sixty employees back to the 300 they had in their heyday, if we can rebrand them, and introduce the entire line to the millennial customer.” Adds Matthew Healy, who has over three decades in the wine industry: “I love it. I love the story, love the family, love the fact that Mike wanted to preserve this. From a sales and marketing perspective, these brands are so old they don’t need a lot of things, but what they have that no one else has is the story.” The Tie to JFK…Twice A large part of PVWC’s story—make it an “aircraft-carriersized” part of the story—is Great Western Champagne’s role in two of the most prized ships in the American Naval fleet, both of which were named after our thirty-fifth president, John F. 8


Kennedy. Two threads intertwine in the christening of both the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) in May of 1967 and the immense USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) in December of 2019: a bottle of Great Western from Hammondsport, New York, was smashed over the ships’ hulls, and JFK’s daughter Caroline did the smashing. There are YouTube videos to prove both. No one remains at PVWC from 1967, so why GW was chosen for that first christening is lost to history, though Mike suspects it was because of the champagne’s standing in the wine world. “It was a major player,” he says. “It was in the White House, we were the official champagne of the baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, it got a lot of play like that. It was the finest champagne in America.” When Mike came across a blackand-white photo of nine-year-old Caroline christening the first JFK aircraft carrier and wanted high-quality reprints made, he brought it to his friends at Works Design Group. That would touch off a series of events that would land GW back at the shipyard for the second christening. “We sat around talking about it and googling the event, and we came across the fact that another christening was going to be held for the CVN-79 on Dec. 7 in 2019,” remembers Jon Beckman. “So we reached out to some regional connections and worked our way into the shipyard and got to be there for the christening.” Works Design Group recreated the GW Extra Dry Label from May 27, 1967, for the 2019 christening—held on the anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The label highlights the champagne’s 1873 World’s Fair award. Jon and his wife Michele were invited to the VIP dinner the evening before the christening, along with Mike and others from PVWC, including Patrick Doyle, Cameron Dunlap, and Bill and Donna Hutches. “There were forty-five to fifty tables and we were, like, table forty-eight or forty-nine, so we’re way in the back by the exit door, but we had access to all the champagne we wanted,” Jon jokes. “I was pretty starstruck. The Kennedy family was all there, and it was just really, really cool to be a part of.” See Pleasant Valley on page 10

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Cider continued from page 9

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Impeccable taste: the former tasting room boasts and elegant, old-world feel and architecture. Pleasant Valley continued from page 9

Bryan Moore is the director of communications at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, the only company in America that builds the Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, which is what the CVN stands for in the name. “The great thing about working at the shipyard is we christen these amazing ships, and we want to make sure the event is a great, memorable, historic event, not only for the people who are invited but for the shipbuilders who work so hard,” Bryan says. “We obviously wanted to make it a special event for Caroline Kennedy, to make sure it was done right so it was something her family and her father would be proud of.” Although it’s been christened, the newest JFK won’t go into service until the 2020s. It is a 100,000-ton, 1,100-footlong behemoth that cost $11.3 billion for over 3,000 shipbuilders to create, using 500 suppliers from around the country, including 150 from Pennsylvania and New York. “Just to go on these ships, it’s such a sense of awe,” Bryan says. “It’s basically a functional city with an airport. You can’t take them for granted. And the fact that we were using the same champagne (as in ’67) and to have Caroline Kennedy participate as a little girl, and then come back in 2019, it’s very historic, very rare. It’s an amazing, unique situation.” A Few Words on Champagne

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Courtesy Jon Beckman, Works Design Group

Along about now you may be wondering how it is that a winery in upstate New York—basically on America’s East Coast—produces a product that is called “Great Western.” Well, here’s some more history. Marshall P. Wilder was born in the Finger Lakes, in Geneva, and was a close friend of Charles Champlin. He was a gifted storyteller, a clairvoyant, a comedian, a film actor, and, later in life, a wine connoisseur in Boston. In 1871, Champlin sent a case of champagne to his friend, who introduced it at a dinner party at the Parker House—which became famous in its own right for its Parker House rolls. “When Wilder and his buddies had the champagne, they proclaimed it ‘the greatest wine in the western world,’ and they wrote back to Champlin to tell him that,” Matthew Healy says enthusiastically. “That’s where the Great Western name came from. It was named in Boston at a dinner with a bunch of guys. And although the Erie Canal was here, you’ve got to remember, this was the western world. This was the West. There was no Utah or places like that.” You also may have heard that the word “champagne” cannot be used for wines unless they come from the Champagne Region of France. That’s true for newer brands but not those that are 160 years old. “I’ve got a white paper on that,” Mike Doyle says with a laugh. “There are wine snobs that would like you to think that. The French, they have a committee that sues people and pretends whatever, but we are grandfathered by law to be able to use the word champagne. You have to use it in connection with an appellation, which means you have to use ‘New York’ or ‘Finger Lakes’ or ‘American’ champagne, but it is totally legal.” In March of 2006, the United States and the European Union signed a wine-trade agreement, at which time the U.S. agreed to not allow new uses of certain wine terms that had previously been considered generic, such as champagne. But any company that already had an approved label—such as Great Western Champagne— was grandfathered in and can continue using such terms. Matthew says he uses that ruling to his advantage in his marketing role. “What I love to do when I am at a trade tasting is I say See Pleasant Valley on page 40

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Marriage Isn’t Give and Take... ...It’s Hoard or Toss By Maggie Barnes

“Y

ou aren’t throwing that out, are you?” I truly believe that marriage represents the final frontier of the human experience. The concept of two people choosing to spend a hefty portion of their earthly lives interacting with each other fascinates me. There are just so many places for the whole thing to go wrong. For instance, have you ever noticed that people who are always cold and people who are always hot marry each other and then spend their days fighting

14

over the thermostat? The thrifty and the extravagant, the neat and the sloppy, the over the roll and the under the roll…we are attracted to those who row in the opposite direction. In my own domestic bliss, there are two glaring areas of difference. One is packing for a trip. I freely admit that I bring half the house for a long weekend. Meanwhile, Robert could have pulled off the landing at Normandy with two rowboats and a backpack. So, we compromise. I start packing a week before

we leave and Robert allots a full seven minutes to throw a bag together and we are out the door. It works. The other point of conflict is more difficult to manage, as ours is a mixed marriage. He hoards. I toss. When we bought our hilltop home, we suddenly had four times the house and ten times the land. We went from a co-owned two-car garage that was deeded down the center (I don’t recommend it), to a four-vehicle garage suitable for barn


dances. I thought we’d never have enough stuff to fill all the space. Silly me. “Bobby, these boots are shot. I’m tossing them.” “Oh wait, they’ve still got some tread on them.” “Which flaps open with every step. They’re going.” If you know it, sing this part along with me: “I might need those someday.” Five pairs of boots in the house, but he is sure there will be a moment when his very happiness depends on having aerated footwear that the mice rejected as substandard housing. We go through a version of this every time one of us declares, “There is too much crap in here!” So we can get rid of the newspapers from 1998? “I was going to clip stuff out.” The busted lamp? “That’s fixable.” The vinyl records we have no method of playing? “Hey, vinyl is hot again.” We have 200 wine glasses. “We might have a party.” Candles that have burned too low for the flame to be seen? “I can cut the sides down.” (Which is why it looks like Edward

Scissorhands is in charge of candles at our house.) Though I do not know when the Rolling Stones will be appearing in our field, we certainly have the floodlights at the ready to dazzle Mick. If we stopped washing silverware it would take us to Saint Swithin’s Day to run out of spoons. Someday we may be crushed by the avalanche of old bank statements, but if there is a retroactive audit to 1977, we’re ready. I blame his mother. I was the youngest child of six. Let’s face it, I was an afterthought. An oops, albeit with a lot of charm. Robert was the alpha and the omega, and my mother-inlaw saved everything that ever touched him in his formative years. She kept the hospital menu from the week of his birth. You want all the cards from the baby shower? Right here. You want the bronzed baby shoes? Yo! The yellowed newspaper accounts of his every accomplishment? Got it covered. I opened one box with eyes squinted and breath held and Bobby said, “What are you afraid of?” I told him I figured his tonsils were in there. So he comes by it honestly, but I do feel bad for him. I know he cringes

as I dump an entire desk drawer into a garbage bag and fling it out of the room with joyful abandon. And it’s not to say that I have never outsmarted myself. “Where’s that coaxial cable?” he asked. “Is that the black thing with the silver thing on the end of it with the tiny post thingy in the middle?” “That’s it.” “I threw it out.” He simply gives me “the look” and heads to the store. Bless him. In the grand scheme of life, this is not a bad subject to clash on. We keep each other honest. I try to check his hoarding and he regulates my tossing. The fact of the matter is there is no one else I would rather stand in a heap of stuff and debate with. Just the other day, he opened my closet door and asked if I might consider getting rid of some of my dress shoes. Well, now...that’s just crazy talk.

Maggie Barnes has won several IRMAs and Keystone Press Awards. She lives in Waverly, New York.

15


Courtesy Abby Feerrar Baring it all: with encouragement from a feathered friend, Abby and Joe Feerrar set out to fulfill a dream.

Brewing Patience

Bald Birds Brewing Finally Finds a Roost in Jersey Shore By Linda Roller

I

t’s fall, and local bird watchers have been logging the migratory flights over our area as our summer friends head south for the winter. But here in Jersey Shore, we have a flock of new birds migrating in— and craft beer lovers couldn’t be happier. Bald Birds Brewing Company has found a home in an old manufacturing site at 220 Schaeffer Lane, and last month opened a taproom, event hall, and brewery. Though the company is based in Audubon, down near Norristown, King of Prussia, and Valley Forge, the owners of this new-brew venture have strong ties to

16

western Lycoming County. Abby Feerrar explains, “My husband, Joe, grew up in Jersey Shore. His family is here. When we heard about the building becoming available, it was the right thing at the right time. It’s been a rush!” For Abby and Joe, a rush is an understatement. Everything has been coming thick and fast, but it wasn’t always that way. In the spring of 2017, they were ready to take the leap into owning their own business, and they wanted a brewery. But the banks offering Small Business Administration loans were not immediately

receptive. The loan process was so drawn out and tortured that potential properties for the first brewery kept disappearing. When a loan application was rejected and they missed out on the sixth property they had looked at, it was hard to see a dream coming true. In the midst of all the worry and anxiousness about trying to get the funding and the place, they came home to a charming and encouraging sight—a robin had built a nest in the large wreath on their front door. When the robin laid four eggs, and the eggs then hatched, there See Bald on page 18


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Bald continued from page 16

(4) Courtesy Abby Feerrar

were new lives to watch growing, all as they re-applied for funding and continued to look for the perfect place. Charming became the charm, as they finally found a great banking partner, a landlord who shared their vision, and a location with a lot of potential. Even the name of the town was perfect—Audubon. The birds had found their roost. In less than a year, Abby and Joe were ready to expand, this time into the Manayunk section of Philadelphia, with a taproom where bustling brewers with a growing reputation and an increasing tap list could serve even more people. If that wasn’t enough building and growing, the couple bought an old house in Newtown Square and renovated it. Top all this growing of a business and remodelling a home while raising a toddler, and a new baby born the week they opened the Audubon brewery, and you have two very busy birds. But the Jersey Shore project just fell into place, and the grand opening on September 18 was within days of the second anniversary of the very first opening in Audubon. It was a big, grand, opening in every way. The brewing/production space is 80-90,000 square feet. Currently, the brewery has set up fifteen to twenty finishing tanks and two brewing systems. That allows Bald Birds to brew both small batches of specialty brews and also to brew larger batches. The large production space allows Bald Birds to produce a wide range of craft beers. The tap list reflects this flexibility. Beer lovers can enjoy an IPA and a New England IPA, which have a different flavor and look. There is a pilsner, a cream ale, a pale ale, and Modern roost: Bald Birds Brewing offers visitors a a few lagers. There’s a fruity sour and an imperial stout. flexible tap list and their own It’s an ambitious list, but, then, these Bald Birds like brews (like Highway Mile, the challenge of producing a fine line of beer. left). A 150,000-square-foot The Jersey Shore location is nicely suited for both a taproom and outdoor seating production brewery and taproom, with 150,000 square provide enough space to enjoy feet for the taproom and event space, in addition to the any event and ensure safety brewing area. Even with the pandemic restrictions of during the pandemic. 25 to 50 percent occupancy, the building has enough space to accommodate folks safely, and outdoor seating available. The Feerrars used many of the elements from the original building and have designed a space that has an industrial/farmhouse feel. In the future, the event area will be available to host weddings and other celebrations/happenings for up to 400 people. Gunzey’s Hot Sausage, known in the Jersey Shore area, is providing sandwiches and snacks to go with a tap list of a “baker’s dozen” brews. You can also bring your own food, as currently beer can only be served when food is available and visible on the table. There are six brews from the list available as four-packs to go. Oregon Hill wine and mixed drinks are also available. For Bald Birds Brewing, the Octoberfest started early with the September opening, but the specials and celebration will last on through the fall. And craft beer lovers will likely be celebrating the migration of exceptional craft brewers to our local area long after the leaves fall and all the birds who head south are gone. For more information and to check out the tap list, visit baldbirdsbrewing.com.

18

Mountain Home contributor Linda Roller is a bookseller, appraiser, and writer in Avis, Pennsylvania.


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19


Sarah Wagaman

Linda Stager

Sarah Wagaman

Travis Snyder

Bernadette Chiaramonte

Beate Mumper

Linda Stager 20


Curt Weinhold

Bernadette Chiaramonte

October

I

t’s here! The year’s most painted month is exploding all around us, as Autumn opens her paint box and dabbles with her full palette. “Beguile us in the way you know,” wrote Robert Frost of October, whose simultaneous softness and crispness never cease to bewitch. “Retard the sun with gentle mist; / Enchant the land with amethyst.”

Curt Weinhold

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21


(6) Courtesy ZiegenVine Homestead

Tickling the Soul

Downward Dog...er...Goat at ZiegenVine Homestead By Dave DeGolyer

W

orking its way through the valley as evening settles in, the breeze is gentle, comforting. From the fresh-cut field atop the hill at ZiegenVine Homestead, the view is quite spectacular: sun slowly dipping behind steep hills in the distance. You’ll find this 103-acre farm with those panoramic views halfway 22

between Corning and Keuka Lake. Here, Randy Ziegenhagen and Allison Lavine have combined more than their last names. They’ve combined a passion for nature and love of the land with their generous spirits to create something special. Here on the homestead, for an hour at least, the rest of the world slips away. It’s just

you, your yoga mat, that majestic sunset, that tranquil breeze, and the soothing voice of a yogi leading you through a sequence of poses, all leading you toward yourself. Oh, there’s also a little bleating. A little nuzzling. And a whole lot of love. Taking your eyes off the horizon, your breath deep, you look down into a face.


Sure, the eyes, with their unusually long rectangular pupils, might take some adjusting to, but not those frolicsome ears, that mischievous smile, and the inescapable adorableness. I’m talking about goats, of course. If you think “goat yoga” seems like an oxymoron, you’re not alone. Diehard yoga practitioners might perceive the insertion of goats into one’s practice as a contradiction. But spend a little time at ZiegenVine Homestead and you start to understand it’s the juxtaposition (and blending) of what you typically get from a yoga class and what you get from engaging with goats that makes it so rewarding. Although, we should probably call it what it really is—goat cuddling, goat snuggling. You know, with some yoga poses thrown in. Chances are the perfect reverse side angle will become a somewhat stooped side hug. Child’s pose or downward dog offer up just enough backside that you become a small mountain peak, thereby allowing a goat to give in to its inherent nature and climb. A baby goat working its hooves into your spine is akin to tickling some hard-to-reach part of your soul. Goats are social. Gregarious. Affectionate. While you interact with them, you find yourself infused with these qualities. While the goats are being their unfettered selves, it also allows you to do the same. Not by tuning out all of the outside world, as with a more traditional yoga asana, but by tuning out everything except the moment at hand. When that moment is full of joy, it can be life-affirming if not life-changing. It’s also an opportunity to give yourself permission to not take things so seriously, if only for that moment. That is quite a gift that Randy and Allison are offering—the creation of an environment and experiences where you can feel safe, welcome, enriched. “When people are actually on the land,” says Allison, “we offer farm tours. We were teaching people how to milk a goat before the pandemic. For now we are letting them watch the milking and we describe how to do it.” There are plans for expansion and additional offerings. Allison wants to build an outdoor kitchen with the intention of offering classes “teaching people things we have learned on the farm—from basic animal processing, making soap and salves, goat milk cheese, and more.” They’re currently researching what New York State will and will not allow, so stay tuned. Sure, goat yoga might seem a bit unconventional. But look beyond how unusual it might seem to the core aspects of the experience and you realize just how enlivening and rejuvenating it can be. Primitive camping is also available at the farm. Goat yoga and goat-free yoga classes are held outdoors and, thus, are seasonal offerings. If you want to visit the animals, buy some handcrafted goat milk soap, or do a little rustic camping, reach out to Allison and Randy. You can find ZiegenVine Homestead at 8469 Oak Hill Road in Savona. Go to ziegenvinehomesteadllc.com or call (607) 207-5730 for details and class availability. A reluctant reader in his youth, Dave DeGolyer became a writer, of all things, with a day job that allows him to share stories about the Finger Lakes region.

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WELCOME TO

MOUNTAIN HOME

WEDDING P

umphouse B&B, with its huge industrial barn, was the perfect fall backdrop for Jerry and Emily’s wedding. Framed by rich autumn colors, the tones of the historic building showcased their gorgeous day.

Š Michelle Lee Photography

~Michelle L. Erbach Michelle Lee Photography Honesdale, Pennsylvania

25


Courtesy Moons’ Big Red Barn

Over the Moon

Moon’s Big Red Barn Is a New, Old-fashioned Venue By Gayle Morrow

Y

ou see them everywhere—sad, old, falling-down barns on crumbling stone foundations, their weathered boards and huge hand-hewn beams abandoned to the elements. Happily—especially for you if you’re in the market for a unique and really-good-vibes venue—that has not been the fate for one barn in Potter County’s Bingham Township. And while he can’t account for the origins of quite all of the boards and beams and stones at Moon’s Big Red Barn, John Moon can tell you where just about all of them came from. Talk about a labor of love. “We [he and his wife, Vicki] wanted to keep as much of the original as we could,” says John. “Would you like a tour?” You bet. He shares some history as we wander about. The barn was built sometime around 1860 after Robert Rowley and Betsy Monroe 26

were married. In the ensuing years, it’s changed hands and usage a few times. It’s been a dairy barn, a hay barn, and a barn for young stock. For the past fifty or so years, Vicki’s family had farmed the land; her parents, Anna and Bill Van Etten, gifted the barn and some acreage to their daughter and son-in-law several years ago. Vicki’s brother was still farming and they let him use the barn for livestock and hay storage. When her brother retired, the couple decided to “do something” with the barn, which is just behind their own house, also a family heirloom. Then… John, who retired in 2018 after twentyfive years of owning and operating Moon’s Farm and Yard in Ulysses, says he and Vicki realized the structure needed a bit of TLC. And, as with so many building projects, one thing just led to another.

“We did some work on the barn…” John says with a grin and just a hint of “oh, if we’d only known then what we know now” in his voice. Initially they were just going to fix a section of leaky roof. Then they noticed a few other things here and there that needed attention. Then they started really looking at the space and thinking, gee, this would make a nice area for us to have get-togethers—kind of a giant party room. Finally there came the ah-ha moment (though I didn’t actually hear anybody own up to being the first to have that thought): We could turn this into a venue! Followed by those famous last words: It wouldn’t take much. Regardless of who takes the “credit” for the decision to repurpose the historic structure, the outcome has been spectacular. As is typical for a barn—regardless of its See Moon on page 28


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Gayle Morrow

Moon continued from page 26

Gayle Morrow

Courtesy Moons’ Big Red Barn

use—there are several ways for people to get in and out. At the Big Red Barn, the main entrance opens via an extensive screened-in area (which was home to cows once upon a time) into a bright and airy room with five hand-crafted high-tops perfect for leaning on and looking at the view during a lull in conversation, and a counter just waiting for trays of hors-d’oeuvres. They’re all John’s creations, made with live-edge wood from the property and finished with an epoxy so shiny you can see yourself in it. When it’s night, the twinkle lights wrapped everywhere, around all the posts and beams and strung from all the rafters, reflect on the surface, too. From there the bar—complete with a great railing to rest your foot on, making you feel right at home, even without a drink in your hand—is just a few steps away. Down the hall from the bar are the spacious restrooms, with the ladies’ version being large enough and light enough to serve as a space for brides and their attendants to change their clothes or take care of a make-up re-do in the event of a (sigh) particularly emotional ceremony. The pièce de résistance of Moon’s Big Red Barn is the dining/ dancing area. John recalls with a chuckle that he and Vicki were “taking hay out of here in January and February of 2019.” You’d never know it. Though the space has retained its “barn-ness”—with its high, open ceiling, exposed rafters, and old wooden ladders up into the loft (now transformed into a cozy nook)—it is warm and inviting. If you’re the caterer, you will appreciate the new kitchen. It’s “cold,” which means there is no stove or oven (for liability and insurance reasons), but there is an abundance of Moon over...Potter counter space, two big refrigerators, plenty of electrical County: John outlets, and a handy exterior door that lets you back Moon (top) has your catering truck or trailer practically into the room, transformed his thereby making unloading a breeze. old hay barn into The grounds are pretty special, too, and a rustic venue that beautifully maintained. John says that before one of seats 150 with the events hosted here over the summer, he spent eight additional seating hours mowing. That kind of loving attention to detail outside. is evident everywhere. There is a rebuilt stone wall and an old railroad trestle that both provide a nice backdrop for photos, lots of yard space in case you need a place to turn the little ones loose or want to run around yourself, plenty of parking, and a firepit. There is seating inside for 150, and more seating options outside. This was to have been the debut summer for the Barn, but COVID-19 put a damper on things. The inaugural event turned out to be an “adult prom,” a dress-up, BYOB, ticketed evening. “That was our first big test,” John says. It was evidently successful. When Jessica Eskesen, John and Vicki’s daughter and the Barn’s de-facto event/wedding planner, was asked if there were any photos of the evening that might accompany this story, she admitted that everyone was having such a great time that nobody took any pictures. There are four weddings booked for October, and John says he hopes to be able to have an open house next year. “We’re hoping to keep it used, and in the family,” he says. With all the love and history here, who wouldn’t want to tie the knot in a place like this? Find Moon’s Big Red Barn at 453 Rowley Road, just off Route 49 between Westfield and Ulysses. Call (814) 203-8232 or visit Moon’s Big Red Barn on Facebook. 28


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Courtesy Robin Gaige The ring, please: Robin Gaige (with microphone) gave up wedding planning and became a minister so she could engage in her favorite part—the day itself.

EnGaiged and Then Married Painted Post’s Minister Robin Gaige Makes It Official By Karey Solomon

P

lanning her daughter’s wedding took fourteen months, but the results were worth it. “It was the most perfect, spectacular wedding,” Minister Robin Gaige says a decade later. The experience inspired her to take online courses and get into wedding planning full time. It’s a complicated job, requiring the planner to know the best venues, photographers, bakeries, florists, and more—all in a variety of rural locales and all while soothing nervous brides and about-to-be-in-laws. She says she learned that “it’s a lot of fun,” but that “I like the actual day of the wedding best.” So, she continues, “after five years as a wedding planner, I decided to get ordained online with the Universal Life Church. You have to take their course and

30

it’s a long vetting process.” At the end of it, Robin was officially a minister, qualified to perform weddings, and officiate at funerals and baptisms too (though she’s never been asked to do either). Most important, she’s legally able to perform a wedding and sign the marriage certificate, allowing her to concentrate on what she loves best. When clients reach out, she typically meets with them several times. The first meeting is a getting-to-know-each-other time when she listens to what the couple wants. Some want to write their own vows or add a personal touch to traditional ones. She’s seen lovely personal vows people have written to each other. At the heart of most is the promise: “I’ll love you forever.” “Some are not religious. Other people

want a more lavish service involving their personal beliefs and feelings. Everyone’s different and everyone has different beliefs, so I adapt the service to whatever people want,” she muses. “I’ve done same sex weddings, some where people don’t want to say any vows at all—they just want to get things over with and be married! Others last forty-five minutes because they want to involve family or personal rituals.” Eventually, the service is crafted, and they’ll meet again to fine tune it. Then there’s the rehearsal and the ceremony— and her job is done. “It’s kind of the fun of wedding planning without all the angst,” she says. Some weddings have been more enjoyable for her than others. At one


wedding, the couple’s child was their ring-bearer. At another, an older couple’s wedding, there was a Halloween theme and guests were encouraged to come in costume. Robin was told she too was required to wear a costume, which posed a bit of a dilemma for her, as Halloween is not her favorite holiday. “That was actually the very first wedding I performed,” she says. “It was a huge wedding, very open and relaxed; they didn’t want any sentimentality. They just wanted to get it over with and party, so they didn’t want to dawdle over the necessary part.” Although she tried to avoid a costume, the couple was insistent. “I got a Groucho nose, glasses, and moustache and wore it with my pink suit and everyone was happy. “I’m a very openminded person, ‘Live and let live is my motto,’” she continues. “We don’t get into a long bit about what their beliefs are—there’s no judgement here. You should do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. People who want to be together and cement it in a marriage ceremony— God bless them, I’m happy to do it.” Robin confesses to tears of joy last June when she officiated at the wedding of her nephew and his bride. “I was thrilled,” she says. Because the bride is a professional event planner, she adds, it was probably the largest and most elaborate wedding she’d been part of. “It turned out to be perfection,” she says. Robin, who has been married to the love of her life for fortyfour years, notes that, “I’m very happy marriage seems to mean more than it did a few years ago. I’m so pleased by the number of people who seek out the sanctity of marriage and have a ceremony to affirm that commitment. It’s heartwarming.” In this current, not-so-usual wedding season, she’s also anticipating the prospect of some much smaller ceremonies, as 2020 has become a time when large gatherings are not for everyone. Robin recognizes, though, that, “Love does not stand still.” Thus, for anyone who wants to simply get married, she’s offering her services free of charge through the end of October “to any couples who have had to postpone their formal wedding ceremonies because of travel bans or other reasons. If you want to get married in a simpler ceremony, it is an easy thing to maintain safe social distance and still tie the knot. It may be just you, your love, and me as officiant in the room, but you will be officially married.” And after all, that’s what it’s all about—the party can come later! So far, she reports, she hasn’t had any takers, but as she says, “These times have been terrible for all of us, so anything any of us can do to make things better…” In more business-as-usual times, Robin is invited to stay for the reception, and, if she knows the couple well, she does. Because, in addition to the good feeling of seeing two people who love each other formally joined in the eyes of the world, there’s another, never-to-be-overlooked source of good feelings at weddings large or small, whenever and wherever they occur. With a smile in her voice she says happily, “One of the perks is, there’s always cake!” You can find Minister Robin Gaige on Facebook, at (607) 368-9998, and at 10263 Bennett Road, Painted Post. Karey Solomon is a freelance writer and needlework designer who teaches internationally.

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Courtesy Roger Wright

Inn on Quarry Glen

Yesterday and Today Merge at Towanda Venue By Maggie Barnes

“N

ice day for a wedding,” Roger Wright comments. And it is. Comfortably warm without any humidity, bit of a breeze, and the setting can’t be beat. The Inn on Quarry Glen is one of those places that can make a bride feel as though her wedding is the only thing happening in the world. Set back from Sheshequin Road in Towanda, the Inn is a unique venue for reunions, showers, anniversary parties, church retreats, corporate gatherings, and those all-important weddings. “Our motto is, ‘Feel like you’re miles from anywhere, when you’re minutes from everything.’ That’s how we want our guests to feel,” Roger says. There is no traffic, no road noise. Such isolation is achieved by the

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four and half acres of woods and creek that surround the Inn itself. Built in 1894 as a men’s social club, the building retains much of its charm, thanks to the efforts of Roger and his wife Shawna, and the handful of owners who came before them. “Hardwood floors, wainscoting, farm sinks, leaded glass, a claw foot tub…we wanted to keep the historical feel to the place, but offer the conveniences needed for events,” he says. A commercial kitchen, a heating system, and tons of parking all help in pulling off a modern day happening. And before you can say, “Claw foot tub?” that is the really different thing about the Inn. The second floor offers seven bedrooms, including a bridal suite, and five bathrooms. Much of

the furniture is original, giving the whole place a romantic, timeless feel. There are both solid and screen doors on the bedrooms, harkening back to a time before air conditioning. When you reserve the Inn for an event, it’s yours from noon on Friday to noon on Sunday. Very often, Roger says, the bridal party will come for the weekend, hosting the rehearsal on Friday, the wedding on Saturday, and a final breakfast on Sunday. “It’s great for families. If there are kids, you have a quiet place to take them. The ladies can get ready upstairs, while we have a room down here for the men. The bride can make her entrance down a wide, hardwood staircase. That is quite a moment,” Roger reflects. The second floor hallway is open, so folks looking for a break from the action


(3) Courtesy Roger Wright

can still watch the dance floor below. If an outdoor ceremony is desired, there is a large, level lawn out back, reachable by a charming bridge over the Quarry Glen Creek. There’s a wooden booth for handing out the favors, or for using as a bar or a cute spot for photos. A fire pit offers a shaded hangout. Under a flowering tree, which Roger is so glad he didn’t cut down, is a bench perfectly sized for two. Often the bride’s father will build an archway for the ceremony, which then takes an honored spot in their home yard. Roger and Shawna had been thinking of going into the venue business after Roger’s retirement from DuPont. When their daughter was planning her wedding, the family visited the Quarry. Things clicked. They told the owners that if they ever considered selling, call. Two years later, they did. Almost immediately, the Wrights faced a significant challenge. That creek, which is so The Inn crowd: Roger lovely when flowing sweetly beside the Inn, Wright (top) offers guests a historic setting with turned into a raging torrent after three inches modern conveniences of rain in an hour. The resulting flood ruined and guides couples to
a the back lawn and roared underneath the Inn, day of rainbows and wiping out the parking lot. Not to be deterred, unicorns. the Wrights used the mishap as an opportunity to upgrade the grounds. While floods are somewhat expected, COVID-19 caught the world by surprise. “Everything stopped for a while,” Roger remembers. Weddings were either downsized to meet the governmental restrictions, or postponed. The Wrights worked on the grounds and waited for things to re-open. It is a good thing that couples wanting to marry are harbingers of optimism, because now the calendar is booking up again. Roger’s standing offer to his clients is, “Don’t buy something until you check with me. We might have it.” That includes place settings for 200. The patterns and styles of the plates are different, which Roger says is called shabby chic. “I didn’t know that,” he smiles, while gazing in the tall kitchen cabinets. “I thought it was just a hodge-podge, but brides love it.” There is a cache of decorations for anyone’s use. Twinkle lights are strung all over. There is a spray of greenery above the fireplace. But the most valuable thing Roger offers is guidance and reassurance. “I can usually find the most organized person in the family to show around the Inn and explain things to. I don’t bother the bride and groom with that stuff. For them the day should be rainbows and unicorns…no stress. Though I do razz the grooms sometimes.” The Wrights are minutes away if anything should go awry. And while the upkeep of a 126-year old inn is enough to keep any handyman busy, Roger and Shawna have some improvements in mind, like more landscaping, driveway enhancements, a small kid’s play area, and a possible gazebo for those photos meant to last a lifetime. To hold an event at the Inn on Quarry Glen is to claim an undisturbed piece of the world as your own for the weekend. What more could a couple ask for? The Inn can accommodate events from 50 to 225 people. For full information, and to schedule a tour, call (570) 637-6178 or (570) 250-1758. Visit innonquarryglen.com or follow them on Facebook. Maggie Barnes has won several IRMAs and Keystone Press Awards. She lives in Waverly, New York.

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Karey Solomon

Savoring the flavors: Linda Bancroft and Randy Smith serve great brews and local meats on NY State Route 96.

The Best of the Wurst

Brews and Brats Brings Germany to Trumansburg By Karey Solomon

S

urrounded on three sides by fields of soybeans, this rural landscape, at 9632 New York State Route 96, in Trumansburg, is the perfect setting for Brews and Brats. Inside a building, unassuming from the outside, is a German-style restaurant featuring locally-brewed beverages and bratwurst made nearby from farm-raised meat. The parking lot on the eatery’s fourth side is filled with cars belonging to regular customers as well as some discovering it for the first time, judging by the number of outof-state license plates. Big Band music at low volume offers a background to laughter and conversation. “Hear that?” asks Randy Smith. Until he asks, the music is simply part of the atmosphere. “People love it. A friend said to me, ‘why do people go out?’ It’s for something they don’t have at home.” Six years ago when Randy Smith and Linda Bancroft opened Wrap It Up Gifts, they focused on a unique range of artisanship. They also began thinking of adding an eatery.

34

The property, with a view so compelling each fall they named it Autumn View, had once been a restaurant. The gift shop took up only part of the space. They decided to add a small café serving sandwiches and breakfast items, but they were hoping for a full-service eatery in the adjoining space. After several attempts to interest other foodies in renting the space to open one, they decided in 2017 to open one themselves. Its success squeezed out the gift shop. Randy had previously worked as a paramedic and was completing a degree in nursing when a long-awaited knee replacement went bad. He tried a second knee-replacement on that side; when it also failed, his leg was amputated. It ended his nursing career, but the optimistic Randy decided to put other talents to use. A gifted woodworker, he crafted the décor of the gift shop, created a lot of the merchandise, and ran the café. The café experience gave him the confidence to know he could tackle a larger restaurant project.

He applied for an alcohol license, started tasting beers and bratwursts, and stopped once he tasted those made in Romulus by Schrader Farms Meat Market, a processor of locally-raised meat. “Once I tasted those, I was totally hooked,” he says. These days, Schrader’s creates a line of bratwurst specifically for Randy. And yes, he’s considered brewing his own beer, too—but he’s not quite ready to start that project. The bratwurst here are more-than-footlong, savory sausages, way too large for a bun, and Randy says they come out of his radiant char-broilers bursting with flavor. Add some “currywurst” seasoning—a German tradition Randy learned to replicate—and a helping of Linda’s homemade German potato salad or “OMG Baked Beans,” and customers like Aaron Butler, from nearby Interlaken, and a group of area women enjoying a sisters’ luncheon keep coming back for more. Aaron says he fell in love with German food on a trip to Germany in 2007. He’s See Brats on page 37


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CORNING’S GAFFER Brats continued from page 34

enthusiastic about Beers and Brats, particularly about the juicy brat he’s enjoying at the moment. “There aren’t a lot of German food options around,” he says. “And if there were, I wouldn’t go to them. This is the best!” Running a restaurant based on locally-sourced brews and foods means making a lot of food from scratch. For Linda and Randy, a typical day begins at 5 a.m. There are uncounted small details as well as large ones. Randy notes the restaurant easily goes through ten gallons of sauerkraut each week. Making sauerkraut has become his specialty, as the German potato salad from a family recipe and baked beans have become Linda’s. “Things are crazy-busy here,” Randy says. “From 2018 to 2019 our sales increased 148 percent.” And this year? Despite the challenges of 2020, “This year will blow that one out of the water.” They maintain the grounds themselves—there’s room outside for 150 diners at well-spaced picnic tables and on the lawn. Randy built two outdoor stages (and one indoors), where local bands perform on Friday and Saturday evenings. The outdoor décor is as carefully built and curated as the indoor atmosphere of rural and lakeside ambiance. Mini telephone poles (also Randy-constructed), topped by vintage insulators he’s collected over the years, rim the property perimeter. His elaborate birdhouses are seen here and there; inside are small touches of craftsmanship, any direction you look. As for the food, think holiday dinner for a large family with diverse individual tastes. “I enjoy having people come in here for homecooked food,” Linda says. “I love to cook and love to bake. It’s like Thanksgiving every day.” She recently retired from a thirty-oneyear career in nursing, most recently as a dialysis nurse. “I thought I was working hard before,” she notes. “I’m working more now!” The food at Brews and Brats includes options for those who want something different from the fare promised by their name. Hungry visitors can get pulled pork, vegetarian options, chicken spiedies, gluten-free and alcohol-free beers, wines, and ciders. Randy is usually in the restaurant greeting guests, exchanging cheerful banter, welcoming back regulars. And the friendly theme of a family meal is emphasized in the bar’s “Buy a friend a beer” board. Customers can pre-pay for a beverage for a friend to enjoy on their next visit, and a sticky note goes on the board, waiting to be redeemed. A wait-person strides through the restaurant, arms loaded with packaged brats. “These just came, will they be enough?” “Maybe for today,” Randy says, adding tomorrow’s order to his mental to-do list. A customer with a New York City accent tells him she’s here visiting her daughter, and found herself reminded of a once-favorite haunt in College Point. “We used to go every Sunday, a family outing,” she says nostalgically. “This is our first time here—we’ll be back.” Another customer greets him. “How ya doin’, Randy?” “Amazing, as always,” is his usual reply, accompanied by his thousand-watt smile. How can he describe his outlook as “amazing” when he’s not quite halfway through a sixteen-hour day? “It’s all in the attitude,” he says. Learn more at brewsandbratsatautumnview.com or call (607) 241-8160.

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The Eagles Have Landed

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hen they’re not on the wing, the eagles know they’ve found a good home in Queen Catharine Marsh, a wildlife management area named for the Seneca Indian Queen Catharine Montour. For at least seven years, it’s been home to a pair of American bald eagles, who’ve successfully raised several generations of young birds. Peter Nye, retired from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and formerly in charge of its endangered species program specializing in bald eagles, was instrumental in returning eagles to their former habitat. His efforts began in 1975 when eagles in New York were all but gone. There was only one known pair, but the birds had become too contaminated by DDT (outlawed in the early 1970s) to hatch healthy chicks. “We set about designing what we thought of as a restoration program, to bring young bald eagles into the state into what we thought were good habitats,” Peter says. The trick was to sort of babysit the young birds and get them to feel at home without making them dependent on human help. Being territorial about their hunting and child-raising areas, the eagles as adults paired up and dispersed. Even though Queen Catharine Marsh was not one of the original release areas, a pair made a home there. Watkins Glen birdwatcher Jack Brubaker describes seeing them for the first time as a “happy surprise.” He’s seen them rebuilding their nest, which can weigh several hundred pounds. It’s an annual early winter ritual. Eagles mate for life, which can mean a marriage lasting thirty years. He’s also seen them fishing on the lake, about a mile—as the eagle flies—from their nest. “The open water is good for feeding,” he says. “They like to be able to see what’s around. The marsh was just waiting for eagles to adopt it and move into that area. It’s a nice wetland, lots of food, and limited disturbance—at least until the water treatment plant began.” Peter wrote a mitigation plan for the plant’s construction years, and the eagles seemed to adapt to the disturbance. There’s a viewing tower at the east end of the marsh, but Peter suggests the best observation is from a vehicle, not on foot. “Take Rock Cabin Road, look for a high point, then look west across the creek and you can see the nest,” he says. “Drive up, roll down your window, and take out your binoculars. The minute you get out of your car, they get very concerned. Don’t approach them to cause them to fly. It uses up their energy and causes stress. They’re very sensitive to people on foot.” For Peter, the great satisfaction is helping to restore a part of the area’s ecosystem—though it took nearly forty-five years. “They’re certainly representative of everything that’s healthy and beautiful and majestic in the wild,” Peter says. Learn more at dec.ny.gov/animals. ~ Karey Solomon

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Pleasant Valley continued from page 11

‘champagne’ every other word when I’m near neighbors that can’t,” he says. “So, at my table I’m saying, ‘Champagne…champagne… would you like a glass of New York champagne? Champagne.’ I say it hundreds of time just to tease my neighbors. The same goes for ports and sherries. Great Western is a great name, too.” The People Make It Tick Like most successful businesses that get their verve and vitality from their leaders, the tone for PVWC is set by Mike Doyle. Matthew notes that each day when employees are getting ready to go home, Mike personally thanks all those he sees for their efforts that day. “Who does that?” Matthew asks. “There’s just so much energy here, it’s so exciting,” says Jenny Rethmel, who has poured wines and given tours at PVWC for three years after a seventeen-year career at the hospital in nearby Bath. “I love it, I love meeting people, everyone I work with is great. My favorite thing about this place is definitely the history. I grew up in Hammondsport, then moved away. I lived out west and all over the U.S., but really upstate New York is special, and Keuka Lake especially. It’s a gem. Most people…we all tend to come back because it is just so gorgeous and you don’t appreciate it when you grow up here. But then coming home, well, this is truly home.” Beth Witt, a graduate of the Finger Lakes Community College Viticulture and Wine Technology program, has been the head winemaker for three years. Still using Delaware and Catawba grapes, she also blends in others such as chardonnay, and hybrids like aurore and elvira. “Beth has done such a great job; these wines have never tasted better,” says Matthew. PVWC, through its various brands, produces many other types of wines besides champagne, including fortified ports and sherries, a popular chardonnay/riesling blend, sweet and dry reds and whites, and a sparkling burgundy that is a favorite these days. “It’s kind of interesting to see a young person come in and try a new thing, especially like a port or a sherry,” says Lauren Capluzzi of Bath, who has poured wines for two summers at PVWC while home for the summer from college. “But the champagnes are always the ones where people are like, ‘Wow.’ People just really enjoy the quality.” In addition to the historic structures, PVWC also has new, $4 million high-speed bottling equipment, and a Visitor Center (where most tastings are conducted) that also contains artifacts from 160 years of making wine in the Finger Lakes. So, wrap all that up—incredible architecture, rich history, ties to JFK and baseball, bubbly that’s been called America’s greatest, a few modern updates, and a boss who gets it—and you have Pleasant Valley Wine Company. “Like Mike said, it wasn’t a business decision,” Matthew jokes. “He’s very supportive of the community, he’s like the mayor of the south end of Keuka Lake. It’s an incredible place and it’s only getting better. All of this sets us up for another 100 years because the wines are good, the winery’s got the right story, it’s got loving caretakers, the area is good and popular. I don’t see a downside at all.” Mike Cutillo is a journalist who has been covering the Finger Lakes for thirty-five years. He is bullish on its wine lore and especially how the local industry has exploded in quality over the past three decades.


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B A C K O F T H E M O U N TA I N

Leaf Peeking By Curt Weinhold

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ctober’s cool mornings allow fog to fill Water Tank Hollow in Potter County, four miles south of Cherry Springs on Route 44, Highway to the Stars. Railroad switchbacks, remnants of the Buffalo & Susquehanna railroad, lead into the hollow.

42


LARRY’s

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