We took a trip down to the Finger Lakes wine region yesterday to enjoy a wine tasting (and buying) experience. We chose the route along Seneca Lake, which is my favorite. It starts in the quaint little city of Geneva and snakes on down all the way to the magnificent city of Watkins Glen at the opposite end of the lake. We feel extraordinarily lucky to have this wine country gem of gems in our rhetorical backyard, and unfortunately only visit every couple of years.
The Finger Lakes area is full of life, lore, and of course, wine. It is a mecca for Amish and Mennonites who maintain pristine homesteads and whose horse and buggies go clop-clop-clop on all roads as their mode of transportation. The lake itself is rumored to be bottomless because its murky, mushy bottom supposedly precludes the presence of finding a solid bottom.
There is the Seneca Army Depot – an abandoned military installation that was once home to the country’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. Another abandoned, and scary facility is the old Willard Psychiatric Hospital. With its Gothic exterior it does not welcome explorers.
The area is also rife with rumors and tales of its Native American original inhabitants that remain haunting and delighting visitors today.
But the real jewel of our visit to the wineries yesterday was our stop in a small, comfy, family-owned Prejean winery where we were served by the husband-and-wife owners. All of their wines were excellent, but one in particular was outstanding – both the wine and the story behind it.
The name of the wine is Bosun’s Mate, and here is its story.
In World War II, the original owner of the winery, and father of the current owner, fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal. He was injured, covered with shrapnel, and partially paralyzed. The bosun on the ship fastened an empty barrel to him and tossed him overboard to save him, as the ship was sinking. He survived, but he could never find out what happened to the bosun who saved his life. Today the owners hope to somehow locate the bosun’s family and present them with a bottle (or more) of their Bosun’s Mate wine, a delicious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It blew us away with its characteristics of smoothness with berry and cocoa aromas and flavors.
There are many wonderful wineries in the Finger Lakes region, but if you want to combine your tasting with delightful homegrown stories, do make Prejean a required stop on your itinerary. Our next stop will be to return and learn the story of the name, Prejean!