Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Day After Yesterday

It's 6:41 in the morning. I'm on a plane to Philadelphia, with the ability to access my portable electronic devices. That means we're at least 10,000 feet up. That means we've been taxi-ing (taxying?), boarding, herding through security, walking miles from crappy parking spaces, and driving across the universally-expanding urban sprawl that is metro Atlanta. When your home city has one airport, and it's consistently the world's busiest, you have to wake up early. In order to be in the air, writing to you at 6:41 (now 6:45) in the AM, I had to roll out of my cozy, amniotic sac of a bed at 3:30 AM. I'm off to work, and I'm pretty sure Lindsay Lohan is just settling into her first line of coke for the evening.

Oh, and thanks a lot, smelly old lady in front of me for smacking me in the head when you slammed your seat into recline (before the allowable altitude, no doubt). Aren't you supposed to be up at this hour anyway, complaining about the price of coffee at the local Burger King?

I suppose if it's not evident from the tone of this post, I'm not an eternally cheerful morning person. Worse, I'm trying to force my square DNA into a round hole and become one. That's why I requested the 6 AM flight for my business meeting today. What the hell was I thinking?!

Alas, all is not exasperating. My final destination is not Philadelphia. I'm connecting there and heading to Binghamton, NY, a little town an hour or so south of Syracuse, made famous by IBM, Endicott Johnson, carousel horses, and extremely disgruntled Vietnamese ex-pats. Not a bad place, but no Las Vegas. To it's credit, Binghamton sits just southeast of the Finger Lakes, which is one of the most notable wine regions in the States. However, unless you live in New York or are a bit of a wine nerd, the American Viticultural Areas of the Empire State are often of little notoriety.

I see wine progression in novices occur this way (at least it's how things happened for me): I became familiar with the wines of California, then Oregon (because it's a hot-bed of Pinot Noir, the grape thrust into the limelight by 2004's Sideways). Then Washington State, covering the west coast, aka (incorrectly), the "only places to get good U.S. wine". What many may not realize is that New York bests Oregon in overall wine production. In fact, New York sometimes beats out Washington as the #2 producer in the nation.

photo courtesy of

Granted, the climates and micro-climates of Nueva York (I'm running out of aliases) are vastly different from the west coast, so you don't see incredible success with grapes like Syrah or Sauvignon Blanc. What is creeping up the trellises is Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, noteworthy Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Noir in the Finger Lakes region, near Lake Erie, in the Hudson River Valley, and on Long Island. Also, lots of vitis labrusca- namely Concord, American hybrids like Catawba and Niagara, and French-American hybrids like Seyval and Vidal Blanc- abound.

From what I've gathered, the wines of the Finger Lakes region are among the finest of New York. Sadly, distribution, well, sucks in my hometown (and we're not talking about a one-horse town here). Even at the largest and most well-stocked wine shops, I often only see one or two bottles hidden away in the dusty corners of the stores, cavorting with other un-marketable bottles like Carolina muscadine and the wines of Ed Hardy.

So, optimism abounds. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get to finagle a few tastes of the local. It would be another opportunity to expand my palate, and hopefully- provided the juice is worthy- to start a little grassroots movement to get more access to these wines.

At the very least, the experience would soften the blow of the early morning, the airport hassle, the drink lady's lack of juice or anything with caffeine AND sugar in it, the smelly old lady who has me crammed in this seat like Rush Limbaugh in hot pants, and the guy next to me who's suddenly decided to play footsie with me in his sleep. Raise your glass to air travel...or your middle finger.

blog comments powered by Disqus