Who knew that the Adirondacks was home to so many great alcohol initiatives hey? Not me, and chances are, not you, if you haven’t read my introduction to the Adirondacks post.
There was one day during my week in the Adirondacks that I visited two wineries, a brewery, a cidery and then another brewery on top. It ended with me and the rest of the tour bus singing along to Backstreet Boys on the radio in the tour bus at the top of our voices – yet another great day in my life.
There were a few more boozey visits scattered out through my week so I thought I’d enlighten y’all (so American now) on how the brewers and winemakers of the Adirondacks are creating their own homegrown alcohol scene, well worthy of a visit at the end of a day exploring the New York wilderness.
Amazing Grace Winery, in Chazy
My journey on the Adirondacks wine trail, as it’s known, started at the Amazing Grace Winery in Chazy. The owners, Gilles and Mary Fortin, named it after their granddaughter Grace. They planned to name a wine after each of their offspring’s offspring, but then they started reproducing too quickly making it impossible to keep up. Their Isaiah wine is one of their most popular.
The Amazing Grace Winery had a real homely feel about it. There’s a vineyard, a tasting room, and a restaurant right by her house. The property is a favourite spot for weddings in the area thanks to the finely manicured gardens and cute little photo spots.
During the picking and crushing season they bring in students from the local college to help out, quadrupling the staff count from just her and the husband.
Gilles and Mary hand craft the wine here in small batches, and even design and create the labels themselves too. They run a lot of events year round – the next one up was a wine-fuelled murder mystery night. Shame I couldn’t stick around.
Vesco Ridge Vineyard, in Tupper Lake
Dan’s handmade wines are created in tribute to the small north country vineyards that are increasing in popularity. He served us 15 wines – whites, roses and red – all created on site.
The Sweet Harmony (‘a sweet crisp white wine with hints of fruit’) was so good I really wanted to take a bottle home for my dad, but I just couldn’t trust that it would be in one piece in three weeks time through Canada, Denmark and Spain. I just had to drink a bit more instead, so I could tell him what it was like.
Dan was obviously super passionate about his wines – not wanting us to leave until we’d tried them all – and he also had a range of wine foods too. I had to go back for seconds on the wine chocolate spread. The perfect socially acceptable way to have wine with your breakfast, I thought. He also had wine jelly, which would be perfect with cheese and crackers. And he has wine slushies…
You could see the winery behind the tasting room and the vineyard outside the front. Dan also puts on events, from wine glass painting to yoga with wine. You go along and do yoga on the front veranda overlooking the vineyard, then you’re rewarded for your downward dog efforts with a glass of vino after your Shavasana. Namaste!
Click to find out more about Dan, his vineyard and being an Adirondacks entrepreneur
Paradox Brewery, at Schroon Lake
Paradox Brewery opened especially for us, on a Monday which is the only day they close. So of course I’m very grateful to them for that. This was a cool brewery in Schroon Lake with many of their beers named after their mascot Beaver. Beaver Bite, Beaver Overbite, Beaver Underbite – we tried them all in a tasting ‘flight’. I only learnt that that’s what these ‘trays’ are called last week – the word ‘flight’ is definitely one of my favourites for many reasons.
Another reason to love the Paradox Brewery is for the pretzels they serve. Absolutely delicious. You can see one peeking at the bottom of that photo above. They were all doughy, with big chunks of salt on the top. I promised myself just a bite, as we were going for dinner after, but of course ended up scoffing the whole thing. Too good to waste. I ate a lot of pretzels in my week in the Adirondacks and the ones from the Paradox Brewery were definitely my favourite.
Unfortunately it was raining while we were there but we were cosy under the tented tarpaulin out the front. I’d love to come back here for the special events – fun staff and a great spot for a beer in the sun.
Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Lake Placid
I went to the Lake Placid Pub for dinner while I was staying at Hotel North Woods just up the road. I went for the zucchini noodles and chicken. I needed something light after a day of boozing, it also left more space to try the Pacific Jade Ale.
The Lake Placid brewery makes so much beer – 1500 barrels a year – it’s in the top 7% of breweries in the US. Pretty good for a brewery in a town of 2,800 people. Sadly, after all I’d had to drink that day I only managed one pint. Next time.
Raquette River Brewing
The owner of Raquette River Brewing, Mark, inspired me enough to write about him in my entrepreneurs of the Adirondacks post, but I definitely need to include him and his beer again here. With ‘Orange Coriander Wheat’ and ‘Strawberry Cilantro Wheat’ on the menu, a tasting flight here is too much of an opportunity to miss.
The beer here is handcrafted and made in small batches to ensure the quality is to Mark’s standard. If a flight isn’t enough for you, like all breweries listed here, you can bring in a ‘growler’ which is a half gallon glass bottle they’ll refill for you to take home your favourite. I love this idea – never seen it before. Means you can have all the joy of a craft beer at home, save on cans / bottles and still pop in your local to say hello.
Elfs Farm Winery and Cidermill
There was such a cool vibe in Elfs Farm, I’d recommend you leave this one until the end of the day so you can spend the night there. The owner Tom, who literally sees the world through rose tinted glasses, thanks to his eye wear selection, is awesome and a real character to chat to.
The Cidery is family run and he introduced me to all his kids, his daughter does the social media and works the bar, as does his son Sean. I think he was trying to will the cork out with his brain skills, Matilda style.
They make old fashioned fresh apple cider using an antique rack and a cloth hydraulic apple press. I actually went off cider a while ago but the ciders here were something else. You could really taste the sharpness of the apples and feel the quality on your tongue. I tried a few, but it was the flagship ADK one that was my favourite and I ended up buying 6 for $12. We promptly drank two between us in the car on the way back. Then I drank one on the final day, and I have three to take to my friends, if they make it two more weeks.
Elf’s Farm also has red, white and fruit wines. The semi-dry riesling above was great, but it was the one in the blue bottle that I would’ve liked to spend the evening with. You’ll have to go to find out which one that was, I’d obviously had too much to be able to operate my camera. No pics.
How to get round them all
There are a few initiatives for wine tours and brew buses on the Adirondacks Wine Trail but not a regular service as yet. Keep an eye out on locally and with a Google search for the special wine trail events, like this one, otherwise you’re either just going to have to make good friends with a tee-totaller, or nominate a daily Des. Or, keep an eye out for my accommodation recommendations coming up so you can just walk home.
More on the Adirondacks