Wine Country in the Fall

Wine tasting at Eveningside Vineyards

The fall and winter is a quiet time in wine country which makes it a very good time for a visit. Cooler weather transforms the region below the Escarpment from exuberant summer splendor to a moodier hue. The wine growing region in Niagara County, NY is at its peak with fall colors in October and this time of year is one of the most popular times to visit with the fall foliage being some of the most gorgeous in the country.

Beat the back to work and school blues with weekends on the Niagara Wine Trail, the fastest growing wine trail in the country and home to award winning wineries.

Rolling hills with dotted rows of colorful vines, clusters of succulent grapes, and old barns in the area, make this region picturesque wine country. Vibrant red, amber and gold grape leaves shimmer on a sunny fall day, while Maple trees dot the landscape in the distance in their splendid fall glory. Days are warm, skies are blue and the floor in crunchy with leaves underfoot.

Sample award winning Niagara wines and tour charming wineries, meet the wine makers and visit their barrel rooms.

Folks dressed for the part during Hallowine at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery

At a recent Niagara Wine Trail event, many came out in their Halloween glory to taste what the area has to offer. At Eveningside Vineyards it was a real treat to try their 2011 Pinot Noir, with aromas of dried flowers and cinnamon on the nose and black cherry on the palate; and leaving on a high note with their 2010 Claret, a blend a Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc. Savory notes of provincial herbs coupled with raspberry.

Victorianbourg Wine Estate has some sweet wine selections. Their Pechette is a delightful chardonnay infused with white peaches. This soft wine is enhanced with a touch of effervescence, making it a perfect cocktail or refresher on a warm fall afternoon. Get ready for the chilly months with their Vika Verzay, the perfect winter drink. Always served hot, this unusual white spiced wine traditionally warms vineyard workers or campers on chilly nights. To prepare, pour it in a cup and heat in a microwave for 25 to 30 seconds.

Baked cheese over onions and croutons

A day on the Niagara Wine Trail isn’t complete without stopping for a bite to eat. Mariner’s Landing (1540 Franklin Street  Olcott, NY 14126, 716- 778-5535) is located in the Lake Region and serves delicious steaks, seafood and American fare. Enjoy a cup or bowl of their homemade French Onion soup as you  sit in an appropriate nautical setting or on the deck overlooking Lake Ontario. They also serve local wines.

For more information about the Niagara Wine Trail visit

Pit Stop Got Sauce

Venturing to or from Ellicottville, NY this winter, ski bunnies do not need to rely on the bustling eateries or overpriced brews in the Main St. area. The unassuming Smokin’ Tom’s B-B-Q and Sue Z’s Pies on Rt. 219 is serving some of the best smoked meat around. Rack of ribs, smoked pork, chicken and smoked beef brisket (as a dinner or sandwich) are perfect choices to fill grumbling stomachs after a day on the slopes.

The Beef Brisket is smoked to perfection and then sliced fresh. On a fluffy bun, it’s a savory winter meal. Be sure to pair it with homemade apple sauce. This homestyle treat, chunky farm-fresh apples and just the right amount of cinnamon, is a great match for the smokey sweetness in the BBQ sauce. There is also perfectly pickled sauerkraut and crisp Sweet Potato Fries to choose from. Tom and Sue also know their condiments. There is honey on every table for the fries.

Eat-in or take it to go, Smokin’ Tom’s B-B-Q and Sue Z’s Pies is open year-round and they also cater. Their winter hours are 11 am – 8 pm Friday – Sunday. Call 716-592-7137 or visit

Take a bite out of New York

The Empire State. It’s known for wine, a Wonder of the World, and during this time of year: apples. From Lake Erie to the Hudson River, apple festivals and apple picking dot the landscape and dominate New Yorkers’ calendars. Whether families travel to Becker Farm for hayrides, apple picking and more in Niagara USA or enjoy quaint towns closer to the city, there’s something for everyone to enjoy statewide.

Looking for what to do after the bushels come home? There’s plenty side dishes and drinks that will warm the hearth and palates this fall.

Recipes courtesy of New York Apple Country


Gala Apple Slaw

 2 cups shredded cabbage

2 medium New York State Gala Apples, unpeeled, cored and diced

1 can (16 oz) crushed pineapple, drained

½ cup fat-free mayonnaise


Mix cabbage, apples and crushed pineapple with mayonnaise in a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Serves 6

Apple Smoothie

2 cups applesauce

1 cup New York State Apple Cider

1 cup cranberry or orange juice

2 tbsp honey

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cinnamon


Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately or serve chilled.

Makes 2 servings

Cider Baked Apples

6 New York State Apples (Jonagold, Crispin or Cortland) cored and quartered

1 cup New York State Apple Cider

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup granola breakfast cereal


Place apples in a casserole dish. Pour cider over apples and lightly sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover casserole and bake at 350 degrees until apples are soft. Sprinkle cereal over the apples immediately before serving so it stays crunchy.

Makes 6 servings

*Remember to shake well before serving and keep cider refrigerated at all times.


Maple Applesauce

2 large New York State McIntosh Apples, peeled, cored and diced

2 tsp butter

½ cup pure New York State Maple Syrup

1/8-cup dark corn syrup or 1/8-cup New York State granulated maple syrup

Dash of salt


Melt butter in a nonstick skilled over medium-high heat. Add apples and sauté until just brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add maple and corn syrup, (for maple sugar), to apples and stir gently. Let cook another 2 to three minutes or until mixture thickens. Serve with Apple Pancakes.

Serves 4