Next weekend the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail will be hosting Mardi Gras weekend. Get ready for food, wine, and of course - beads! (Enter to win tickets to Mardi Gras! We're giving away 15 pair - good luck!)  I had the chance to catch up with Cathy Millspaugh (Cayuga Cathy!) the trail's executive director.  She filled me in on all the exciting events like Mardi Gras, deals to take advantage of, and some history of the trail.  Check out the Q&A below as well as the live interview in the YouTube link. 



 
  1. The Cayuga Wine Trail is the oldest wine trail in the country, tell us a brief history about how it got started.

Mary Plane, of Plane's Cayuga Vineyards (now called Cayuga Ridge Estates), looked at her empty parking lot and knew, if her fledgling winery was to succeed, she needed to fill it. What could she do to entice people to visit? Would people come if there were more to do, more to see? Thus began Mary's vision of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. In 1981 there were four small new wineries: Plane's (now Cayuga Ridge Estate) Lucas, Americana, and Frontenac but four unknown wineries weren't enough of a draw. They would meet in each others kitchens and discuss what to do next thus the beginnings of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.  With solicited participation from other attractions along and near route 89 in 1983 the first brochure was published and audacious – an anonymous quote- “The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail offers a variety that is unmatched in wine touring and tasting... No where else will travelers experience such a multitude of premium wines, attractions, comfortable lodging, fine restaurants, friendly people, and splendid scenery."  A bit overstated then, but coming to fruition now.

 

 

 

  1. We know there’s wine on the wine trail, but we hear there are other things to enjoy as well, tell us more!
 
One of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail members Bellwether Hard Cider, produces Hard Cider as their main product, a new “old” beverage that once reigned as our nation’s most popular drink.  They use a wide variety of Upstate New York apples to produce a range of carefully handcrafted, premium ciders.  These ciders range from extremely dry Champagne-style ciders, to a semi-dry non-sparkling ciders made with traditional English and French cider apples and classic Upstate varieties.
 
Besides the cidery, the trail has 4 distilleries within the wineries Knapp Winery, Montezuma Winery, Six Mile Creek Vineyard and Swedish Hill Vineyard. Montezuma Winery uses a very impressive German Christian Carl column pot still that stands over 24 feet tall and 15 feet wide and makes their distilled products from honey. The other three wineries use a pot still and produce their products from grapes. Additionally Montezuma Winery produces mead products made from honey.
 
 
  1. There are four wine trail events that take place throughout the year, can you give us a brief description of each event and where to get tickets?
 
 
10TH ANNUAL MARDI GRAS
                                               
February 18-19
Saturday & Sunday 10:00AM-5:00PM
 
Celebrate with us by attending our 10thAnniversary Mardi Gras event along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail by receiving a specialty anniversary set of beads.  Experience the frivolity as you go from winery to winery receiving other Mardi Gras Beads, a chance to pick the lucky coin for instant prizes plus participate in a scavenger hunt for a sampler case of fine wines from the trail. 
 
At your starting point winery you’ll receive a wine glass, wine and food pairings and recipe cards at each winery plus those incredible beads.
 
Make sure to hand in your ticket to be eligible to win one of our Grand Prizes from the Country Inn & Suites in Ithaca, Holiday Inn in Auburn, Inn at the Finger Lakes in Auburn, Maxie’s Supper Club and Oyster Bar and Metropolitan Limousine.
 
Advance ticket: $25.00 per person plus handling fee and sales tax
Designated Driver tickets: $20.00 per person plus handling fee and sales tax
At the door: $30.00 plus sales tax.
 
“Say Cheese & More”
                                     
March 24-25 Saturday & Sunday 10:00am -5:00pm
 
Savor the spectacular tastes of artisan cheese and fine wines along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. Receive a wine glass and wine tote bag at your first starting point winery and travel along the trail to experience those creamy sensations paired with our fine wines. We’re hosting again a special “Say Cheese” photo contest so make sure to take all your favorite photos over the weekend and enter them via facebook or email. The winner will take home a Specialty Gift Basket from our local Creameries and Wineries.
 
Participants are eligible to win one of our Grand Prizes from: Cobtree Vacation Rental Resort,Finger Lakes Bed and Breakfast Association, Homewood Suites in Ithaca and LaTourelle Resort & Spa in Ithaca.
 
Advance tickets: $20.00 per person plus handling fee and sales tax
Designated Driver tickets: $15.00 per person plus handling fee and sales tax.
At the door $25.00 plus sales tax. Order early this event sells out fast!!
 
 
20TH ANNUAL WINE & HERB FESTIVAL  
 
April 27-29 or May 4-6
Friday, 1:00PM-5:00PM
Saturday & Sunday 10:00AM-6:00PM
Build your garden by planting herbs and edible flowers this coming spring when you visit us along the trail for our annual Wine & Herb Festival. This year join us as we celebrate 20 years of our most popular event. Here you’ll receive a commemorative token gift, a potted herb plant from each winery, a souvenir wine glass plus recipe cards as you savor herb prepared delicacies.
Visit only Six Mile Creek, Long Point, King Ferry or Montezuma wineries on Friday afternoon to start your weekend plans early. On Saturday visit King Ferry and Long Point wineries at a special time, 9:00am. Visit all 16 wineries on Saturday and Sunday.
Participants are eligible to win one of our Grand Prizes from: Courtyard by Marriott in Ithaca, Experience! The Finger Lakes, Kidders Landing,  Mirbeau Inn & Spa and Rogue’s Harbor Inn.
 
Advance: Single ticket, $35.00, Couple ticket $50.00 per person plus handling fee and sales tax
DD ticket: Single ticket, $30.00, Couple ticket$45.00 per person plus handling fee and sales tax
At the door: Single ticket, $40.00, Couple ticket, $55.00 plus sales tax.
 
 
19TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY SHOPPING SPREE                    
 
November 16-18
November 30-December 2
Friday, 1:00PM-5:00PM
Saturday, 10:00AM-6:00PM
Sunday, 10:00AM–5:00PM
 
Snowflakes falling, the smell of pine and a crackling fire help us to experience the warmth of the Holidays here at our 19th Annual Holiday Shopping Spree.  Take home a souvenir wineglass, a grapevine wreath, a unique specialized ornament from each winery, plus holiday recipe cards. One thing you’ll love unique to only our holiday trail event is our Shopper’s Discount Card that can be used at each winery during the weekend for those special wine purchases. 
Visit Six Mile Creek, Long Point, King Ferry or Montezuma wineries on Friday afternoon only to start your weekend plans early. On Saturday visit King Ferry and Long Point wineries at a special time, 9:00am. Visit all 16 wineries on Saturday and Sunday.
 
Participants will be eligible to win one of our Grand Prizes from Barrister’s Bed and Breakfast in Seneca Falls, Cayuga Lake Wine Trail Season Pass for 2013, Corning Museum of Glass, Holiday Inn in Auburn and Through the Grapevine Bed and Breakfast.
 
Advance: Single ticket, $35.00, Couple ticket $50.00 per person plus handling fee and sales tax
DD ticket: Single ticket, $30.00, Couple ticket$45.00 per person plus handling fee and sales tax
At the door: Single ticket, $40.00, Couple ticket, $55.00 plus sales tax.
 
Order early these events sells out fast!!  Tickets can be purchased online at www.cayugawinetrail.com by calling 800-684-5217 or at any area Wegmans.
 
 
  1. What  about the Vino Visa Coupon Book, the Seasons Pass and other offers?
           
2012 SEASON’S PASS
 
The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail Season’s Pass is your ticket to great savings when you attend our four trail events. Four great events to enjoy at a remarkable savings.  You’ll receive, 35% OFF the regularly ticketed price.
 
A couple pass is $125.00 and a single pass is $75.00 plus handling fee and sales tax. They are available for a limited time and can be purchased through the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail office until February 17, 2012.  A Season’s Pass makes a great gift for all your friends including yourself.
 
Mardi Gras-- Beads, Coins and a Scavenger Hunt – February 18 & 19
“Say Cheese” and More—Wine & Cheese pairings- March 24 & 25
Wine & Herb Festival—Potted Herb Plants - April 27-29 or May 4-6
Holiday Shopping Spree – Wreath, Ornaments and Shopper’s Card
                                            November 16 - 18 or November 30 – December 2
 
 
VINO VISA COUPON BOOK
Coupons from each winery and other local businesses.
 
Free Tastings!
Discounted Purchases!
GREAT VALUE!
Available at the wineries, online at www.cayugawinetrail.com or by calling
800-684-5217.
$15 plus handling fee and sales tax.
 
SAMPLER CASE
Your specialized Sampler Case of Cayuga Lake Wine Trail fine wines. Choose from a mixed case or a Riesling sampler case.  Order from our website www.cayugawinetrail.com  
 
HARVEST HOOPLA
Join us in September and celebrate the Harvest at the wineries along the Trail. Experience grape stomping, live music and every type of food that you can think of made from grapes. Check our website www.cayugawinetrail.com for details.
 
 
  1. What is one thing that many folks wouldn’t know about the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail?
 
That in the winter months you may receive a personal wine tasting from either the wine owner or wine maker where you can pick their brain for all kinds of details.
 
  1. Why do you love calling Finger Lakes Wine Country home?
 
Finger Lakes Wine Country is my home because I have lived here more than any other place.  When visiting here many years ago as the wineries were starting to blossom I fell in love with all the beautiful  scenery, lake views, the scenic falls and the wide open spaces. Of course my husband was part of the picture too but it was an easy move from city life to country fanfare.
 
  1. What’s the best wine and food pairing you’ve had recently?
 
Recently homemade coconut crème pie made by myself Cayuga Cathy paired with Vidal Blanc Ice Wine from Knapp Winery. Two sweet dreams mellowing together in a heavenly blitz. I personally was able to pick the ice wine grapes which made the wine so special. This is an experience not to be missed and is available to anyone who wishes to, at Knapp Winery.