"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

June 1, 2021

Finger lake Wineries (Part VIII)

“It's a smile, it's a kiss, it's a sip of wine ... it's summertime!” ―Kenny Chesney

Even with Covid 19 last year we had a pretty nice summer, but this summer we plan to take advantage of everything we can. Go to the wineries for picnics, explore new places, revisit old favorites, go hiking, biking and spend lots of time on the water. Here's the first installment of new wineries we've already visited. We plan on a busy summer. 

Billsboro Winery is committed to crafting dry classic European varietal wines grown by Seneca Lake’s best vineyards. They're focus is on small scale production, which allows them to give more attention to providing a high quality product for their customers.  Tastings are done in their century old barn, which sits on an idyllic 60 acres overlooking the northern end of Seneca Lake.

Billsboro Winery works in tandem with Atwater Vineyard for 15 years . The two share production space on the Atwater property, and the Billsboro location is used only for retail events. While Atwater is also a vineyard that grows their own grapes, Billsboro purchases grapes from three local growers and keeps them separate during production at Atwater. 
The property is relaxing and welcoming. We enjoyed a nice picnic with our wine, but they do sell food items and have a pizza night once a week.
We enjoyed a bottle of 2019 Riesling. It had notes of lime peel and ginger with a juice peach finish. It sounds a little sweet but it definitely was a wonderful dry riesling.
Castel Grisch
Castel Grisch was established in 1983 by a Swiss German couple, They are devoted to providing the best experience and wine for its visitors. The vineyard sets on a gorgeous site with breathtaking views of Seneca Lake and is home to 40 acres of vines ranging from native varieties, to Vinifera varieties. 
We enjoyed a bottle of 2017 Semi-Dry Riesling with our picnic. It's advertised as fresh and breezy, brimming with zesty lemons and apple blossoms, with bright citrus and peach flavors. It was good but definitely not as good as others we've had.   
The vineyard offers a Festival of Lights in December and January, which includes animals, dinosaurs, colorful flowers and a 50ft tall Christmas tree. The dinosaurs actually stay on display until March, but can still be seen along the back road for the vineyards. They were very impressive.
Finger Lakes Distilling
Finger Lake Distilling is a New York State Farm Distillery, which means they’re a small operation making a handcrafted product. They use locally grown fruits and grains to make high quality, handcrafted spirits. Their vodka and gin are made with locally grown grapes. They produce mcKenzie Whiskey.

The design of their distillery was inspired by the classic style of Scottish whisky distilleries, with its white walls, black trim, and elegant pagoda roof. Inside the distillery is spacious and sunlit, with the stills and barrels full of slowly aging whiskey viewable from the tasting room.
The view from the tasting room.
Six Mile Creek Vineyards is one of the oldest members of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. They opened their doors in 1987. The first year of production they only produced 250 gallons of wine, but have since expanded and now produce over 10,000 gallons, as well as a full line of grape based spirits and liqueurs. 
Six Mile Creek's tasting room resides inside a beautifully restored 19th century Dutch Colonial Barn.
We enjoyed a bottle of their Reserve Riesling. It had soft notes of pineapple and apricot. Zesty lemon and apple flavors  with a long flinty finish. It's a dry Riesling with just the right amount of  brightness to enhance  your picnic lunch. 
You can read about other wineries we've visited in the Finger Lake area at the following links.

May 30, 2021

May 29 - Girls Day Out

"Community by definition is: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals."

Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer, but here in the Finger Lakes it definitely doesn't feel like summer at the moment. The wonderful thing about being here is the weather never stops people from getting out and having a good time and that's exactly what we did today. We, not as in Stan and me, but some of the ladies from the marina and their friends.

We spent the day doing a wine tasting at Buttonwood Grove Winery and then enjoying a fire in one of their fire pits. We were having so much fun we never moved on to the next winery. We'll save that for another day.  
We started our visit with a wine tasting...which included a few snacks. Everyone had a great time.
We enjoyed the rest of the day by the fire pit in the yard. We even had a few minutes of sunshine before we left.
Not a bad way to spend a cool afternoon...good friends, good snacks, lots of laughs and a little good wine.

May 25, 2021


“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.” – Wilfred Peterson

We consider ourselves cruisers, well maybe more as explorers and adventurers now that we have been in Ithaca so long. Nomads at heart. A nomad is defined as a member of a community that has no permanent home, one that moves about from place to place, usually seasonally and often following a traditional route according to the state of the pasturage or food supply. That definition seems to fit the cruising community and our way of life. We move from place to place…not for the food supply though, but for the quest to stay in the 70-80º temperature range.

Most people feel at home when they are near their residence. Explorers feel most at home when they are someplace they've never been before. Nomads feel more at home along the path they follow…returning to places year after year. Each of these places begins to feel like home to them. This is true for us. The coast of Texas will always be home to us. It’s where we grew up, it’s where we met, it’s where we began our love for boating, it’s where a lot of our family is and it’s the place that holds wonderful memories of the past. We have sold our home and feel more like the nomads that call many places their home or the explorers who long to discover new places. The yearning for new adventure is strong in both of us and we enjoy answering its call. 

The Pearl's travels since 2011
The places we have gone since we have been in Ithaca.

May 20, 2021

May 19 - Watkins Glen State Park

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” – T.S Eliot

We spent the morning hiking at Watkins Glen State Park. Known for its natural beauty, the park's gorge trail is a two mile hike, which takes the  hiker past 19 waterfalls and up 800 stone steps. Carved into the escarpment at the southern end of Seneca Lake, this hanging valley is the oldest and most renowned State Park in the Finger Lakes region. The park is a beautiful work of natural art and it was first opened as a tourist resort in 1863. It's amazing what a little water and thousands of years can create.

The Gorge Trail begins with a dark spiraling tunnel cut into the cliff-side. The tunnel effectively removes all evidence of the world outside the glen and envelops you in a world of natural stone, calming flowing water and gentle breezes. 
Looking towards Sentry Bridge from the bottom of the gorge trail. The entry tunnel is to the right.
Tunnels in the gorge were hand-cut into the rock in the early 1900’s. As you emerge from the entry tunnel onto Sentry Bridge, you can look east and see Watkins Glen or west up the gorge towards Cavern Cascade.
The view looking up the gorge from Sentry Bridge
The stairs to the left is what most of the trail looks like.
Cavern Cascade is one of two waterfalls you can walk behind. 
This Suspension Bridge is on another trail and is 85 feet above the creek. During the great flood of 1935 the water rose to within five feet of the bridge.
Part of the Glen Cathedral. The gorge widens here like a gothic church, with a natural pool, dubbed the Baptismal Font, facing the “cathedral’s” pulpit: a beautiful stone arch bridge and 60 ft Central Cascade.  
Rainbow Falls is the second falls you walk under. If you visit on a sunny afternoon you can see rainbows reflected off the falls. Unfortunately we were there in the morning....no rainbows.
This picture was taken just before the Spiral Gorge. A dark and narrow passage with dripping springs, sculptured pools and thin Pluto Falls.  
The Gorge Trail is a one way trail, meaning we had to take the North Rim Trail to return to our car. The following pictures were taken from the trail looking down to the Gorge Trail.
A short video showing part of the gorge. This area is unbelievably beautiful. Hard to imagine it’s just on the outskirts of the town of Watkins Glen. 
After our morning hike we drove up Seneca Lake and had a picnic at the Billsboro Winery. The weather has been amazing and we are taking advantage of every minute of it.

May 18, 2021

May 12 - Celebrating the Sun

"We are still masters of our fate. We are still captains of our souls." ― Winston Churchill

The sun was out today, so we just had to go out and celebrate. We did this by having a wonderful lunch at The Ginny Lee Cafe at Wagner's Vineyard. This has been a favorite of yours for years. We had the best table on the deck overlooking Seneca Lake. The weather was still a bit cool, but it felt amazing sitting in the sun soaking in the warmth of the day and the views of the lake.
After lunch we drove down the lake to Montour Falls to check out a few more waterfalls. The south end of Seneca Lake is full of waterfalls. The best place to go is Watkins Glen State Park...we were there about nine years ago and will go again soon, but today we were on the hunt for some waterfalls we haven't seen before. Our first stop was at Aunt Sarah's Falls waterfall just north of Montour Falls. It's right along the road and requires no hiking, it was nice, but not the best of the day. That honor goes to our next stop...Shequaga Falls, which is also known as Montour Falls. What a wonderful spot, set in a park in the middle of town. 

Aunt Sarah's Falls
Shequaga Falls (pronounced She-qua-ga) is a 165-foot tall waterfall located right in the heart of Montour Falls. It can be seen as you drive down Main Street as it towers over this otherwise flat community.
A relaxing spot to take in the view of the falls.
The backyard of this home looks over the falls...what an incredible place to have a fire pit and chairs. 
Our last waterfall was Deckertown Falls, which required a little bit of hiking. The falls were easy to find and it was nice to get a little bit of exercise. The visible portion of the falls drop 70 feet in three distinct steps that are easily seen from a small path that leads from the parking area up Catlin Mill Creek. 
Just a few of the beautiful flowers we have seen lately.