I’ve been searching for Brigadoon since falling in love with the film (and Gene Kelly) when I was a wee one. It’s an entertaining musical about a mysterious Scottish village that appears for one day every 100 years and then vanishes in the mist. Gene hooks up with Cyd Charisse and considers chucking his glamorous NYC life and pal Van Johnson to spend his life in kilts. To date, Cazenovia is the closest I’ve gotten to finding Brigadoon. I forged the two together years ago after dining in the local tartan-wrapped Brae Loch Inn. Located on the eastern fringe of New York’s Finger Lakes, this picturesque village has a charming mix of Gothic, Greek Revival and Adirondack-style residences and wonderful spots to sip and shop. And, best of all, it won’t disappear when you turn your back.
I was fortunate to spend some time there last week touring the Owera Vineyards, Madison County’s first winery, that will open its tasting room doors on June 13th. Owners Nancy and Peter Muserlian originally intended to preserve the 57-acre site as open space, but were struck by mental lightning and decided the property would make a beautiful vineyard. Years of planning, studying and designing have gone into the project. For example, the grapes had to be chosen carefully to flourish; Cazenovia’s climate is dissimilar to other neighboring wine producing areas because of its higher elevation and shallow lake.
Tours of Long Island vineyards, such as the Hamptons’ Wölffer Estate, provided design inspiration. A dramatic pergola overlooks the vineyards, and graceful entertaining space for 200+ is available for weddings and other special events. Catering is provided by several local sources including Cazenovia’s historic Lincklaen House, named after village founder, John Lincklaen, whose residence, Lorenzo, is open to the public and operated as a New York State Historic Site.
Anchored by a stunning reverse L-shaped bar, crafted by Cazenovia Cutblock, the tasting room has windows into the production area, providing a unique experience. “The local food movement is popular because people enjoy knowing where their meal comes from,” notes Ben Reilley, Director of Operations. “At Owera, they can see how the wine they’re tasting was made.” The room is comfortably elegant and staffed by friendly, knowledgeable personnel who can assist with pairing suggestions. Light fare such as brick oven pizzas are available to complement a tasting.
After leaving Owera (a bit lighter in the wallet since I simply HAD to buy a mixed case to bring home) I headed into town to feed my shameful addiction to French jacquard kitchen towels. On Cazenovia’s main drag (Albany Street, alternatively known as Scenic Byway Route 20), is Lavender Blue, a housewares shop filled with sunny table linens from Provence. I used to think that French country was all about blinding yellow, cobalt blue and red, but learned that these towels come in a succulent array of colors with charming designs woven into them. They become wonderfully soft with each washing and wear like iron. If you have a neutral kitchen, they’re a terrific decorating accent.
With towels and a couple of pillow shams in tow, I headed next door to Circa, a charming bistro featuring locally sourced meats and produce. I got to chatting with my next-table neighbors about Philly, Colgate and their beautiful grandson. Caz is the kind of town where you start the day a stranger and end the afternoon as a friend.
I pulled out onto Route 20 with a heavy heart. Though I wanted to I scribble the phone numbers off For Sale signs and begin to formulate a business plan for an apiary, I kept driving. I simply don’t have the legs to rock a kilt.
- NY’s newest winery facility sets June 13 opening date (timesunion.com)