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This past striking Sunday, I ventured to Atwater Estate Vineyards perched on the rim of Seneca Lake in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes region. With my merry band of picnickers, we intended to find a bottle well suited to the basket of farmers market goods keeping cool in the car. This was my first stop on the Seneca Wine Trail, and left me feeling just as giddy and fanciful as the Duoro and Napa Valleys. I was wooed by a sense of luxury, the vines unfolding gracefully downhill, the time-honored craftsmanship, and the playful flavors that painted my cheeks a fair rouge.

Atwater is breathtaking; the modest winery proudly overlooks the lake, skirted by vineyards rooted in history. For just $2.00, you can taste a flight of six wines. As always, I inquired first about the sustainable growing practices, which seemed up to par judging by our friendly staff member’s detailed explanation.

We cast a unanimous vote for the Dry Riesling 2010, and descended to Clute Memorial Park in Watkins Glen, a green tip on the banks of Seneca Lake amply shaded by willows, we spread a cheerful cloth over the picnic table and unpacked our feast. We settled in with the soft glow of the sun, which was in no hurry to descend.

I’ll refrain from tempting you with a full description of our visit, as it is scheduled to be published in the Hill Rag.

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Picnic Essentials

In its simplicity, a picnic can be the most marvelous affair. I always relish a slow summer evening outside, eating and drinking in good company. Here are a few essentials for your perfect picnic.
  • Cloth shopping bags: for packing the following items
  • A paper bag: for trash and recycling
  • A large sheet, tablecloth, or tapestry: for covering a table or spreading on the ground. If you decide to eat at a table first, shake off the crumbs when you’re finished and transfer to the grass for reading, dozing, and generally being
  • A large, plastic cutting board
  • A corkscrew
  • Metal or silver utensils (more pleasurable than plastic): a fork, knife or spoon per person as needed
  • Two serving spoons
  • Small glass cups for drinking (more pleasurable than plastic): one per person
  • Cloth napkins: one per person (wrap the glass cups in the napkins to protect them from breaking)
  • A large jar, or sealable jug or thermos of water: freshen with a few lemon slices and mint leaves
  • A favorite bottle of wine, or two: from a local vineyard or independent wine store
  • A fresh loaf of bread: from your local bakery or the farmers market
  •  Pack a few tablespoons of butter (from your local dairy) into a small container: spread on bread
  • Pack a few teaspoons of sea salt into a small container or Ziploc bag: sprinkle on butter
  • A mixed variety of olives for everyone’s tastes: add a few mint leaves to the olive juice
  • A wedge, or two, of cheese: from your local cheese monger or the farmers market
  • Cured meat, like Jamón Serrano or Prosciutto: from your local butcher
  • A farm-fresh salad: add seasonal lettuces and greens, chopped vegetables, toasted nuts and seeds, and fresh seasonal fruit or dried fruit
  • A small container of salad dressing, homemade
  • Dessert! A seasonal fruit pie, or a variety of baked goods
  • Optional: a thermos of espresso
  • Optional: a small container of sugar
Wonderful visitors! Sara, my roommate from Ecuador (who is in fact from Barcelona) visiting with her Uruguayan partner Pablo. They both live in Berlin.
Wonderful visitors! Sara, my roommate from Ecuador (who is in fact from Barcelona) visiting with her Uruguayan partner Pablo. They both live in Berlin.
Clockwise from top left: Jamon Serrano, a treat brought from Spain by Sara and Pablo; Pablo with our new favorite white; Fenugreek Seed Gouda from Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese Company
Clockwise from top left: Jamon Serrano, a treat brought from Spain by Sara and Pablo; Pablo with our new favorite white; Fenugreek Seed Gouda from Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese Company
Assorted goods from the farmers market: chocolate-chip macaroons, lemon-poppy seed bread, double-fudge hazelnut brownies.
Assorted goods from the farmers market: chocolate-chip macaroons, lemon-poppy seed bread, double-fudge hazelnut brownies.
Lazy and tangled.
Lazy and tangled.
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