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Upstate New York In The Fall

(AP Photo)
Would somebody do me a favor and head to Geneva, New York to bug my old friend, Derek Wilber? He's the winemaker at the new White Springs Winery, and right about now he'll be tearing his hair out trying to get all of the grapes picked and crushed for this year's vintage. But I'm sure he'll stop what he's doing and say hello if you tell him that you were sent by the Guru.

It's a great time to visit upstate New York. Actually, it's a great time to visit practically any part of the country that has a winemaking industry. There's something magical about those full, ripe, bunches of grapes hanging from vines on terraced hillsides. In the case of New York state, the hillsides all face one of the Finger Lakes – Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Cayuga – and it's lovely to drive down country roads with vineyards in the foreground and the lakes in the distance. It's one of the prettiest parts of the country, and you have about eight weeks, starting now, to enjoy it before it turns to sleet and ice.

It's also lovely to stop at the wineries, purchase a bottle or six of Riesling or cabernet franc or any of the dozens of other varietals that guys like Derek blend and bottle, and then sit down at a picnic table somewhere and drink them. Designate one of your kids to be the driver in order to be safe about it. Stop by my old friend Jim Long's bookstore in Penn Yan, NY and say hello for me, pick some ripe apples off the trees, and find some cream in a bucket and churn it into cheese. It's wine-making season, and the possibilities are endless.

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