Ithaca Blog

Friday, June 29, 2007

Weekly Give-away: Name Your Park

With summer swinging, we have blogged a lot about parks this week. For this week's shot at a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music, simply tell us which park you visit most frequently.

Send your reply directly to Small World Music: Entries will be accepted through the week, and winner announced on Friday 6 July.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog and Small World Music

Stewart Park: Big Park, Lean Budget

The problems at Stewart Park cited in Ithaca Blog this past week can be officially attributed to something:


Ithaca Blog spoke to Rick Ferrell, of the Public Works Department. We asked Mr. Ferrell about park maintenance and improvements, strategies, and budgets.

Mr. Ferrell said, "We had tough times with budgets through the '90's and the first couple of years of the 2000's." He said that the annual budget for Stewart Park is $90,000 for all labor and materials.

There is one full-time worker at Stewart Park, and one seasonal worker in the summer. Mr. Ferrell said that at one time there were 4 seasonal workers.

There is no money regularly designated for capital improvements. Such funds come only through a special application process with the city, which considers them in the context of all applications from all city departments.

" No, 'competition' is the right word," Mr. Ferrell said, when asked if competition was too strong a word for the process.

Cleaning the shoreline is a job that requires additional workers and additional budget. Thus it only happens once every 6 or 7 years, when Public Works' turn comes around.

The closing of the concession stand also comes from budget shortages. Mr. Ferrell says the building needs work on its roof and interior, and upgrades for access for the disabled. Which might or might not ever happen?, he was asked. "No, it will happen eventually," he said.

Recent complaints about the conditions of the restroom have been addressed, Mr. Ferrell says. He said that heavy use of the park by day camps and other youth groups on certain days results in a need for extra maintenance, and he has discussed the matter with park personnel.

Complaints about goose droppings are not so easily addressed. "I wish I had an answer for that one," Mr. Ferrell said, noting the scope of the problem in parks throughout the northeast.

One thing we didn't think to ask Mr. Ferrell was whether he thought input from the public to the city could help prioritize Stewart Park's needs. In retrospect we guess he'd say it couldn't hurt. That's what we would say, anyway, now that we know how much the condition of the park is a matter of money.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Weekend Picks, June 29 & June 30

Oona Grady deFlaun and Marie Grady Demott play traditional Irish music (see yesterday's Ithaca Blog post) at Felicia's Atomic Lounge, 508 W. State St., Friday at 5:30 pm.

Samite performs a free outdoor concert on the Arts Quad at Cornell, Friday at 7:30.

The Splendors and Trevor MacDonald play at Castaways, 10 pm. Cover is $5.

Saturday 30 June: The best shows tonight require a little traveling. Weatherwise, it should be a nice night for a road trip. Vance Gilbert, a well-known folksinger of great guitar style and vocal range, performs at the Night Eagle Cafe in Binghamton. Vance is also a funny enough guy to have opened for George Carlin at the State Theater.

Another funnyman of music, one of the ultimates, is Dan Hicks, who performs at the Opera House in Earlville at 8 pm.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ithaca, Capital of Celtic Music?

This year marks a big anniversary for Irish music in Ithaca: the 20th consecutive year of the local weekly music session, known in Gaelic as a ceili (pronounced kay-lee; meaning "visit"), featuring informal sets of traditional music on fiddle, flute, guitar, tin whistle, accordion, and bodhran (a hand drum).

The ceili - or, simply, session - was started in 1987 by Mark Bickford, who went on to form the enduring band, Traonach. Joel Cowan, also of Traonach, was an early participant in the first sessions, which were held at the Rongo in Trumansburg.

The session changed venues over the years, located at various times at the Chapter House, Micawbers, the Nines, and Kilpatrick's. Not many players have fallen away, while a a new generation has joined.

Reflecting the youth movement is a show on Friday 29 June at Felicia's Atomic Lounge, not your father's (nor anyone's) traditional Irish pub. The friendly hipster hangout, at 508 W. State Street, will host a 5 pm show by cousins Oona deFlaun Grady and Marie Grady Demott, on fiddle and flute.

Ed McGowan, fiddler for Traonach and a family friend of the cousins, is delighted by the headliner status of the young women. He instructed Oona as a girl, and notes that both women have played intensively since early childhood. In recent years, the cousins studied music at university in Ireland.

McGowan compares the Felicia's show to an event one might find in downtown Manhattan or Brooklyn, and not many other places. He notes that for years the Hudson Valley was a hotbed of Irish music, perhaps the foremost in the U.S., but seems to be fading, while Ithaca's scene grows. A weekly ceili held in that region for 19 years is ending, according to the Irish Echo newspaper.

McGowan is planning some informal celebrations of the anniversary of the Ithaca session - partly, he says, to let the wider community know that perhaps Ithaca is the regional capital of the music now, if not the national one.

"The music critics at the Echo are engaged in a certain amount of hand-wringing right now," he says. "They should know that the scene is alive and well up here. We've been doing this for twenty years, and it's better than ever."

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stewart Park: Second-Class?

Is Stewart Park becoming a second-class citizen among local parks?

Buttermilk, Treman, and Taughannock are the superstars of the local park system. They have waterfalls, swimming areas, recreational features, and camping facilities.

They are state parks and receive state funds and maintenance. They charge a fee for parking, which helps with their upkeep.

Stewart Park, on the other hand, is a city park, and receives no direct state aid. A true people's park, it is entirely free, even the parking.

Lately, however, there are grumblings about the condition of the city's park.

Goose droppings are almost everywhere you might want to spread a blanket. The shore line is heavy with detritus. The restrooms are less than inviting.

People seem to be complaining about the park not because they love it so little, but because they love it so much. It is wonderfully accessible to town. It has beautiful trees and views. There is plenty of room, even on busy weekends. There is no swimming, but there is a sprinkler system, popular with children and unabashed adults. There are picnic tables, pavilions, and grills. The breeze off the lake is strong enough to keep you entirely cool as you suntan your way to a burn.

Stewart Park is a great resource. Recent visitors from New York City said, "At home we'd have to drive an hour to get to a place like this, and then it would be mobbed."

But like any major resource, the park needs resources itself.

Who is responsible for the upkeep of Stewart, and other city parks? A look in the phone book does not reveal a Parks Department in the city of Ithaca.

Ithaca Blog called the mayor's office today to ask about park management. What is the budget? How is it allocated?

In New York City, the most-used parks are scrutinized from almost every imaginable angle: numbers of visitors each day, to each section, by gender, by age group. Central Park is the second-most visited area in the city (after Times Square), so care is taken to maintain its value.

Ithaca Blog is interested to learn if there are similar analytical tools used here in Ithaca.
We will be back with more after speaking to the city.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

CTB Express Loses Battle With Dunkin' Donuts

The Drive-Thru War of Meadow Street has been won by Dunkin' Donuts in a knock-out. This past weekend, Collegetown Bagels Express quietly announced its closing, effective immediately.

CTB Express was the newest of six outlets in the local franchise comprising Collegetown Bagels and Ithaca Bakery. Its raison d'etre was a drive-thru window, the only branch to have one.

It might have been a longshot in the first place, as the Express was actually competing with its own flagship store, only 4 blocks away. But a big blow was delivered last November, when Dunkin' Donuts opened a drive-thru facility right next door.

The Dunkin' Donuts store had the advantage of an entrance on Green St. as well as Meadow Street. CTB's side street was Cleveland Av., which is closed to car traffic at Meadow Street.

Then, of course, there is the strength of a national chain, with commercials with Rachael Ray, and the fact that CTB Express was considerably more ambitious than Dunkin' Donuts in its food offerings, which takes time. The CTB staff made food, whereas the Dunkin' Donuts staff only has to find donuts.

CTB/Ithaca Bakery is a great local business that provides great food, service, and ambience. They are a point of local pride, and they do an enormous amount of good work in the community.

We congratulate them on a valiant effort, and wish them continued success in their other enterprises, and thank them for all they do for Ithaca. If Dunkin' Donuts is really up for a challenge, we invite them to try to compete with CTB/Ithaca Bakery on that turf.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, June 22, 2007

Weekend Picks, June 22 - 24

Friday 22nd: Castaways has a full night of music, starting with Rick Redington, a New England musician developing a following in New York, and local favorites Mu-tron Warriors and Revision. Redington plays early, at 5. The local bands start at 9.

Saturday 23: the Southside Community Center hosts a Juneteenth celebration of African-American history and heritage, with music and dance, food, and family activities. From 12 - 7 pm, at the SCC on S. Plain Street.

I-Town recording artists IY play an acoustic show at ABC Cafe, 308 Stewart Ave., 10 pm.

Sunday 24: Nawal, "the Voice of Comoros," plays and sings the music of the African archipelago, and her Sufi ancestry. Global Rhythms magazine calls her "a legend in the makking." Castaways, 8 pm.

Big, big benefit concert for the Trumansburg Learning Cooperative, featuring Sim Redmond Band, Five2, Amy Glicklich, Chad Crumm, Vinny and the Vinenots, Thousands of One, and others. The show is scheduled for 2 pm through midnight, at the Rongovian Embassy in T'burg.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Valentino's Change of Mind: Political Charade?

Cathy Valentino, the Ithaca town supervisor, made a surprising announcement in January that she would not seek re-election to the politically powerful post she has held for 12 years.

This week she made another surprising announcement, that in fact she would seek re-election.

The local media reported the development as a simple change of mind. But circumstances suggest that Valentino never really intended to retire at all, and her announcements were part of a plan to hold onto her job against the scrutiny of her Democratic party leadership.

As part of the electoral process, political parties actively seek candidates for all open positions. There were signs this year that strong candidates would emerge to challenge Valentino for the Democratic endorsement, and she might not get it.

Announcing her retirement was a way to avoid non-endorsement by her party.

In the spring, the Democrats conducted a candidate search that focused on a choice between Tim Joseph, of the county legislature, and Herb Engman, of the town board. Both candidates announced in advance that they would not contest the party's endorsement if they failed to get it, and would support the other candidate.

Engman won, and Joseph immediately endorsed him.

It seems clear that Valentino did not feel comfortable about her chances against other candidates, nor with a pledge to support any other candidate.

So, in the words of a Democratic leader who responded to a call from Ithaca Blog today, Valentino "did an end-run" around the process.

Having avoided scrutiny and accountability herself, Valentino re-entered the race with a crude attack on Engman, who had participated in a thorough and open selection process that revealed a high regard for his work on the town board.

Valentino has a powerful personal political base in town. The question is whether that will be enough to win against her party's endorsement of another candidate, not to mention a blatant lack of transparency in her actions pertaining to the election, and a blistering political style that many seem to wish to transcend.

Valentino will challenge Engman in a Democratic primary in September. The Republicans have not announced a candidate for the general election in November, and will probably not field one.

The speculation here is that if Valentino loses the primary to Engman, she will challenge the Democratic nominee in November as an independent.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Monday, June 18, 2007

Free Ticket to Bill Kirchen Show

Late notice for this, so there's no quiz question to ponder to win a free ticket to see Bill Kirchen, the Hot Rod Lincoln man, at Castaway's this Thursday, courtesy of Rootabaga Boogie Productions. Just send an e-mail to for a chance to win.

Thanks and good luck!

Contest Winner: Maybe Groucho Was Wrong...

... when he opined that there aren't many songs about fathers. Our contest entries cited the following:

Song for My Father - Horace Silver
My Daddy Was a Lovin' Man - the Harlem Hamfats
Poppa's Got a Brand New Bag/Don't Take No Mess - James Brown
Daddy Sang Bass/Played Dobro .... Johnny Cash, Jerry Douglas, et al.
Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast - Wayne Newton
Come to Papa - Bob Seger
My Hometown - Bruce Springsteen
Papa Was A Rollin' Stone - the Temptations

We honored an entry about a satiric "fatherland" from "The Producers," and "Hot Rod Lincoln," by Commander Cody (and Bill Kirchen), submitted for the lines,

They arrested me and threw me in jail
And they called my pappy to throw my bail
And he said son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin'
If you don't stop drivin' that Hot Rod Lincoln.

We had to honor it, Bill Kirchen is coming to town this week.

We were a little surprised at no mention of "Cat's In the Cradle," the most melodramatic song of father-induced trauma we can think of, and a song by an Ithaca guy, Harry Chapin. Perhaps Ithaca Blog readers are sunnier than that.

But the randomly selected winner was Marie, of Ithaca, the jazz fan of the bunch. Marie wins a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music. Congratulations to Marie, and thanks to all.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, June 15, 2007

Father's Day Contest Continues

Normally, our weekly contests go from Friday to Friday, but we are extending our Father's Day contest until actual Father's Day, this Sunday. Win one for pop.

We're asking you to send in a song about father(s). See the original posting for context, if you like, but that's pretty much it.

Send your entry to Small World Music,, for a chance to win a $10 gift certificate to the fabulous storefront of hard to find, easy to love music, and who knows what all else.

Our contest for the coming week will feature a different prize than usual: courtesy of Rootabaga Boogie Productions, a ticket to see Bill Kirchen, "King of Dieselbilly," ex of the Commander Cody Band, live at Castaways next Thursday. Details soon.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Weekend Picks, June 15 & 16

Friday, 15 June: the Lonesome Sisters, a fine old-timey ensemble, at Felicia's Atomic Lounge, 508 W. State St. A happy hour show, at 5:30 pm. (They appear even earlier tomorrow at Felicia's, at 4 pm, with Chad Crumm. Chad and his band, the Chokers, have a new CD which, like the Lonesome Sisters', is available at Small World Music, one block from Felicia's.)

GrassRoots Festival favorites Big Leg Emma make an all-too-rare Ithaca appearance at Castaways, 10 pm.

Saturday, 16 June: Radio London played a nice set Thursday for Bill Myers' retirement party at Alternatives Credit Union. Tonight they bring their classic rock, with excellent vocals on hard-to-sing songs, to the Common Ground, 7 pm.

Baby Gramps is a street musician extraordinaire who mixes equal parts Blind Blake, Tuvan Throat Singers, and Popeye. He has worked with Johnny Depp, appeared on Letterman, and is a fixture in hipper quarters of NYC. He was featured this week in the New York Times in a piece on the Lower East Side. Tonight he performs at the Nines, at 10 pm.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Scooter" Libby Faces Jail Sooner Rather Than Later

Judge Reggie Walton today denied a petition from "Scooter" Libby, ex-chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, to delay his incarceration while his lawyers file appeals for his convictions for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Libby thus might be ordered to prison within the next six to eight weeks. He was ordered to surrender his passport in the basement probation office of the federal courthouse today after his hearing.

In an improbable twist of fate, Libby finds his name linked with Paris Hilton, another public figure who recently sought release from a prison conviction on the grounds that it is uncomfortable for a person of privilege.

Unlike Ms. Hilton, Mr. Libby has the potential trump card of a presidential pardon from George W. Bush.

The Bush adminstration has so far deflected all questions about a pardon, which it knows will be unpopular, and another blow to the already-reeling Republican party.

Now, however, with Mr. Libby's incarceration looming sooner rather than later, Mr. Bush's role as "the decider," as he has famously descibed himself, will soon face a significant test.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Retirement Party for Bill Myers, President of Alternative Federal Credit Union

Bill Myers, president of Alternatives Federal Credit Union, is retiring after 28 years. His retirement party is at 6 p.m., Thursday 14 June, at the credit union, 125 N. Fulton Street. It is open to the public.

There is no truth to the rumor that Hillary Clinton will be there to honor Bill, nor to the rumor that she asked to come, but was asked not to. We know there is no truth to either proposition, because we invented them.

The speculation is not baseless, however. It is true that Alternatives considered inviting the senator, who visited Alternatives in 2004, but decided against it, to avoid politicizing the event.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Friday, June 08, 2007

Father's Day Contest

Groucho Marx once noted that there are many songs about mothers, but few about fathers. Our contest for the week leading up to Father's Day simply asks you to name one.

(If you need a lead: Groucho had a couple in his stage repertoire.)

Creative entries are acceptable. Send your entry directly to Small World Music,, for a chance at the weekly prize of a $10 gift certificate to the store, which you can learn about via a couple of pdf links here in the margins of Ithaca Blog.

The winner of last week's contest was A.W., who submitted the (sole) correct reply to the question we posed for the 40th anniversary of the release of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by the Beatles pop group: Who was the celebrity (semi-celebrity, really) whose image was removed from the cast of characters on the cover, because he (and only he) demanded payment (of $500)?

The answer: star of "Mr. Hex", "Bowery to Baghdad", and about 6 or 7 grade-B movies per year at the height of his career in the 1940's, Mr. Leo Gorcey. You can see the space where his head was supposed to be in the top row, in a blank space next to the image of his Bowery Boys co-star, Mr. Huntz Hall.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Weekend Picks, June 8 - 10

Friday: tomorrow is the Belmont Stakes, third jewel in horseracing's Triple Crown, so that means one thing for tonight: a road trip to Cortland, to Uncle Louie's restaurant/Off-Track Betting parlor, to get dinner and bets. (See the May 2 Ithaca Blog entry for details on this worthy out-of-town junket.)

If you're not feeling lucky, and you would go betting with scared money, don't go. Stay in town and hear some music. Select from three fine local bands playing tonight:

The Hogwarshers, 7 pm at Felicia's Atomic Lounge.

Thousands of One, 9 pm, the Haunt.

Wingnut, with Hank Roberts, 10 pm, ABC Cafe.

Saturday: The Void Union brings "ska for the people" (their credo) from Boston to Castaways, 9 pm. An additional attraction on the bill is Bronwen Exter, who left Ithaca to pursue music stardom in NYC, and seems to be gaining on it, with a lot of good gigs, and notice in important journals.

Sunday: the Pine Leaf Boys are the up-and-comingest band playing Louisiana music anywhere. Catch them before they achieve massive genre fame at Castaways, in a daytime show, 3 pm.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Help for Underemployment in Ithaca

The Ithaca Times published an insightful article today on the phenomenon of '"underemployment" in Ithaca.

The situation, basically, is that Ithaca is a desirable place to live, but without a surplus of large employers or jobs.

The appeal of Ithaca is easy to see. It is beautiful, safe, friendly, pleasant, and cosmopolitan.

Thousands of people come to Ithaca from around the country and the world because of Cornell University, and many want to stay, at least for a while. To people from New York City, Ithaca can seem a lovely, lively alternative to stressful urban situations. And in central and upstate New York, Ithaca is a cultural oasis.

There is a driven population, therefore, looking for work.

The unemployment level in Tompkins County is perennially the lowest in New York State. On the face of it, that seems good. But it also means a perennial scarcity of jobs.

And it means a low wage structure, even at large and elite workplaces. An adminstrator at Cornell, for example, makes a fraction of what the same job would pay at Columbia University in New York. Of course, the cost of living in higher in New York, but not for everything. For housing, certainly. But it costs the same here as there for food, clothing, taxes, a car, gas, a college education for your children, and most other things.

The problem of underemployment led to the founding of two unique institutions in Ithaca: the Alternatives Federal Credit Union, and Ithaca Hours.

Alternatives says plainly in its mission statement, "Alternatives is dedicated to economic justice, to building wealth and creating economic opportunity for underserved people and communities."

The basic fees at Alternatives are well below industry norms. Savings accounts have no monthly charges or transaction fees, and only a five dollar minimum balance requirement. Checking accounts are free: no monthly fees, and no transaction fees.

Beyond the basics, Alternatives has a raft of innovative programs for building savings, borrowing easily and fairly, managing resources, and creating new opportunities.

Aware of the number of poor and working people who are not getting tax benefits such as the Earned Income Credit, the credit union started a program of preparing members' tax statements, for free. The credit union also offers free, extensive credit counseling.

Alternatives has a remarkable program called the Individual Development Account. An individual who saves $1000 in an IDA receives double that amount in matching funds through the program.

For information about these and other Alternatives features, call the credit union at 273-4611, or visit

Ithaca Hours is a local currency system started in the 1990's specifically to help with the problem of underemployment. The thinking was, there were people in the community with needs, and people with resources. The only thing keeping them apart was money, or the lack of it. The solution was to create new money, to enable transactions to happen.

Since then, Hours has grown into a bona fide revenue stream for Tompkins County, with over $120,000 worth of Hours in circulation, and a new issuance of perhaps another $30,000 planned.

Many businesses accept Hours in partial payment (some in full) to attract customers. Hours publishes a Directory that provides inexpensive advertising for businesses, and for moonlighters.

Researchers have lauded Hours for its "multiplier effect" of creating economic transactions. Because Hours do not leave the area, studies show, an Hour spent will create up to 30 times more transactions locally than a dollar will.

The local scope of the currency helps small, independent businesses to compete with larger chain stores from outside the area. Observers have noted the relative health of Ithaca's downtown compared to other cities in central New York, and the growth of local institutions such as the Farmers Market.

For more information about Ithaca Hours, visit their website,

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Wine Tour Finale: Hosmer

Hosmer Winery has been around since 1985, and in that time has developed into a formidable producer of good quality wines.

Hosmer wines have been recognized with a raft of prestigious awards, but the winery retains a fun, friendly touch. Hosmer was voted Best Finger Lakes Winery in the most recent Ithaca Times readers poll.

The tasting room is expansive, with high ceilings and lots of natural light. A big crew of workers took care of a large group of visitors. Our servers at the tasting bar were knowledgable about what they were selling, and personable in sharing it.

A look around the room showed about two dozen wine competitions won by Hosmer varieties. What intrigued us, though, were a couple of off-beat offerings exclusive to Hosmer.

One was a dessert wine - the only one Hosmer makes - called Raspberry Royale, a fortified (i.e., high alcohol) wine infused with locally-grown raspberries. It has a lot of strength and flavor, and is the kind of drink you can't drink much of and remain lucid, so it is a good drink to get visitors to go to bed.

The other Hosmer exclusive we liked, and bought, was Sangria. At the other end of the wine spectrum from the dessert wine, it is a light and welcoming wine to celebrate the start of a summer evening. It is also a good buy (ahem), at $10 for a 1.5 liter bottle.

Hosmer was the last of our stops. Altogether we spent about four hours patronizing six wineries, one eatery (and checking out 2 others), enjoying much scenery (personally I have a limited capacity for scenery, but this was about right), and tangentially visiting Sheldrake, a tough place to define (town, hamlet, settlement?), oddly befitting its most famous resident, the late Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone.

We had fun, stayed legal, got to know our region better, and got ready for our '07 vintage of house guests. You can find more information at, which will also direct you to individual winery websites.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Grog

Friday, June 01, 2007

Weekly Contest Winner, & New Quiz

Our contest winner last week was Arthur, randomly selected from the many repsondents who knew that Miles Davis was the guy who, IHOHO, "changed music four or five times."

Arthur wins a $10 gift certificate to Small World Music, where we certainly appreciate what Miles meant, in his unreconstructed way.

This week's quiz: you may be aware that today is the 40th anniversary of the release of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by the Beatles pop group. The iconic cover featured a gamut of celebrities and historic figures, from Albert Einstein and George Bernard Shaw, to Tom Mix and Marlon Brando.

Two images originally used on the cover were removed.

The image of Mahatma Ghandi was removed for fear the use of a spiritual leader would offend people.

The other guy was not a spiritual leader.

He was a B-movie actor, possibly the least renowned person on the cover, but the only one to demand a fee - reportedly $500, although he purportedly later said he would have taken $400. A man after our own hearts, and actually one of our favorite actors, if you conceive of the term loosely. Who was he?

Send your reply directly to Small World Music at $10 gift certificate winner will be announced next Friday.

Good luck!

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

Wine Tour, part 5: Knapp

Knapp Winery was the furthest point north on our trip, and not part of our original itinerary, but we recommend it. It is no behemoth, but it is the largest of the wineries on our path, and it has a long, strong roster of product.

Knapp produces 33 varieties, all available to sample. The sampling station is big and well-run. They have the most liberal policy of the tasting stations we visited. The fee is $1, and we were told, "You can sample up to 8 wines, but we're not counting." Every other place was 4 to 6, and they were counting.

Knapp offers premium reds and whites from vinifera vines, along with sparkling wines, specialty blends, brandy and cordials. The prices are competitive with the other wineries we visited, and there is a discount of 5% off three bottles, 10% off six, and 15% off twelve.

We sampled high end, low end, and in-between, thanks to that liberal policy (though we stayed below the count-line). The high end was represented by their sparkling Brut, which was crisp and energizing. The low end was a red that was described as a "French American Grape Based Blend." The American part meant concord, we could tell, with that inimitable hint of Flinstones jelly - a reminder of the bad old days of New York wines, before the introduction of vinifera.

Knapp also has a restaurant, full-fledged, with fancy fare (American continental?), appropriately priced, and both indoor and outdoor seating.

Our next, and final, stop - and installment here- Hosmer Winery.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog