Within reach A few years ago, my lovely wife and I had the pleasure of doing the Halloween Party at Americana. We sat and chatted with a number of people, enjoyed coffee in the attached Crystal Lake Café, showed off our costumes and admired everyone else's. In all, a delightful time. But for some reason, I never got to fully taste and appreciate their wines.

That major oversight has now been corrected. 
Why did I take so long? 
Why am I asking you? …never mind.

The staff are uniformly enthusiastic about working at Americana. Our server J.D. introduced each sample with not only the "published features" but helped us appreciate the experience from the first sniff to the finish, identifying the tastes and overtones that we might have missed had we not had a guide.

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It has been years since I sampled a bad wine in the Finger Lakes. The record is still intact, with each tasting of great quality, yet with unique features. The Cayuga White, for example, is created from the same grapes as many other wineries in the area, but none with the nose and lingering, longing aftertaste that Americana's has. The "longing" part refers to longing for another taste.

Their "Apparition", which got its name from the ghost that inhabits their tasting room is a blend of Cayuga grapes which leave a taste of grapefruit and pineapple. It is Americana's best seller and worthy of consideration.

Americana White is a problem. I could drink entirely too much of it given a chance. It is a sweet Catawba with citrus overtones and a tart finish. My first impression of the white was Niagara-like, but far more complex. Rare for a sweet wine.

Revolutionary Red is a conundrum. It has only 1% RS, but tastes not nearly as dry as the numbers would indicate. Ok, several bottles followed me home. They wanted to, really.

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Americana Winery has become a destination rather than just a stop on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, thanks to the marketing of owner Joe Gober, who loves talking to everyone; sharing his love of wine, beer and the Finger Lakes. It's his voice you hear on all the radio advertisements, and he is as engaging in person as he sounds in the ads.

I asked him about the history of Americana – at least under his care – and he related how in the late 90's he was passing through enjoying the wines and said to the former owners "Boy, what I could do with this place…" Their response was "Well, it's for sale…"

For the next year he apprenticed with them then took over the winery which was in a formerly 4-car garage. The Crystal Lake Café now lives within that structure while the tasting room and production are housed in larger quarters. The building that houses the tasting room, for example, is a rescued barn which was carefully disassembled, transported and just as carefully reassembled at Americana's East Covert Rd location. I think the ghost came with the barn…

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As far as the wines, Joe's attitude is to create them in small batches – enough to last the year. Mass production is not anywhere on the horizon. Wines lose their personality when they become a commodity and not an object of the winemaker's personal affection. Also, Americana wines are not bottled until they are ready, no matter what the calendar says.

This love and attention to detail, along with some serious marketing savvy makes Americana one of the "must visit" wineries in the Finger Lakes. You are guaranteed a great time from your tail wagging welcome by the owner's Labs, to your tastings, served by the staff who are both light hearted and very knowledgeable.

And if you get the chance, sit down with Joe and get to know the personality behind this delightful place. The Crystal Lake Café is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but we WILL go back for a Sunday brunch and give them the opportunity to "show their stuff" - so I can pass my impressions on to you.

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I've only touched on the high points – there is so much here; craft beers, fudge tastings, Finger Lakes and Americana gifts, wine sippy cups (my favorite for around a campfire with wine and friends) and a delightful rustic ambience.

It is a delight, and easily within reach. 4367 East Covert Rd, Interlaken NY 14847, (607) 387-6801.

'Within Reach' highlights the food, wine and fun of places 'within Reach' of Lansing NY.  Of course, your reach extends exactly as far as you want it to. I am Monroe Payne, Uncle Monte to some. Come with me as I visit, taste and play in our own back yard, the beautiful Finger Lakes of Central New York.