November 22, 2014

Tasting room opens in city


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Co-owner Shannon Terwilliger stands at the tasting bar of Finger Lakes Tasting Room on Main Street in Cortland Tuesday.

Staff Reporter

Wine aficionados passing through Cortland County will now have the chance to sample what’s in store from the Finger Lakes wineries after the grand opening of the Finger Lakes Tasting Room at 4 p.m. today at 31 Main St.
The business actually opened last week but on Tuesday, co-owner Shannon Terwilliger said everyone was getting a feel for how the tasting room would operate in preparation for today’s event.
Terwilliger said when she and her husband, Tom, learned Kitty Jones was retiring and closing the Spirit and Life bookstore, they decided to refurbish the space. They decided to partner with the Lost Kingdom Brewery & Firehouse Distillery in Seneca County to bring something new downtown.
“I actually thought it (downtown) was the perfect area to stop,” Terwilliger said. “People can pick up maps for the different trails and sample something to see where they want to go and it’s the perfect spot to stop and pick up a snack for the trail.”
As a way to promote New York products, in 2013 the state Assembly passed legislation introducing the farm brewery license, allowing breweries to serve beer and wine and to operate businesses like the Tasting Room without the need to acquire additional permits.
Terwilliger said partnering with Lost Kingdom has allowed the Tasting Room to become an extension of the brewery while promoting the Finger Lakes and Cortland at the same time.
“I’m a big believer in buying local and supporting the local economy.”Terwilliger said, “(and) I’ve always been passionate about wine and cheese and local foods — or local everything.”
Visitors can sample or purchase bottles of wine to enjoy in-house made at one of 16 different distilleries around the Finger Lakes region as well as craft beer flights and locally produced foods.
“What we’re planning on doing is featuring tastings of two different wineries every week ... to give a variety,” Terwilliger said. “Then we offer a local sample board of the cheeses and meats and we have our bread being supplied by East Side Bakery. And you don’t have to taste — you can certainly come in and browse and do gift shopping.”
The Tasting Room doubles as a gift shop where people can go to purchase accessories, gifts and and even special order books.
Employees Colin Conway-Whitaker and Schuyler O’Brien work as servers at the Tasting Room and said even though the Tasting Room has only been open for a week, they have already learned a lot — especially from those who’ve come to sample the wine so far.
“It’s the language,” Conway-Whitaker said. “I think I’ve heard three different words I’d never heard of before.”
“(And) just how people interact and how they all can say something very different about the same wine, because then you’re like, ‘I see what you’re saying, but I see what you’re saying, too.’” O’Brien said.
Terwilliger said, so far, she thinks everyone who has been to the Tasting Room has walked away happy, adding she and the staff are ready to welcome visitors this afternoon.
“It’s kind of your one-stop shop,” Terwilliger said. “Bringing the Finger Lakes to Main Street. That’s my thing.”

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