Saturday, June 14, 2014

Finger Lakes winery owner is now a wienery owner

Christopher Bates (center) after winning
the Concours International des Jeunes Sommelier.
A new wienery has opened in the Finger Lakes. No, not a new winery. A wienery.

It's FLX Wienery, which just opened at 5090 State Route 14, in Dundee, Yates County.

The operators are Upstate native Christopher Bates of Element Winery and his wife Isabel Bogadtke who created the new casual eatery in the former R.E.D.S. Hots location.

The interior now has more seating, new wood floors and a brighter atmosphere. There also is a garden space for outdoor eating.

To help wash down the eats, a variety of retro soda fountain creations are offered, including milkshakes, egg creams and soft drinks, along with such adult beverage creations as an Oreo-and-stout milkshake, beers and wines. The small wine list is supplemented by a BYOB option that waives the corkage fee on all Finger Lakes wines.

“We know visitors fall in love with wines during their visits to local wineries, yet it can be hard to find a restaurant that carries every wine. We wanted to give our guests the opportunity to know they can bring any wine from or neighbors to enjoy with their meal,” said Bogadtke.

She is a veteran of counter service dining and several years ago was awarded the unique "Best Service In the World" award from the Mobil Travel Guide. Besides handling the front of the house at the new eatery, she also is working on a "Certified Tea Specialist" diploma.

The kitchen is being overseen by Bates, who about a year ago earned the title of Master Sommelier for the Court of Master Sommeliers, one of only 201 people worldwide who hold that designation. The Cornell University graduate has more than 15 years’ experience in the industry.

In 2012, Bates represented the U.S. in the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs’ 6th Concours International des Jeunes Sommelier. The international event, held that year in South Africa, is designed to improve knowledge and skills among wine professionals in the 21- to 35-year-old age group. Contestants qualify to represent their countries through winning a series of regional and national competitions. They face a panel of experts during the eight-hour-long Concours. Their tasks included blind tastings, demonstrations of practical skills in red wine decanting, glass service, champagne service, food and wine pairing' the identification of spirits by nose alone' and two theoretical skills tests -- the correction of a faulty wine list, and a one-hour written exam about the wines and wine regions of the world. Bates emerged at the head of the field.

Element Winery, which he opened in 2005 with winemaker Bob Bates, is located in Arkport, Steuben County. Christopher Bates traces his path to the Finger Lakes this way:

"I first started making wine in Italy, a life I quite enjoyed. After that I went to the Mosel, Germany, where I could happily spend the rest of my wine making life. But, it is a little more complicated than that. I have a long relationship with the Finger Lakes. In fact, I bought my first bottle of Finger Lakes wine when I was 11 -- as a gift for my parents, of course. In high school I occasionally visited the wineries with my parents, and later in college visited often on my own.

"While conditions always seemed right, the wines always under-delivered. Fast forward 10 years, and the Finger Lakes are getting much interest, riding on the coattails of the eat-local/drink-local trend. But, after tasting through, one must wonder if we could be doing better still. The material is there for old world style, light, balanced and bright wines, but the skill seems to be what is missing -- always easy to judge from the outside. So, we decided to make the plunge in order to demonstrate what we believe the Finger Lakes could produce. And, here we are six years later."

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