In the northeastern corner of New York state, a perfect weather weekend made the charming vineyards set along the Lake Champlain valley sparkle. And so did being able to take the pets along—including our chocolate lab Baci.
Pet-friendly La Quinta hotel
Finding a truly “pet-friendly” accommodation is not easy, as “pet-friendly” most often means small dogs only, and that they have to be taken with you when you leave. Not at La Quinta Inn & Suites Plattsburgh—where you can even bring your iguana! I don’t have an iguana, but I do have Baci, who doesn’t like to be left at home, and two cats (Ace and Chammy) that also enjoy traveling in the car in their crates.
At La Quinta, we were able to bring the whole “family” and leave them in the room when we had dinner out and about (many “pet-friendly” places make you take them with you when you leave the room, which is particularly tricky when it’s hot or cold out). Before dinner, I alerted the front desk and was told to put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the outside, and left my cell phone number with them in case of emergency.
It turned out that while we were at La Quinta, there were two fire drills. Some pranksters pulled the alarm on Friday at 4 pm (while I was in the hot tub!), and again the next morning at 8 am. If they were caught, their parents would have been fined $3,000 per incident, as three large fire trucks had to come out from the Plattsburgh Fire Department. On the bright side, neither was at five in the morning, and while we waited for the building to be cleared outside, I was able to see all the people taking advantage of the pet-friendly hotel. Lots of dogs, and cats in crates—and I never heard a single dog barking while I was there! I also learned that if had either been a real emergency, the front desk would have given the firemen and -women all the room numbers with pets in them to be rescued.
I have to say, I was impressed with the friendliness and care of the manager, desk people and housekeepers at La Quinta. Another plus: The king bed was really comfortable, as were the 5 down-like pillows. My husband, Highroad Cam, loved the large flat-screen T.V. All this for a budget hotel ($85-$195)! Also included are breakfast, access to a heated pool and hot tub, and free high-speed Wi-Fi in all rooms.
Adirondack Coast summer wine tour
Our Adirondack Coast summer wine tour started Friday night with an unscheduled visit to Elfs Farm Winery and Cider Mill on St. Route 9 in Plattsburgh for their new Friday Night Wine Down event. For $4 each, Cam and I tasted all of their wines and ciders, finally settling on a “Two Heroes Cider” for Cam and a “Vignoles” white wine for me. Later, we also shared their fabulous Strawberry Hard Cider. Due to limited quantities, you can only buy one bottle per person, so you’ll want to bring along some friends!
On Friday nights, a musician performs and they serve light snacks. We got to know the entire Frey family, including Erin, the daughter for whom “Elfs Farm” (Erin Lee Frey) is named, brothers Brian, Kevin and Sean, and head honcho—“the Dad”—Tom. All the children are involved with the family business. We returned the next day to see how they set up stations along the vineyard for tastings. We loved it here!
Next, our Adirondack wine tour took us north to Mooers, New York, almost on the Canadian border, to visit Stone House Vineyard, another family-owned vineyard. Stone House had more than 10 varieties of wine, including many from fruits other than grapes; blueberries, gooseberries, plums, raspberries and currants also make it into their wines. I loved their raspberry table wine. We enjoyed the tour of the vineyards and orchards—and, we were able to bring Baci!
We then drove south along Route 9 to Chazy and visited Amazing Grace Vineyard and Winery, where they specialize in native and French hybrid grapes as well as some fruit wines. I also liked their Raspberry Skies fruit wine. The vintner was so friendly—she even made lasagna. While we tasted wine outside there was Italian Opera music playing!
Our final destination was Vesco Ridge Vineyards, just down the road in West Chazy, set high up on a ridge with a great view of the Vermont mountains across Lake Champlain. Highroad Cam was happy to point out Camel’s Hump and Mount Abraham, our favorite hiking places.
There were three more vineyards and wineries on our list, but we had to stop after four!
Baci was longing for a swim, so along the way back we went to Point Au Roche State Park, a gorgeous place to visit and let Baci enjoy herself in the cobalt-blue water of Lake Champlain. We went to downtown Plattsburgh for dinner—Iris’s Cafe and Wine Bar—and back to the town in the morning for cappuccinos at Koffee Kat and then visited the Ausable Chasm before heading off back to Vermont on the Grand Isle Ferry.
NOTE: The 2013 Adirondack Coast Wine, Cider & Food Festival will be on Saturday, October 12 at the Crete Civic Center in Plattsburgh. If you’re thinking about a visit, there’s no better time!