As our first all-star cheerleading season comes to an end this week with a trip to the Platinum Nationals in Rochester, New York, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about our recent road trip to Erie, Pennsylvania for the
Lake Erie Cheer and Dance National Championships.
Our Little Winds are a mini-prep team; nearly all the girls are in their first year and it’s been a learning experience for the 6 to 9-year-olds. This was the first time we traveled this far from home for a competition and they were so excited to stay in a hotel! Plus, one of the girls on the team celebrated her 8th birthday and we had the opportunity to have lunch and cake together as a team with her.
I absolutely hate driving. I don’t mind long car rides but I really dislike being the driver. So, this trip was about three hours and 45 minutes and, man, it felt like forever — that is until I started to see an exciting sight out my windows. On either side of New York State Thruway were vineyards are far as the eye could see. It was almost like seeing cornfields spread out for miles but it was grapes. Now, the grapes are still dormant in Upstate New York but my mind could imagine how beautiful this sight would be come later spring and through summer and fall.
When I first spotted the grapevines, I was curious. What winemaking region is this? Part of Niagara? Something else? Then, I told myself maybe it was where grapes are mostly grown to make jelly and jam. I could not have been more incorrect. It turns out we were driving through Lake Erie Wine Country, the largest grape-growing region east of the Rockies. It extends roughly 50 miles from Chautauqua County in New York to Erie County in Pennsylvania. The farther we drove, the more vineyards we saw until we started to see many blue signs noting the names of the different wineries we could visit.
I made a mental note to stop on the way home and see what this region is all about. Since we left Sunday morning, many of the wineries in Pennsylvania were not open but just outside of Fredonia, New York, we stumbled upon Liberty Vineyards and Winery in Sheridan, New York. After a warm welcome from one of the owners, my daughter and I surveyed the scene. They were having an Easter-themed tasting complete with wines paired with Peeps, dark chocolate and milk chocolate eggs and jelly beans. I was mainly interested in what they were known for and wanted to taste the wine not the candy! But, they were smart and provided the candy to my 9-year-old along with a bottle of grape juice!
I tried wines from various profiles, including a Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Diamond Select, Red Blend, Fredonia and Sparkling Riesling. My favorites were the Diamond and Fredonia, which I could imagine having with dark chocolate, pizza or a burger. In addition, I tried their best-selling Reds, Whites & Blues, which is a sweet rose they use in their popular sangria recipe.
We left with seven bottles of wine for about $100, as well as a fun bottle stopper we won after Lucia chose a plastic egg from the basket. We also learned enough about the region for me to want to make another trip back with my husband. It looks like there is a lot to see and taste in this area, which to me is a well-kept wine secret in New York State!
Oh, and about that cheer competition? Those Little Winds won the national championship! Their winning routine is below: