What a pleasant surprise! Though we’d seen the sign for several years, we didn’t expect much from the Harbes tasting room. After all, we mostly go to Harbes for their excellent sweet corn (best on the North Fork!), and other vegetables, not for wine. However, we had walked around to the back of the farm stand on this breezy sunny day to give our small two-year-old distraction a chance to play on the wooden tractor/slide and in the sandbox filled with dump trucks. Then the tasting barn caught our eye, so when play was done we headed there, with the little one’s assurance that she would just pretend to drink.
The tasting barn is indeed barn-like, a large bare room with wooden rafters and wire furniture, with some tables outside on the grass as well. The tasting menu offers three options: three wines for $10, four wines for $12, or five wines for $14, chosen from a menu of nine wines. We decide to go for the five sample option, skipping their sparkling wine, their rosé, the ice wine, and a Chardonnay/Riesling blend that sounds as though it would be somewhat sweet. They grow their own Chardonnay and Merlot grapes on a five acre plot, buy the rest of the grapes from Onabay and Clovis Point, and do their winemaking at Premium Group, as do many other wineries. Though we don’t dislike any of the wines, we end up not wanting to buy any of them.
1. Steel-fermented Chardonnay 2012 $17
I’m not crazy about the aroma, which reminds me of mushy grapes, but this is a nice crisp clean steel chard, with flavors of green apple and lime.
2. Barrel-fermented Chardonnay 2012 $25
After a year of aging in French oak, this chard has the typical butterscotch aroma and flavor of an oaked chard, but is not too oaky. More structure, observes one of our party, than the steel chard, and not too much vanilla. Also nice.
3. Cabernet Franc 2011 $29
The grapes for this wine come from Onabay and Clovis Point Vineyards. Nice legs, we observe, which confuses the two year old distraction, but we explain that it means how the wine runs down the side of the glass, and she clinks her sippy cup of water with us. Not a bad cab franc at all, with a spicy aroma and a light, clear, dry taste, with some cherry notes.
4. Hallock Lane Merlot 2010 $55
Though pricy, this is a very good wine with tastes of dark plum, black cherry, and leather. Our server informs us that it is newly released. Good tannins and plenty of fruit mean, we think, that this would probably get better with age. At that price, one would expect a memorable wine experience, which this is not.
5. Old Barn Merlot 2007 $26
Another good wine, which, despite an ashy aroma, has dark berry tastes on the tongue with some interesting flavors and good tannins.
As we are getting ready to leave, the hay ride comes around the bend, with a singer on board belting out “Thank God I’m a Country Girl.” Looks like fun.
Reasons to visit: You have stopped to buy some corn and note the tasting room is just around the corner; you have children with you who would like to go on a barnyard adventure; you’ve had their roasted corn and a hot dog and you’re now thirsty; the merlots and the chardonnays.