When I received an e-vite last week from my friends at Finger Lakes Distilling asking me to come to their “Great Grape Pick-a-rama” to be held 10/10 (today – Columbus Day), three thoughts came to mind:

1. The kids are off of school that day, and it would be a wonderful opportunity to get them outside and be active, while at the same time helping out my good friends at the distillery by picking grapes for their grape liqueur (yummm).

2. We have to get up RIDICULOUSLY early to get there by 8 am, and the kids will hate me.

3. They’ll get over it.

Finger Lakes Distilling is located on Seneca Lake (one of the Finger Lakes in New York state), and is a stand-alone farm distillery. There are literally hundreds of wineries in this area. Some of those wineries create spirits as a by-product of the wine-making process. However, FLD doesn’t make wine, they only craft spirits. Both their story and their products are superbly unique. Please do yourself a favor and read more about them on their site. Their tasting room is gorgeous. Please stop in, if you’re in the area.

finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
The distillery, as it looks from the vineyard below.
finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
This is the view of Seneca Lake from the deck off the tasting room. My daughter took this!
finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
The sign in front of the entrance to the tasting room reads, “Come on in and un-wine.” Very clever!

So, why am I compelled to bring my children to a distillery on a school vacation day? (There are about a million punch-lines that could go here. I’m going to skip them all.) My admiration for this amazing company started a few years ago, when they were first getting started. I was asked by the president, Brian McKenzie to work with him to create a label design, including hand-painted illustrations, for their line of flavored liqueurs. I subsequently designed the label, and created a unique illustration for each flavor. One of the flavors happens to be grape. The grapes my kids and I picked today will eventually go into the liqueur for which I designed the label. Cool, huh?? :)

finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
Busy, bustling volunteer grape-pickers. My daughter is on the right!
finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
Rows and rows of concord grapes, and some other varieties. We don’t get very many 80-degree days in October here in the Finger Lakes region! It was an absolutely splendid day.
finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
Buckets-full of grapes!
finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
My boy, helping out.
finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
Me, picking grapes. I wish you could smell and taste these! Mmmm….

Important Side Note: I sometimes take for granted that my kids just “know” what I do for a living. I am surprised sometimes at how little they know about me in this regard. Of course, they know I “paint ALL the time” (That is a direct quote from my son.) Today, I was really able to pull an entire story together, from beginning to end, about my work. I think it was especially fun for them to see my paintings, see the labels, and then see the products on the shelves which utilize my artwork. It is sometimes hard to describe what I do, but this was a really fun way to show them how it all works!

finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
This is the liqueur display in the tasting room. At the top are the original paintings I created for the labels, and the actual product is on the shelves below.
finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
Here is a close-up of the blueberry liqueur bottles lined up on the shelf.
finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
This is the final illustration for the grape liqueur; which will be crafted using the grapes we picked today.

As an artist in this region, I think I have probably created ten thousand gajillion paintings of grapes. I never tire of their beauty. Nor do I tire of collecting glamour shots of them. (Admittedly, my definition of “glamour” is not exactly standard…)

grapes in a basket
Grapes and stems in a basket.
grapes on the vine
Grapes and Autumn leaves. Love the pop of green and the gnarled-up stems.

My kids met new friends and played “hide-and-go-seek” in the vineyard. That sounds so fairytale-ish, doesn’t it??

playing in the vineyard
Hiding under the vines, eating the grapes.

So, the take-away here is… Anytime you send me an e-vite with the phrase “____-a-rama” in the title, you can count on me to come! lol

finger lakes distilling grape-picking day
Me and my kids with Brian McKenzie, the president of Finger Lakes Distilling. 

have a grape day,