Chateau Buffalo – wine and hard cider and getting naked for Buffalo
In one of those little serendipitous moments I happened to overhear one of the proprietors of Chateau Buffalo tell Tim Herzog, one of the owners of Flying Bison Brewing Company, that he had just dropped off his new cider. My ears immediately pricked up at the sound of the word cider. Thinking that New York State might be cider country, I had searched the web for a place that might serve something close to scrumpy but, alas, had found only non-alcoholic ciders aimed at families. Now I have nothing against families but I don’t want apple juice when I’m looking for scrumpy.
Since I had already had a taste of beer from the plastic glass of the man who was talking about having delivered cider, I felt like I knew him well enough to inquire about his comment. To my delight he informed me that the cider was made and sold at a local wine shop that was only a few streets away, even better it would be open until eight that evening. Fortunately that just fit in with my plan to find a place for a couple of games of steel tip darts and a bite to eat before supper (yes, I know but I was on wee vacation and it was cold; darts, beer and food always the mainstay of any short stay in a cold place). So it was that a few hours later I found myself stepping into
1209 Hertel Avenue
Chateau Buffalo is indeed a very good wine shop and tasting room but beyond that it is also a working winery and hmmm…a cidery? – yep, cidery. For it is there in the back room that the proprietor, Carl Schmitter, annually produces several thousand bottles of Dancing Buffalo wine and cider. He was in fact putting labels on Chateau Buffalo’s seasonal mulled cider when I entered the store. Carl is a grand host, eager to answer questions and fulfill requests. Although the counter was set up for a wine tasting, he opened several bottles of cider for me including the Christmas cider Holiday Hop which he warmed for me so that I could taste it as it is intended to be served. I ended up taking three bottles home with me: two of the Dancing Buffalo Holiday Hop and one of the Dancing Buffalo Mambo.
The gentleman (I’m going to e-mail Carl for his name and plug it in here, the man who led me to Chateau Buffalo cannot go nameless) I had met at Flying Bison was also there and we all spent almost an hour sipping cider and talking about Buffalo. Both men are avid Buffalo preservationists and enthusiastically spoke of the Wright homes and of the Buffalo Central Terminal (where incidentally Carl recently particpated in a Spencer Tunick celebration of the nude form along with several hundred other Buffalo residents). Carl is also – besides being proprietor, host, vintner, ciderner (made that one up) – an excellent photographer and besides the bottles of wine I also returned home with notecards bearing his photographs of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Heath House and the Buffalo Central Terminal.
Dancing Buffalo Holiday Hop Mulled Cidre Wine
Dancing Buffalo Mambo Semi-Dry Cidre
A couple of words about the cider itself. It’s a long way from the scrumpy for which I was searching – and still do, looks like going back to northern England is the only answer – but it has an allure all its own. Not a beer, not a wine, a truly individual beverage, stands on its own as a drink to be enjoyed