An Awesome Pairing
The wineries along Seneca Lake offer stunning views of the Finger Lakes landscape. The changing colors of the lake as clouds drift are mesmerizing. The parallel rows of grapevines stretching endlessly down the steep slopes evoke the bucolic atmosphere of landscape painting. Maybe you are seated at a café table enjoying a glass of Chardonnay or Riesling while the scenes unfold. Or, maybe you are waiting at the winery for your yoga class to begin. That’s what Susan Weiner, director of operations at Chateau LaFayette Reneau in Hector, imagined—a yoga class followed by a glass of wine. Yoga and wine pairings can be found all over wine countries— from Italy to California and everywhere in between. Texas offers yoga and wine retreats while “wineful and mindful” classes abound in Manhattan. Susan, who practices yoga, decided Chateau LaFayette Reneau could do something similar. The winery sponsors other special events, including healthy food and wine pairings, gourmet cookies from Goodwin’s Treats and wine pairings, so why not take advantage of the panoramic views and host yoga classes after hours?
Beauty spills over the 110-acre estate winery with its well-tended gardens, the song of bullfrogs echoing in the ponds, and the spectacular colors as the sun sets over the hills across the lake. So Susan recruited Katy Dunlap, a certified interdisciplinary yoga instructor (katydunlapyoga.com) as a partner in turning the vision into reality. A delightful duet of yoga and wine emerged.
Twenty years ago, while in law school, Katy began her personal practice, believing that yoga was a way to reduce the stress of her workload as well as gain clarity in her life. After practicing as an environmental lawyer in the Hudson Valley, she moved back to the Finger Lakes to work for Trout Unlimited for six years, and continued her personal yoga practice throughout her work life. But in 2016 she changed career paths, deciding to become a yoga instructor, and trained at Grounded by Yoga in Bloomfield, New York. “My heart is in yoga and it has brought me joy, peace, and happiness,” she says. These are gifts she hoped to share with her students. Katy’s one-hour yoga classes held on Wednesday’s at Chateau LaFayette Reneau are open to all ages and genders, from beginners to experienced practitioners. For those whose knees or hips don’t conform to the particulars of a pose, she offers modifications. Students from last year’s classes, which ran from June into the fall, included tourists and summer residents, local teachers, and people working in the area’s food and beverage industries. Katy expects that it will be a similar mix of students for the 2018 summer sessions at the winery, a class she calls a Slow Vinyasa Flow focusing on breath awareness, stretching, and alignment. It’s a practice guided by the breath, followed by deep stretching to improve flexibility and open tight joints. Each session is offered for ten dollars (or ninety dollars for ten sessions). In good weather, classes are held outside overlooking the vineyard, but, even when chased inside by storms or cold, the western wall of windows in the winery provides a panoramic view of the lake. The goal of Slow Vinyasa Flow, according to Katy, is to create space in your mind and your body. Susan, who’s taken the class, says that listening to Katy’s soothing voice while practicing poses and gazing at row upon row of ripening grapes, “restores her balance.”
Following yoga, the senses are awakened, the mind calmed. Wine tasting, too, relies on the senses: the color of the liquid, the nose of the vintage, the tastes on the palate. That’s what makes part two, the wine tastings, extra special. Students are relaxed, they enjoy the peace and beauty of their surroundings and the echo of the yoga session’s affects over a glass of wine. Katy feels that “when we come to the mat, we create space within our own individual minds, bodies, and hearts. As we find peace within ourselves, we are better equipped to be members of the local and global communities. The conversations that happen after class—maybe after a glass of wine or maybe not—are meaningful. Once the mind is cleared of daily ramblings, then we are better able to listen to others and offer insight from the heart.” Chateau LaFayette Reneau offers a five-dollar glass of wine (and a 10 percent discount off any purchase) to each participant in the yoga class. Students can choose any of the award-winning wines on the menu. While Susan might have a penchant for the Proprietor’s Reserve Chardonnay aged in French oak, you might want to admire the color and taste of a Pinot Noir Rosé (the 2017 vintage of which won a double gold at the American Fine Wine Competition last month), or feel the bubbles of a Frizzare Moscato. The winery’s motto is “come for the wine, stay for the views.” After a yoga class you will appreciate both even more. For more information call Chateau LaFayette Reneau at (800) 469- 9463 or go to clrwine.com.