Saving Santa Some MileageDec 01, 2022 09:00AM ● By Lilace Mellin Guignard, Gayle Morrow, Janet McCue, and Teresa Banik Capuzzo
Mountain Home is a champion of the local, the small-batch, the handcrafted, the can’t-get-it-anywhere-else, and the I-can’t-believe-that’s-made-right-here. This month, we have collected thirteen artisans (that’s twelve for the days of Christmas, plus another partridge to grow on) from our readership area who showcase the talents and interests of our region.
We’ve had many discussions about what an artisan is. Merriam-Webster asserts it’s one “who practices a trade or handicraft,” or “a person or company that produces something...in limited quantities often using traditional methods.” So that box must be checked. But, knowing that ’tis the season of giving, we wanted to have an eclectic mix that would appeal to wildly different types of folks–aka our readers.
The stories of how the artisans came to practice their craft, where their visions originated, and the reasons behind their painstaking production are as important to us as the unique items they create. Some have made a business out of their work, and some have day jobs. Some are easy to find with a Google search and some only exist in three dimensions. Some are well-known in their communities, and some are self-proclaimed hermits. They are all Mountain Home.
We think some of these will surprise you. We know some will be hard to wrap. We hope you find something you didn’t know you were looking for. Maybe this year, you’ll give the gift that will have the person-who-thought-they-had-everything “Oooooing” and “Aaaaaahing” long after the wrapping paper has been recycled.
The first live edge furniture Gary Roof saw was George Nakashima’s studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania. It was the seventies and Gary was studying art at Mansfield Stage College. After seeing this master’s work, Gary soon made a live edge settee in sculpture class. It still sits on his porch. Originally from Athens, Gary, now retired from the timber frame business, lives in Tioga County and makes live edge tables, shelves, chairs, (and whatever is commissioned) at home to sell at his booth in Route 6 Country Shoppes in Mansfield.
Walk through the door of the Quonset hut and Gary’s booth is up front, on the left. It’s hard to resist sitting down on one of the long benches at the full-size dining table made from black walnut, so don’t fight it. The finish is smooth and satin, not high gloss. “You plasticize it when you make it shiny,” Gary says. In his pieces, it’s the natural qualities of the wood that shine. The table’s color is dark and warm, and the top is completely level. The sides, though still smooth, are allowed to flow with the natural shape of the wood. It’s much more refined than rustic.
Tables—dining, coffee, console, you name it—are the most popular ready-made items, but many of Gary’s pieces are commissions. One customer bought an extra-large dining room table with benches and chairs for his hunting lodge, and then asked Gary to make him a matching gun rack to display his prize rifles.
Gary often gets wood from trees people would otherwise discard and prefers to work with walnut and butternut. At his shop he has a twenty-five-inch plane and a band saw that goes to fourteen inches. Against the wall is a desk with a drawer. Eclectic shelves grace the wall, ranging from $125 to $175. A high-top table for two uses a tree’s fork for both legs. You can bring it and the two stools home for $1,085. Wouldn’t Santa’s milk and cookies look grand on it? Or some wine for Santa’s helpers? Or maybe you have something else in mind. Either drop by his booth at 18610 Route 6, find him on Facebook as G. Roof Furniture, or call (570) 549-7663. If you call soon, your custom piece could be done by Christmas. ~LMG
Compassion, empathy, humility—they're not just Christmas-time qualities, but ones we all might like to cultivate year-round, much like the business philosophy and the plants April Hart and Bill Krovetcz use to prepare their natural, organic, and made-with-love Bespoke Apothecary products on their hilltop farm outside of Elmira.
April explains that the impetus for Bespoke Apothecary, which basically means “custom-made medicine,” was her own cancer diagnosis a dozen years ago. The couple opted then to work with nature, with the “food as medicine” mindset, to help April heal herself. She remains cancer-free.
“We just wanted to bring natural healthcare products, made with care and in small batches, to people,” she says. And, she and Bill believe prevention is a way better way to stay well than trying to cure what ails you after the fact. For instance, the start of the holiday season (and doesn’t it seem to come around sooner and sooner every year?) can mean weeks and weeks of eating and activities that may not be the healthiest—lots of fun, for sure, but along about January your mind and body may be saying, “Hey, we’ve had enough.” What to do? Try getting the jump on potential problems with a daily dose of fire cider. This medicinal/herbal concoction is a favorite of herbalists (both April and Bill are certified herbalists). It’s used to support the immune system and help keep away seasonal infections. Many of the approximately two dozen ingredients come from their farm, April notes, and include raw apple cider vinegar, horseradish, turmeric, burdock, nettle, mullein, and raw honey ($13 to $42 depending on the size).
Or try a tincture or oil infusion of the 500-year-old “thieves” recipe for warding off viruses and bacteria. Legend has it that during the time of the Bubonic Plague, four unemployed perfume/spice merchants turned to thievery to make ends meet, and successfully protected themselves from the plague with their combination of cloves, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon. Bespoke Apothecary’s mix has a distinctive warm, spicy fragrance that conjures up something pleasant, and, lucky for us, is available in many forms, from a roller ($15) to a wellness kit ($42).
Don’t let the winter weather make you overlook stocking stuffers for your favorite outdoor enthusiasts. All-natural herbal mosquito repellent, itch paste, and tick and black fly repellent can help you avoid pests and chemicals. They have one for your furry friends, too. Prices start at $14 for smaller sizes, and some are available in kits.
Their farm at 300 Sullivan Crest Road is not open to the public, but you can arrange for a visit by calling (607) 426-0999. Products are available at numerous locations throughout the Twin Tiers, including Mansfield Chiropractic Clinic, through bespokeapothecary.com, and a pick-up option is available in Elmira so you can avoid shipping costs. Many of their products are available for home delivery through Delivered Fresh, which covers north to Horseheads and Binghamton and south to Liberty and Tunkhannock. Find them also on Facebook. ~GM
Tom Oswald hand built his first bike in 1996, but before he could do that he had to learn how to weld, braze, and cut metal. He also had to learn frame design and the geometry of fitting bikes to people—the biomechanics—because when you get an Oswald Bike, it’s made to fit you. Tom, who opened Oswald Cycle Shop in Mansfield in 2000, made his first bike for himself. “It was exciting and a little scary to be speeding over pavement on something I built,” he admits. He’s since made many frames for different styles, including road bikes, mountain bikes, touring bikes, and gravel bikes. Early in his career he was dubbed the Amish bike builder during the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. (The bald head might have something to do with the nickname.)
Anyone who knows a serious cyclist knows how much the aesthetics and function of their bicycle means to them (my husband can go on and on about the details of a bike that whizzed by, one that I barely noticed). It’s an extension of their personality. Sherri Stager of Mansfield came to Tom for a bike that was sturdy and could be used for long bike tours. “And I wanted it pink,” she says. “I love my custom bike. I gave him artistic liberty along with ideas of what I had in mind. I call it the Pink Cadillac.” Believe me, no matter who you are you’re going to notice her bike if she rides by.
A commissioned frame runs approximately $3,000 and takes at least a month to build. But don’t order one in June and expect it soon. “I only build in the winter,” Tom says, “when shop business is slower.” So now is a great time to put a gift certificate for a custom bike under the tree for your favorite cycle-junkie. Or, if you want a beautiful camel-and-copper-colored road frame that fits someone five-foot-ten to six feet tall, he has that very custom fifty-seven-centimeter item in his shop. You can wrap it up right now. Drop in if you’re on Main Street in Mansfield, check out his work at oswaldcycleworks.com, or call (570) 662-3097. ~LMG
When you’re having a wine party, it seems appropriate to serve your guests an artfully arranged array of snacks and appetizers on a tray made from a wine barrel stave. The aptly named Presentation Tray sits slightly elevated off the table to show off its curve, and the warm dark red tint comes naturally from its former life. These are made from a full stave, approximately thirty-five inches long and four inches wide. Also available is a smaller Tapas Tray, eighteen inches long and three inches wide and without the dramatic curve. The large is $74 and the small is $48.
If you’re born and raised on Keuka Lake and find yourself the manager of a vineyard’s tasting room, it might not be surprising that one day you take a used wine barrel home and figure out something cool to do with it. Dan Mitchell doesn’t like to see anything that’s perfectly good not get another chance to be useful. “Wine barrels get used about five times,” he says, “so I took one and made a tabletop.”
Not a table—Dan rarely does full barrel projects. For what he had in mind, he needed to visit his cousin, a skilled woodworker, and learn some finer points of the craft. He must’ve liked the process and the product, because he came home and bought the tools he needed to make more. In 2016, Dan and Rachel, his wife, had a son, and figured out that the rent of a small space in Penn Yan was cheaper than daycare. So, the first Staving Artist store was opened, and they raised their son in the shop. Then in 2020, during the pandemic shutdown, they had the chance to rent a larger space on Main Street and took the leap.
Over the years Dan has added to his repertoire, often based on Rachel’s sense of style and vision for home décor. There are occasional tables of different heights based on a demilune design, revolving trays using the whole barrel top, and painted staves for whatever interesting uses you may find for them. Drink Local was his first one. Find his work (as well as others’) at stavingartist.com or at 101 Main Street, Penn Yan. If you have questions call (315) 384-1110, or email [email protected] to order a customization. ~LMG
Sad but true—sometimes the stars just won’t align for a Christmas shopping trip to Ireland. Now what? Try taking a slightly more local sojourn to Walker Metalsmiths on 4 S Main Street in Andover, New York, where handcrafted Celtic jewelry is a tradition, and you can almost hear the lilt.
Walker Metalsmiths has been family owned/family operated since 1984. Owner, designer, and master craftsman Steve Walker credits his high school art teacher for inspiring and encouraging his own interest in Celtic design, and says that that teacher, plus the region’s pronounced Irish and Scottish heritage, have, over the years, helped produce a kind of regional/local style of Celtic jewelry that has made Walker Metalsmiths a destination.
Assistant Manager Kristy Woolridge has a good idea why.
“The staff is knowledgeable, everything is unique, and you get the Celtic feel but get it here in small town Western New York,” she says. “People want something meaningful—the biggest bang for their buck.” Plus, “our supply line is here,” so the in-house designer craftsmen (Walker Metalsmiths hosts a few Celtic designers and jewelers from across the pond as well) who create such pieces as your one-of-a-kind wedding rings, birthstone jewelry, and Claddagh-inspired pendants have what they need when they need it. The only thing you have to wait for is the finished piece. In the interim, you can choose a little something to fill that Fair Isle stocking.
This season, Steve suggests that the hunter on your list might absolutely love a hand-crafted necklace, ring, or other piece of jewelry made with a sterling silver or gold antlers theme, or a piece featuring a delicately crafted miniature elk or whitetail—courtesy of craftsmen Tom Carter and Lindsey Thurber. The elk pendant with dendritic opal ($405) makes quite the “Honey, I’m home” gift from a returning wanderer. For the tie-wearer in your life, how about a sterling ($27) or gold ($72) tie tack fashioned as a shamrock, a father’s knot, or a Josephine knot. Animal lovers might appreciate a personalized paw-print stacking ring ($49). Libby, the resident golden-doodle, would be honored if you chose an animal-themed gift for someone you care about.
Walker Metalsmiths is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Call (607) 478-8567 or visit walkerscelticjewelry.com, where you’ll find tabs for items under $50. ~GM
Is there anyone on your list who might like some fuzz for Christmas? If they are an electric guitarist or bassist, they just might. Lucky for Santa, Fuzzhugger Effects makes acclaimed fuzz pedals right in northcentral Pennsylvania. What is fuzz? Think of the distinctive sound of Jimi Hendrix or Jack White and you begin to get an idea.
“The effects are activated by footswitches,” explains Tom Dalton, “for quickly switching between sounds, as well as combining and layering effects to customize your tone. You may see a few—or over a dozen—of these small metal boxes at a guitarist’s feet. A pedal might distort your signal, increase sustain, add reverb or echoes, create a chorus effect, or manipulate pitch, to degrees between subtle and ear-bending.”
Tom grew up around musical instruments. His dad was a drummer and could build anything from “a table to a house.” He says that DIY spirit rubbed off. After years of admiring the colorful guitar pedals with ridiculous names, in 2008 Tom started “a little online shop focusing on custom and hand-painted pedals. I focused on looks and sounds that you wouldn’t find in any chain store or mainstream site: extra fuzzy tones, pedals that intentionally squeal, glitch, and drone at the stomp of a switch.”
Tom has been handcrafting visually and sonically-inspiring pedals for musicians around the world ever since. From drilling to finishing to wiring to the stunning graphics, all is done in-house. Specifically, in his house, where, because he’s his own boss, he can take unscheduled micro-breaks to hang with family. He explains that living and working in a remote area means “it’s easy to get work done” and “it gives me an excuse for being a hermit.” After more than a decade of selling direct and through dealers, Tom has gone back to selling direct-only. “This keeps prices (and my stress level) down and keeps me in touch with users.” He’s a parent and artist first, businessperson second. Even though his most popular pedals sell out quickly and he’s been at maximum production capacity for years, Tom has no desire to become a small factory or have his circuit boards assembled overseas. He’d rather sell on a first come, first served basis from his website, fuzzhugger.com, where you can quickly tell if the Doom Bloom fuzz or the Absynthe oscillating fuzz pedal you want is in stock. Prices range from $138 to $189, though he sometimes has models as low as $99. The same pedal may be available in a variety of graphics, so do yourself a favor and take a look. Use the online contact form to get in touch with Tom. ~LMG
Designer-fabricator Sam Castner has been recreating elements of his large sculpture installations as stainless-steel candle holders with nesting rings of maple trees, fir trees, and foxes. Set two candles inside for twice the shadows, and watch the trees climb your walls. “It’s like being out in the woods under a full moon,” he says.
Sam grew up on a farm on the east side of Keuka Lake and started working with metal at Alfred University, where he got his Bachelor of Arts-Fine Arts degree. After teaching blacksmithing in northern California, he returned to the Finger Lakes with his wife and started a studio on his family farm. Having grown up using tools and doing hands-on physical labor, Sam says working with metal just felt right. “You create something that’s going to last forever.”
It wasn’t long before he began getting commissions, first creating a thirty-foot tree, complete with a red tail hawk, that stands at the entrance of Red Tail Ridge Winery. Then other places called, starting a flurry of “who’s bigger and better?” He has pieces at many wineries and at the New York State Visitors Center in Geneva.
He got the idea for making smaller pieces because “not everyone can have a set of gates, but they can take home a candle holder.” For these, he scales down some elements from signature creations at Fox Run Vineyards and Glenora Wine Cellars. The fox is based off of Sam’s dog Shadow, a 120-pound malamute/timber wolf who he says is “head of the design team.” Shadow seems more than happy to be a run-and-jump model.
Lots of people make it a tradition to buy a new ring each year, and Sam keeps adding elements—last year it was a dancing fox. Each ring costs $25 to $50, depending on the size. The candle holders are sold at the Fox Run tasting room in Penn Yan (foxrunvineyards.com) and the Staving Artist in Penn Yan (stavingartist.com). Or you can email [email protected] to purchase directly from him. ~LMG
Buzzz. The oven timer goes off. There’s a lot of baking going on during these pre- holiday weeks, and, in Middlebury Center, Jean LaCroce is doing her share—measuring, mixing, rolling, cutting intricate designs in the dough, picking just the right colors for the icing, and then...giving the finished product to the dog.
“He’s my taste tester,” Jean says of Hawken, her golden retriever. It’s Hawken who got her started about three years ago on the delectable doggie treat path. “He has some stomach issues going on, so we wanted him to have healthy things to eat.” Hawken is the third golden with whom Jean and her husband, Charlie Cain, have shared their lives. Dakota and Cheyenne were the first two—they’ve since died—but Hawken is alive and well and enjoying his job. Jean refers to the trio as her “heart dogs”—thus the name of her business.
“Delectables” is an appropriate name for these creations. With their unique shapes, colorful exteriors, and all natural ingredients, they’re certainly more than your average dry, brown dog biscuit.
“They’re all human-grade ingredients,” Jean says. Those ingredients include natural peanut butter, honey, oats, cinnamon, and carob. She tweaked some existing recipes, then jumped through the necessary hoops to be licensed by the state Department of Agriculture. She plans to work throughout the winter on new recipes—things like pretzels, waffle sticks, doggie donuts, and pup cakes—the canine version of cupcakes—and may even try her hand at kitty treats.
In the meantime, it’s coming up on Christmas. If you’re stumped as to what the dog(s) in your life might love, or what the people in your life who love dogs might want, you’re barking up the right tree with Heart Dog Delectables. Jean can make up gift baskets, gift boxes, custom orders, even ornaments filled with treats. Prices vary, she says, but start at $3 for individual treats and vary depending on size and decorated vs undecorated. The turn-around time depends on what is ordered. She likes to bake “as fresh as possible,” but notes that her products do have a long shelf life.
You can find Heart Dog Delectables at Highland Chocolates, Dinkle Dog Grooming, Grand Canyon Veterinary, the Yellow Basket Shop, and on Facebook. For Wellsboro’s Dickens of a Christmas, December 3, she will be in front of Café 1905. Call Jean at (570) 787-0447 for more information or to place an order. ~GM
Ray Sprouse, originally of Galeton, got a hand woodworking kit when he was eight, and liked it right away. But when it came time to take shop in high school, the power tools intimidated him. Thankfully, he’s since conquered that fear.
Ray left the area to go to college, moving back in 2000 when he got a job at the hospital in Wellsboro as an MRI technologist. That’s where he met Dr. Enrico Doganiero, a radiologist who introduced him to the lathe. Ray’s grandfather had given him an old shopsmith—a cast iron multi-tool that was saw, planer, joiner, and lathe all in one. “It was scary, and it weighed eight million pounds,” Ray says. After a lesson on Rick’s lathe, Ray started making handles and bowls. And he joined a woodworking club. He upgraded his lathe and other equipment, and in 2012 started experimenting with making salt and pepper shakers and grinders. He’d been using his handles to make shaving razors, but that craze died down. Kitchen items never seem to go out of style, though. His most popular shakers and grinders range from muted to psychedelic colors and designs that show off the wavy lines. “Some people think I bend the wood,” he says. What he does is buy thin sheets of already dyed Baltic birch which he glues together, mixing colors, until he has a block that he can turn on the lathe. The designs sometimes surprise him. “The only control I have is the curve.”
Every weeknight after work, Ray turns wood to turn out new items, spending about fifteen hours a week in his woodshop. Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and Willie serenade him there, and there’s room for all of them, not like the small apartment he once had where he turned wood in a three-by-four-foot kitchen. “At least I could always reach anything I needed,” he shrugs.
Ray is busy helping Santa by keeping the stores stocked that sell his work. Around here that’s A Stroll Down Memory Lane at 27 W. Main Street, Galeton, and the Main Street Olive Oil Company on Main Street, Wellsboro. He also sells outside the area and online at woodchuxwoodturning.com, Etsy, and eBay. Sometimes customers buy pieces right out of the box as he’s unloading. He does commissions, too, and can add laser engraving to any piece. His kitchen items also include ice cream scoops, pizza cutters (very popular), veggie peelers, and pens (fountain and rollerball). Prices vary depending on where you purchase them but range from $40 to $100. He guarantees his items for life. ~LMG
Tom McGuin of Mansfield tied his first fly at age eight and built his first fly road the following year. He has the knowledge necessary to make flies with East Coast specific patterns, “not like Orvis and Cabela’s” who sell one type regardless of where you cast your line. His hellgrammites and crayfish are big sellers because “they look like they’d walk away.” He’s especially proud of those crayfish, which he ties in three different colors (since they change with the seasons) from a pattern he created when he was seventeen. “If you can’t catch a fish on that, go home,” he laughs.
These days you can find his flies and rods at Nessmuk’s Sporting Goods in Morris. While he builds new rods from blanks (chosen for the type of fishing you want to do), restoring rods has become his passion, and he stays as true to the original as materials will allow. The customer picks three colors, and Tom decides what will be the underwrap, and what to use for the threads he wraps by hand. Sentimental poles, he calls them, the ones dad or grandpa used that now just sit around. “I like people to enjoy them,” he says. Back when he’d fish 300 days a year, he’d put those old poles he’d collected and restored into his car. There was almost always a kid fishing with a bad pole, or no pole of their own, and Tom would make their day. “He’s got the biggest heart of anyone,” his wife, Carol, says.
An artist’s heart, for certain, because the time Tom spends on tying a fly or restoring a rod is not reflected in its price. But since he doesn’t get around much anymore, these projects are a way for him to stay connected with the joy of the outdoors, spread that joy to others, and keep a little history alive in the process. He tracked down what patterns matched the flies Nessmuk—our local folk hero—used in Pine Creek and the Adirondacks. These are sold separately or in a set.
Got a broken rod? Want to order a custom one for someone special on your list? Why not hook some of Tom’s flies to your favorite fisher’s stocking for a surprise on Christmas morning (some come as pins too)? Flies start at $1.85, pins are around $10, and restored fly rods start at $100 (conventional rods can be less). Find Nessmuk’s at 1803 Route 287, go to nessmuksltd.com, or call (570) 404-6159 to talk with Zack, who handles Tom’s orders. ~LMG
Vintage fabrics, Depression-era glass, and the reference book, The Grammar of Ornament, are all inspirations for Colleen McCall’s ceramics, but it is the whimsy, bold color, and patterns of the natural world that she works into her pottery that make it joyful. Vibrant red poppies, bright yellow lemons, and topsy-turvy mushrooms decorate mugs, platters, bowls, and vases. Colleen’s pieces are unique, one-of-a-kind creations, and with designs on both the inside and the outside—or the top and the bottom—it’s fun to curate your own distinctive collection, or add to someone else’s. The outside of a mug might feature a chrysanthemum blossom plucked from a Ming vase while the inside reveals a textured design from a 1950s-era tumbler. That inside pattern might, in turn, suggest the next piece in a random-yet-intentional assortment—perhaps a bubble bowl with a red floral design or maybe a reversible bud vase.
Colleen’s vintage but contemporary creations play well together. Her work ranges from cups to platters, vases to planters, and is made for everyday use. Prices range from $30 to $350. This festive time of year, her “I Love Red” collection might make a nice addition, or start, to someone’s collection. My London niece, Kat Cade, adds a new piece of Colleen’s pottery each time she visits. “Colleen’s pottery is instantly recognizable,” she writes. “Every morning I drink my tea from one of her stoneware mugs. Decorated with one of her signature bold, indented, flower designs, it is equally delightful to hold as it is to behold.”
Colleen trained as a life-size figure sculptor at Alfred University, but began working with smaller pieces when her children were young. She joined Handwork, an artisan cooperative in Ithaca, where she’s been a member since 2009. With a kiln in the basement of her home, Colleen says her colorful ceramics help her survive winter.
“I love painting in late winter and anticipating spring, seeing the seasons blossom in the kiln,” she says.
View and purchase Colleen’s ceramics at colleenmccallceramics.com and at Handwork. She’ll be showcasing her work in time for Christmas at the Factory Art Market at South Hills Business Park, 950 Danby Road, Ithaca, December 2 to 4, and she’ll emerge from her subterranean studio just in time for the Elmira Handmade Market in early March. You can also call her at (607) 483-1977. ~JM
About five years ago, Shane Nickerson, mayor of Blossburg, had a phone call from a local business owner who was going out of business. Was Shane interested in purchasing some inventory, specifically skateboards?
“He knew I collected skateboards,” says Shane, and, yes, he was interested. Always civic minded, especially when it comes to the young people of the area, Shane’s plan was simple—buy the skateboards and give them away to the kids in the community. But, while the trucks and wheels (basically the skateboards’ hardware) have some longevity, the decks wear out (the deck is the surface of the board you stand on—it’s the decks that Shane and other enthusiasts like to collect). Now what?
Well, if you’re Shane, you enlist the aid of your son, Liam, and you start making your own.
Most skateboard decks are made of layers of wood veneer (although some other materials are sometimes used) that are glued and pressed together, then cut out after tracing a shape from a template. Shane and Liam found a press on eBay—it was in Massachusetts, so there was a bit of a drive—and started cranking out skateboard decks for the kids in the community. But, their “cranking out” was a long way from mass production. The pressed veneer needs time to cure. They cut the boards one at a time. The process they used to apply graphics to the decks was somewhat time consuming. All that was relatively okay until their boards, now known as Mayor’s Skateboard Company, caught the attention of pro skater Ron Allen. He wanted to see where the boards were being made, and he suggested starting a small company. That seemed a bit of a pipe dream, as “we were cutting out the boards with a jigsaw,” Shane notes. But Ron did help with coming up with a logo, and then a friend of Liam’s got involved, then a friend of Shane’s, one with some engineering expertise, joined in. That friend eventually became a partner and “built some equipment for us” that changed the way they were able to apply graphics to the boards.
They’re still not mass producing, but have close to 200 decks in stock, and custom orders for Christmas are certainly doable. (“We’d have to quote a price,” depending on what the customer wants, Shane says.) The former North Penn High School gym is the current workspace, but “what we would like to do is have a manufacturing facility in Blossburg,” as well as an indoor skate park. To place an order, or for more information, send an email to [email protected]. Decks are available at CS Sports in Wellsboro starting at about $60. ~GM
When Steven Fulkerson, the seventh generation of the family at Fulkerson Winery & Farm on the west coast of Seneca Lake, got a call in 2019 from Oak Hill Bulk Foods in Penn Yan asking if he had any pasteurized grape juice they could sell at their store it seemed a logical question, since Fulkerson supplies juice to home winemakers.
“No,” Steven said. “But let me think about it.” Four months later, he had 200 gallons of juice available for Oak Hill to sell, packaged by a local bottler. The next year Fulkerson brought the bottling process in house at the farm at 5576 Route 14 in Dundee, and this year put 6,000 gallons into 80,000 bottles. If you’re searching for a distinctive local beverage for the kids and teetotalers around the holiday table, your quest is over.
Make no mistake—this is not non-alcoholic wine. These are grapes that have never started the fermentation process. This is good ol’ grape juice with its full natural sugar content on display, just like you buy in the store—only better, because, unlike their commercial cousins, Fulkerson’s are cold pressed, to get maximum grape flavor (unlike most commercial juices, which are boiled for maximum yield). “There’s a lot more subtlety to it,” says Steven. The northeastern native grapes are here in their full just-juice splendor: rosy catawba, violet concord, and golden delaware and niagara (the last three especially beloved by grape juice and sacramental wine drinkers the world over). And, ranging in hue from blonde to amethyst, are the names you will recognize from your wineglass: himrod, riesling, valvin muscat, diamond, rosette, syrah, and DeChaunac, all in ten-ounce, $3.50 bottles for sale at the winery. Top sellers concord and niagara are also available by the quart. Except for the catawba and rosette (grown along Keuka Lake), and the DeChaunac (grown on the farm next door, managed by Steven’s uncle), everything is grown at Fulkerson’s, including the cortland, burgundy tart, and empire apples that go into their ciders (also cold pressed and non-alcoholic). “Empire is the best seller,” says Steven, “which works for me. Cortland is my favorite, but we only have a few of those trees, so there’s not as much of it.” You can go to fulkersonwinery.com or call (607) 243-7883 for more info. You can also find the juices in stores across the southern tier, including the Finger Lakes Cider House, Parker’s Farm Market, Tops in Watkins Glen and Penn Yan, and at most Taste New York locations. “The sale of Fulkerson juices outpaces Coca-Cola products at Watkins Glen State Park,” adds Steven, smiling.
We’ll drink to that, and to a Merry Christmas to you and yours from all of us at Mountain Home. ~TBC