“Excitement, Romance, & Award-Winning Wines” at Coyote Moon Vineyards
By Christina LaParr and Valerie Hickman
2011 was a momentous year for Coyote Moon Vineyards of Clayton, New York. The family-owned winery opened in 2009 and in that short time, has become one of the most award-winning wineries in New York…and they’re just getting started! The year got off to a quick start and kept a brisk pace for the Randazzo family, who founded Coyote Moon. In January 2011, the Jefferson County Job Development Corporation named Coyote Moon Vineyards the New Business Venture Award recipient for 2010. It was a truly humbling and exciting experience for everyone at Coyote Moon, but there was more on the horizon.
Throughout the year, Coyote Moon Vineyards’ Award-Winning Wine garnered over 183 medals and awards from the most prestigious national and international wine competitions. This repeated national recognition established Coyote Moon Vineyards as one of New York State’s most Award-Winning Wineries—an incredible feat, especially considering that Coyote Moon is only three years old. At the close of 2011, Coyote Moon Vineyards’ Award-Winning Wines earned 225 medals.
Awards were not limited to the wines, as Mary Randazzo’s labels won the prestigious Best Label Series at both the Pacific Rim Wine Competition and the Denver International Competition. Excited and humbled by the recognition, Mary spent much of 2011 creating new artwork for the newly released wines. During 2011, Coyote Moon Vineyards released Island Mama, Brianna, Frontenac, Marquette, Razzle Dazzle, and Fireboat White. These new wines spanned the palette from dry to sweet, complimenting any meal from start to finish, or any celebration.
In addition to a banner year for its wines, 2011 also saw Coyote Moon Vineyards harvest its first crop of estate-grown grapes. After years of planting, pruning, and waiting the Randazzo family, with the help of their community, neighbors and friends, hand-harvested over 20 tons of grapes. To show their appreciation each day of the harvest, the Randazzo family welcomed all of those who volunteered their time to a Sicilian Style luncheon celebration – on the house of course. The family spread the white tablecloths in the middle of the vineyard and everyone enjoyed the hospitality of the family, the picturesque setting, and the fruits of their labor. The harvested grapes are currently fermenting to be bottled and released later this year as Coyote Moon Vineyards very first estate-bottled wines.
Besides the addition of multiple awards and wines in 2011, Coyote Moon Vineyards added several new upgrades to the winery and the vineyard as well. The Randazzo family added a state-of-the-art bottling line to aid in their wine production, with which Coyote Moon can now bottle more than 1300 bottles an hour. The Randazzos also added two acres of cold hardy varietals to the vineyards bringing the total acreage to 16 acres, continuing to maintain Coyote Moon Vineyards as the largest vineyard in Jefferson County. The Randazzos added a bandstand to Coyote Moon Vineyards as well. The hand-crafted bandstand resembles a quaint outdoor porch with stairs leading up to the stage and the façade of a country home. At different times throughout the summer, the bandstand served myriad romantic and exciting purposes. Couples often used it during their wedding ceremonies as the bride and groom climbed the stairwell decorated with winding flower tendrils to exchange their vows and profess their love. Other times the bandstand was the home of the Foggy River Band as well as the stage for several live music shows during Coyote Moon’s always-lively festivals.
Coyote Moon Vineyards hosted numerous one-of-a-kind festivals and events which included the romantic and decadent Sweetheart’s Food and Wine Pairing. Chef Christian Ives, Executive Chef at the Edgewood Resort, prepared a five-star, five-course food and wine pairing while minstrels serenaded the couples on the acoustic guitar and violin. The family even opened a barrel of wine for all who attended to taste Coyote Moon’s the soon-to-be bottled Estate Marquette. The Farmers’ Market Fiesta Day, Classic Car Cruise-In, Annual Howl at the Moon Festival, and Harvest Festival were exciting, family-friendly festivals complete with full farmers’ markets, food vendors, and live music enjoyed by all. One of the most loved festivals of the year was the annual two-day Bluegrass Festival. It was a howlin’ success as Coyote Moon Vineyards’ very own Foggy River Band plucked and picked the weekend away with local and national Bluegrass artists including Trey Hensley and Driving Miss Crazy from Tennessee, Chad Darou and Stealing Time, Dave Nichols and Spare Change and the Wheeler Creek Band. Later that fall, Phil Randazzo, member of the Foggy River Band, traveled to Tennessee to record and then release his very first CD, “It’s Never Too Late,” which has been warmly welcomed by the music community and even played live in Kingston, Ontario on the Bluegrass Station.
Coyote Moon Vineyards was active in the community throughout the year hosting the Thousand Islands Museum Revival of the Old-Fashioned Community Shore Dinner, the Ducks Unlimited Annual Dinner, the Youth Hockey Association’s fundraiser, and the Greater Watertown North Country Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours event to name a few. Coyote Moon also sponsored the Thousand Island Privateer Hockey Team, TYLO’s Annual Masquerade Ball, and other community-centered events.
Coyote Moon Vineyards not only held events throughout the year, the Randazzo family was on the road at the Finger Lakes Wine Festival and the Great New York State Food and Wine Festival where they brought home the coveted People’s Choice Awards for their Red and White Wines. They also attended the Utica Wine and Chocolate Festival, the Syracuse Wine and Chocolate Festival, and many more venues. Coyote Moon Vineyards also brought their delicious Award-Winning Wines each week to the farmers markets in Oswego and Watertown.
2011 was certainly filled with “Excitement, Romance, & Award-Winning Wine” and 2012 is clearly heading in the same direction for Coyote Moon Vineyards. The year started off with a bang as Coyote Moon Vineyards’ Marquette took Best of Class Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle’s Wine Competition. It is the “largest competition of American Wines in the world.” 65 judges critiqued 5,500 wines and awarded Coyote Moon Vineyards with medals for Marquette, Fireboat Red, Brianna, La Crescent, Twisted Sister, Frontenac, River Time, and River Run. It was an amazing accomplishment and a perfect way to start out the New Year.
In other exciting news, Coyote Moon is eagerly anticipating opening a brand new tasting room on Riverside Drive in the heart of Clayton, New York. The new store is projected to open in May 2012 and offers the community the opportunity to taste the delicious award-winning wine downtown. At the vineyard, Coyote Moon is kicking off their Festival Season on May 5th 2012 with their Farmers’ Market Fiesta Day and has jam-packed the summer with festivals and events for the entire family. All upcoming events and festivals are listed on Coyote Moon Vineyards’ website and Facebook page at www.coyotemoonvineyards.com.
Coyote Moon Vineyards is open daily for tastings of their award-winning wines on East Line Road in Clayton, New York and soon to be adding the Riverside Drive location in Clayton, New York in May 2012. Drop on by and find out what all the howlin’ is about.