Microclimate, which has been open just a little more than a year, is a cozy wine bar tucked away on Geneva’s historic downtown Linden Street.
The formal definition of “microclimate” is the climate of a very small area, and the social setting in this tiny gem is laid back, casual and welcoming. The city of Geneva is becoming increasingly recognized for its burgeoning food- and wine-related businesses. This establishment provides an exciting new opportunity to enjoy wine and food with friends in a sophisticated, relaxed environment that mimics wine bar settings usually only available in fairly large cities.
Microclimate is operated by the dynamic duo of owner James-Emery Elkin and business partner Stephanie Mira de Orduna, who carefully selects their diverse array of wines and craft beers. Elkin is a Geneva native, who left for a brief time to live in Virginia and San Francisco where he studied sustainable design. He came back to Geneva in 2008 and purchased the current building intending to eventually make it into a wine bar. Elkin has had very little formal training in wine, but points out that “wine is literally in his blood” because his French ancestors have been involved in the Champagne business for many years. He spent summers in France with his family — most of whom live there — and was introduced to the enjoyment of wine at an early age. His current wine philosophy echoes that of his grandfather, who considered wine a form of art.
Mira de Orduna has both French and Spanish ancestors and is well versed in both the art and technology of wine making and appreciation. She is certified by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, a British organization that presents courses and exams in the field of wine and spirits at the advanced level. She has also worked in New Zealand and Canada and had experience in New York in studying the effects of different yeast strains on wine production and quality.
Elkin and Mira de Orduna both have a wide appreciation for all kinds of wine and their goal is to provide an environment where people can enjoy wine and also educate themselves in a gentle, informal way. They do this by offering wine flights that always include one Finger Lakes wine paired with an international array of four wines made from the same variety or made in the same style. This provides an interesting opportunity for people to compare New York wines with comparable products produced worldwide. They currently feature six different tasting flights:
• Unusual Reds — a Pinot Meunier from Oregon; a Frappato from Sicily; a Xinomavro from Greece; a Pinotage from South Africa; and a Blaufrankisch from Red Tail Ridge in the Finger Lakes.
• Red Blends — Domaine de Fontsainte, Corbieres, France; Mediterra, Toscana Italy; Twisted Douro, Portugal; Jose L. Ferrer Crianza, Mallorca, Spain; and a Meritage, Ravines, Finger Lakes.
• Riesling — Johannishof Charta, Rheingau, Germany; Pirie Estate, Tasmania, Australia; Domaine Joseph Cattin, Alsace, France; Mt. Difficulty Roaring Meg, Central Otago, New Zealand; and Lamoreaux Landing Reserve, Finger Lakes.
• Bubbly — Brut rose Heart & Hands, Finger Lakes; Gesellman Blaufrankisch rose Sekt, Austria; Alma Negra Rose, Mendoza, Argentina; Cava Avinyo Brut rose, Penedes, Spain; and Wiemer Brut rose, Finger Lakes.
• Gewürztraminer — Huia, Marlborough, New Zealand; Cartagena, San Antonio Valley, Chile; Domaine Bott-Geyl, Alsace, France; Tramin, Alto Adige, Italy; and Anthony Road, Finger Lakes.
• Rosé: Sheldrake Point, Finger Lakes; Sancerre, France; Robert Sinskey, California; Ameztoi Rubentis Txakolina, Spain; Montfaucon, Rhone Valley, France.
Their array of flights changes every two to three months, except for the rieslings, which persist because of the importance of this signature variety for the Finger Lakes region. This month they will feature a Rose flight and in the fall will present a flight of Sauvignon Blancs. In addition to their wine flights, Microclimate also offers an additional selection of other wines. Unlike many other wine bars, they provide customers the opportunity to purchase their entire array of approximately 50 wines by both the glass and bottle.
Microclimate also carries a selection of approximately 20 beers from all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Kenya. Elkin is also interested in “vintage beers” and is currently cellaring some of them to be offered to patrons in the future. According to Mira de Orduna, some patrons drink both beer and wines, but the majority specialize primarily in one or the other so their diverse selection of both spirits provides enjoyment for everyone.
Although the facility does not have a kitchen, a variety of small plates is available including an antipasto tray, cheeses from New York and around the world, olives, Marcona almonds from Spain and a charcuterie. They serve bread along with these small plates from Normal Bread in Geneva.
The entire building is only about 19 feet wide and 50 feet deep. It is a tribute to Elkin’s background in sustainable design that he has created a comfortable environment in such a small area with a bar and two separate rooms that can accommodate 45 people.
The building has been tastefully restored to feature its original brick walls and wooden floor; recycled materials are used extensively in the décor. The room nearest the street is designed to be open and lure people into the establishment. The windows are almost always open during the summer until they have to be closed in October until spring. This room displays a gracefully curved bar designed by one of Elkin’s friends, Ben O’Hearn. It is supported by copper pipe and covered by galvanized aluminum. The back room includes a large fireplace surrounded by comfortable couches. The bathroom also has oak planks that were originally used in a wine vat at Bully Hill winery, and the tartrate crystals left over from winemaking provide a unique sparkle to the wall. Menus and the walls are covered with recycled leather from the Vere Sandal Company, also located in Geneva.
Your summer will not be complete until you stop in to spend some time with Elkin and Mira de Orduna and get a chance to mingle with new visitors to Geneva, old-time area natives and members from the local wine and restaurant businesses who tend to frequent this establishment.
To stay current with Microclimate’s offerings and events, be sure to like them on Facebook.
Reissig, an entomologist at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, is a wine enthusiast who has visited wineries in the Napa and Sonoma regions in California and extensively toured Finger Lakes Vineyards for 30 years. He also regularly serves on tasting panels and as a judge for wine competitions.