In July I spent a week in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Located in the central of the state, this area is a nice retreat for those who like the outdoors or just want to relax. The region offers a variety of activities to please any palette. From hiking the Watkins Glenn Gorge trail, to boating or kayaking on one of the lakes, to museums, and shopping. It is the type of area that makes you slow down and enjoy the simple things. One of the biggest things the region is known for is wine. Due to the depths of the lakes, certain varietals of grapes grow well along the shores. One can't go more than a couple of miles in this region without coming across a winery. Riesling's and Chardonnay's seem to be what the area produces best, though there are some other great choices.
The week I spent there with my husband and his family, we rented a house on Seneca Lake. This lake has over 40 wineries surrounding it and visiting a one became part of our daily routine. One day we rented a van from Quality Wine Tours (highly recommend) to drive us around so we could visit a bunch without the worry of driving. Note that some places offer preset wine tours, we rented our own van so we had the freedom to choose our stop. By the end of the week we visit roughly 15 wineries. While there are still many more to experience, here are the ones I recommend that we tried.
Fox Run Vineyards
The day we arrived for our vacation and got settled; a glass of wine to enjoy our lake house sounded too good to pass up. The problem was it was around 5:00; the time most of the wineries in the region close. This was one of the rare ones that stays open until 6:00. Pulling in I was immediately in love with the setting. The view overlooking the lake, rolling green hills, and some beautiful metal sculptures. The staff was warm and welcoming and they had some refreshing wines. Maybe because it was my first winery, but I quickly learned why Rieslings are so popular in this area.
What to Try: Riesling Lot 11, Hanging Delta; Ruby Vixen
I had heard of this winery prior to my visit. Their Red Cat wine is a sweet red available at a lot of restaurants in Pennsylvania. Its a popular wine and always a crowd-pleaser at any function. This store front has a fun sort of barn country feel to it. This place is probably more for those who like sweet wines; though there are some not bad dry ones to try. To me though, the highlight was the hard ciders. I've been loving the increase in popularity of alcoholic apple ciders; and they had some refreshing unique flavors to sample.
What to Try: Red Cat Wine, Bramble Berry Wine, and the Hazlitt Cider Tree Vanilla
A laid back place with a hippie vibe, the wines are friendly of the tongue and give you all the vibes of peace and love. If fruit wines are what you crave, than this is one place to stop. The fruit wines are 90% made from the actual fruit they are named after; and not an added flavor later. It was perfect for our warm summer day. Don't worry if you are not into the sweet fruity stuff. They have an impressive selection of drier wines to sample; several that are award winning.
What to Try: Strawberry Molly, Cherry Tayberry, and any of the Rieslings
A wonderful destination as you get to experience three wineries and a micro brewery all in one location. Each different building is built around a theme and there is really something to offer for everyone. Stony Lonesome winery has a nice upscale feeling with a variety of dry wines to sample. Passion Feet Wine has more flirty flavors to sample and hands down the best wine slushies I have ever had. Bagg Dare Wine company is tucked in the back of the property and a favorite by anyone I know who has ever visited this property. It is styled with this back woods bayou feel and the wines have fun names like Skirt Lifter and Poor Limp Richards. My favorite stop was the War Horse Brewing Company. A wonderful selection of craft beers, ciders, and even some soda's.
What to try: 69 Ways to Have Fun (wine), Heart Pounding Crush wine (buy it with the berry pomegranate slush mix), any slushies available (even the cider ones), Orange Cream Soda (non-alcoholic), Red Apple Raspberry Hard Cider, and Peace Bomber (beer).
This place won me over pretty quickly. They had a really nice variety to choose from and they serve delicious bites of cheese (that you can also purchase) with your samples. They had some amazing sweet wines, but none of the dry ones I tasted won me over. I didn't taste a fruit or sweeter wine I didn't find enjoyable. Peach wines can be hit or miss for me and this one was definitely a hit. It was the last stop on our big tour day and I left with a variety of wines and cheeses.
What to try: Raspberry Rose, Cranberry Chablis, and Jammin Red
Above is nearby Glenora Falls. On private property but you can catch a view from the road.
Any place that has a dog as a greeter, already earns a star in my book. The rest came from all the delightful wines. In the back we had a tasting by a wonderful woman who really knew her wines and vineyard history. The tasting had two options: a sweeter and a drier. Luckily the kind woman understood that I was a little of both and let me swap a couple around. Their basic Riesling ended up being one of my favorite Rieslings of the entire area.
What to Try: Riesling, Abby Rose, and Gewurztraminer
OK so if you are a big wine person you are probably thinking by now that most of the wineries on this list are more known for their sweeter wines. A lot of wine snobs I know prefer the drier stuff. I don't discriminate in my wine and tend to drink it all. Except for Merlot's! Merlot's are like a bad relative who gives me an instant headache. Otherwise, I can appreciate any wine for what its worth. I also tend to go sweet in spring/summer and then dry in the fall/winter. One thing I noticed as that the Finger Lake region is more known for its whites and most of the dry reds I tried fell short. This winery finally had a nice variety of some dry wines including some reds. The only dry red I bought the entire trip was from this winery. If your wine palette is a little more sophsticated, this is the winery you want to visit.
What to Try: Gewurztraminer, Estate Red, and 76 West (the bottle I bought)
This place is nestled between Seneca and Cayuga Lake's but is probably my number one recommendation. This winery has the perfect combination of the dry wines and the sweet wines. Any palette should be able to find something he or she enjoys at this winery. The prices are also one of the best in the entire region. One of my favorite things was the Blue Waters Chardonnay Riesling. A consistent gold medalist winner, this wine actually combines the two wines the area is known for into one delectable beverage. Also if you are a fan of grape juice but want an adult version, the Classic Concord is one of the best Concords I have ever tasted.
What to try: Blue Waters Chardonnay Riesling, Blue Water Riesling, Svenska Red, Viking Red, Classic Concord
A few year ago we did visit a few wineries on Keuka Lake; just not as many. Along that lake, I can recommend Bully Hill and Dr. Konstantin Frank. We are planning a return trip and hope to hit up some more. I am always up for suggestions on what one to visit on our next trip. Plus never fear if wine is not your thing, the area is growing in the number of breweries, distilleries, and even some cider places are popping up.