Great Finger Lakes Wineries To Visit
The Finger Lakes region is absolutely beautiful, and perhaps best known as a great getaway destination in upstate New York. That is especially true for wine-lovers! Finger Lakes wineries have worked hard over the past several decades to cultivate their reputations and produce some of the countrys top wines. Its actually the 3rd largest wine-producing region in the country.
Today, there are more than 100 Finger Lakes wineries calling this area home, mostly scattered around Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes but with a few up near Canandaigua Lake and beyond as well. The Finger Lakes Region is particularly well-known for its production of aromatic white varietals like Riesling and Gewurztraminer but its also gaining popularity with cool-climate reds like Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. In short, Finger Lakes wineries really do offer something for everyone.
Most Finger Lakes Wineries are open year-round, and tasting appointments are generally not needed during normal times. During COVID, however, its best to call ahead and verify operations and reservation requirements. Weve included some of the top-rated Finger Lakes Wineries here, broken down by the lake its on/near, to help you plan your adventures through New Yorks scenic wine country.
Hemlock & Canadice Lakes
The next two Finger Lakes- from West to East- are Hemlock and Canadice Lakes. These two lakes are smaller. In fact, Canadice is the smallest of all the Finger Lakes. They are also relatively rustic, and untouched by industry since the city of Rochester began buying family-owned cottages on the shoreline to begin preserving the lake for cleaner drinking water. This Finger Lakes region is surrounded by beautiful countryside and the old-growth of the Hemlock- Canadice State Forest.
Day : Buttermilk Falls Ithaca And Six Mile Creek
Driving Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
The gorge trail in Buttermilk Falls State Park is a short .62 miles . You can certainly combine it with other trails for a longer hike, but if you want to take it easy on the last day of your Finger Lakes road trip, this is an easy and beautiful choice.
Meander along the gorge trail, take a dip at the base of the lower falls, and head into Ithaca for lunch. For a quick, inexpensive, and delicious meal, I recommend Luna Street Food on North Aurora Street.
Early afternoon is a good time to meander around Ithaca Commons. Ithaca is a bustling college town, home to Cornell University and Ithaca College. Its worth spending an extra day or two in Ithaca if you have time.
If youre a shopper, youll find all kinds of fun boutiques on State Street. If you love waterfalls , you should check out Ithaca Falls, which you can walk to from downtown.
Fancy another wine tasting before leaving the Finger Lakes? Locals recommended Six Mile Creek Vineyards, just 3.5 miles from downtown Ithaca. What a beautiful setting! The sprawling vineyards are a perfect backdrop for wine sipping on the deck, and there is often live music to go with your gorgeous view. We bought our first red wine of the trip here, Ithaca Red, and packed it away for a long drive home.
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Where Are The Finger Lakes Located
The Finger Lakes region is located in Upstate New Yorkstretching between Syracuse, Rochester, and the Pennsylvania border. The lakes are essentially a halfway point between New York City and Niagara Falls.
How long will it take you to drive there? The Finger Lakes are about four to six hours from NYC, Philadelphia, and western Connecticut, depending on where in the region youre heading.
Because of their location, the Finger Lakes make a great weekend trip from the citywhether youre looking to get back to nature, enjoy some delicious food and wine, or explore the history of the region.
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The Best Finger Lakes Wineries You Must Visit
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While the Finger Lakes has a reputation for an abundance of overly sweet wines, as you sift through the options you really start to see that this is in fact a world-class wine region.
During our many visits, we have been fortunate enough to try many of the best Finger Lakes wineries, and in this one we wanted to share a few of our very favorites that we think are must-visits on any trip.
The Best Finger Lakes Wineries
Spending a day out in the countryside of Upstate New York exploring these Finger Lakes Wineries is truly an experience you wont soon forget. Youll taste some the best wine our region has to offer in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Here are our top 15 Finger Lakes wineries to visit any time of year:
Be sure to check websites or call ahead to these Finger Lakes wineries, as operating hours are still influx. Allow us or one of our accommodating staff to help with reservations whenever possible.
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A Visit To Finger Lakes Wine Country Ny
As seasoned regional travelers as we are, our home state of New York State still surprises us. Home to both the most populous city in the country, and the largest protected natural area in the contiguous US states, New York is filled with gems from downstate to upstate. One of those gems we recently discovered is the second-largest concentration of wineries in the USA, also known as Finger Lakes Wine Country. Bested only by Napa Valley in California, there are no less than 120 wineries in the Finger Lakes, all within a couple hours of each other. Inspired by our home states penchant for wine, we packed our bags and paired up with regional tourism website Finger Lakes Wine Country to create a guide for the area.
The history of the Finger Lakes begins some two million years ago, when the unique region was created by continental glaciers, forming a series of long, skinny, deep lakes. Its natural combination of deep waterSeneca Lake is 632 feet at its deepest pointand steep sloping hills create the ideal micro-climate for grape growing. The unique geology and topography protect the growth of hardy native grapes, premium hybrids, and even the more delicate varieties of Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir.
Breweries Cideries & Distilleries In The Area
As youll have your pick of Finger Lakes wineries for touring and tasting on a stay at our Bed and Breakfast, there are also a host of Finger Lakes breweries, cideries, and distilleries nearby for lovely days exploring the flavors of our region. Youll be quick to see that were so much more than just wine!
Here are some of our favorite Finger Lakes breweries, cideries, and distilleries to check out:
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A Perfect Finger Lakes Road Trip Itinerary For Wine And Waterfalls
How you tackle this road trip is entirely up to you. We drove in from Vermont, so I created the itinerary to go from east to west in a very loose loop. This will also work well if you fly into Syracuse, as the first stop is just 25 miles from the airport. The Roadtrippers map above includes travel to and from the airport.
Psst Roadtrippers is one of our favorite apps for planning trips, and the premium version is 100% worth every penny. You can save $5 off the Roadtrippers app by using the code BTR5QTP. Youre welcome!
Sip Your Way Through These 4 Finger Lakes Wine Trails
The wine trails throughout the Finger Lakes are committed to providing a safe and clean space for you to enjoy, and ask that you also adhere to the policies put in place at each winery! Many of the requirements the wineries have in place are mandated by the New York State Liquor Authority and the State of New York in order to be open.
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Choosing The Best Area In The Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes region is comprised of eleven beautiful lakes which span across a massive part of New York State. Therefore, to begin exploring pockets of this amazing region, start by choosing one of these eleven lake regions to base yourself out of. Next, choose a cute town near that lake or narrow it down by one of the many cool boutique hotels, rentals, glamping spots, or luxurious resorts. There are so many splendid Finger Lakes lodging options to choose from for all budgets.
Below are the best places by lake region to help you choose where to stay in the Finger Lakes. So youll be ready for days of exploration on your New York getaway.
Why Road Trip The Finger Lakes
Thanks to 150+ years of winemaking history and a growing climate similar to some of the most popular wine regions in Europe, the Finger Lakes is fairly well-known for its vineyards and wineries.
And while lots of people come to the Finger Lakes for wine country, they leave also charmed by the region’s beautiful landscapes , quaint small towns, and interesting historical ties.
It’s a great place for a road trip since there truly is something for everyone here. Plus, it’s easy to get around with decent roads and plenty of tourism infrastructure.
But the Finger Lakes is a fairly large region . So for this specific trip, I’m focusing mostly on Finger Lakes Wine Country and the southern part of the region. This area has a little bit of everything that makes the Finger Lakes so special, making it a great focus for a trip.
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A Brief Finger Lakes History Lesson
Like most parts of the US, the Finger Lakes region was inhabited by Indigenous peoples long before Europeans discovered it. In fact, Native American legends likely even influenced the area’s name the story goes that the Finger Lakes were formed after the Great Spirit reached out and blessed the land, leaving finger marks behind.
This part of New York was at the center of the Iroquois Confederacy, and was populated mostly by people of the Seneca, Cayuga, Tuscarora, and Onondaga nations. A lot of Indigenous names left over from this part of the Finger Lakes’ history still remain today, especially when it comes to the names of counties and the lakes themselves.
The Iroquois Confederacy largely kept European influence out of this part of New York until civil war and the American Revolution dismantled it and drove the Iroquois from their land. Afterward, the land was quickly sold off to Europeans, and settlers were arriving by the early 1800s.
The region would go on to play host to lots of notable historical figures and moments, from being home to Harriett Tubman and Frederick Douglass to hosting the first Womens Rights Convention to being the place where Mark Twain wrote some of his most famous works.
The Finger Lakes also emerged not once but twice as an important wine-producing region within the US, which is still one of the main reasons people visit today.
Explore The Finger Lakes Wine Region
Have you had a chance to explore the burgeoning collection of Finger Lakes wineries in upstate NY? If you have, then you probably already know just how great the Finger Lakes wine region truly is. If you havent, then 2021 provides you the perfect opportunity to do just that!
The Finger Lakes Region, located in upstate New York, is one of the fastest-growing and most popular wine tasting regions in the country. In addition to being home to a number of highly-rated Finger Lakes Wineries, the area is also home to some wonderful breweries, distilleries, and restaurants.
During normal times, which we hope to return to soon, the area is also home to several food-and-wine-centric events. Needless to say, the Finger Lakes is a fantastic destination for food, wine, and craft beverage lovers of all varieties, not to mention an exquisite place to relax, unwind, and soak up the pretty natural surroundings.
Though the Finger Lakes wineries are one of the star attractions of this area, its certainly not the only reason to visit this charmingly romantic getaway destination. The area is also a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts!
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Day : Ithaca And Cayuga Lake
Ithaca is one of the more popular towns in the Finger Lakes region, but it’s known more for its waterfalls than its farms or wineries. If you have the extra time, it is a perfect place to end your time in the southern Finger Lakes region.
Ithaca has slightly more of a college town feel, being home to Cornell University. It’s also home to more than 100 different waterfalls, which has led to the town’s tagline: Ithaca is Gorges.
I would start your day with breakfast in town, and then a bit of a wander around Ithaca Commons, the pedestrian-only street in the middle of town. Keep an eye out for street art, and if you’re visiting on a weekend you may also want to stop by the Ithaca Farmer’s Market.
Then you can spend the rest of the day chasing local waterfalls!
Start with a couple right in downtown Ithaca and on Cornell’s campus. Check out Ithaca Falls right in town on Falls Creek, and walk the Cascadilla Gorge Trail, which is a .75-mile-long trail that passes 8 different waterfalls on Cornell’s campus.
You’ll also want to make the 15-minute drive north to Taughannock Falls State Park, which is home to one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains. The 215-foot cascade can be seen from a viewing platform that you can literally drive right up to, or there are some hiking trails in the park that will take you to the base of Taughannock Falls.
Have you ever been to the Finger Lakes? If not, is it a place you’d like to visit?
Hermann J Wiemer Vineyard & Winery
Address: 3962 NY-14, Dundee, NY 14837 |Phone: 607-243-7971 | Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm and Sunday 11 am-4 pm | Price For Tasting: Starts at $3-7 for a 2 person sized single taste | Must-Try Wines: HJW Riesling Bio and Cuvee Brut
This picturesque wine estate is made even better by its vast selection of Riesling! Of course, they excel in many other wines, but their Riesling is certainly the star of the show.
They have a whopping 11 different Rieslings to try, each with its own unique aromas and flavors. The best is definitely the HJW Riesling Bio, a dry Riesling with hints of honey and a bit of minerality.
The Riesling Late Harvest is also a must-try with its tropical aroma and subtle minerality. And for bubbly lovers, there are 3 sparkling wines to choose from, including the Cuvee Brut, with its crispness and great texture.
Reservations are recommended and can be made here.
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Get A Finger Lakes Wine Trail Passport For Discounts
Please note, due to COVID-19, our wineries are now open, but reservations are required for tasting.
Get exclusive tastings at each stop, and a 25% savings, when you purchase their wine tasting passport. Passports are good for a year after purchase, so you can spend valuable time meeting with their tastemakers.
The passport provides complimentary tastings at each winery and additional price discounts for the purchase of wine with the use of the passport.
One passport is valid for one person, not valid for groups of more than eight.
This New York State Region Is One Of The Best Places To Go In 2022 With Wineries Waterfalls And Charming Hotels
Named one of the best places to travel in 2022 by Travel + Leisure editors, the Finger Lakes region in central New York maintains a distinct identity. The “centrally isolated” geographic positioning of FLX, as it’s been dubbed in recent years, means denizens take great pride and intentionally invest in this dispersed assortment of towns and sites full of rich, diverse histories. Ever since Ukrainian immigrant Dr. Konstantin Frank planted his first vitis vinifera vines in 1958 on 188 sloping acres along western Keuka Lake, the Finger Lakes’ profile as a wine region has quietly been on the rise. A new generation of restaurants and hotels is evolving into a robust hospitality ecosystem, making the range of Finger Lakes experiences on offer better than ever.
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Canandaigua Best Place To Stay In The Finger Lakes For Families
Located on the northern shore of the Canandaigua Lake and 50 miles northwest of Watkins Glen and Seneca Lake, this town offers some beautiful scenic views of the lake and the hills. Also known by the Native Americans as The Chosen Spot, this historic location is one of the best places where to stay in the Finger Lakes, New York if youre traveling with your kids.
Youll find plenty of activities that will keep both the adults and the little ones entertained, plus youll be surrounded by many natural spots where you can go on walks or hiking!
Of course, were still in the wine country, so you cant miss checking some of the wineries on the Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail, but Im guessing that might not be as exciting for your kids. Dont worry you can make up for that with a whole day spent at the Roseland Wake Park or a visit to the beautiful Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park!