Ideas for Finger Lakes Wineries Tour?

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sour_grapes

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Over the holidays, I will be visiting relatives in the Finger Lakes region. I am trying to organize a tour of wineries, and looking for ideas on both possible itineraries and/or transportation companies.
:dg

We will be starting and ending near Canandaigua, NY. So, just looking at a map, one idea is to go down the east side of Seneca Lake and up the west side of Cayuga Lake. I am not tied to this idea, it just seemed like a way to see two different lakes, but not have to travel too far. I know nothing about which areas of the Finger Lakes are better for wine, or whether the east or west side of these lakes is better, etc.

Anyone who can offer tips on good areas to visit, good wineries in particular, or transportation companies that served you well would be appreciated!

I also realize that, given the driving distances involved, I may need to be less ambitious, so suggestions of a more concentrated itinerary are also very welcome!

Thanks! :pty
 

Rocky

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Paul, I recommend that you visit Casa Larga Vineyards in Fairport, New York. http://www.casalarga.com/VisitUs I am not sure how you are traveling but Fairport is just west of Canandaigua off exit 45 of the New York Thruway. The vineyard is only about 2 miles from the exit. I used to live on Vineyard Hill which is right behind the vineyard. If you go out on their back deck and look across the rows of grapes, our house is the orange-ish pink brick. Our home builder was Andy Colaruotolo and he also owned the vineyard. Andy has passed but his wife Ann, son John and daughter Andrea run the operations now. We became very good friends and I spent a number of harvests picking grapes and enjoying winemaking. Their wines are excellent and have won a number of state and national awards. I don't think you would be disappointed.
 

big-al

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Over the holidays, I will be visiting relatives in the Finger Lakes region. I am trying to organize a tour of wineries, and looking for ideas on both possible itineraries and/or transportation companies.
:dg

We will be starting and ending near Canandaigua, NY. So, just looking at a map, one idea is to go down the east side of Seneca Lake and up the west side of Cayuga Lake. I am not tied to this idea, it just seemed like a way to see two different lakes, but not have to travel too far. I know nothing about which areas of the Finger Lakes are better for wine, or whether the east or west side of these lakes is better, etc.

Anyone who can offer tips on good areas to visit, good wineries in particular, or transportation companies that served you well would be appreciated!

I also realize that, given the driving distances involved, I may need to be less ambitious, so suggestions of a more concentrated itinerary are also very welcome!

Thanks! :pty
I live in the Rochester NY area and visit the wineries often.

Some info please:

Are you planning just one day or more ?

do you like craft beers?

What are you looking for in winery - Big operation, family owned, type of wine, etc.

As for the transportation - I have always driven, but many websites for the area can help with limo service.

There are over a hundred wineries in the area and also many craft beer breweries, you need to define some goals and I can give you help with that.
 

Rosa321

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I also live close, and visit at least once a year.
I went to college in Ithaca (right on Cayuga lake!) and visited many times per year in those days!

If you can tell me some of the things you're looking for, I can suggest some things, too.
 

REDBOATNY

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Keuka Lake also has some excellent wineries. They offer a passport ticket for $12 that includes tastings for 2 at seven wineries. The wines tend to be less sweet than Seneca in my opinion. You can also return to Canandaigua along the lake through Naples and stop at Hazlit, Imagine Moore, and Arbor Hill Wineries.http://www.keukawinetrail.com/
 
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FL Steve

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If you are leaving from canadaigua, go down 5-20 to Geneva. Try Ravines at White springs then continue on the same route to the east side of seneca Lake. There are way too many good wineries to hit them all. I don't know what style you like but going south down 96a to 414, Zugibe is a good one then Lamoreaux Landing, Wagner, Silver Thread, and Atwater. After going through Watkins Glen, you can get something to eat at Glenora or else cut across to Keuka lake from the Glen and Hit Dr frank and heron Hill. When you go north to Penn Yan go south on the east side a couple of miles on 54 and try Keuka Spring before going back to Canadaigua. There are also a couple of farm breweries in that route as well as a distillery. Thats a lot of travelling but that is also a lot of wine to try. Have fun, they are not as crowded now that harvest is over and the deck the hall promo is done. You will probably get to talk to a couple of the winemakers or owners as well. You couldn't ask for a more laid back enjoyable time here. Like I said, too many wineries so next time try some different ones, I live here so I am privileged to try them all.
 

sour_grapes

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Thanks, everyone, for the help so far. Let me answer some of your questions.

I probably won't go to Casa Larga on THIS trip, despite getting two recommendations. My BIL works in Fairport, and doesn't want to go there on his day off! Maybe on another trip.

I am planning just a one-day trip, probably from, say, 9 am to 4 pm. I do like craft beers, but I am going to keep this a wine-only trip due to interests of the other members of the party. I think I am more interested in family-type operations, but certainly won't be opposed to a large operation. Dr. Frank, for example, holds a special place in my heart because we served that wine at our wedding a long time ago.

Redboat (and FL Steve), thanks for the Keuka info. I had considered adding Keuka to my initial post, but decided to KISS. I may indeed wind up including Keuka (at the expense of Cayuga) in the interest of cutting down driving times. I can see a problem, though: I know SOME of our party will want to go to Ithaca -- I suppose you cannot please everyone!

FL Steve: thanks a ton for the concrete suggestions on good ones to hit. I do like your overall suggested plan, too.

I am beginning to realize how little time this leaves. The way I figure it, there will be about 3 hours of driving time and 1 of lunch. This will leave only about 4 hours for time at wineries. How long do you stay at a winery -- half hour or so? I should probably only plan on visiting 5 or so locations, huh?

Thanks again. If my additional info brings any insights, feel free to send them along! :)
 

big-al

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Here is what I would do for a one day trip to save time:

Keuka lake is closest and has some of the best scenery in the area.

start in Penn Yan and go to Keuka springs - good wine, knowable servers and some times the winemaker is available.

Next I would go to Keuka Overlook instead of Ravines ( a little stuffy)

Stop at Hammondsport for lunch at the Village Tavern. Great food, wine and beer list you would believe.

avoid Bully Hill over hyped and not great wine.

next stop would be Heron Hill, perhaps has the best view in the finger lakes and the wine is not bad.

then you can hit Dr. Frank who started the whole thing.

Hunt country is next. They will treat you well and good wine, their sherry is my wife favorite. They have a Chocolate and wine pairing which you should do.

By then everyone should feel no pain and can head home.

If you want to sneak some beer, there is a Belgium beer bewery on the north side of Keuka (Abandon Brewing Co )
 

sour_grapes

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Thank you all for your help. I am reporting back on our trip. First of all, check out our ride.
We used a company called Winewagen Tours.

They were awesome. Their schtick is that you travel in a VW microbus. In the summer, they use a sweet '71 (picture below). In winter, they use a more "modern" '85 bus (which has actual heat):

71WeinWagen.jpg

85WeinWagen.jpg
 

sour_grapes

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We started out about 9:30 AM, and got to the first winery just as it opened at 10. We went counterclockwise around Seneca Lake and visited The Ravines, Anthony Road, Glenora, Atwater, Wagner, and Three Brothers (specifically, Stony Lonesome Estates). Our favorite tasting experience was at The Ravines, our favorite wines were Anthony Road and Stony Lonesome. The only one that was sort of a miss was Wagner.

Finger Lakes Riesling is on par with that from other great wine regions. The vinifera reds were nice, but not world class. I wanted to like the hybrids and the Vitis lambruscas, but they didn't really do it for me. (Really, these were only served at 1 or 2 places.) I gravitated to wines from Cab. Franc and Blaufrankisch/Lemberger (mostly because they are not so common, I suppose).

Check out the waterfall (one of hundreds in the area). Take THAT, Sonoma Valley! ;)

waterfall.jpg

AnthonyRoadVines.jpg

WeinWagen.jpg

AtwaterVines.jpg
 

JohnT

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Try and visit Fox Run Winery. Well worth it!
 

FL Steve

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Glad you enjoyed the trip. Come back an visit us in the summer when you can sit outside on the deck and have lunch at Glenora. We have a pretty relaxed life style here. You hit some of the good ones, John and Ann at Anthony Road are wonderful people as is Gene at Glenora. One thing about many of our smaller wineries is that they Share winemakers so they can be similar but are still distinctively different. The other thing that makes them so nice is that they work together rather than compete.

You are right about our whites but don't count out the reds. We are still learning, remember our industry is really only about 20 years old. Don't compare us to California or to Oregon, our reds are lighter and lower in alcohol. I would say we are more like northern burgundy in climate although our winters are a little colder and come on a little quicker. We will get it right someday. The rest of our state isn't too bad either (for wine), try a Merlot or Sauv Blanc from Long Island. I am still partial to upstate though.
 

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