Finger Lakes Wine Tour: A Guide to the Best Wineries and Tastings
The Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York is known for its stunning natural beauty, charming small towns, and, of course, its exceptional wine. With over 100 wineries and vineyards scattered throughout the area, it's no wonder that the Finger Lakes have become a popular destination for wine lovers from all over the world. One of the best ways to experience the Finger Lakes wine country is by taking a guided wine tour.
Wine tours in the Finger Lakes offer visitors the opportunity to explore the region's wineries and vineyards in a safe and enjoyable way. Whether you're a seasoned wine connoisseur or just starting to develop your palate, there's something for everyone on a Finger Lakes wine tour. Most tours include transportation, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery while someone else does the driving.
Many Finger Lakes wine tours also offer additional activities, such as food pairings, cheese tastings, and even boat cruises. Some tours focus on specific wine trails, such as the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail or the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, while others offer a more comprehensive overview of the region's wine offerings. With so many options to choose from, it's easy to find a wine tour that suits your interests and schedule.
History of Finger Lakes Wineries
The Finger Lakes region of New York State has a rich history of viticulture and winemaking. Here are some of the key events and milestones in the region's wine history:
Origin of Viticulture
The first grape vines in the Finger Lakes region were planted in the early 19th century by Reverend William Bostwick in his rectory garden in Hammondsport, NY in 1829. The region's cool climate and unique soil composition proved to be ideal for growing grapes, and soon many other farmers began planting their own vineyards.
Wine Industry Evolution
The wine industry in the Finger Lakes region continued to grow throughout the 19th century, with the establishment of the first bonded winery, Pleasant Valley Wine Company in Hammondsport, NY in 1860. The company's founder, Andrew J. Caywood, was a pioneer in the development of sparkling wines in the region.
In the early 20th century, Prohibition dealt a serious blow to the Finger Lakes wine industry, as it did to wineries across the country. Many vineyards were destroyed, and the industry struggled to recover after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.
In the decades that followed, the Finger Lakes wine industry slowly but steadily regained its footing. The establishment of the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance in 2004 helped to promote the region's wineries and increase their visibility on the national and international stage.
Today, the Finger Lakes region is home to over 100 wineries, producing a wide variety of wines, including Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and many others. The region's winemakers continue to experiment with new grape varieties and winemaking techniques, ensuring that the Finger Lakes will remain a vibrant and innovative wine region for years to come.
Exploring the Finger Lakes Wine Trail
The Finger Lakes region of New York State is known for its award-winning wineries and stunning views. The Finger Lakes Wine Trail is a collection of three wine trails that showcase the best of the region's wine industry. Visitors can explore the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, and Keuka Lake Wine Trail, each with its own unique charm and offerings.
Seneca Lake Wine Trail
The Seneca Lake Wine Trail is the largest and most heavily visited wine trail in the region, with over 30 wineries to explore. The trail stretches over 80 miles and offers breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding hills. Visitors can taste a variety of wines, from dry to sweet, and learn about the winemaking process from the experts. The Seneca Lake Wine Trail also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including wine and food pairing events and live music performances.
Cayuga Lake Wine Trail
The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is the oldest wine trail in the region, established in 1983. The trail features 16 wineries that offer a diverse range of wines, from dry reds to sweet whites. Visitors can take part in tasting events, vineyard tours, and food and wine pairing experiences. The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including wine and cheese pairing events, holiday-themed events, and more.
Keuka Lake Wine Trail
The Keuka Lake Wine Trail is the smallest of the three wine trails, but it offers a unique experience for visitors. The trail features eight wineries that are all located within a short driving distance of each other, making it easy to explore them all in a single day. Visitors can taste a variety of wines, from dry to sweet, and enjoy stunning views of the lake and surrounding hills. The Keuka Lake Wine Trail also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including wine and chocolate pairing events, holiday-themed events, and more.
Overall, the Finger Lakes Wine Trail offers a unique and unforgettable experience for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Visitors can explore the region's wineries, taste a variety of wines, and enjoy stunning views of the lakes and surrounding hills. Whether you are a seasoned wine connoisseur or just starting to explore the world of wine, the Finger Lakes Wine Trail has something for everyone.
Famous Wineries in the Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes region is home to over 100 wineries, but some have gained more fame and recognition than others. Here are three of the most famous wineries in the Finger Lakes:
Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery
Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery is one of the oldest and most celebrated wineries in the Finger Lakes region. It was founded in 1962 by Dr. Konstantin Frank, a Ukrainian immigrant who believed that the cool climate and soil of the Finger Lakes were ideal for growing grapes. He introduced European grape varieties to the region and proved that they could thrive in the harsh climate. Today, the winery is run by Dr. Frank's grandson, Fred Frank, and is known for producing award-winning Rieslings and other cool-climate wines.
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard is another well-known winery in the Finger Lakes region. It was founded in 1979 by Hermann Wiemer, a German immigrant who had trained in the famous vineyards of the Mosel region. Wiemer brought his expertise to the Finger Lakes and planted Riesling and other cool-climate grape varieties. Today, the winery is run by Wiemer's son, Fred, and is known for producing high-quality Rieslings and other cool-climate wines.
Ravines Wine Cellars
Ravines Wine Cellars is a relatively new winery in the Finger Lakes region, but it has quickly gained a reputation for producing excellent wines. It was founded in 2001 by Morten and Lisa Hallgren, who had previously worked in the wine industry in France and California. They chose to settle in the Finger Lakes because they believed that the cool climate and soil were ideal for producing elegant, food-friendly wines. Today, Ravines is known for its Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir, as well as its unique blends and sparkling wines.
These three wineries are just a small sample of the many excellent wineries in the Finger Lakes region. Visitors to the area can enjoy tastings, tours, and beautiful views at these and many other wineries in the region.
Wine Varieties in the Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes region is known for its cool climate and unique soil conditions that make it an ideal location for growing certain grape varieties. The region is home to over 100 wineries, and some of the most popular wine varieties produced in the Finger Lakes include Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay.
Riesling is the most popular wine variety in the Finger Lakes region, and for good reason. The cool climate and mineral-rich soil of the Finger Lakes produce a crisp and refreshing Riesling with a distinct acidity. The Finger Lakes region is known for producing world-class Rieslings that have won numerous awards and accolades. Rieslings from the Finger Lakes are known for their citrus and stone fruit flavors, as well as their floral aromas.
Cabernet Franc is another popular wine variety in the Finger Lakes region. The grape thrives in the cool climate of the Finger Lakes and produces a wine with a medium body and soft tannins. Cabernet Franc from the Finger Lakes is known for its berry and herbaceous flavors, as well as its spicy notes. The wine pairs well with a variety of foods, including roasted meats, grilled vegetables, and aged cheeses.
Chardonnay is a versatile grape that can be grown in a variety of climates, including the cool climate of the Finger Lakes. Chardonnay from the Finger Lakes is known for its crisp acidity and mineral notes. The wine is aged in oak barrels, which gives it a creamy texture and hints of vanilla and spice. Chardonnay from the Finger Lakes pairs well with seafood, chicken, and creamy pasta dishes.
In addition to these popular wine varieties, the Finger Lakes region also produces other varieties such as Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Vignoles. Visitors to the region can enjoy a variety of wine tours and tastings to experience the unique flavors of the Finger Lakes.
Planning Your Finger Lakes Wine Tour
When planning a Finger Lakes wine tour, there are a few key things to keep in mind to ensure an enjoyable and stress-free experience. Here are some important considerations:
Best Time to Visit
The Finger Lakes region is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit for a wine tour is generally from May through October. During this time, the weather is mild and the vineyards are in full bloom. Keep in mind that weekends can be busy, so it's best to book your tour in advance to avoid disappointment.
There are many tour packages available for Finger Lakes wine tours, ranging from private limousine tours to group bus tours. It's important to choose a tour package that suits your preferences and budget. Some popular tour companies to consider include Finger Lakes Winery Tours, Experience! The Finger Lakes, and Grapevine Country Tours.
When selecting a tour package, be sure to consider the following factors:
- Number of wineries visited
- Duration of the tour
- Transportation options
- Tasting fees and other costs
- Availability of food and snacks
If you're planning to spend more than a day in the Finger Lakes region, it's important to consider your accommodation options. There are many hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals in the area to choose from, ranging from budget-friendly options to luxurious resorts.
When choosing accommodation, consider the following factors:
- Proximity to wineries and tour departure points
- Amenities such as pools, spas, and restaurants
- Price and availability
Overall, planning a Finger Lakes wine tour can be a fun and rewarding experience. By considering the above factors and doing some research, you can ensure a memorable trip that showcases the best of this beautiful wine region.
The Finger Lakes wine region is a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts. With over 100 wineries, visitors can taste a variety of cool climate grapes like Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc. The region's scenic beauty and welcoming atmosphere make it a perfect getaway for couples, friends, and families.
Visitors can plan their wine tour by choosing from a variety of options, including self-guided tours, group tours, and private tours. Many wineries offer tastings, tours, and food pairings, making it a perfect opportunity to learn about the winemaking process and the history of the region.
For those looking for a unique experience, the Finger Lakes also offer wine trails that showcase the best of the region. Visitors can explore the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, or the Keuka Lake Wine Trail. Each trail offers a different experience, from breathtaking views to historic landmarks.
In addition to wine tasting, visitors can also enjoy the region's culinary scene. The Finger Lakes offer a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bistros that serve locally sourced ingredients. Visitors can also explore the region's farmers' markets and pick their own fruits and vegetables.
Overall, the Finger Lakes wine region is a hidden gem that offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Visitors can taste world-class wines, enjoy scenic views, and indulge in local cuisine. Whether you're a wine enthusiast or just looking for a relaxing getaway, the Finger Lakes has something for everyone.