Weekenders Food & Wine Guide to the Finger Lakes
New York State’s Finger Lakes wine region features over 100 wineries, more than 200 accommodations, world-class shopping, exclusive dining experiences, top-notch museums, and friendly local culture. The region is a short drive, between three to five hours, from Boston, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Toronto. Its close proximity is the primary reason why the area attracted over 4.86 million leisure visitors in 2018.
The Finger Lakes region is best known for its high quality, award-winning wines and the breathtaking landscapes made up of lakeside vineyards.
The intimate setting and hands-on approach of most Finger Lakes wineries create an environment where visitors are encouraged to submerge themselves in the wine-making process from beginning to end.
Below is a list of the most popular wineries in the region that should be on your summer roadmap.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars was established in 1962 and is situated on the southwestern hills of Keuka Lake. Dr. Frank’s is one of the most prestigious and beloved wineries in the Finger Lakes because of its approachable, delicious, award-winning wines, and friendly tasting room staff.
Heart and Hands Wine Company was founded by Husband and wife team, Tom and Susan Higgins back in 2007. The boutique winery is situated on the east side of Cayuga Lake and focuses exclusively on Pinot Noir and Riesling. Winery guests can opt for a tasting that includes a cellar and vineyard tour.
For a sip of history, head to Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, it is considered one of the winemaking pioneers in the Finger Lakes area. The winery and tasting room on the western slope of Seneca Lake is where visitors can taste some of the most acclaimed wines in the region. The vineyard features a family of winemakers tracing back to the Mosel region of Germany.
For gorgeous architecture and an array of wine varietals, visit Heron Hill Winery. Heron Hill has been dedicated to excellence in winemaking and sustainable practices since 1977. The winery houses what Travel + Leisure named, “One of the most spectacular tasting rooms in the world.” Be sure to stop by around lunchtime and dine at Heron Hill Bistro, offering tasty fares like a gourmet grilled cheese or a seasonal pizza.
If wine and chocolate are two of your favorites, head to Ravines Wine Cellars. The winery features a special tasting of Hedonist Artisan Chocolates paired with Old World wines. There are two tasting rooms to make it easy for visitors to access Ravines wherever they are in the Finger Lakes, a Seneca tasting room in Geneva and a Keuka tasting room in Hammondsport. Guests looking for a bite to eat beyond sinfully-decadent chocolates can purchase small plates from the seasonal menu – Farmstead Cheese & Charcuterie Board anyone?
Finger Lakes region has attracted some of the finest culinary talents from around the world with its bounty of local and organic ingredients. Here are a few options ranging from quick casual meals to masterly-prepared dining experiences.
The Ginny Lee Café at Wagner Vineyards offers a delightful selection of lunch foods and uses only the freshest fruits and vegetables in their preparation. The menus have been designed to complement and enhance the award-winning wines of Wagner Vineyards, and craft beers from Wagner Brewing Co. Some favorites are the Three Cheese Spinach & Artichoke Dip and the White Cheddar Steak sandwich.
For a popular local’s spot, great food, daily specials, classic favorites and much more, Eric’s Office Restaurant is the answer. Don’t miss the happy hour menu available from 3 PM until 5 PM featuring chicken wings and other taproom favorites.
One of the most coveted and buzz-worthy dining experiences in Finger Lakes is FLX Table. The communal table with only fourteen seats overlooks the kitchen where each evening, a set menu is served based on the seasonality of products. A five-course meal is a mere $59 and can be paired with carefully-curated wines by Master Sommelier, Executive Chef, and Owner, Christopher Bates.
Located on the shore of Lake Seneca, Sapalta on the Lake offers both spectacular views and a locally-sourced menu. The restaurant works with local farmers and artisans to add interesting and unique dishes to its menu. The Sheldrake Moon a double crème Brie by Finger Lakes’ Lively Run Dairy and the Sapalta Steak sourced from Red Gate Farm are mouthwateringly good.
Beyond food and wine, the Finger Lakes region offers an abundance of options for every kind of traveler. For the outdoorsy types, there is hiking and a wide variety of water sports. Travelers looking for cultural activities will be pleased with the multitude of theaters, art exhibits, and world-class museums. For those looking to relax and unwind, there are many spas and wellness activities available throughout the region.
Make New York State’s Finger Lakes region your next vacation getaway destination. It is one of the most affordable and beautiful wine country destinations in North America and boasts a local culture that is both warm and welcoming.