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NY Uncorked: A Guide to the Finger Lakes Wine Trail

posted by Discover Upstate NY at 2019-08-13 20:36:00

New York State's Finger Lakes region offers some of the best natural scenery anywhere, especially Western New York. And one of the best ways to tour this region is by way of the Finger Lakes Wine Trail.

If you haven't done this before, it's a must. If you have done it, we know you'll be coming back soon! Visiting the wineries themselves is half the fun. Getting to them  is the other half. So let us tell you why and how to plan a visit to this very special part of Upstate New York.

Location and How to Get Here

The Finger Lakes region is served by mid-sized airports in both Rochester, at the western end of the Finger Lakes, and Syracuse, at the eastern end.

Major highways include Interstate 86, south of the Finger lakes, and Interstate 90 (the New York State Thruway to the north. The Finger Lakes themselves are served by scenic state and county highways.

Lodging can be found in the larger cities, adjacent to the airports, or throughout the Finger Lakes themselves — in towns and small cities including Canandaigua, Geneva, Auburn, Ithaca, Geneseo, Corning, Penn Yan, Watkins Glen, and Skaneateles.
We recommend the smaller cities and towns for lodging. None of them are more than a couple of hours away from one of the airports.

Moreover, the Finger Lakes region lies within easy driving distance to Lake Ontario (and its beautiful bays) and the Erie Canal. Rochester is a great city for seeing these attractions--as is State Route 104 between Rochester and Syracuse.
The region is also within 1-2 hours of Buffalo, the largest city in Upstate New York.

The Finger Lakes Wine Trails

Did you know that the Finger Lakes is the second-largest wine-producing region in the United States? So you might well imagine that there are a lot of wineries there (and breweries as well). The major wine trails lie along or in the vicinity of four lakes: Cayuga, Seneca, Canandaigua, and Keuka. If there is a New York State wine trail, this is it.

Cayuga Lake

Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes. Extending from Seneca Falls in the north to Ithaca in the south, this lake has more wineries than any other of the Finger Lakes. The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is quite long! Here is the full list.

Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake is the largest of the Finger Lakes in overall area. With Geneva at the north end to Watkins Glen at the south, you'll find several wineries on along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Here's a list of Seneca Lake wineries.

Canandaigua Lake

Canandaigua Lake is much smaller than either Cayuga or Seneca, but it now to be missed — for either its wines or its scenery. The city of Canandaigua, at the north end of the lake, is worth a visit all on its own. Here are the wineries to visit  along Canandaigua Lake.

Keuka Lake

Keuka Lake has an odd shape — a long, thin lake with three distinct branches. It is a small lake in area that has five wineries along its shoreline, spread across each of the branches. Here is a list of the five Keuka Lake wineries.

Organized Tours

Organized tours  are an excellent way to see the wineries — mostly because someone else is driving, so you can taste as much as you like, even if you're a lightweight.

Tours also give you a chance to meet new people, often from some faraway places. Plus the tour guide and bus driver know their way around. Not only will they not get lost, but they will also share interesting information about the area.
if you purchase wine, though, don't accidentally forget to take the bottles when you get off the bus. Leave a good tip, but don't leave the wine. It's awfully good!

Self-Guided Tours

A full day with each of the lakes is highly recommended (with two days for Cayuga). So plan for a week in the Finger Lakes. And be sure you have access to a car for the full week. The finger lakes are both long and thin, covering a lot of area.

Since you will be sampling wine at each of the wineries, we strongly recommend having at least two drivers and pacing yourself with the tasting. In fact, it would be a great idea to limit yourself to 3-4 wineries each day and intersperse them with visits to other area attractions--of which there are many.

Additional Sightseeing in the Finger Lakes.

This brings us to our next and last point: If you want to have the best possible experience of the Finger Lakes, don't limit yourself to just the wineries — which, of course, are wonderful.

Here is a list of some very popular and enjoyable sites to visit while in the Finger Lakes:

·         The Wadsworth Homestead in Geneseo
·         Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua
·         The George Eastman Museum in Rochester
·         Seabreeze Amusement Park in Irondequoit (Rochester)
·         The Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse
·         Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls
·         Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, Seneca Falls
·         Ganondagan State Historical Site in Victor
·         Watkins Glen State Park in Watkins Glen
·         Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen
·         Taughannock Falls State Park in Trumansburg
·         Cornell University (and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art) in Ithaca

And don't forget, either, that the five lakes discussed here are not the only Finger lakes — just the largest. There are 11 in all. Other Finger lakes, east to west, include Otisco, Skaneateles, Owasco, Honeoye, Canadice, Hemlock, and Conesus. If you're looking for more of a natural or wilderness type of experience consider the last three of the lakes in this list, the westernmost of the Finger Lakes.

Remember Upstate New York

Many people think of New York State as nothing more than the large metropolitan area in the southeastern part of the state. The "City" and its surroundings are a great place to visit, with lots to see and do.

But that area isn't all there is to see and do in New York — not by a long stretch. Northern New York has the Adirondacks. Central and Eastern New York have the exciting Capital District, plus the Baseball and Soccer Halls of Fame.

And now you know some of what you can experience in Western New York. Still, you can come back to Upstate New York many times and not see or do all there is to see and do.

So start planning your next trip to Upstate New York soon — whether you return to the Finger Lakes Wine Trails, try the Adirondacks, visit the Capital Region, or something else. You'll have a great time!

posted at: 2019-08-13 20:36:00, last updated: 2021-04-06 20:50:10

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