The Finger Lakes region of New York is known for it’s picturesque lakes and delicious wineries. Sweet grapes grow best in the Finger Lakes, so you’ll find a plethora of Rieslings and ice wine, as well as very unique sweet wines, such as the “hot tub” wine Red Cat.
The Husband and I did a self-guided wine tour of sorts down Seneca Lake on one of our last visits up north. We grabbed some tourist maps, Googled some things, hopped in dad’s Escalade and headed on our way. I’m lucky that my dad lives in the Finger Lakes region, so it was a pretty short drive.
We started at the north end, at Belhurst Castle, and worked our way south on the west side of the lake. We stopped just short of Watkins Glen; we realized someone had to drive home.
Belhurst Castle is located on an old Seneca Indian village. It was first purchased in 1738 but it wasn’t until 1834 that the first “modern” home was built on the site. It switched hands many times over the centuries, until the current owners bought it in 1992 and began the transformation that is now a vacation destination.
The current Belhurst Castle now has a beautiful hotel, banquet facility, restaurant, and most importantly, an award winning winery.
We followed our wine tasting with lunch at the amazing sunken bar with a view of Seneca Lake. Hands down one of the most comfortable bars I’ve sat at, not to mention the spectacular view of the lake. And the food was delicious to boot.
After lunch, we strolled around the grounds before heading on our way.
We could have stayed all day (and night too) but knew there were more wineries waiting so we reluctantly got back in the car and headed on our way.
Our next stop was White Springs Winery. Also located on a former Seneca Indian settlement, White Springs farm was known in the 1800’s for its promotion of improving the science of sheep-husbandry. In the 1900’s the farm became well regarded for it’s fruit production and today they make award wining wines. They also have a brewery, which made the Husband pretty happy.
Since the Husband was so happy to try local brews, we made our next stop Climbing Bines Craft Ale Company. They specialize in small-batch ale using hops grown onsite. You can see the hop bines as soon as you pull into the parking lot. It was really cool. I’m not sure that we’ve ever actually seen how hops grow. We tried nearly every brew they had. They were very different and very distinct. And the tasting room was so pretty; it was like being in a cozy lake cottage.
After all that beer tasting, it was time for some more wine. Our next stop was Miles Wine Cellar. It was named “most serenely gorgeous setting of any winery in the region” by National Geographic Traveler and it’s immediately evident why. Located in a large white house on a bluff overlooking Seneca Lake, you immediately feel like turning off your cellphone, pouring a glass of wine, and relaxing in a chair, looking at the water.
I was happy to have a few not-so-sweet wine selections for a change. As a drier-the-better type Merlot girl, I have a hard time sampling a lot of Rieslings and other sweet wines. These were a welcomed break from the usual Finger Lake wines. And they had beer tasting, so the Husband was happy.
In addition to the winery, they have an Inn at Miles Wine Cellars and I absolutely need to stay here someday.
Our next stop was Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard. It was located in a stunning barn and looked like the perfect place to have a wedding. If the Husband and I ever have a real wedding (we eloped) I want it to be here.
Anyway, they had lots of wines to choose from and the Husband and I liked every single one! As a whole, it was our favorite stop on our tour.
After all these stops we decided we needed to find something to eat so we could head back home. We made our last stop at Starkey’s Lookout. It’s high up on a high across the street from the lake, giving it a prime view. They have both a winery and microbrewery, and sell food and their own house-made sodas. It was the perfect end to a day of wine and beer tasting.
We sat outside so we could enjoy the view, the weather, and just relax. I had my last wine tasting of thee day, and the Husband had a flight of beer. We shared pretzels and a small pizza, which worked wonderfully to soak up all of the delicious wine and beer in our bellies.
It was the perfect day of wine and beer tasting. The Finger Lakes are really the perfect destination for couples and groups of friends. Whether you like beer or wine, sweet or otherwise, there is something for everyone. And although it doesn’t carry the prestige of Napa Valley (even though it should!) it also doesn’t come with the same price tag. If you’re looking for a long weekend getaway, the Finger Lakes are a great destination spot!
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