What to Expect on a Finger Lakes Wine Tour
The Finger Lakes are a unique ecoregion in central New York State. The eleven thin lakes, long ago carved by glaciers, are deep, narrow expanses of water with steep banks that enjoy enough moisture and protection from the elements to support vineyards.
The region produces wines ranging from dry Riesling to honey sweet Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. These grapes do particularly well in the cool-climate conditions found around the lakes.
1. The Wineries
The Finger Lakes wine region, located in New York State, has a long tradition of creating some of the world’s best Rieslings. But the area has branched out to make wines from other varietals, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and more. If you’re looking for a destination that offers a unique mix of scenery, history and delicious wine, look no further than the Finger Lakes.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or you’re visiting the Finger Lakes for the first time, it’s important to be prepared for a fun-filled day of wine tasting and sightseeing. Before your trip, make sure you have a full breakfast to fuel your body for a day of tasting. You’ll also need to pack a picnic so you can enjoy lunch at the wineries.
One of the most popular ways to tour the Finger Lakes is on a guided tour. These tours are usually run by local guides who can help you determine where to go and what to drink. Some tours also include a dinner or lunch.
You can also hire a limo or bus to take you around the region for an all-inclusive wine tour experience. These tours often include stops at other local attractions like breweries or cheese factories.
Before you begin your tour, be sure to confirm the hours at each winery. Generally, most are open daily from 10 am to 5 pm during the summer and fall. However, some have more limited hours in the winter or spring.
Another helpful tip is to choose a time of year that works for you. Many wineries will offer discounted prices during certain seasons, such as spring or fall. This can be a great way to save money and avoid crowds.
Lastly, you can find more information about the wineries in the Finger Lakes by reading reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Taking these reviews into account will help you decide which wineries to visit on your tour.
Some of the best wineries in the Finger Lakes are Boundary Breaks and Sheldrake Point. They both have beautiful tasting rooms and stunning views of the surrounding lakes. They also have a wide selection of wines, including their award-winning dry riesling no. 239, which has been named one of the world’s top wines twice by Wine Spectator Magazine. It’s a must-try for fans of this grape, and it’s worth making an appointment to taste.
2. The Food
Finger Lakes wineries offer a range of delicious wines, from dry to sweet and many in between. While the most common is riesling, chardonnay and cabernet franc grow well here as do a variety of white grapes, including vignoles. Other varieties, like gewurztraminer and muscat blanc, are being cultivated here in the cool climate to create sparkling wines and other unique, award-winning offerings.
A finger lakes wine tour offers you the chance to meet winemakers, learn about their process and the different varietals they make, as well as sample some of the region’s most celebrated wine. The key to a successful tour is to plan ahead. Consider the length of your visit, what time of year you’ll be visiting and what your preferences are. Then, you can plan your itinerary around the wines you most want to taste and focus on enjoying them.
You can also take advantage of the Finger Lakes Wine Trail’s electronic passport, which offers discounts at participating wineries and events. These passports are available at most Finger Lakes wineries, as well as some gift shops and hotels.
Several of the wineries also offer picnics, so you can bring your favorite food to enjoy with your tasting. The picturesque landscape of the Finger Lakes makes for a bucolic backdrop, and you’ll be glad to have a nourishing lunch to keep you going throughout your day of wine tasting.
In addition to wine, you can sample brews as part of a Finger Lakes beer tour. Some tours depart from a local brewpub, while others offer an in-depth tour of a nearby brewery. Crush Beer and Wine Tours runs a Canandaigua Lake Brewery tour, which includes stops at Twisted Rail, Naked Dove, Twin Elder and more.
For something a little more casual, there are also a number of restaurants in the area that serve up delicious wine-centric meals. One such eatery is Dano’s Heuriger, a Viennese bistro on Seneca Lake that pairs traditional knockwurst and Wiener schnitzel with German-style riesling and gewurztraminer.
The city of Geneva, a charming town on Seneca Lake, also boasts a variety of restaurants and pubs serving up food with a Finger Lakes twist. Ports Cafe, helmed by a team of Finger Lakes natives and skilled transplants, features New American dishes with global influences.
3. The Weather
What you’ll find in the Finger Lakes wine country is a remarkably consistent climate with mild winters and crisp summers. Its cool temperatures also allow for an excellent grape growing season and plenty of top-shelf beverages, from a well-crafted slushy to a smooth champagne. The best time of year to enjoy a visit to this bucolic region is spring or fall, when the weather is most agreeable and the lakes are at their most picturesque. A well-planned itinerary featuring a mix of gastronomic and grazing adventures can make for a memorable family getaway or girls’ weekend.
The best way to experience this upstate New York treasure is to hire a professional chauffeur driven car service like Keuka Taxi who will whisk you and your entourage from A to B in a safe, squeaky clean, and oh-so-comfy manner. Their staff of seasoned pros will help you narrow down your list of wineries and attractions and devise a customized wine tour plan for you and your party.
4. The Views
Known for its beautiful farmland, quaint towns and villages, countless waterfalls, and namesake lakes, the Finger Lakes region is a true escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life. But this New York state gem also provides a wealth of activities to enjoy beyond wine-drinking, including hiking, boating, and breweries.
While the Finger Lakes are best known for their cool climate Rieslings, they do produce a variety of other varietals too. These include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Blaufrankisch, which grow well in cooler temperatures.
As a rule, the best months to visit Finger Lakes wineries are during the spring and fall when the weather is most pleasant and the grapevines are at their peak. The winter months, on the other hand, tend to be chilly and dreary. If you can, though, take advantage of the warm days to hike the area’s countless trails.
Aside from enjoying the scenery, you’ll be able to sample some of the Finger Lakes’ finest wines at each stop along your tour. Some wineries even provide picnic areas to make the most of the spectacular views.
To get the most out of your day, be sure to eat breakfast before you head out on your wine tour. This will give you the energy to keep going, and a little fuel for the day can go a long way!
For lunch, consider packing a few sandwiches from a local deli or cafe to bring with you. Most wineries also have picnic areas that offer a stunning view of the lakes and surrounding countryside.
Finally, don’t forget to bring a camera! There are plenty of breathtaking vineyards in the Finger Lakes, and you’ll want to capture them all. You can take photos at the winery as well as on the road, so be sure to pack a few cameras for your Finger Lakes wine tour!
Whether you want to taste wine in a small group or on your own, there’s a Finger Lakes tour to suit your needs. For a fun and memorable experience, try a private charter pontoon boat tour from Bianconi Tours, which will transport you to three different wineries on a four-and-a-half-hour cruise. Or, opt for a full-day wine and beer tour with Crush Beer and Wine Tours that takes you to several Finger Lakes breweries.