Drinking in the Finger Lakes keeps getting better and better. Here are our recommendations for 5 tasting spots in the Finger Lakes for wine, beer and spirits.
We’re intrigued by the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.
We’re intrigued by the climate – very different from the sunny California wine regions where hot climate, full-bodied wines are the norm. The weather in New York’s Finger Lakes is cold and rainy in the winter, though it is moderated by the temperate effect of the lakes. This reminds us of the weather that we encountered in France’s Burgundy when we visited that eponymous wine region in the fall of 2012. The sloping landscape also reminded us of Burgundy’s hills. The age of the vines is quite different though, as is the presence of the deep lakes.
We’re also intrigued by the proliferation of new and innovative winemakers who are shaking things up with different varietals. Many Finger Lake winemakers began their expedition into the Finger Lakes terroir with a consultation at the pioneering Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars in Hammondsport on Keuka Lake. In 1958 Dr. Frank demonstrated the ability to grow European style Vitis Vinifera in the Eastern United States to a skeptical public. Now, a new generation is providing its stamp upon the up and coming wine region.
The Finger Lakes is the largest wine region in New York with over 100 wineries. Traditionally known for Riesling and Cabernet Franc, many wineries are expanding to wines like Chardonnay, Pino Noir and even Syrah.
Five Recommended Tasting Spots in the Finger Lakes:
1. Domaine Leseurre Winery
Located on the east side of Keuka Lake, Domaine Leseurre Winery is making European style wines using the best available grapes of the region.
Owners Sébastien and Céline Leseurre proudly explained their French heritage as well as their wine experiences in Europe and Australia. Sébastian is from Champagne, whereas Céline is from the Pyrénées. Wine is in their blood – both Sébastien and Céline grew up in the wine business. The winemakers’ expertise shined through their personalities and, more importantly, through the sophisticated taste of their wines. We especially liked their unoaked, Chablis-like Chardonnay and their dry and late harvest Rieslings.
We bought two bottles to enjoy later. We wish we had bought more. We will next time.
Domaine Leseurre Winery is located at 13920 State Route 54, Hammondsport, NY 14840, United States.
2. Ravines Wine Cellars
With tasting rooms on Keuka Lake and Seneca Lake, Ravines Wine Cellars is making award-winning wines while remaining well-known for their reasonably priced Rieslings.
The winery offers paired tastings with either cheese or chocolate. We chose the cheese pairing, which included cheeses from local cheese mongers including Keeley’s, Muranda and Yancey’s Fancy. We rarely pass on opportunities to pair local, artisan cheese with wine.
Ravines Wine Cellars is located at 14630 State Route 54, Hammondsport, NY 14840 & 400 Barracks Road, Geneva, NY 14456, United States.
3. Red Newt Cellars Wine
Red Newt Cellars Winery is a fun place to taste wine on the east side of Seneca Lake. Plus, it’s hard to argue against a winery with an on-site coffee bar.
The Rieslings are stand-outs here. We also enjoyed tasting the Hellbender port-style wine with its flavorful combination of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir grapes.
Red Newt Cellars Winery is located at 3675 Tichenor Rd, Hector, NY 14841, United States.
4. Hector Wine Company
We were drawn to Hector Wine Company based on Céline Lesseur’s recommendation that this newer winery is making good Syrah. Good Syrah in the Finger Lakes? We had to check that out.
We were particularly impressed by Hector’s solid reds, with their fruit forward, peppery taste profiles. We were impressed enough to buy a bottle each of the Essence and the Syrah to enjoy later. This winery on the east side of Seneca Lake was a good recommendation and one that we’re happy to share.
Hector Wine Company is located at 3675 Tichenor Rd, Hector, NY 14841, United States.
5. Finger Lakes Distilling
Tastings in the Finger Lakes are not limited to wine. Located on the east side of Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes Distilling is making high-quality spirits with local ingredients. Although their McKenzie whiskeys are readily available in the area, it’s worth a stop at the distillery in person to try three samples selected from their comprehensive menu of whiskies, vodkas, gins and liqueurs.
The boozy tasting is fun and offers a view of the distillery’s coppers stills on one side and an array of bottles for sale on the other side. Tours are offered each Saturday morning for those who plan ahead.
Finger Lakes Distilling is located at 4676 Route 414, Burdett, NY 14818, United States.
Tasting Tip: If a day of tasting wine and spirits isn’t enough, be sure to check out Two Goats Brewing on the east side of Seneca Lake.
The hopping bar sells beer by the glass and by the growler. Our personal favorite was their own Dirty Butt, a cream and brown beer. Try to get there before 5:00 to get a good spot in the bar or better yet on the scenic deck.
Two Goats Brewing is located at 5027 New York 414, Burdett, NY 14818, United States.