Food

Finger Lakes Named Among Best Wine Travel Destinations

The Finger Lakes region “is home to some of the best cool-climate wines in America.”

The Finger Lakes region has been named one of the “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2015” by Wine Enthusiast magazine — right up there with the Loire and Rhone Valley regions of France, Piedmont, Italy, Mendocino County, Calif., and others.

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The region is an “overnight success story” 40 years in the making, James Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, likes to say.

The Finger Lakes region “is home to some of the best cool-climate wines in America,” writes the magazine. “Known particularly for world-class Riesling, it’s also home to an increasingly diverse array of wines, from Grüner Veltliner to Teroldego. … With spectacular sights and a blossoming local food culture, the region is unlikely to stay hidden for long.”

Click HERE to read the article.

Acclaim like this will surely add to the volume of visitors in the busy seasons of summer and fall. So beat the crush. One of the best things about living next door to the Finger Lakes is visiting in the off seasons, when there’s room to breathe in the tasting rooms and winemakers have more time to talk.

More than 100 wineries dot the region’s three primary lakes, with the most dense concentration on Seneca Lake. Here’s a look at what’s going on around the wine trails this year:

 

Cayuga Ridge Esatate Winery. Photo from cayugawinetrail.com

Cayuga Ridge Esatate Winery.
Photo from cayugawinetrail.com

Cayuga Lake Wine Trail: The 17 members of the Cayuga Wine Trail begin 2015 with new leadership (Executive Director Cassandra Harrington), new promotions and marketing and new, ticketed weekend events, like “Bacon on the Lakein” (March 21-22). The event season begins Feb. 7, with Mardi Gras at the wineries.

Seneca Lake Wine Trail: The region’s largest wine trail in the region (34 member wineries) boasts a big calendar of events to match. Some, like Chocolate and Wine Weekend (Feb. 20-22) and and Spring Wine and Cheese Weekend (April 24-26) attract throngs of people. Others, like Winemaker Wednesdays (second Wednesday of the month, through May, at select wineries), are designed to be more intimate and educational in nature — for people who are really passionate about wine and want to learn more about it. For information on all events, visit the events section of the wine trail website.

Keuka Lake Wine Trail: Eight wineries make up the KLWT, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Six “signature events” are planned, starting with Wine and Cheese Lover’s Getaway Weekend (Feb. 14 and Feb. 15).

Skaneateles Lake doesn’t have a wine trail, per se, but it does have a couple wineries.

• Winter hours are in effect at Anyela’s Vineyards, 2433 West Lake Road, Skaneateles. The tasting room is open noon to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, through March. Information: 685-3797.

White Birch Vineyards Tasting Room vineyard. Photo from White Birch Vineyards Tasting Room's Facebook.

White Birch Vineyards Tasting Room vineyard.
Photo from White Birch Vineyards Tasting Room’s Facebook.

• New in the village of Skaneateles is the White Birch Vineyards Tasting Room, at 18 Genesee St. The stylish storefront features White Birch wines (Skaneateles Lake), plus selections from Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars, Ravines Wine Cellars and Heron Hill Winery (Keuka Lake) and Heart ‘n’ Hands Wine Co. (Cayuga Lake). The tasting room has a small kitchen, run by Luke Houghton, chef-owner of Pure Catering, who is offering a small plates and planning special events, like a wine pairing dinner scheduled for Jan. 28 ($55 per person). The tasting room is open daily. Information: 685-9463.

Insider info: Taking a day trip or planning a weekend getaway? Bring the 2015 edition of Michael Turback’s “Finger Lakes Uncorked” along for the ride. The book focuses on four “entry points”  to the region — Skaneateles, Canandaigua, Ithaca and Hammondsport — and offers day trip and weekend tour plans from each, including where to sip, dine and stay and places to stop for a taste of the region’s beauty and history. ($12.87 on Amazon.com).

Last but not least: In addition to being a top-flight wine destination, the Finger Lakes is home to dozens of artisan cheese producers, including the 13 members of the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail. For information on members and events, Click HERE. For information on the region’s microbrew and craft beer scene, check out the Finger Lakes Beer Trail.

Header photo from MPerel on Wikimedia commons.

Margaret McCormick is a freelance writer and editor in Syracuse. She blogs about food at eatfirst.typepad.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect on Facebook or email her at mmccormicksnt@gmail.com.

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