Finger Lakes wine tours are growing in popularity, not least because they allow somebody else to take care of the driving so that you can focus on the most important thing: wine tasting.
You might not expect to find a fertile wine-producing region so far north in the US, but the unique ecoregion known as Finger Lakes is home to over 100 wineries. These eleven thin lakes that span like crow’s feet from the southern shore of Lake Ontario are deep, narrow expanses of water. Their steep banks enjoy enough moisture and protection from the elements to allow vineyards to thrive. Wine tours around the Finger Lakes commonly start in Geneva, Farmington and Penn Yan, commonly visiting wineries around Keuka, Seneca and Canandaigua lakes. Here are five of the best options.
Canandaigua Wine Trail Experience
Canandaigua Lake has its own well-established wine trail, with a number of little wineries and even craft breweries scattered around its shores. This excursion, which lasts five hours, includes tastings at four local wineries, plus vineyard tours to discover more about the grape to glass journey. There’s also an option to elongate the tour by adding an extra winery and a lunch stop at the popular steak house Nolan’s in Canandaigua to the itinerary. This tour starts in Farmington, although hotel pickup is also available from hotels in Canandaigua town. From $205 per person.
Seneca Lake Wine Tasting & Tour
Perhaps the most popular of the Finger Lakes is Seneca, a long ribbon of water where gently rolling hills meet the water in a patchwork of greens. There are far more wineries in this region than can be effectively visited in one day, but this tour from Geneva, NY does an excellent job of packing plenty into its six-hour itinerary. The first stops are usually at Fox Run, and Ventosa vineyards. The latter is a 23-acre property with expansive views over the lake and vineyard. Torrey Ridge Winery and Anthony Road Wine Company close out the four-winery itinerary. From $211 per person.
Keuka Lake Winery Tour
The smaller, wishbone-shaped Keuka Lake is located to the southwest of Seneca Lake and enjoys a similar pedigree of winery to its larger neighbor. Tours depart from Penn Yan and include stops at Heron Hill, with its excellent crow’s nest wine tasting space. You’ll also stop by Bully Hill Vineyards, where lunch is also provided if you select the lunch inclusion tour (additional fee). Given the region’s more northern location, Riesling is one of the more successful grapes here. You’ll get to taste a top shelf Riesling at Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery. There’s also a fourth stop at Hunt Country Vineyards. From $217 per person.
Seneca Lake South Wine Tastings Tour
In addition to tours from Geneva, there are also Finger Lakes tours from Watkins Glen, which sits on the southernmost point of Seneca Lake. As with other tours on this list, you’ll get the chance to taste wines from across the region at four separate wineries, some of which make micro-batch wines. This tour also includes wineries located away from the beaten wine trail, such as Castel Grisch, where hybrid red grapes are grown alongside the region’s commoner varietals of Riesling and Chardonnay. From $223 per person.
Finger Lakes Brewery Tour
Wine isn’t the only alcoholic beverage made in the Finger Lakes region. The Seneca and Keuka wine regions also share plenty of arable field space with hops farmers, fueling beer production at a number of local craft breweries. Fleur de Lis, Big aLICe Brewing and Fall Street Brewing are all tasting stops included on this five-hour itinerary. You’ll also try specialist small-batch beers at the Climbing Bines Hop Farm. This brewery tour runs on most days of the year. From $223 per person.