Deep glacier-carved lakes, rolling vineyards, and winding roads through lush forests make exploring the Finger Lakes region of New York a true escape. “Visitors will enjoy our eight lakes and the Erie Canal, fresh farm to table cuisine, history, arts and culture that make up our rich culture and lifestyle,” says Meg Vanek, executive director of the Cayuga County Office of Tourism. “And of course, our famous Finger Lakes wine, beer and cider.”
Cottages hug the shorelines and small towns like Hammondsport charm the soul. People visit to kayak and swim, to buy local food at the markets, and to relax over long dinners. Festivals throughout the year make it even more fun. The Finger Lakes are home to the rainforest-like beauty of Watkins Glen and Taughannock Falls, the tallest waterfall in the eastern United States.
But most people think of the Finger Lakes as a place to drink wine. The region’s microclimate has always been perfect for growing grapes; more than 40 wineries circle Seneca Lake, 16 more grace the hills around Keuka Lake, and another 16 are along the dog-friendly Cayuga Wine Trail. Wines in the area range from dry viniferas to sweet labruscas and hybrids, including classically-produced Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Franc. One can sit on a deck at lakeside or see vistas from a picnic table or tasting room high on a ridge. The wineries are always welcoming.
The winter months may be the best time to visit for a personal winetasting experience, but that would not allow for a Seneca Lake boat tour or what Cassandra Harrington, executive director of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, describes as “the experience like no other.” She suggests the water-to-wines tour hosted by the Silver Strand at Sheldrake that allows people to experience the best of the Finger Lakes – the shimmering lakes and the quality wine.