14 Top Finger Lakes Wineries to Visit

Head to upstate New York's winemaking region for scenery, history and lots of vino.

U.S. News & World Report

14 Top Finger Lakes Wineries to Visit

Finger lakes wineries
Credit

(Courtesy of Ravines Wine Cellars)

Ravines Wine Cellars: Geneva

Owners Morten and Lisa Hallgren studied wine in Provence, France, and cooking in San Antonio, respectively, before settling at Ravines Wine Cellars. Together, they produce excellent, mostly dry rieslings, cabernet francs and red meritage that can be sampled at two locations or paired with a field-to-table meal at the popular Ravinous Kitchen. On weekends, savor local produce, cheeses, chocolates and more at the Seneca Lake-facing property's historic slate-roofed barn. Book ahead for a $50 Tasting Table lunch (available select weekends) or an $85 Ravinous Table dinner, both of which are guaranteed to be delectable foodie experiences.
Finger lakes wineries
Credit

(Courtesy of Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery)

Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery: Lodi

You'll find the Finger Lakes' only craft brewery by the modern tasting room at Wagner Vineyards. Wagner is one of six wineries in the so-called Banana Belt, a warmer microclimate on Seneca Lake's southeastern shore. Although the 250-acre estate grows 20 grape varietals, the Wagner 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay was chosen for Wine Enthusiast magazine's 2017 "Top 100 Best Buys" from around the world. Visitors especially like Wagner's well-priced sweet whites, rosés and fine reds, as well as the property's informative and attentive staff. For a one-of-a-kind experience, follow your $5 wine tasting with a $6 to $10 craft beer flight from the Wagner Valley Brewing Co.
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Finger lakes wineries
Credit

(Courtesy of Pleasant Valley Wine Company)

Pleasant Valley Wine Company: Hammondsport

History buffs will enjoy a pour at Pleasant Valley Wine Company. The Finger Lakes' oldest winery boasts eight landmarked stone buildings dating back to 1860. The visitor center is a history museum showcasing surprising accomplishments, including a sparkling wine award won at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle. Pleasant Valley's Great Western sparkling wine won so many European prizes, Hammondsport and the surrounding region came to be known as the "Rheims of America." Informative guided tours cost $5 per person and run daily between Memorial Day and mid-November; a limited winter schedule is available as well. Wine tastings are free of charge year-round for groups with less than eight people.
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Savor the harvest in the Finger Lakes, New York's largest American Viticultural Area (AVA).

New York state is America's third-largest wine producer thanks to the quality vintages of the Finger Lakes AVA, located near Lake Ontario, Rochester and Syracuse. Ice age glaciers that carved 11 photo-worthy lakes left an ideal terroir and microclimate for growing riesling and cool weather-tolerant grapes. Though most wineries in this region offer tastings year-round, consider visiting locales like Seneca, Keuka, Cayuga and Canandaigua lakes between April and October for the best weather. Check out these 14 can't-miss Finger Lakes wineries for the chance to tour gorgeous vineyards, meet local winemakers and sip affordable, award-winning whites and reds.

Boundary Breaks Vineyard: Lodi

Bring your dog, pull up an Adirondack chair and enjoy sunset views while sampling some of Boundary Breaks' popular rieslings, considered among the best in the region. Laser-focused on fruit, the winery plants close to Seneca Lake to protect its riesling, Gewürztraminer and cabernet franc grapes from winter temperatures. Boundary Breaks also drains its fields to keep vines dry so they produce more flavor. Don't miss the dry riesling No. 239 or the sweet Spätlese-style No. 198, said to be one of the Finger Lakes' top sweet wines. Daily tastings cost $5 for five wines.

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery: Hammondsport

This is where Dr. Frank first experimented with European vinifera grapes in the 1960s and established the Finger Lakes' reputation for cool climate wines, especially rieslings and sparkling varietals. Still family-run, Dr. Frank's crowded, must-try tastings include a year-round sampling for $10 per person and – on weekdays in the summer – Terrace at 1886 experiences, which cost $25 per person and include four wines, cheeses and rooftop views of the vineyards. Connoisseurs prefer the 1886 Food & Wine Experience, which covers a viticultural or cellar tour and wine and small bites in its $40 fee. This experience is available by reservation on weekends between May and October.

Eagle Crest and O-Neh-Da Vineyards: Conesus

Head to Hemlock Lake in Conesus to discover historic vineyards that produce Eagle Crest table wines and O-Neh-Da sacramental wines without added sugars or chemicals. Established in 1872 by Bishop Bernard McQuaid, O-Neh-Da wines were popularized in 2015 when Pope Francis served them at a New York mass. Today, about 12,000 cases are produced annually for churches. Travelers appreciate the winery's historic building and cellar, rural setting and knowledgeable staff serving up delicious sweet and dry Eagle Crest wines. To taste five varietals, expect to pay $3. The property is open on most weekends (Friday through Sunday), but be sure to check the winery's website for exact tasting room hours.

Element Winery, F.L.X. Provisions: Geneva

Oenophiles will want to sample a sophisticated riesling by Christopher Bates, whose global training and technical skills have made him a star winemaker. To maintain all-natural flavors and aromas, Bates' world-class Element wines are made from local grapes without the use of additives or oak barrels. At the tasting room at F.L.X. Provisions, where visitors can sample four wines for $10, compare Bates' production with the 60 other Finger Lakes wines they stock. Bates also co-founded a passion project called FLX Wienery, a casual restaurant in Dundee that pairs artisanal brats and fast food with beer and wine.

Fox Run Vineyards: Penn Yan

Boost your wine IQ and enjoy live music at Fox Run, a winery known for its various educational and entertainment offerings. Choose from the basic flight of five wines for $5, four wines paired with New York state cheeses for $22 or a five-plate luncheon on summer Fridays that costs $45 and includes six wine pairings. Or, explore the estate and dine with co-owner Scott Osborn during the private VIP Tour, which costs $100 per person and must be reserved two weeks in advance. Taste the 2015 riesling from 240 Days, a brand of small batch wines produced by a highly regarded female winemaker in the area, Nova Cadamatre.

Glenora Wine Cellars: Dundee

Drop into Glenora Wine Cellars, the original Seneca Lake winery where award-winning wines are made. Year-round, visit the main tasting room with your pooch, call ahead to reserve a behind-the-scenes tour (which costs $10 to $12 for every person 12 and older) or enjoy a $6 glass of your favorite varietal at East Overlook at Glenora while taking in vineyard and lake views. The off-dry Glenora 2015 riesling is one of Wine Enthusiast magazine's top 100 bargain wines. Stay at the property's 30-room inn, or sit for a meal at the on-site Veraisons Restaurant, which features locally sourced specials that change with the seasons.

Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards: Hector

Don't miss this 1852-built farm on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail known for fine rieslings, cabernet franc and traditional ice wine. Each $20 Hazlitt Heritage tasting includes wines paired with locally made bread, meats and cheeses. Some weekends, enjoy music and a fun tavern ambiance at the outdoor bar, where beer and the winery's best-selling Red Cat wine are served. Hazlitt's second location is in the nearby town of Naples, which hosts the Naples Grape Festival every September. The winery offers daily tastings, hiking trails, picnic areas and Red Cat Cellars tours on weekdays.

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard: Dundee

For what's considered the region's best dry riesling, head to this 80-acre estate overlooking Seneca Lake. Established in 1979 by Hermann J. Wiemer from the Mosel region of Germany, the winery and its nursery are now run by agronomist Oskar Bynke and Wiemer's apprentice, winemaker Fred Merwarth. The sustainable viticulture practices put in place here rely on eliminating synthetic additives and using long fermentation on indigenous yeast to emphasize flavor. Sample six wines for $8 in the stylish, modern tasting room within the old barn, then see where sparkling wines are aged and try the award-winning 2016 riesling.

Heron Hill Winery: Hammondsport

Admire the Finger Lakes' distinct beauty, see the famous Y-shaped Keuka Lake and sample the 2016 Grüner Veltliner Reserve and other vinos when you visit Heron Hill Winery. This vaulted hall, selected by Travel + Leisure as one of the most spectacular tasting rooms in the world, offers daily tastings for $5 or $10 (depending on the kind of wine chosen), plus a notable gift shop and a seasonal cafe. Two other Heron Hill tasting rooms are open daily on Seneca and Canandaigua lakes, the latter of which hosts weekend food and live music events.

Keuka Spring Vineyards: Penn Yan

Location, view and taste are the top reasons why visitors love Finger Lakes wine tastings – and at Keuka Spring, you can enjoy them all at once. Patrons praise the stunning views of Keuka Lake, the relaxing ambiance and the deck with shaded picnic tables. While sampling six tasty wines for $5, oenophiles can indulge in their own packed lunches or have something delivered from a Penn Yan eatery. Keuka Spring produces a fine dry rosé, Lemberger and field blends, as well as a Gewürztraminer that took home the top prize at the 2018 New York Wine and Food Classic.

Miles Wine Cellars: Himrod

Beware the spirits at this early 19th-century Greek Revival mansion on Seneca Lake. Miles Wine Cellars' $6 wine tasting includes five wines. Its best-known varietal is a "Ghost" wine, a blend of chardonnay and Cayuga grapes that commemorates the departed among us. Spirits are said to live at the property's two-suite inn, where weekend stays range from $220 to $530 for two nights (depending on the season). Summer travelers can arrive by boat and have a beer or a glass of wine at The Boathouse, a small dockside cafe that is open from Friday to Monday.

Pleasant Valley Wine Company: Hammondsport

History buffs will enjoy a pour at Pleasant Valley Wine Company. The Finger Lakes' oldest winery boasts eight landmarked stone buildings dating back to 1860. The visitor center is a history museum showcasing surprising accomplishments, including a sparkling wine award won at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle. Pleasant Valley's Great Western sparkling wine won so many European prizes, Hammondsport and the surrounding region came to be known as the "Rheims of America." Informative guided tours cost $5 per person and run daily between Memorial Day and mid-November; a limited winter schedule is available as well. Wine tastings are free of charge year-round for groups with less than eight people.

Ravines Wine Cellars: Geneva

Owners Morten and Lisa Hallgren studied wine in Provence, France, and cooking in San Antonio, respectively, before settling at Ravines Wine Cellars. Together, they produce excellent, mostly dry rieslings, cabernet francs and red meritage that can be sampled at two locations or paired with a field-to-table meal at the popular Ravinous Kitchen. On weekends, savor local produce, cheeses, chocolates and more at the Seneca Lake-facing property's historic slate-roofed barn. Book ahead for a $50 Tasting Table lunch (available select weekends) or an $85 Ravinous Table dinner, both of which are guaranteed to be delectable foodie experiences.

Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery: Lodi

You'll find the Finger Lakes' only craft brewery by the modern tasting room at Wagner Vineyards. Wagner is one of six wineries in the so-called Banana Belt, a warmer microclimate on Seneca Lake's southeastern shore. Although the 250-acre estate grows 20 grape varietals, the Wagner 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay was chosen for Wine Enthusiast magazine's 2017 "Top 100 Best Buys" from around the world. Visitors especially like Wagner's well-priced sweet whites, rosés and fine reds, as well as the property's informative and attentive staff. For a one-of-a-kind experience, follow your $5 wine tasting with a $6 to $10 craft beer flight from the Wagner Valley Brewing Co.
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Kyle McCarthy, Contributor

Kyle McCarthy is a co-founder and editor at Family Travel Forum, the trusted vacation planning ...  Read more

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