What to Expect When Visiting a Finger Lakes Winery- Part 1

How in the world do I narrow down which of the lakes to visit or what wineries to visit… there are so many!?!

This post is the first of a series that details what you can expect when you visit a Finger Lakes Winery.  Many visitors to the area are not sure to expect as the Winery experience here in the Finger Lakes is markedly different than those of other wine regions.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fancy atmosphere in Napa Valley, California, but I like to think we are a little more approachable here in the FLX!  This first post will give you tips on Preparing to Visit. 

This is probably the question I get asked the most here at FLX Finest, and for good reason- there are HUNDREDS of wineries around the Finger Lakes with more popping up every year. 

Which lake?

In order of my personal preference: Seneca, Keuka, Cayuga.  Although there are wineries on most of the FLX, these are the heavy hitters.  Here are some points about each lake:

Seneca: many wineries clustered close together almost everywhere along the lake.  It is MY favorite lake for wine tasting, but note that accommodations (hotels, restaurants etc.) are far away from the wineries (30 minutes +).  Plan to hire a driver if you want to taste at more than a few wineries OR share a tasting with a friend!  Remember: it is ALWAYS ok to use the dump bucket at the wineries if you don’t feel like you can finish a full tasting!  Bonus tip- any non-wine drinkers in your party?  There are a few breweries on Seneca Lake as well!

Keuka: so many “off the beaten path” wineries!  Wineries are farther apart as are accommodations.  This lake takes a bit more planning if you want to hit more than one, but it is VERY worth it.  Dr. Konstantin Frank, hailed as the “King of Vinifera in the Finger Lakes” is one on this lake you can’t miss.  This is the winery of the man who started planting vitis vinifera here in the FLX.  We should all go pay homage to him!

Cayuga:  ahh, my Alma Matter stomping grounds!  I attended Cornell for undergrad, so we frequented wineries around Cayuga lake often in my upperclassmen days.  The wineries here are charming and are so close to Ithaca which is a wonderful little city to visit.  In terms of winery distance to accommodations, this lake is in between Seneca and Keuka.  The wineries are not quite as spread out as Keuka but aren’t as close as Seneca either.  For any non-wine drinkers, there is an excellent cidery along this lake!

Where should I stay?

The one tricky thing about visiting FLX wineries is that there are not a ton of hotels along the wine trail route.  If you do plan on staying at one of the hotels in the area, make sure to plan when you think about driving (no UBER is not big up here so do not rely on that).  Most people either hire a driver, spend a while at the wineries to make sure that they do not drive while buzzed, or do half tastings (split a tasting with a partner).

Probably one of the best options for lodging is to look on AirBnB (there are many gorgeous lakefront homes on AirBnB in the area) or to look for local Bed and Breakfasts (there are plenty).  Please check back for future posts on lodging places I’d recommend!

Looking to plan a trip to the Finger Lakes?  See Part 2 of this series for what to expect when you walk in the door of a Finger Lakes Winery!


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