An introduction to the Finger Lakes Region of New York State and the wineries within.
Just a half day’s drive from the major cities of the east coast and mid-west, the Finger Lakes region of New York boasts beautiful scenery, sumptuous wineries, and major attractions. You can get there by either the speedy and efficient New York thruway, or the picturesque Route 17, the Southern Tier Expressway.
Western New York Attractions
Taking route 17 from the west, you cross scenic Chautauqua Lake, home of the famous Chautauqua Institute and home to cottages and campers fleeing the summer heat. Just east of Chautauqua is Salamanca, the only city in America within an American Indian reservation. The most prominent feature of Salamanca is the tax-free gasoline, which is 20 cents cheaper than the surrounding area and is pumped for free.
Other attractions in the nearby area include Rock City, a spot for rock climbing and sightseeing, Olean, home to St. Bonaventure, Allegany State Park, Kinzua Dam, Letchworth State Park, home of a magnificent gorge, called the Grand Canyon of the East.
Finger Lakes Wineries
If you can manage to get past these wonders, you reach the Finger Lakes. Cut by glaciers, these twelve lakes are long and narrow. Oriented mostly north-south, they are close together but take a considerable time to circle. They take even longer to circle if you stop at the many, many wineries that are located on a number of the lakes.
Three of the lakes, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga, have wine trails that are marked on the roads the parallel the lakes. But some of the other lakes have wineries nearby, and many wineries that dot the three lakes listed above are not part of the official trails. Blazing your own trail is part of the fun.
Almost all of the wineries offer tasting, at little or no cost. Many also have restaurants, and a scenic patio to enjoy your favorite red or white. The remarkable Icewine is also popular here. There are festivals during the year but anytime is a great time. Just be careful, as the area does get quite cold in winter, with abundant snows. The changes in elevation by the Lakes results in wide variations in snowfall, and the roads can be tricky.
Keuka Lake has a number of quaint wineries and a few elaborate ones. Seneca is the largest lake with the most wineries, from what appears to be small barns to large, modern structures. . Cayuga has a number of fine wineries, as well. Tasting rooms are open usually from 10 in the morning until 5 or 6 in the evening.
Sightseeing in the Finger Lakes
Great care needs to be taken when visiting the area. The views are intoxicating, but so is the wine. Bus tours are popular, as are limousines. Consider one of these or a designated driver. The speed limits are pretty high, and the roads wind a great deal. You will need all of your faculties to arrive safely. You definitely want to be in good shape to come back again and again.