The Best Wine You’ve Never Tasted: the Great Grapes of the Finger Lakes

A selection of Finger Lakes wine
“Wine is bottled poetry.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Row after row of vines stretching down gentle slopes to the water. Miles of road dotted with wineries as far as the eye can see, parking lots filled with vinophiles eager to sample the latest seasonal offerings. Restaurants led by locavore chefs keen to pair their creations with regional vintages. Casual street conversations which often include words such as “bouquet”, “nose”, “varietal” and “terroir”. Where are we? In Napa? Sonoma? The Pacific Northwest? Somewhere in Australia or New Zealand? Nope. Would you believe it if we said upstate New York?

The latest wine region starting to garner more attention both nationally and internationally is the scenic Finger Lakes area, tucked up in the northwest corner of New York state, just below Lake Ontario. Here, certain varietal vines thrive near the long, thin bodies of water such as Seneca, Canandaigua, Keuka, and Cayuga lakes which act as temperature regulators during bouts of extreme weather: keeping things cool in summer, and protecting vines from the worst of the frost in winter. (No wonder the region has more than 100 wineries!) Known principally for the strength of its German cool weather grapes such as Riesling and Gewurtztraminer, the Finger Lakes are also becoming famous for their sparkling wines and other varietals such as Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay. Several Blanc de Blancs have won regional and national recognition, and most of the local ice and dessert wines are spectacular.

This summer, the Finger Lakes will feature its annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival from July 15-17, which draws wineries and food and craft vendors from throughout New York State. Held on the grounds of the Watkins Glen International Speedway, the popular event is an opportunity to taste the best work of more than 90 local and state wineries and food artisans, as well as enjoy rituals like the Friday night blessing of Bacchus (attendees are urged to wear togas), cooking classes, and wine seminars. And if you’re there, be sure to get a taste of some of the TakeTours staff’s favorite labels: Dr. Konstantin Frank, Swedish Hill, Red Newt Cellars, and Hermann J. Wiemer, to name a few.

But you don’t need a festival to experience the wonderful vintages of the area: wineries are open throughout the summer and year-round. So if you’re interested in exploring the beautiful and bountiful Finger Lakes region of New York, why not let TakeTours help you find the right trip? Click here to explore the many tours offered by our affiliated vendors.