Summer wine tours a short drive from central New York City

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One of the joys of living in central New York City is the easy access to vineyards and wine routes. A glass of local Riesling or a bottle of local Pinot Noir is a short drive away, especially on a beautiful summer day.

Of course, everyone is familiar with the Finger Lakes, which is an area large enough to offer several different options for a day. But there are other directions you can go for wine.

Here’s a look at a few suggested destinations, starting with a few subsections of the Finger Lakes:

The “banana belt:” This section of Route 414 from Lodi to Watkins Glen probably has the densest concentration of vineyards in the Finger Lakes. There can be many reasons, but it is reported that the average temperature here is 1 degree higher than in the rest of the region – hence the nickname “banana belt”. Does this make the wine better? That’s certainly plenty of wineries – and some of the area’s best-known restaurants, as well as a number of breweries and distilleries.

Notable cellars: Lamoreaux Landing Cellars (Lodi); Wagner Vineyards (Lodi), Standing Stone Vineyards (Hector); Caves du Triton Rouge (Hector); Hazlitt 1852 (Hector); Château LaFayette Reneau (Hector); Vineyards of the Atwater estate (Burdett); Damiani wine cellars (Burdett); and others.

Atwater Estate Vineyards overlooks Seneca Lake on its eastern shore.

The “Great Western” trail: The road from Penn Yan to Hammondsport west of Keuka Lake is dotted with some of Finger Lakes best known and most historic wineries. Hammondsport was once the epicenter of Finger Lakes winemaking, with prominent names like Taylor and Great Western. It became home to some of the region’s first New Wave wineries, starting in the 1960s.

Notable cellars: Heron Hill Winery (Hammondsport); the vineyards of Keuka Lake (Hammondsport); Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars (Hammondsport); Pleasant Valley Wine Co. (Hammondsport); Hunt Country Vineyards (branch); Bully Hill Vineyards (Hammondsport); and others.

Grape harvest at Hunt Country Vineyards on the west shore of Keuka Lake.

The “quiet corner”. Closer to Syracuse, the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake is less populated with vineyards, but the drive along Highway 90 includes the villages of Union Springs, Aurora, and King Ferry, with great scenery and parks.

Notable cellars: King Ferry Vineyards / Treleaven Wines (King Ferry); Long Point Winery (Aurora); Heart & Hands Wine Co. (Union Springs); Apple Station Winery (Cayuga); Izzo’s White Barn Winery (Cayuga), others.

Wines from Long Point Winery near Aurora, on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake.

The suburban tour: You can find vineyards without leaving the Syracuse suburbs (or Onondaga County). For some, in Skaneateles and Cazenovia you can still drive across the country and enjoy some pretty views. Others trade this for convenient access.

Notable cellars: the vineyards of Anyela (Skaneateles); White birch vineyards (Skaneateles); Owera Vineyards, (Cazenovia); Greenwood Winery & Bistro (East of Syracuse); Lakeland Winery (Geddes).

Visitors enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting at Owera Vineyards in Cazenovia.

The Thousand Islands trek: You might think of the Thousand Islands as the place to find shoreline cabins, good fishing, boat trips, and the famous Boldt Castle. But it is also the place to find wines made from grapes “resistant to cold”. How cold? The vineyards of Finger Lakes typically produce grapes that can withstand minimum winter temperatures of minus 10 degrees. In the North of the country, they must withstand temperatures of minus 40. The grape varieties include Frontenac, Marquette and La Crescent.

Notable cellars: Thousand Islands Winery (Alexandria Bay); Coyote Moon Vineyard (Clayton); Otter Creek Winery (Philadelphia); La Cave du Cap (Cap Vincent); Vineyards Venditti (Thérèse), others.

Wines from Coyote Moon Vineyards in Clayton, NY are available in bottles and cans.

Don Cazentre writes on craft beer, wine, spirits and beverages for NYup.com, syracuse.com and The Post-Standard. Reach it at [email protected], or follow him on NYup.com, to Twitter Where Facebook.


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