Summer wine tours a short drive from downtown New York

One of the joys of living in central New York is the easy access to vineyards and wine trails. A glass of local Riesling or a bottle of local Pinot Noir is a short drive away, especially on a nice 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 head to for wine.

Here are some 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 wineries in the Finger Lakes. There could be many reasons, but the average temperature here is reported to be 1 degree warmer than the rest of the region – hence the nickname “Banana Belt”. Does it make the wine better? That’s certainly a lot of wineries – and some of the area’s most well-known restaurants, as well as a number of breweries and distilleries.

Notable vineyards: Lamoreaux Landing Cellars (Lodi); Wagner Vineyards (Lodi), Standing stone vineyards (Hector); Caves of red newts (Hector); Hazlitt 1852 (Hector); Chateau La Fayette Reneau (Hector); Vineyards of the Atwater estate (Burdet); Damiani Cellars (Burdet); and others.

Atwater Estate Vineyards overlooks Seneca Lake on its eastern shore.

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

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

Harvesting grapes at Hunt Country Vineyards on the west side of Lake Keuka.

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

Notable vineyards: King Ferry Vineyards/Treleaven Wines (King Ferry); Long Point Vineyard (Dawn); Heart & Hands Wine Co. (Union Springs); Apple Station Vineyard (Cayuga); Izzo White Barn Wine Estate (Cayuga), others.

Wines from Long Point Winery near Aurora on the east side of Cayuga Lake.

The suburban circuit: You can find wineries without leaving suburban Syracuse (or Onondaga County). For some, in Skaneateles and Cazenovia you still have the cross country road and pretty views. Others trade that in for convenient access.

Notable vineyards: Anyela Vineyards (Skanateles); White Birch Vineyards (Skanateles); Owera Vineyards(Cazenovia); Greenwood Winery and Bistro (East of Syracuse); Lakeland Vineyard (Geddes).

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

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

Notable vineyards: Thousand Islands Vineyard (Alexandria Bay); Coyote Moon Vineyard (Clayton); Otter Creek Wine Estate (Philadelphia); The Cape Winery (Cape Vincent); Venditti Vineyards (Therese), others.

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

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

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