The October foliage is a wonderful time of the year to get out and explore the beauty of this annual splendor, thanks to a bit of chill in the air and a little something called chlorophyll (remember earth science class). The Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York offers both the opportunity to enjoy the foliage, its famous wineries and harvest. With the October holiday weekend upon us, both my sister, Carmen and I reserved a small log cabin in a woodland area near the city of Ithaca, about 25 -40 minutes away from Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. The cabin was comfortable with captivating views of the woods and the surrounding two ponds, making our pajama morning walks truly delightful. A couple of years ago, during the Spring, we traveled to the region, staying in Geneva close to Seneca lake, not as pretty or as busy as the fall season.
The Finger Lakes region has 400+ wineries surrounding eleven lakes that look like fingers hence its name. The lakes’ eco-climate is conducive to producing a variety of award-winning wines, mostly Rieslings and Chardonnays. These wineries tend to lean more towards the making of white wines in part due to the time it takes to age red wine. The region has been highly successful at using Agritourism as an economic development tool in what is primarily a rural area. Many of these lakes are surrounded by farms and small sleepy towns that depend on the economic boost these winery trails offer from May through November. Visiting wineries has become a growing trend throughout the world. There are over 7,762 wineries located in the United States in just about every state, with California being the largest producer. In fact, California’s wine production has continued to remain competitive especially among small and micro-sized wineries as more wine lovers choose to become winemakers.
On our first day driving up, we headed to the scenic village of Watkins Glen facing the Seneca lake to check out a dairy and cheese farm for a tour on how cheese is made. Because of COVID, the tour was not possible. We were a bit disappointed but happy not to stay too long as the smell of cow shit was insane. We were a bit hungry and just could not resist buying their creamy ice cream choosing to devour it inside the car and quickly move on. From there, we went to Watkins Glen State Park, which I highly recommend. This is a 2-mile awesome hiking trail featuring 19 waterfalls cascading through beautiful caverns accented with the fall’s changing colors.
This gorge is a dramatic landscape sculpted by water over thousands of years and is just majestic. My photos fall short of the breathless beauty of this park.
We had about 40 minutes to get to Ithaca before it got dark to find the log cabin and make dinner plans. Ithaca is a vibrant college town, thanks to Cornell University. The center of the city has an old-industrial appeal; however, it is surrounded by smaller villages, farms, parks, and at least a dozen popular waterfalls. It has a huge farm-to-table movement, and it less than 30 minutes from Cayuga Lake which has a least dozens of wineries inlcuding popular cider, craft beers, and other distilleries that also have tasting tours.
On Sunday morning, after walking the grounds, we headed to Cayuga Lake on an amazing Indian summer day. We visited five wineries facing the lake, which took most of the day. We were able to witness lovely views of the lake and the grapevines that were being harvested. COVID protocols sometimes required us to wait. The weather allowed so many folks to spread throughout the grounds taking in the views and the warm breezes while sipping wine, listening to music, taking photos, and watching people. Tasting fees were between $5- $12 for a flight of five 1 oz sips. It is fair to say we both drank the equivalent of one bottle each. By the end of the day, we purchased several bottles of wine. A bit tired, we picked up some food and went back to enjoy our last night at the cabin, hoping that we could start a fire pit that we miserably fail at.
On our third and last day, we walked the grounds and made a stop at the popular Ithaca’s Farmer Market pavilion of which I would avoid at least until the pandemic is over. Photos are of the region’s stunning foliage, the cabin grounds, the lake, and wineries.
Needing a break? Before it gets too cold and while the foliage is still peaking, check out your local wineries and pay them a visit with a safe pod of friends, of course.
Click the center of the photo to see the full view.
“For more stories and photos like these, please click here to subscribe!“