Somewhere in the world, the harvesting of grapes is happening. In the USA, just about every state has vineyards that make for a great opportunity to visit with friends and enjoy the tasting of wines, whether it’s Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel or Riesling. I personally lean more toward a robust, dry red. This is my third visit to the Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York to drink wine and enjoy the area’s rustic scenery and it never disappoints. Actually, there is more than just tasting wine that makes this region attractive for a long weekend visit with friends….

 First… How to get to the Finger Lakes 

 If you live up northeast, the best way is to drive (average 4-5  hrs.). However, Amtrak does have service to the region, although, when you get there, you would need to rent a car. If you are further away, the closest airport would be Rochester and Syracuse, NY and then rent a car. Best to make it at least a long weekend trip returning on Monday.

A Bit of History about the Finger Lakes region   

It is said by the geologists that “Finger Lakes were formed over 2 million years ago, during the Pleistocene Ice Age brought on by the glaciers”. There are 11 lakes, one more than a human’s hands. It would take more than a week to visit all of them. But the lakes are just one aspect of what this region offers, as there are at least a dozen waterfalls and parks making it an outdoor paradise, especially during the harvest season. There are also at least a dozen museums and historical sites to visit for both art lovers and history buffs among the many colonial towns surrounding these amazing lakes.

 The Finger Lakes are known for producing award-winning wines, especially world-renowned Rieslings. There are over 400 wineries in the entire region. More recent, the region is also capturing the attention of those who like breweries, distilleries and hard-cider. At best, there is something here for everyone.

  My itinerary for a three-day weekend visit

 My friends Alice and Bob from Richmond, Virginia, came along on this trip staying at my home and leaving Friday morning for a 4-hour drive. We stopped at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY, about  50 minutes from Seneca Falls, where we stayed. This museum is a first class world act as it offers an amazing collection of art and historical glass with glass making demonstrations. This was my second time there, and it was just as mesmerizing as the first time. From there, we made it to our first winery (before they closed) on the Seneca Lake for a glass of wine before arriving at Seneca Falls. We stayed at Joseph’s Place, Airbnb, settled in and then visited one of the many farms to table restaurants in the area.

The next day we walked this historic colonial town known as the birthplace of women’s rights where the first women’s suffrage convention was held in 1848. It has a small museum that takes you through the history of women’s rights, among other historical sites and the views of a lovely canal. By the way, did you know Seneca Falls was the inspiration for the fictional town of Bedford Falls in the classic film “It’s A Wonderful Life”?  Yup, they have a small museum and a bridge name George Bailey Lane. The Finger Lakes region is primarily a rural area with a strong agri-tourism vibe surrounded by sleepy towns that reflect so much of America’s colonial and industrial past.

 After a lengthy walk we hopped in the car and made it to our first winery on Seneca Lake where we had brunch and then we just kept going from one winery to the next trying flights of wine both red and white with stunning views of the lake. On the first day, we got to visit four wineries before closing time, and headed to another farm to table restaurant that did not disappoint.

 On our last day, we got up early and headed to the Taughannock Falls Park for both a lovely walk and to catch the stunning view of a 200 feet water fall over rocky cliffs above the gorge before going to brunch.  Somehow, we managed to visit five more wineries, this time on the Cayuga Lake. By the 4th visit, I was pretty much done. My friends, however, were doing just fine (actually, I needed a brief nap before making it to dinner). In total, we visited 10 wineries over our entire visit, purchased a couple of bottles before finding a place for dinner. Monday was a day of driving in the rain to get back home. We managed to drink another bottle once we settled in for a home cooked meal.

Final note, as stated earlier, there are wineries in every state if it’s not possible for Finger Lakes to be in your plans this year. The harvest season is such a great time to enjoy the fall foliage near any vineyard, so make some plans with a couple of friends because drinking wine is a unique sensory experience that deserves company.

My photos are a compilation of the entire trip, starting with the lakes, town life, vineyards, the waterfalls and pretty cool glass pieces from the Corning Glass museum.  Last time I visited the Finger Lakes region I stayed in the town of Ithaca. I also posted a story with photos that include the Watkins Glen State Park waterfalls taken during the peak of the fall foliage. Click here if you would like to read the story and view the photos.


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