Finger Lakes Wine and the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail

Why do I never hear about New York wine?

In all my years of drinking wine, I never knew that New York is the third biggest wine-producer in the nation, after California and Washington. New York has much stricter interstate shipping laws than California. Therefore, you will not see New York wines in places outside of New York. California wine is everywhere and quite famous throughout the world. Yet New York has plenty of local wine to satisfy any oenophile.

On my trip to the Finger Lakes, I discovered wine is a booming industry in that region. And it is not something new. One of the first grape vines planted in New York occurred in the Finger Lakes in 1829. The Hudson River region is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the United States.

Who knew? I suppose if you like wine and live in the Northeast region of the United States you may already know this.

Finger Lakes Wine Region

Finger Lakes Wineries

Finger Lakes Wineries (courtesy

New York wines and California wines are pretty much opposite in grapes, cultivation, body and taste due to climate differences.

New York is more known for it’s whites. The Finger Lakes region is known for Rieslings.

California is famous for the deep reds. I am used to the California and warm region wines that are full-bodied, tannin-rich, and older reds like Cabernet Savignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel.

New York reds are lighter and much younger. These Finger Lake wines opened up new pores on my palate.

The Finger Lakes region has over 100 wineries mostly centered around the Cayuga, Seneca, and Keuka lakes. Most of the wineries are located right off the lakes with several scattered off the beaten path. This wine region started in 1982 with over 4,000 square miles.

Pick a route and make the most of it. If you don’t have a designated driver, hire a limo or transportation service. I chose the Cayuga Lake Trail.

Cayuga Wine Trail

The Cayuga Wine Trail was the closest to Skaneateles, where I was staying. Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake are actually recognized as separate wine viticultural areas, due to their unique geographical conditions for growing grapes. The Cayuga Lake region is lower in altitude than the other lakes giving them a 1-2 week longer growing season.

I only hit  five wineries on this trail, most of them in the northern region. Truthfully, after five stops of six tastings each, I was done for the afternoon. And I was not even driving. I would recommend giving yourself an entire day to get to more of the wineries. Two hours was not really enough.

My first stop was the Montezuma Winery right off Route 5 before you head south to hit the other wineries. They had a variety of wines that do not even use grapes, including honey wines and fruit wines. One of my favorites was the Cranberry Bog, which is made of cranberries and no grapes are used.

After that, we drove to Eleven Mile, a small place right up the road from Montezuma, before heading to Swedish Hill, Cobblestone Farm, and Goosewatch Wineries.

All of the pourers were informational. One of the biggest reasons I like to go wine tasting is for the educational piece. Yes, I enjoy tasting the wine, but learning about the grapes, this agriculture, the history, and the processing makes me even more of a wine lover. Making this an enjoyable wine tasting experience.

Now I will have to come back and hit the Seneca Lake Region.

One Response to Finger Lakes Wine and the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail

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