Want to experience 40 Finger Lakes
wineries without the hassle of actually
driving to them? Then head to Sonnen-berg Gardens & Mansion State Historic
Park in Canandaigua. Along with nine
formal gardens, an 1887 Queen Anne–
style mansion and the Lord & Burnham
greenhouse complex, the park also
houses the Finger Lakes Wine Center,
where you can sample regional vintages
The tasting room o ers selections
from a dozen or so di erent wines each
day, selected from a rotating inventory
of more than 100, including the center’s
three private-label wines. A flight of five
samples is $2 per person. The Deluxe
sampling, which pairs the wines with
cheese, crackers and fruit, is $4.95 per
person. You also can purchase any of
the wines by the glass. If you like what
you taste, the center sells more than
160 wines and dozens of gourmet food
products, all produced in the Finger
Above: The 1911 stained-glass Ti any
window—the focal point of the wine
center’s tasting room—was crafted
by the Pike Stained Glass Studio in
Rochester, N. Y. The image is also
featured on the label of Sonnenberg’s
own “Abundance” wine.
second from along the Black Sea. His
aptly named Black Russian Red, a blend
of these grapes, is tart and smoky with
hints of elderberry, blackberry and currants. “You can’t peg it to being similar
to anything else,” he says.
Keuka’s best-known vineyard is
Dr. Konstantin Frank in Hammond-sport. In the 1950s the vast Gold Seal
Vineyard commissioned Frank, a
Ukrainian immigrant with a doctorate
in vinifera, to study growing European
grapes here. His winery has won more
awards than any other in New York.
The Rieslings and Blanc de Noirs are
outstanding, and for something di er-
ent, try the Rkatsiteli, a light but spicy
and herbaceous wine.
Award-Winning Whites, Tourist Fun
From small to large—Seneca Lake,
with 36 wineries, is the biggest trail in the
region and one of the biggest on the East
Coast. It’s also the most crowded. “The
tasting bars can be three people deep in
the fall,” says Shannon Brock, wine coordinator at the New York Wine & Culinary
Center in Canandaigua. So now is the
time to go.
“Far and away our most awarded
grape, nationally and internationally, is
Riesling,” says Seneca Lake’s executive
director, Paul Thomas. Be sure to sample recent gold-medal winners such as
the 2005 Riesling from White Springs
Winery in Geneva, Homestead Reserve
Riesling from Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards in
Hector, and the 2008 Dry Riesling from
Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen.
Of course, it’s not just Riesling here.
Lakewood’s chardonnay is another
winner, aged in oak barrels derived
from New York state wood. And Hazlitt
is best known for its sweet, Catawba-based Red Cat. “More people have
heard of Red Cat than have heard of
Seneca Lake,” Thomas says.
For purely touristy reasons, visit
Belhurst Winery in Geneva, in 100-year-
old Belhurst Castle, overlooking the
water, and Miles Wine Cellars in Him-rod, in a 200-year-old home that the
owners insist is benignly haunted.
A Long Tradition,
The Cayuga (pronounced cay-YOU-guh) Trail, organized in 1983, is the oldest wine trail in the United States. Yet,
even though it’s been around longest,
“it’s the least discovered and tends to
be the quietest,” says Brock.