You don't need to travel to Napa Valley or California to experience wine country. In the northwest region of New York State, there is home to the Finger Lakes. The Finger Lake is home to many vineyards and is world renown, especially the Riesling! I love excellent Reisling, so I was excited to see what the region had to offer.
I went on the Seneca Wine Trail with my sister in August 2020, this was during COVID restrictions. Some vineyards required reservations, a limited amount of people, or limits while visiting the vineyard. I highly recommend you check all rules before planning your trip to the Seneca Wine Trail.
I will say, a day is not enough to visit more than two to three wineries. If you're looking for a fancy weekend away in an unexpected beautiful location, this should be added to your list.
Where is Seneca Lake?
As mentioned, Seneca Lake is part of the Finger Lakes in New York, it is actually the deepest lake of all the Finger Lakes. Seneca Lake is just under 5 hours from New York City or a six-hour drive from Boston. The closest cites are Buffalo and Syracuse.
Around Seneca Lake is the Seneca scenic drive, which is filled with wineries that circle the lake. You will also see mile markers around the lake; this is for cyclists to track the miles they've complete on the scenic drive. There are stunning wineries with amazing views. On the west side of the lake, you get great elevated views.
Where to Stay: Watkins Glen KOA
We stayed for a weekend and had other attractions as our focus for the weekend, the KOA made the most sense for our trip. There are great Airbnb's or hotels in the area.
We first checked into the KOA site. I will recommend arriving here in daylight. Even though we arrived in the daytime, the campground can be confusing to find your campsite if you haven't been there before. We reserved a tent site and had to cut through the RV section.
It was a sweltering day, so setting up a tent and all the sleeping gear in the middle of the day in direct sunlight is not ideal. However, first thing upon arrival to a site, it is strongly encouraged to set you your sleeping situation. My REI inflatable sleeping mat that goes under my sleeping mattress needs time to inflate.
After setting up camp, we jumped back into the car to head to the wineries. Since we went in August 2020, there were COVID regulations to follow. Specific wineries require a reservation coming Friday thru Sunday. Keep this in mind when planning your trip.
Also, one thing I did not take into account, the lake is massive! From the campsite to our first winery was 39 minutes from the campsite. The second winery was 23 minutes from that winery, but an hour from the campsite. When preparing your wine tour, try to have them in a close grouping. If the ones you want are spread around the lake, don't do this on your travel day. You'll need a whole day.
The two wineries we visited were Fox Run Winery and Three Brothers Wineries and Estates. Doing more than two wineries was not ideal for our time limit and schedule. We arrived at Seneca lake by 2 PM, which did limit our timing.
On the west side of Seneca Lake, it is elevated over the water, which gives stunning views. There is an archway that frames the property nicely along with the lake. From the entrance, you get views of the gravel parking lot next to the estate, picnic area, and vineyard.
We didn't get food, but the cafe food smelled amazing. If you have time, get food, have a picnic, and get a bottle of wine and enjoy the space! I highly recommend getting the Artic Fox wine, it is a Riesling that id on the dry side but true to the taste of Riesling. Unfortunately, we had a 3 PM reservation and a 25-minute drive so only spent a short time at this location.
Three Brothers Wineries and Estates:
There are three different wineries to you can make a reservation at. Stony Lonesome Wine Cellars, Passion Feet Wine Barn, and Bagg Dare Wine Company are the wineries on the property and one brewery, War Horse Brewing Company.
If you want to go to all the locations, you can make a reservation for $40 for Friday to Sunday. If you wish to do a tasting at a specific location, it's only $15. Monday through Thursday, you do not need a reservation, I believe the rates stay the same.
Our reservation was for Passion Feet because this is where they have the wine slushies. Also, a tip, if you just want to try the slushies and not the wines, my sister didn't do the tasting by did a free seat and was still given the wine slushy to try. It was so interesting!
I went and purchased a full cup. There is a benefit, you get a cup as a keepsake! However, the slushy and wine can be pretty sweet. If you do purchase a wine slushie, don't forget to get food from their cafe. The food was so good. I got a margarita flatbread, and it was so yummy!
Facts & Attractions of Seneca Wine Trail:
In 1986 the Seneca Wine Trail was created
The lake is 632 feet at it's the deepest part, making it the deepest of the finger lakes
American currency is in American dollars and cents
About 30 wineries are members on the scenic wine trail
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my trip to Seneca Lake, New York. If you have any questions about the area, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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