Follow the Keuka Wine Trail to Some Tasty BBQ

Over two weekends in June, the eight wineries that comprise the Keuka Wine Trail in New York’s Finger Lakes region become barbecue nirvana for wine lovers.

This year, the dates are June 11-12 and 25-26. Visitors can choose between full-weekend or Sunday-only packages, and visit an array of wineries in order to experience a wide variety of both food and wine flavors.

Each winery will prepare its own unique barbecue dish, featuring a marinade, special sauce or rub made in New York state. They’ll also pour their various wines, with a special emphasis on those that pair particularly well with the barbecue.

Many consider Keuka Lake to be the most picturesque of all the Finger Lakes, so there will be plenty of gorgeous scenery to soak in as well–whether from the comfort of your car, or while lounging on a winery porch.

The Keuka Lake region has an important place in American history as well. It’s where the country’s first bonded winery was established (that took place in 1860), and where vinifera vines were planted on U.S. soil for the first time.

Today, vinifera vines share vineyard space with hybrid and native varieties, but there’s no doubt that the early vinifera plantings there ushered in a new era of winemaking that eventually spread west to California.

Here’s what you can expect during a trek along the Keuka wine trail…

  • Keuka Spring Vineyards: Owned by the Wiltberger family, this winery’s tasting room sits on a hill overlooking the lake. A past recipient of the Governor’s Cup for “most outstanding wine,” the winery features picnic grounds and has a gift shop stocked with regional items.

    Keuka Spring Vineyards

    243 State Route 54

    (East Lake Road)

    Penn Yann, N.Y.


  • Heron Hill Winery: There’s always something good happening at this winery, from live music every Sunday in October to a selection of tasty deli items offered each May to October. A new “grand tasting hall” welcomes visitors.

    Heron Hill Winery

    9301 County Road 76

    Hammondsport, N.Y.


  • Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars: Founded in 1962 by its namesake, this is where quality winemaking had its genesis in the Finger Lakes region. Its bottlings of Riesling, in particular, are legendary. Today, Dr. Frank’s grandson, Fred, carries on the family tradition.

    Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Cellars

    9749 Middle Road

    Hammondsport, N.Y.


  • Stever Hill Vineyards: The tasting room is located in a restored barn originally built during the mid-1800s.

    Stever Hill Vineyards

    3962 Stever Hill Road

    Branchport, N.Y.


  • Hunt Country Vineyards: Picnic under a grape arbor or on the winery’s covered porch, and sample a selection of wines that have garnered 30 gold medals in just the past three years. The farm has been in the same family for six generations, and the family has been making wine for more than 25 years.

    Hunt Country Vineyards

    4021 Italy Hill Road

    Branchport, N.Y.


  • Barrington Cellars & Buzzard Crest Vineyards: Ken and Eileen Farnan own this small family winery that offers a spectacular view of Keuka Lake.

    Barrington Cellars & Buzzard Crest Vineyards

    2794 Gray Road

    Penn Yan, N.Y.


  • Ravines Wine Cellars: Morten Hallgren graduated from a premier winemaking school in Europe, and he and wife Lisa have created a charming tasting room offering specialty foods, artisanal cheeses, handmade chocolates and, of course, wonderful wines.

    Ravines Wine Cellars

    14630 State Route 54

    Keuka Village, N.Y.


  • McGregor Vineyard Winery: For 30 years, the McGregor family has made wines that “reflect the voice of the grapes,” and it has been a winning formula. You can sample wines with names both familiar (Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling) and not so familiar (Saperavi, Sereksiya Charni, Rkatsitel).

    McGregor Vineyard Winery

    5503 Dutch St.

    Dundee, N.Y.


All of the wineries will be open long hours during the “Barbecue at the Wineries” weekends in June and throughout the summer months. In the “off-season,” some implement more limited hours, so it’s a good idea to call ahead before planning a trip.

But no matter when you go, be prepared to experience new wine varieties, new aromas and new flavors.

*** Tomorrow, Grilling Week continues with a look at the world’s most expensive grill.

Posted in Wine in the Glass
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