Famous for its rolling vineyards and the flavors that come out of them, Finger Lakes Wine Country has been a wine lover’s paradise since late in the 20th century.
But there’s more to the region’s story than just a lot of excellent wine. Take some time to delve into the history and culture of the area, and you’ll realize that its roots extend far beyond those of its grapevines.
On the surface, the small towns are quintessentially idyllic. Watkins Glen and Hammondsport are charming, the heartbeats of the lakes they call home. But it’s only when you feel the wind on your face as you whip around the famed racetrack at Watkins Glen International that you’ll start to realize that those small towns have big reputations.
When you watch 2,300-degree molten glass come to life in front of your eyes at The Corning Museum of Glass, you’ll discover that glassmaking has been at the heart of this innovative small city for generations. When you soar silently in a glider over the Chemung River Valley, you’ll become mesmerized by the same views that captivated Mark Twain.
The Finger Lakes is a world-class wine-producing region that specializes in aromatic white varieties like Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Of late, the region also is finding exciting success with cool-climate reds like Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir.
The terroir of the Finger Lakes is special because of the microclimates created by the lakes. Extreme cold weather in the winter is avoided and warm breezy days during the summer help ripen the grapes. Limestone-laced soils give Finger Lakes wines a distinctive flavor.
Today, Finger Lakes Wine Country is home to more than 100 wineries, breweries and distilleries centered around Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Many of the wineries also are members of their respective “wine trails” which host year-round wine-and-food weekend events.
Wine tasting in Finger Lakes Wine Country is a world-class experience in a quaint and charming atmosphere. Most wineries have a small tasting fee — averaging $2 to $5 per person — which often is refunded with a purchase of wine.
Wineries are open year-round, though during the winter some do close for the season or have limited visiting hours. Unlike in other wine destinations, such as Napa Valley, tasting appointments are not needed, although more wineries are beginning to offer vineyard and winery tours that require advance reservations. It’s always advisable to check ahead with the wineries you plan to visit for special events and promotions.
And between winery visits, there’s plenty to see and do. Tomorrow on Vinesse TODAY, we’ll share some of our favorite spots with you.