Your Next Wine Weekend is Just a Sip Away
Danielle Benjamin, Contributing Writer
One day just isn’t enough time to enjoy all the Finger Lakes region has to offer. Two days? Better, but you’ll be missing out. In addition to over 100 wineries, there are dozens of breweries, distilleries, state parks, waterfalls, wildlife viewing spots, and more. So take a Friday off from work and spend a long weekend in Upstate New York. This three-day itinerary in the Finger Lakes region takes you through some of our favorite wineries on Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake and Keuka Lake. Your next weekend wine getaway is just a sip away.
Cayuga Lake Wineries
While the Finger Lakes are known for their award-winning wineries, there’s so much more to explore and enjoy! So to start your three-day weekend in the Finger Lakes region, go to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is free to visit and offers both a one-mile walking trail and a drive. Dozens of different bird species can be seen throughout the property, the highlights being the great blue herons and bald eagles.
When you finish the drive, take a left and you’ll quickly get to Montezuma Winery, the first winery of your weekend. There you can sample their wines as well as a variety of spirits from Hidden Marsh Distillery.
Continue your day by traveling south along the western coast of Cayuga Lake. Stop at Swedish Hill Vineyard & Winery for your next wine tasting and some mingling with their farm animals. Goose Watch Winery has some of the best views of the lake from their upper deck.
Optional Detour: Depending on time, an additional activity to consider is a tour through Deer Haven Park. The park is the only place in the world where you can find the famous white deer of Seneca. They’re beautiful!
Enjoy another wine flight while you eat lunch at Thirsty Owl Wine Company – or choose a cider flight with lunch at Finger Lakes Cider House. Further down the lake, Taughannock Falls is a must-see. It is the highest free-falling waterfall in the state!
Spend the first night of your 3-day weekend in the Finger Lakes in Ithaca, home to several waterfalls and state parks to explore. Since there is just one winery in Ithaca, it’s time to explore some breweries. Visit Ithaca Beer Company for dinner and a beer. Then have a late-night beer flight at Liquid State Brewing Company. If cider is what you prefer, Ithaca has several cideries to choose from as well.
While there are several hotels in Ithaca to choose from, you’ll be in for a treat when you go glamping at Firelight Camps.
Seneca Lake Wineries
On day two, you’re going to explore Seneca Lake wineries. This area is home to the largest number of wineries of any of the Finger Lakes. Thirty-five to be exact. Before you start sipping, kick the morning off at Watkins Glen State Park. Walk along the gorge trail to see several incredible waterfalls. It’s often named one of the best state parks in the country!
Make your way north along the western shore of Seneca Lake where you’ll have many wineries – and breweries – to choose from. This area of the Finger Lakes is home to Glenora Wine Cellars, the oldest of the Seneca Lake wineries. South African-inspired Tabora Farm & Winery is the perfect spot to enjoy some wine with your lunch from their café. Their sandwiches and pastries are incredible! Then treat yourself to some frozen yogurt made from farm-raised duck eggs at Spotted Duck. Get yourself an ice cream flight – you won’t regret it.
Lastly, be sure to visit Miles Wine Cellars, it’s one of the Seneca Lake wineries not to miss! The Greek revival mansion is not only beautiful, but their sweet wine is delicious. Plus the home is full of history as it was once a part of the Underground Railroad. Generations of families who’ve lived there say that it is haunted by several spirits.
Spend your second night in the Finger Lakes region at Belhurst Castle & Winery in Geneva, New York. The castle has three separate hotels, two restaurants, a salon and spa, and craft beer and wine tasting. With so many things to do, you’ll easily fill your evening. Plus, if you’re interested in ghost stories, ask the staff to share the rumors of the ‘woman in white’ who is said to haunt the castle.
Keuka Lake Wineries
For your third and last day in the Finger Lakes, you’ll make your way around the slingshot-shaped Keuka Lake. Start your day in Penn Yan with breakfast at Amity Coffee Co. Then get a bit of exercise in by renting a bike and riding along the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail. The 7-mile path connects Keuka Lake to Seneca Lake and has a few small waterfalls along the way.
One of the most notable Keuka Lake wineries is Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, home to several award-winning wines. After Dr. Frank, order wine with your lunch at Bully Hill Vineyards. Their café has some incredible dishes!
Finish your three days in the Finger Lakes region at the oldest winery in the region, Pleasant Valley Wine Company. You can even tour their eight buildings which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Now that you’ve enjoyed a long weekend in the Finger Lakes region, you’ll be aching to come back to stay longer. From wineries, breweries, and cideries to waterfalls, parks, wildlife, and great food, what’s not to love?
Danielle Benjamin is the brains behind the Wanderlust on a Budget blog. Find her there as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.