Within reachThe Experience of Finger Lakes Wine, or The Reason I Put Up With New York Winters.

A great piece of our tourism draw is related to the one hundred plus wineries in the region. Each winery has its own distinct personality. as each member of a household will be different. The Finger Lakes wineries are a family, helping each other, advising one another and in total advancing the craft of winemaking to the world class art it has become.

The harsh northeast weather is moderated by the deep finger lakes, making the slopes leading to the lakes a perfect set of micro climates in which to grow a myriad of wine grapes from the deep reds grown near the shores to the whites that thrive happily farther away from the lakes. But the wines are only the beginning.

monroe FL Wineries 9780

Each winery has its charm and feel. Silver Thread, for example, is a very small family run winery whose owners are absolutely in love with the craft, and will share that with you in their beautifully secluded tasting room located off Rt 414 in Hector, about ¾ mile down a dirt road leading toward Seneca Lake. A short way North from there is Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery, a large concern with a restaurant which also hosts weddings, proms and celebrations of any kind. Both wineries create excellent products, but own completely different personalities.

monroe FL Wineries 2Those personalities extend to the tasting rooms and gift shops. Montezuma Winery is full of whimsy, and very pointedly refuses to take itself seriously, believing that wine tasting should be fun above all. By contrast, Dr Konstantin Frank Winery is all about the wine with some of the most exquisite products to meet the market, including Celebre, the first sparkling Reisling.

If you want a completely different experience, Castle Grisch, north of Watkins Glen off of Rt 14 is as German as Quebec is French. Their restaurant’s traditional menu pairs beautifully with their wines and beers.

We have watched some wineries grow through their difficult childhood, flowering from their halting startup into the thriving, top quality wineries they are today. Lakewood is one of these, recently celebrating its 30’th anniversary. We visited them the first winter that they were open and though we tasted them all, only one of their offerings would we take home – their Niagara, which tasted like the grapes were still on the vine. Today, Lakewood still has their tasty Niagara, but has developed a range of excellent varietals that are absolutely scrumptious.

Cideries abound as well, often pairing their functions with wine. Bellwether Hard Cider, for example, creates a series of Reislings, ONLY Reislings – each with personalities as different as our children. King Ferry Winery’s offerings include a range of Chardonnays to please the pallet of even the non-Chardonnay drinker as well as those who would gladly live on it.

The Finger Lakes wineries are more like family than competitors, learning, sharing and partnering with each other. The craft is most important, and working together to highlight the creativity of each and the quality of the whole is central to the mission of the entire wine making region.

Personally, I like wine.

Reds, whites, bubbly, dry, sweet, and everything in the middle. No, I’m not an expert in the wines themselves, but I DO know what I like, and appreciate it when the wine is good, and the experience that the winery serves up is fun, friendly and enlightening.

monroe FL Wineries

And it really helps if it’s within reach!

Silver Thread Winery 1401 Caywood Rd, Lodi, NY 14860 (607) 582-6116

Wagner Vineyard Estate Winery 9322 State Route 414, Lodi NY 14860 607-582-6450

Montezuma Winery 2981 Auburn Rd, Seneca Falls, NY 13148 (315) 568-8190
Castel Grisch Winery 3380 Co Rte 28, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 (607) 535-9614

Lakewood Vineyards 4024 NY-14, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 (607) 535-9252
Bellweather Hard Cider 9070 NY-89, Trumansburg, NY 14886 (607) 387-9464
Treleaven by King Ferry Winery 658 Lake Rd, King Ferry, NY 13081 (315) 364-5100

'Within Reach' highlights the food, wine and fun of places 'within Reach' of Lansing NY.  Of course, your reach extends exactly as far as you want it to. I am Monroe Payne, Uncle Monte to some. Come with me as I visit, taste and play in our own back yard, the beautiful Finger Lakes of Central New York.