New York State Wine And Culinary Center Wine Travel – Finger Lakes and the Canandaigua Wine Trail

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Wine Travel – Finger Lakes and the Canandaigua Wine Trail

Located in west central New York, the Finger Lakes region is a great place for everyone. Families, couples, seniors, and college kids will all feel right at home here. It’s a four-season area with plenty of outdoor activities and natural beauty from an interesting mix of elements.

The Finger Lakes are also amazing. They are actually glacial lakes, formed thousands of years ago by retreating glaciers that carved the earth. Looking at the map, the seas look like fingers – long and narrow, stretching from north to south. There are 11 in the region by count, the two largest, Cayuga and Seneca, which form the base.

The area has valleys, steep mountains, and spectacular scenery, especially in autumn. Beautiful small towns abound, and here there is art, perhaps inspired by the surrounding area. To quote from the Finger Lakes Visitor’s Guide, it’s a scenic union of Napa Valley and Scotland here. I’ll take their word for it, but if Scotland is as beautiful as the Finger Lakes, I want to go tomorrow!

It’s easy to get to the Finger Lakes region, which is just south of the New York State Thruway (I-90). You are only 90 minutes away from Rochester or Syracuse, two lesser known cities worth visiting.

Canandaigua Wine Route

Canandaigua is a true slice of Americana, full of history and a variety of unique places to visit. Our first stop was the New York Wine and Culinary Center, on Main Street in Canandaigua.

NYWCC is a great place to experience New York wine and food. The emphasis here is on educating visitors about New York’s rich wine, food, and culinary traditions. You can take a class here, enjoy dinner, learn what a sommelier does, and more. There is a workshop and hands on kitchen where you can create your own masterpiece. Also, don’t miss the New York Garden located outside the building. Depending on the season, you can find ready-to-pick grapes, apples, tomatoes, or any other type of crop.

Wilhelmus Estate Winery

Open since 2007, Wilhelmus Estate Winery is the pride of Buon and Karen Keunen, who named the estate after Buon’s father. We loved their Cayuga White offering, light and clean. Even better in our estimation was the Free Run Traminette. “Free run” is a term used to describe the situation when the grape harvest process breaks the skin of other grapes. The juice from the grapes seeps into the vats, causing sugars, esters, and tannins to accumulate. We really enjoyed the flavor of this wine, and thought it would be a great companion to a pork or roast dish.

Just a few reviews of the Finger Lakes wineries…each of them offers an incredible setting. Good and wonderful words. It’s like Mother Nature at her best here, with the fresh air and the valleys that go down to the sea. The soil is rich, the climate encourages it. You have to experience this to feel all that it gives you.

Finger Lakes Wineries in Naples

At the southernmost end of Canandaigua Lake, you’ll find the charming village of Naples and Arbor Hill Grapery and Winery. Arbor Hill is about as inviting a place as it gets. The main house looks like a small, white house with a big sign above the awning.

Once you get inside, it’s very inviting. There’s a cute gift shop where you can stock up on all kinds of unique Finger Lakes products, from grape pies to clothing to homewares. But the star here is the wine.

Our first tasting was one of Arbor Hill’s newest wines, Vergenne. We’ve never heard of this style before, and it reminds us of Riesling in some ways, especially the smooth finish. We learned that this wine is made from a grape that is part of Lambrusco, so this is a white wine made from red grapes. New to us, but sure delicious! And at less than $11 a bottle, it’s a great buy.

Another variety we hadn’t tried before was Arbor Hill’s Sparkling Chardonnay. Dry like a Chardonnay but crisp like a sparkling wine, it’s a perfect match between the two styles.

We loved Onnalinda White, a blend of Cayuga White, Traminette, and Vidal. We expected this to be sweet, but it’s a mild, easy drinker that joined us on our journey home.

Think Moore and Widmer

With a unique name and great atmosphere, Imagine Moore Winery was next on our list. It is housed in a restored barn that dates back to the Civil War, with a great view of the Naples Valley from the wraparound roof. We also came across several olive trees near the balcony.

This is where you should come to buy the best dry Riesling. The name Joy is a perfect fit. The combination of fruit flavors and spices is everything that Riesling should be. Of all the wines at Imagine Moore, don’t miss this one.

Since we’re always on the hunt for genius, we were compelled to try Imagine Moore’s Cabernet Franc. His name is Wisdom. And it was a really smart choice, a sweet, complex, fruit-forward wine that we felt would pair well with pasta dishes. PS – that’s right!

This was a great place to relax in the afternoon. Words don’t do it justice. The air is fragrant and warm, hot in the valley. We immediately knew why so many things grow here, because it seems that this area has all the necessary natural resources. Also of note, Imagine Moore partners with Brown Hound Bistro for wine tastings and events. We haven’t built one, but we can’t fathom how you could go wrong.

Last but not least on our trip to Naples was a visit to Widmer Wine Cellars. Widmer is one of the largest and most successful wineries in the United States. You may know the Manischewitz brand – it’s made here.

We encourage you to take a look at this modern site. It’s about 45 minutes long, and you’ll see everything. Of course, you’ll be in the dining room and gift shop! While you’re here, try Widmer’s Lake Niagara Harvest Blush, an easy sipper you’ll want to take to your next picnic. The gift shop is also a delight, with shelves filled with gifts of wine, jellies, juices, and healthy snacks.

Final Thoughts

The Finger Lakes region of New York is a great place for wine lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and artisans. There’s a little something for everyone here, including beautiful scenery and peaceful, relaxing walks. Whether it’s a family vacation or a weekend getaway, you’ll find that the Finger Lakes are a welcoming destination.

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