Let us be clear, recommending JUST 5 wineries is tough. We would be here all year typing if we tried to tell you ALL of our favorite wineries. Here is a brief description of how to plan where you will visit, followed by 5 of our favorite places.
When planning your trip to the Finger Lakes it is important to understand that there are no two wineries that are exactly the same. Some wineries focus on dry wines, some focus on sweet wines. Some wineries just do reds, and some wineries ONLY produce Riesling. The variety is vast, and there is something for every kind of wine drinker.
First, try to identify whether you like dry or sweet wines. Then, research the types of grapes we grow in this region. Although, there are MANY varietals grown here, there are a few that you will see at almost every winery. Riesling is the most popular white wine in the Finger Lakes, and Cabernet Franc is the most popular red. Do not come to the region expecting to find Malbec, or Pinot Gris every where. Next, check out some of the winery websites and learn about what they are known for. Do they produce primarily sweet wines from native Finger Lakes grapes? Or do they produce wines in a traditional french style? Are they only producing dry, bold reds from both Native grapes and European grapes?
Finally, be safe. Plan to have a designated driver, or hire a driver. The wineries are located on rural roads that locals live along, farmers drive their tractors on, and there are other people on the roads who may or may not have been drinking as well. Take your time and follow the rules of the road. The wine will still be there, even if it takes you a few extra minutes to arrive at the next pace.
Here are a few of the wineries Ian and I LOVE to visit.
1. We LOVE LOVE LOVE the Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc at Hector Wine Company. Both of these wines are dry, and just 1 glass is never enough! Go for the bottle and enjoy it with friends. Aside from having lovely wines, HWC also has a friendly local vibe, and they sell local packaged food products. Grab some snacks, a bottle of wine, and go sit outside at their picnic tables in the sunshine 🙂
2. Probably one of the most unique tasting experiences you will ever have will take place at Boundary Breaks. They ONLY produce wines of the Riesling varietal, but that does not mean their variety is limited. I never knew how complex Riesling is, and I am always so impressed by their variety of dry to sweet Rieslings. Bonus, their tasting room looks like something out of a magazine. It is so beautiful and they have a beautiful view of Seneca Lake.
3. If you could not tell by now, we are dry wine drinkers, and we are partial to dry reds. It is only natural that we love Ryan William Vineyard. They have a variety of dry and sweet whites, and all their red wines are dry. Their Gruner Veltliner and Chardonnay are truly unique, and all their red wines are crowd pleasers. Stop in for brunch and a tasting 7 days a week!
4. Speaking of dry reds. Shalestone vineyards ONLY produces red wines, using grape varietals from all over the world. Check them out for the biggest, the boldest, and the most unique reds you just might ever have the pleasure of trying. They have limited tasting room hours, so be sure to do your research in advance.