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I’ve been road-tripping through the Finger Lakes region every summer for years now. From wine tasting and waterfall chasing to delicious local cafes and tight-knit communities, New York’s Finger Lakes region is a must visit destination for wine enthusiasts, outdoor lovers and, those seeking a picturesque and immersive culinary experience.
This region boasts a stunning landscape of 11 long, narrow lakes surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards. Known for its cool climate, the Finger Lakes produce exceptional cool-climate wines, particularly world-class Rieslings. The area is home to over 130 wineries, each offering a unique blend of flavors and styles emphasizing sustainability and craftsmanship.
While I love visiting the Finger Lakes wine region, I lean towards dry and red wine over the sweet wines the region is known for, but that has never stopped me from enjoying a tasting or two at one of my favorite Finger Lakes wineries.
While serious wine lovers may have more to say about the wine, I tend to focus on the atmosphere, the views, the hospitality, and the outstanding culinary achievements I experience time and time again along the region’s many wine trails.
After visiting over 20 wineries (if I did my math right) along the Finger Lakes wine trails, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 favorites that offer more than good wine and can easily be enjoyed by all, even if someone in your party does not drink.
All of these properties offer something special, whether it’s stunning views, delicious farm-to-table fare, a relaxing atmosphere, live music, or bespoke tours and tastings- I am sure you’ll enjoy them as much as I do!
Top 10 Best Finger Lakes Wineries (for more than just wine)
In no particular order…
- Fox Run Vineyards
- Ryan William Vineyard
- Bully Hill vineyards
- Three Brother’s Winery
- Swedish Hill
- Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
- Anyela’s Vineyards
- Treleaven Wines
- Tabora Farm and Winery
- Buttonwood Grove Winery
Fox Run Vineyards
The first thing that caught my eye at the family-owned Fox Run Vineyards was their grand entryway, a metal gate over 70 feet wide and 20 feet tall. The welded gate, sculpted by local artist Sam Castner, depicts metal foxes in a stunning nature scene! The winery on the west side of Seneca Lake offers a local cafe (open April-December) with some upstate New York staples and multiple outdoor dining areas. Enjoy indoor, first-come, first-served wine tastings, vineyard tours, and a wine and gift shop. You can even stay at their Victorian farmhouse for another thrilling way to experience the beauty of the surrounding hills. The atmosphere here is always lively and fun, with an energetic team of hosts and knowledgeable staff that will throw a welcoming glance your way.
Ryan William Vineyard
Ryan William Vineyard was one of the first wineries I visited in Finger Lakes wine country, and one I keep coming back to, mainly for the lovely views of Seneca Lake and their delicious menu of locally crafted eats. I also really love their red wines. Of all the wineries I’ve visited in the region, their reds are my favorite.
Located on the Seneca Lake wine trail in the town of Burdett, Ryan William Vineyard is known for their commitment to responsible, 100% Estate Grown wine with varieties including Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
Bully Hill Vineyards
Bully Hill offers an expansive property on top of a hill overlooking beautiful Keuka Lake. Its rich history, diverse wine offerings, and vibrant atmosphere offer wine enthusiasts and casual visitors a delightful and engaging experience. Established in the early 1970s, the winery is known for its approachable and well-crafted wines, spanning a range of varietals and styles with artistic labels and a fun spirit. They offer regular tastings, winery tours, a gift shop, a small museum, and a restaurant with a rotating menu filled with innovative recipes- including wine slushies, that are truly- YUM!
Three Brother’s Winery
The expansive property at Three Brother’s winery hosts multiple tasting rooms and a boutique winery, each with its own distinct theme and ambiance, providing a dynamic and entertaining tasting experience. Additionally, Three Brothers offers a brewery and a distillery on-site, making it a one-stop destination for those interested in exploring a variety of craft beverages. The friendly and knowledgeable staff, combined with regular events and live music, contribute to a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere that sets Three Brother’s Vineyards apart as a must-visit destination on the east side of Seneca Lake.
The winery harvests hardy native grapes, premium hybrids, and Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir. They also have a cafe, coffee shop, and seasonal slushie hut. Reservations for tastings are recommended on Saturdays and Sundays.
Swedish Hill Winery, a Cayuga Lake wine trail member, is known for its award-winning white wines, dessert wines, reds, and sparkling wines.
With a history dating back to the 1960s, Swedish Hill Vineyard represents a heritage of excellence in winemaking, making it a delightful stop for both seasoned wine enthusiasts and those new to the Finger Lakes wine experience. Enjoy tastings on their outdoor patio in groups of 8 or fewer.
Besides their award-winning wines, the special thing about Swedish Hill Winery is the animal friends hanging out in the barn, Doobie and Sven. These two, Doobie, a 40-ish-year-old donkey, and Sven, a spunky miniature horse, are adorable besties that add a special touch to the winery. Don’t leave Swedish Hill Winery without stopping to say hi- they love visitors!
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
Hazlitt Vineyards is well known for its signature wine, Red Cat, a semi-sweet, fruity red wine that has gained a cult following. The winery has two properties, Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars in Naples, NY, and Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards in Hector, NY. Both offer a family-friendly & laid-back atmosphere with indoor/outdoor seating, food, picnic tables, gift shop, and tastings.
Red Cat Cellars offers guided tours of its 3 million gallon production facility (by appointment only), and the Hector location is home to the Oasis, a three-season, timber frame, outdoor party pavilion where live music and special events are hosted. It’s a great area to escape and relax with a glass of wine or slushie. The winery’s tagline, “Great wine, good times,” reflects its commitment to providing an enjoyable and approachable experience to all.
Skaneateles is my favorite Finger Lakes town with its charming downtown, fashion-forward boutiques, variety of good eats, majestic waterfront homes, and all-around natural beauty. So it’s no wonder I love visiting Anyela’s Vineyards with its picturesque location overlooking the lake and proximity to downtown Skaneateles.
Enjoy tastings on their outdoor patio or inside the tasting room. They host live music and community events throughout the year, creating a lively and engaging visitor atmosphere. This adds an extra dimension to the overall experience, making Anyela’s a destination not just for wine tasting but also for entertainment and social gatherings, open year-round.
Situated on the west side of Cayuga Lake, Treleaven Winery benefits from a beautiful lakeside setting. The vineyard’s location offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding hills, creating a picturesque backdrop for wine tasting, made only better in early August when the sunflower fields are in bloom. There is a large field just across the street from their tasting tent.
The Winery offers a diverse selection of wines, showcasing a range of varietals that thrive in the Finger Lakes climate. From crisp and aromatic whites like Riesling to robust reds like Cabernet Franc, visitors can explore a broad spectrum of flavors and styles. The on-site restaurant, Simply Cookie’s Kitchen, offers “comfort food with a twist.” Their unique barrel-style tasting tent and entertainment space hosts trivia nights, comedy shows, and live music, providing a multifaceted and engaging experience for all.
Tabora Farm and Winery
Tabora Farm and Winery welcomes you to a unique 1900s establishment of Cape Dutch architecture. The winery started in the 1980s with a name of South African roots. Owners Jane and Roger Eatherton became known for their exceptional baked goods and fresh farm offerings that have stood the test of time. Their Finger Lakes winery offers a cafe, bakery, and deli, that is hands down, the best in the Finger Lakes region. With unique creations and fresh new offerings weekly, Tabora is one of my favorite go-to wineries for more than just wine. Reservations for Tabora’s indoor wine tastings of their 100% estate-grown wines are recommended at least a week in advance.
Buttonwood Grove Winery
Buttonwood Grove Winery is just as cute as a button. Our tasting host, Andrea, a student at Cornell University, was doing a summer internship at the winery and was so knowledgeable, friendly, and welcoming. Their spacious deck provides endless views of the vineyards and nearby Cayuga Lake, while Adirondack chairs decorate the lawn, the perfect place to relax.
They host live music all summer long and community events perfect for connecting with other wine enthusiasts. If you are looking for a peaceful get-a-way, consider an overnight stay at their on-site cabins, available April through November. Their vineyards produce classic European vinifera grapes, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Riesling, as well as more recent varieties of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Gewurztraminer.
Additional Wineries to Consider
It is hard to narrow a list of over 130 wineries to just 10. Although I have not been to all of the Finger Lakes wineries, I’ve been to over 20 of them, and there are a few more I wanted to highlight.
If I were making a list of 11 Top Finger Lake Wineries, Ventosa Vineyards would be the next one added- but I had to cut somewhere. Ventosa Vineyards gives a Tuscany countryside vibe with their Italian-style villa and Café Toscana, serving light Mediterranean food. They also emphasize producing wines made from Italian grape varietals. They have a tasting hall that is great for large parties or receptions. I enjoyed their outdoor deck overlooking the fruitful green vineyards. They also have picnic tables and two donkeys that I am sad to have missed. I enjoyed my visit here and loved walking around their vineyards, but the other wineries on my list won me over just a bit more.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery
Along the Keuka Lake wine trail, just a short drive from Bully Hill, is Dr. Frank’s, one of the oldest wineries in the Finger Lakes region. It was also the first to plant vinifera vines successfully in the Eastern United States. Many locals recommended Dr. Frank to me, and most said it was the best winery in the Finger Lakes. I was excited to try the wine here, thinking I’d finally find some I loved, but I didn’t like their wines, especially the reds. They have a great property with scenic views of Kekua Lake and a few different ways to enjoy tastings. Their newly opened cafe, Eugenia’s Garden looks lovely, and bonus-they are open 7 days a week, even in winter! I’ll go back for the cafe and the relaxing views of the lake, but the wine was one of my least favorites in the region, so that is why it didn’t make my top 10 list.
This stunning property always caught my eye, so a friend and I stopped in for a tasting but were a little disappointed with the experience. The wine was ok (but no surprise there, as I am not a big fan of Finger Lakes Wines in general), but all tastings were inside, and it was pretty loud with other groups. You weren’t allowed to walk around the property, and the tasting felt rushed. They do have outdoor picnic areas to enjoy wine by the glass, but overall, with the indoor ambiance and rushed tasting, it was not our favorite experience.
The Pleasant Valley Wine Company
Established in 1860, this is the oldest winery in the Finger Lakes. It is located near the village of Hammondsport. It has multiple stone buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it another great winery to visit for those looking to savor the best of both the wine and the historic beauty of the region.
While I have personal experience with all of the wineries I have listed, there are a few I have yet to visit that have been recommended to me multiple times:
- Glenora Wine Cellars
- Hermann j. Wiemer Vineyard
- Lakewood Vineyards
- Keuka Spring Vineyards
- Heron Hill Winery
- Sheldrake Point Winery
I’ll eventually get to all of these wineries and update my list with any new favorites! If you visit any of these wineries, I’d love to know what you think- Please leave a comment with your thoughts!
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