10 Wineries to Visit and Drink at Near the Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes are a world class wine region right on our doorstep. If you’re in the area, here’s where we recommend you visit and, of course, drink.

Editor’s note: Bushwick’s Roberta’s is a fan of wines from the Finger Lakes and recently produced this video while visiting Bellwether Winery, which our writer mentions below.

For even more on the local food and drink of this region, we encourage you to check out our sister publication Edible Finger Lakes.

Next to me right now is a window overlooking lovely Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes region’s 11 famed north-south running bodies of water. I arrived yesterday after a 5 hour trek, well worth it to be a judge in the 2014 New York Wine & Food Classic — our state’s biggest, home-grown wine and spirits competition. It’s something I’m really excited and proud to be part of (thank you, New York Wine & Grape Foundation for having me back!) and, for someone with a keen interest in New York wine and spirits, always an interesting gauge of what’s going on in our industry and an opportunity to taste through, wow, over 200 wines (blind — we find out what they are after all is said and awarded) and spirits.

This time, it was also a chance to check in with one of my favorite winemakers, Johannes Reinhardt, formerly of Anthony Road (check out this story on his former assistant winemaker, Peter Becraft here, who has taken the reigns from Reinhardt at AR Winery now), and his new, small-production project years in the making, Kemmeter Wines, as well as a quick stop into F.L.X. Wienery, the new artisinal hot dog joint that sources 98% of what’s on the menu (including the mustard and kraut) locally, and make much of it themselves. The them being chef Christoper Bates and his awesome wife and business partner, Isabel Bogadtke. For these two things alone, it was worth the drive and then some.

But there’s much, much more to love about this special, special spot. I made my first trek up here a few years back on assignment to participate in an ice wine harvest with Knapp winery in frigid 13 degree F weather. I’ve been back many times since, and while I loved the beauty of the area in the stark white of winter, there really is nothing quite like the summer and autumn here. So I wasn’t super surprised to get two requests in one week for friends traveling to the FLX and wanting some suggestions on where to go sip. One of those requests came from Edible Manhattan‘s Ed-in-Chief Gabrielle Langholtz who, after getting my quick list of must-visit spots, said, hey, this would make a blog post for other folks who might want to check out the area. Smart lady, that Langholtz. So, in no order of preference, and certainly in no way, shape, or form an exhaustive list (there are many missing; in part because I have yet to visit or taste; in part because I was typing fast to get this list to G-Lang), but it’s not a bad place to start if you’re heading this way. Or, to encourage you to head this way. Because you should!

finger lakes map

Click the image to see the full map.

Seneca Lake

Fox Run
670 New York 14
Penn Yan, NY

Definitely taste their Geology series of Rieslings — amazing and just such an interesting look at how, 20 feet away, something can taste totally different. Also, their basic Chardonnay is one of my favorites in NYS — and it’s ridiculously cheap. They also are experimenting with Port-style wines in a serious way, which is fun.

Lamoreaux Landing
9224 New York 414
Lodi, NY

I’m an enormous fan of this winery. Can’t get enough of their Riesling.

Atwater
5055 New York 414
Burdett, NY

Winemaker Vinny Aliperti is one of my favorite winemakers up here. He also has his own side project, Billsboro, which is definitely worth checking out (SMALL WORLD NOTE: Kris Matthewson used to be assistant winemaker here – dig it!)

Hermann Wiemer
3962 New York 14
Dundee, NY

Their semi-dry is my go-to take-along for Sri Lankan food in Staten Island. Perfect combo.

Anthony Road
1020 Anthony Road
Penn Yan, NY

Where another fave winemaker of mine, Johannes Reinhardt was for years, (NOTE: His new spot mentioned above, Kemmeter, is appointment only), but the winery is in good hands with new head winemaker, Peter Becraft. They were doing a lot work with spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts that made for some really exciting, complex wines, and I dig Becraft’s way with Chard. Great stuff. And if you hear people discussing acid and don’t know what it means, drink these Rieslings and tell me your teeth don’t figure it out for you. Zing!

Keuka Lake

Dr. Frank
9749 Middle Road
Hammondsport, NY

The place that started it all. Amen.

Ravines
400 Barracks Road
Geneva, NY

I love their single-vineyard Argetsinger series. The 2007 Argetsinger Riesling was the wine that made me sit up and take notice of FLX Riesling in a serious way.

Cayuga Lake

Hosmer
7020 New York 89
Ovid, NY

Good Pinot! Delicate, floral. So lovely.

Thirsty Owl
6799 Elm Beach Road
Ovid, NY

I heart their Gewurz, Pinot Gris, and work with hybrid grape varietals. Good folks.

Bellwether Winery
9070 New York 89
Trumansburg, NY

My fave new discovery (also affiliated with Bellwether Cider in the HRV). Kris Matthewson is a young, super talented guy. Love what he’s doing. You will too! FLX PINOT!!! Also, super-naked pet-nat sparkling. Tingly!

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As Deputy Editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, Amy gets to scour the city for all that is quenching and satiating in NYC. The daughter of an old school Italian butcher, she holds her Level III Certification in Wine and Spirits from the WSET, and contributes to Imbibe, Details, More, Foxnews.com, Wynn, and is the author of The Architecture of the Cocktail, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bartending, The Hedonist Guide to Eat NY, and co-author of The Renaissance Guide to Wine & Food Pairing with Tony DiDio. She's stomped around vineyards from the Finger Lakes to the Loire Valley and toured distilleries everywhere from Kentucky to Jalisco to the Highlands of Scotland.

  • FLX Wine Lover

    Bellwether, really? The winery offers 3 wines to taste for $4. One of these (the pétillant naturel) is undrinkable, the Riesling OK, the Pinot Noir far overpriced at $30 for its quality. Too much presumption here.

  • Rick Rainey

    First I would like to say that I am a huge fan of the Edible Community and appreciate all they do nationally for great food and wine. Second, next time you are on the east side of Seneca I would like to invite you to stop by our little project – Forge Cellars. I think you may find it interesting…all the best.

    Rick Rainey

  • reegan

    Goodness. Isn’t it presumptuous of you to assume your taste is shared by everyone else, Mr. Anonymous Sour Grapes?

  • Robyn Wishna

    Thanks for highlighting FLX wineries!! And I know you can’t mention all the good ones–but if you get the chance next time you are in the area you shouldn’t miss the fantastic wines at Bloomer Creek Vineyards. Or you can go and taste them at many of the finer restaurants in and around Manhattan.

  • FLX Wine Lover

    All of these comments say the same thing, some very nicely some not so nicely (me). The author didn’t do her homework. This is not a good list. By the way, the Bellwether grapes WERE sour.

  • http://www.thatgirlkyle.com Kyle

    As a born and raised FLX resident, who has had the pleasure of enjoying the broad spectrum of NYC wine lists, (and admittedly now works in the FLX wine industry), I think this is a fantastic list. It’s a broad range of different wineries and wine styles, and isn’t that what wine is all about anyway? We’re all looking for something we think is delicious.

  • Macha

    I have to agree. Bellwether is just getting into the wine making along with the ciders. The ciders are, in general, good. The wines? Not so much. My partner and I have very different tastes in wine, and none of Bellwether offerings were must haves. In a couple years, they may have a better selection.

    There are so many good wineries in the FLX region. Thirsty Owl has an excellent cab sauv ice wine, and next door to Thirsty Owl is Cayuga Estates, which has some nice Cayuga white varieties that are very wallet friendly.

    If you want something truly different, try McGregor Winery, on Keuka lake. They have wines that are amazing, made with varietals no one else in the region has.

  • Lenn Thompson

    I don’t think that anyone takes seriously the comments of someone who won’t even put his or her name to them. This is 2014 — put your name on a comment or go away.

    To suggest that the author — someone who I know DOES to her research — didn’t do her research is just ridiculous. Amy does a great job and while I might slide a winery or two out and replace with others, this is a good list without any clunkers.

    The Bellwether wines aren’t for everyone. They are distinctive and unique. Kris is trying to do some things that others aren’t. I happen to really enjoy his pinot — and I expect to pay more than $20 for good pinot.

    What sort of <$30 pinot are you drinking FLX Wine Lover? I'm seriously asking.

    For those familiar with pet nat wines, his is right in line. I'm not 100% sold that riesling is the best choice for the style, but I applaud the effort and the outside-the-box (for the region) thinking.

    I find his dry riesling a bit austere and even a little hard. I've told him that and he doesn't agree. That's what wine is. We all like different things no matter how objective we try to be.

    It's easy to be a comment troll and be a jerk when you're anonymous. Put your name to your comments next time and I'll care what you have to say.

  • Guest

    Anyone who follows Amy’s list gets a perfect taste of what the Finger Lakes have to

  • ukristen

    Anyone who follows Amy’s list gets a perfect taste of what the Finger Lakes have to offer. I would add Red Newt, Red Tail Ridge and (as mentioned in one of the comments) Bloomer Creek to the list of wineries to visit.

    It is quite remarkable how Bellewether, a mere toddler in regard to the age of the winery, has already managed to polarize critics. Personally, I am a big fan of Kris’ wines (anyone who finds his pétillant naturel undrinkable please send the bottle my way, it’s one of the most interesting wines to come out of the region in years) and I have a lot of respect for a winemaker who is so strictly following his own philosophy.

    I also liked the video, thanks for sharing.

  • FLX Wine Lover

    First, a word about anonymity. Anonymity is not necessarily a bad thing. Mary Anne Evans may never have published “Middlemarch” if she hadn’t been able to use the pseudonym George Eliot. Plenty of famous authors have used pseudonyms. Plenty of misdeeds have been exposed anonymously, in writing.

    True, anonymity can be abused. But my comments, if gruff, hardly rise to the level of slander or hate speech. And, of course, you’ll note that this web site allows anonymity. For good reason.

    The wine world is too closely knit. People are afraid to express their true opinions. People could be fired for doing so. There are plenty of harsh reviews of movies and books. But wines? You’ll look hard to find them. Sharply negative reviews serve a real (positive) purpose.

    Trying to do things that are distinctive and unique is admirable, certainly. But, I do believe that the basics should come before experimentation. If Bellwether had produced some great wines, and then set to work on a pet nat, that would have been fine. But such has not been the case. None of the Bellwether wines have been terribly good. Most are fair wines, very overpriced. That’s where the word “presumptuous” comes in.

    There are plenty of sub-$30 pinots out there that are lovely (if not too many from the Finger Lakes). Why in the world would you buy this one?

  • http://www.HENRYsNYC.com HENRYs Restaurant

    Love to see all these passionate comments about Finger Lakes wines!
    Don’t take your eye off of Nancy Irelan & Mike Schnelle at Red Tail Ridge. Could it be they prove that the signature red grape of the Finger Lakes will be…(drum roll please)… Pinot Noir!

  • Amy Zavatto

    Holy moly!! Well, wow, I am just seeing all of this. Honestly, if I get a comment or two on any post I put up here I’m stoked, but this is a banner topic it seems. Woo hoo!!!

    Okay, first things first: I am REALLY happy this post garnered so much discussion about NY wine. For that and that alone, rock on with your rabble-rousing selves! I have a huge smile on my face as I type this. And I’m perfectly content about the diversification and disagreement.

    I will say, though, FLX Wine Lover — I’m not really sure what to tell you about your accusation other than I know all the wineries I listed; I know their wines through multiple vintages. I like them all sincerely. I’m sorry you feel I don’t do my research, but I assure you, sir or madam, I do. I think what we have here is a healthy disagreement. And that’s okay.

    Like I said in the intro to the post, this list was spurred from a quick request from a colleague and a friend asking, “Hey, where should I go? Quick, I need ideas!” So off the top of my head, that’s what came out. I stand behind it. But like I said, it is not REMOTELY meant to be anything touching on “this is the Definitive FLX List of Wineries! Sally forth, and drink!” Also, for the record, I dig Bellwether’s Pinot. It’s got great concentration of flavor and aroma but maintains this dancer-like elegance and breathy balance of fruit and savoriness. I think the price point is fair, as well. It’s up my alley, but it doesn’t have to be up yours; that’s okay. Viva la difference!

    The FLX is doing us proud as New Yorkers, and one thing I’m happy that came from this post are all the amazing suggestions of wineries that I missed or forgot in my haste to get the info out to a friend. Great stuff. WHO’S GOT MORE?!! Lay it on me!

  • Amy Zavatto

    Also: I’m with Ukristin — I seriously dig Bellwether’s Pet Nat and send all bottles that are eschewed in my direction, please. Drank it Saturday night, as a matter of fact, and it was a big, fat Nat hit.

  • Amy Zavatto

    Rick, I will absolutely do that — thanks for the heads up! I get up to the FLX probably about twice a year. Planning a fall trek, hopefully. Will give you a shout if it pans out (and if not, the next time I make it up).

  • Amy Zavatto

    Ukristen, absolutely — great recommendations. Bloomer Creek’s Pinot freaks me out — in a really good way. : ) Red Newt is great spot on many levels. I’m a fan of their Riesling, the restaurant is great, and Dave is just a lovely, lovely guy. I have not tried their Gewurz, however, and am very curious about the Viridescens. Red Tail Ridge I don’t feel I have a good handle on, so I’m glad you reminded me about them.

  • Amy Zavatto

    Hey Kyle, thanks, thanks. Last time I was up a couple of weeks ago I was staying across the street from Shaw and got to walk over and taste with Steve. I really like what he’s doing over there — the Merlot was something I’d like to revisit, and I also really dug his orange wine. At that point, my tiny carry on was packed with Kemmeter from the visit I squeezed in 2 days before, so I couldn’t bring any back. Next time, I’m taking my car so I can pack it to the ceiling on my way back. : )

  • Amy Zavatto

    Hosmer was the first FLX Pinot I tasted a few years back that made me go, wait, what? Pinot? Here?! I think the grape can make some really lovely wines from up in the FLX. IMHO, I don’t think it’s for everyone, but for the vyd mgrs./winemakers with patience and a whole lotta love, it can be surprisingly good.

  • Lenn Thompson

    Mark (at least I think this is you after a quick bit of internet sleuthing): Accusing any writer of not doing her homework is offensive, period. You don’t have to agree with her list — but you can say that without challenging a hard-working writer’s integrity.

    Now on to the rest of your follow-up comment. I actually agree with you that there isn’t enough negative criticism in the wine world. But again, to do it anonymously, when no one knows anything about your experience or credentials, doesn’t help the discourse.

    Perhaps YOU wouldn’t start a new winery with pet nat and ambient yeast fermentations of single vineyard sources, but Kris has. To say that the basics should come before experimentation is just an opinion. Nothing more. There is already plenty of good-to-great ‘normal’ rieslings being made in the Finger Lakes. Why simply make more of the same? I applaud anyone who tries something new.

    Also please note that Amy didn’t title this list “The 10 Best Wineries in the Finger Lakes” or “The 10 Wineries With the Best Wines” or anything like that. It’s 10 places to visit and drink. To me, this makes it more than just about what is in the bottle. These are wineries with stories and interesting behind them as well.

  • Amy Zavatto

    I agree, Robyn. I like their wines very much, actually. The fact that Bloomer wasn’t on my dashed-off list was just that — haste making waste. Or, at least, just not including all the places doing great work. There are many. I dig their Pinot a lot.

  • Lenn Thompson

    There is some really really good pinot noir being made in the Finger Lakes right now. RTR of course, but also Forge, Ravines, Damiani, Heart & Hands, and a few others.

    Of course I dig some of the blaufrankisch being made too — led by RTR.

  • Danielle

    Would love to have you stop in at Red Tail Ridge for a visit on your next trip to the Finger Lakes so you can get a handle on our wines.
    -Tasting Room Manager

  • Katie Marks

    Thank you Amy. It truly is an exciting time to be in the FLX wine industry and I personally, am uber proud when our region gets mentioned in print- regardless of Atwater being on “the list” or not.
    Perhaps the biggest pet peeve of mine being in this business is people’s adamant urge for entitlement on taste. Taste is subjective, taste is personal- Sure, we in this tastebud business, that is, us whom seek out stellar food and drink and share our passion with others, know that there are certain components that must be met when evaluating wine and/or a dish. But the truth is, I can read until my eyes bleed on someone’s reflections on wine, but I will not trust anyone’s thoughts on taste but my own. And truly, that’s the only way to learn about wine. To taste it. My criteria for being a wine critic? You must have an open mind to go with your open mouth.
    And about negativity in wine critiques: Yes – we can all grow from constructive criticism, but truly, what’s the point of printing negativity when talking about taste? This is where the ‘urge to be right’ department of our being starts to stink. The truth is, I don’t care to read if you didn’t like it. It just makes one sound whiny and entitled. It’s much more of a joy to read what someone DID like. Not to mention the warm and fuzzies it garners from being positive.

  • Amy Zavatto

    Danielle, I’d be honored to visit — we’ll make it happen!

  • Amy Zavatto

    Katie, well, you KNOW I mean it when I say I love you guys because Vinny made me wash 200 lugs AND do a punch down session that had me popping an obscene amount of Advil in the days following, so you know I really, really sincerely like you guys. [FACT CHECK: Vinny didn't make me do any of that; I volunteered for the price of a T-shirt; I'm a cheap date] : )