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  • Writer's pictureCampBrood

Finger Lakes Wineries and more

Updated: Feb 3

We visited many wineries and a couple other establishments while in the Finger Lakes. This is our post about those.

Why we enjoyed the wineries

  1. Every winery had its own flair with Architecture and Interior Design

  2. The views of the vineyards and lakes were spectacularly panoramic

  3. The owners and staff were generally friendly, talkative and made our time their memorable

  4. The wines were fantastic

  5. The food was great

  6. There were many wineries that had activities for kids

  7. The landscaping and flowers

Why are There Wineries in the Finger Lakes New York?

Our main time visiting wineries was on our way back to Sampson State Park from Watkins Glen. These wineries are all along New York 414 on the East side of Seneca Lake. The location is great for wine due to the microclimate of the Lake. Seneca Lake is deep and maintains temperature in a way that the landscape along the lakeshore is supportive of vineyards. You’ll see from the pictures that the terrain slopes down to the water. The vineyards on the slope are protected from the winter westerlies and any breeze over the lake is held a little warmer in the Fall and Spring due to the water temperature. It’s similar to why Michigan is so supportive of fruit farms. Additionally the ground has minerals and soil that is right for the grapes to produce such great wines. Although Michigan has the climate, it doesn’t have the soil nutrients of the finger lakes area. The combination of the soils and microclimates creates a foundation for great wines. The wineries take that foundation and produce great wines.

How Did We Decide to Visit Each of the Finger Lakes Wineries?

As we travelled up NY 414 we didn’t have any special strategy for picking wineries. So, if your winery is not included we apologize in advance. We had one afternoon and basically judged the “book by its cover”. As we drove by we quickly assessed the building architecture, the outside landscaping, the view of Seneca Lake and made a quick decision whether to stop or continue driving. We were lucky to visit the region in June. The area was a lot quieter and on this day we had little competition for the employees’ and owners’ attention. We don’t want to critique the wines of these locations. Every person has a different taste and our recommendation would not come with any real significance.

What is it Like at Ryan William Vineyard?

Our first stop was Ryan William Vineyard . The flowers and plants were very well done and the building looks relatively new. Inside are tall ceilings with a lot of windows. The building is up on the slope and overlooks Seneca Lake from the East side of NY414. We sat outdoors on the patio. The patio is large with multiple levels and spans the full length of the building. The patio is situated on the road side to enjoy the view of the vineyards and lake. At Ryan William we had just eaten lunch so we decided to purchase dessert with our wine. The Peanut Butter brownies and lemon bars were fantastic. We also had a baguette to eat between our tasting and it was baked to perfection.

What is it Like at Atwater Winery?

Next on the route was Atwater Winery . The flowers are everywhere and beautiful. When we first pulled up two men were talking at the entrance and they let us know the tasting room was adult only. Atwater was the only winery we visited where there were restrictions on kids. We were advised to go down to the outdoor bar where we met the woman that would be able to lift our spirits after being denied entrance. She empathized with us about the restriction, was playing great music, and poured us a couple of wines from her bar. Kids were welcome at this part of Atwater. Atwater is on the west side of NY 414 and has a magnificent vineyard and view of Seneca Lake. There really wasn’t much for the kids here so we moved on. Nothing against the wine and I am sure an adult experience is great here.

What is it like at Leidenfrost Vineyards?

Leidenfrost Vineyards was a much more welcoming place also on the West Side of NY 414. There is something about these vineyards and landscaping. The flowers and plants here are fantastic. We walked into a beautiful bar with a lot of wood and windows and doors open to the outdoor patio and view of the vineyard and Seneca Lake. The bar was shaped like a tongue depressor with a rounded end. We were the only people in the bar and all of us got a seat. The bartender (is there a name for wine servers) was a delight she was very welcoming of all of us. We had so much fun talking with her that we stayed in the bar and she told us many stories of the area and how to view the Robert Treman Gorge trail…..”Start at the top, go the first half mile, and turn around”. Read our blog on the trail to learn why we should have taken that advice.

What is it Like at Rasta Ranch Winery?

Her Recommendation is that we go to Rasta Ranch next. Rasta ranch is on the East side of NY 414 and doesnt have the best view of Seneca Lake. However the vineyard is right next to the patio and there are yard games for everyone to play. Additionally the store and bar is in an old barn. If you like hippie places this is it. There are posters of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix as well as many other pop culture items. Its a sight! You should go just to see the inside of the barn! The outdoor patio was wooden deck boards with multiple levels down to the yard. We had a good time.

What is it Like at Standing Stone Winery?

Finally, we ended the afternoon at Standing Stone . We spent the most time here. There were not many people here either so the staff talked to us for a long time and helped us select wine. They also have a koi pond. The kids really enjoyed hanging out by the pond and feeding the fish. We liked the design of the building a lot. They used Black stained wood framing with natural wood stained ceilings for the outdoor patio. Inside the black stained wood framed a mostly white interior and ceiling with light wood stained flooring. Outside on the lawn were picnic tables mixed in with wine barrels to provide places to sit or stand at your preference.

That wraps up our one afternoon wine tour. We enjoyed this experience as well as many others. There are activities for kids as we shared and you will want to make sure you have other things to keep your kids entertained. They had pop\soda, homemade root beer, and juices for the kids. We made sure they got something at most every stop to include them in on the experience with menus and questions about what was offered.

What is it Like at Lucas Vineyards?

We made four other stops while we were in the area we would like to discuss. Lucas Vineyards is located on the West Side of Cayuga Lake on County Road 150 off NY 96. They are a generational vineyard now that the children have taken over the winery which began in the 1970s. The father was a tug boat captain and the inside of the store is nautical themed with a white interior and white cabinets and shelves. The store is full of wines and other gifts. We had a great time listening to the owners tell their story. The outdoor seating area is beautiful and overlooks their vineyard and Cayuga Lake in the distance. At the end of our time at Lucas Vineyards I left my wife to pay for the wine, while I took the kids to the truck, and my advice is to never leave a wine lover unattended. She walked out with a case! Somehow Lucas Vineyards was able to become the winery that sold us the most bottles of wine that week! Congratulations Lucas Vineyards!

What is it Like at Finger Lakes Cider House?

Finger Lakes Cider House is located on Hickok Road with views of Cayuga Lake off NY 96. Their location includes a great wooden structure similar to a barn. There is an outdoor balcony with lawn seating below. It’s a nice change with fruit trees and more of a farm feel. Inside the bar is long and busy. I think you must purchase your tastings, etc at the bar. It was a little rushed and a little stressful as we didn’t know what to purchase and couldn’t really sit, relax, and take our time to select our tasting. We did enjoy the cider and sitting outside.

What is it Like at Lively Run Dairy?

My son wanted goat cheese on his birthday after driving by Lively Run Goat Dairy . So, as part of his day we returned to Lively Run Goat Dairy and had a great time. The goats were welcoming and we were able to pet them. The guard rooster was fun to watch and play with, too. They sell various cheeses, desserts, and soaps. The farm was really nice and clean and the store had a lovely personality. The owner and staff were great people.

What is it Like at Little Venice Restaurant in Trumansburg?

Finally, there are very few restaurants in the area. We don’t like to visit the same place twice while on vacation. However, for my son’s birthday, he liked Little Venice in Trumansburg so much that we decided to go back for his birthday dinner. Trumansburg is a nice little town near Cayuga Lake and Taughannock Falls State Park. Little Venice has a bar in the front and a restaurant behind the bar. The bar can get a little rowdy and people really enjoy themselves. The restaurant is quieter. Italian food made in the United States has a lot of calories. I’m not sure this is the same in Italy. If you like big portions and all varieties of pasta this is the place for you! They had all of the normal food like lasagna and chicken alfredo, and ravioli. They also had a variety of seafood dishes. The menu is huge with pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. You’ll find something you like and the tastes are amazing.

What Makes the Finger Lakes Wineries so Special?

There are a lot of wineries and other establishments to enjoy while in the Finger Lakes. We found good people, great architecture, wonderful panoramic views, and memories that will last forever. Each winery had it's own ambiance and story. Most of them were privately owned small businesses. The grapes are special. Each location by itself is unique but this many Finger Lakes Wineries creates a comprehensive experience.

We didn’t even spend time in Ithaca or Watkins Glen exploring those city blocks. These are the places we visited and we hope the summaries of what we experienced will help get you energized for your trip to the Finger Lakes. We have no connection to any of these establishments and these opinions are our own. They are all great places to visit and patron. We’d like to hear from you if you have questions or have something to share.

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