Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip In Upstate New York

Visit Glenora Wine Cellars, Ventosa Vineyards, War Horse Brewing And O’Begley Distillery

Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip In Upstate New York.jpg

Many Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip In Upstate New York

We definitely found some tasty stops on a Finger Lakes road trip when we stayed in Geneva in Upstate New York.  Following the wine routes around Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake, we found several great wineries.  And had some tasty winery restaurant lunches too.  

But the Finger Lakes Region was not just for wine lovers.   We found some great breweries.  And an interesting distillery too.

There were so many great tasty stops as we travelled around the Finger Lakes.  When we were not tasting, we explored the Finger Lakes waterfalls.  And got a different perspective on this great spot in Upstate New York. 

Travelling For Food And Drink

On our travels, we loved to do tastings with pairings.  Several times we visited the Napa region in the U.S. for wine tasting.  At home in Ontario, we loved the sweet ice wines we found.  On the west coast of Canada we explored the Okanagan Valley wine region.  We did Cognac tasting in Cognac France.  And enjoyed the port wines in Porto in Portugal.  We even did an Italian wine pairing when we cruised in Europe.

So when we travelled around the Finger Lakes region, we stopped at many wineries and breweries.  But our stops covered only a small percentage of the sites on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.  And there were many other lakes and wine trails in the Finger Lakes.

Finger Lakes Wine Trail Map.jpg

We visited some of the larger tasting sites.  And stopped at some of the smaller boutique spots too.  We often visited the sites earlier in the day and were there mid-week in the summer.  In most cases that meant the tasting bars were not busy and we got a good tasting experience.  When the tasting bar was full, we often passed on a visit.  We knew that crowds meant we learned little about the tasting we got.

We used winery tours when we visited the Napa area.  But in the Finger Lakes region, we learned that many of the spots we visited limited the group size to 4.  And several did not allow tour groups or buses at all.  That was just fine with us.

We limited the number of wineries we visited each day.  And did not even finish the small samples for tastings not to our liking.  Several times we booked lunch at a winery to ensure we had food in our stomachs for tasting sessions.  It was a great plan to enjoy tasty stops on our road trip.

Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip Along Cayuga Lake

We left from our stay in Geneva at the top of Seneca Lake and headed south on Highway 89 on the west side of Cayuga Lake.  The road stayed on the water much of the way down.  It was a peaceful drive.  Often we caught sight of the sharp shale cliffs that made up much of this region.  It was fun when we saw these shale rocks beneath the waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region.

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We planned several days of wine tasting in the Finger Lakes.  But when we saw that that Thirsty Owl Wine Company had a bistro, we thought this would make a great lunch stop.  A picnic table on the grass was the perfect spot to enjoy a view out over the lake and the vineyards.  But since we had a busy day planned for waterfalls in the Finger Lakes Region, we did not stay for wine tasting at this stop.

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Tasty Owl Winery Lunch - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

Tasty Owl Winery Lunch.jpg

Since we passed on wine tasting and dessert at the winery, we felt no guilt at all when we stopped at the Cayuga Lake Creamery.   The local favourite seemed to be frozen custard.  But when David found two great chocolate selections and I saw the salted caramel, we wanted the home made ice cream for our treat.

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We were happy we found a few tasty stops to fuel up before we chased waterfalls in Finger Lakes Region. 

Several Tasty Reasons To Visit The Glenora Wine Cellars

We called Glenora Wine Cellars to make reservations for our visit.  We wanted to start with lunch at Veraisons at the Inn. And then head to the winery for a chocolate pairing.  Booking for lunch was no problem.  But normally they wanted 48 hours for booking the chocolate wine pairing.  We were delighted when they checked and said they had the chocolate for our tasting appointment.

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At Veraisons we got a great table with a view out over the vineyards and down to Seneca Lake.  The menu had so many selections that sounded great to us.  We knew we could eat here many times.  We shared the pulled beef with cheese sandwich and a seasonal berry salad as a healthier choice.  Since our chocolate wine pairing was next, we skipped on wine with lunch.

Glenora Wine Cellars Veraison Lunch - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

Glenora Wine Cellars Veraison Lunch.jpg

Glenora Wine Cellars Veraison Lunch.jpg

Glenora Wine Cellars Veraison Lunch - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

With food in our bellies, we walked up the hill to the winery and checked in.

Chocolate Wine Pairing At Glenora Wine Cellars

We were settled at the wine tasting counter with Joe.  He proceeded to take us through the chocolate pairing.  We each got 5 different local chocolates from Dimitri’s Treats in Corning NY.  With each chocolate we got one dry wine and one sweet wine.  The wines were picked specifically to match the chocolate contents.

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We started with white chocolate paired with a bubbly Brut and Raspberry Spumante.  The Raspberry Spumante was like eating cotton candy. The next pairing was milk chocolate caramel with a Sauvignon Blanc and Audacious Apple fruit wine.  The milk chocolate with hazelnut was paired perfectly with a Gewürztraminer and a Riesling.  

Glenora Wine Cellars Chocolate Pairing - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

Glenora Wine Cellars Chocolate Pairing - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

The pure milk chocolate truffle was then served with the first red wine (a Cabernet Franc) and with the Sassy Strawberry fruit wine.  We tried the one dark chocolate truffle with a Cabernet Sauvignon and the Raspberry Rosé fruit wine.

Glenora Wine Cellars Chocolate Pairing - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

Glenora Wine Cellars Chocolate Pairing.jpg

The dry wines were softened when paired with the chocolates.  When paired with the milk chocolate, the sweeter wines were less sweet and a little more fruity after tasting the chocolate.  But the dark chocolate just brought out the wine flavours.  Not surprisingly, David liked all the sweet wines – with or without the chocolate.  

The Finger Lakes Region was known for its Riesling wines. This varietal grew so well in the long growing season.  Glenora even had seven different Riesling wines.  So we moved next to the tasting bar for a wine tasting and sampled a few of the Rieslings and some rosé offerings.  Sadly we learned very little about these wines at the crowded tasting bar.

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Glenora Wine Cellars Tasting.jpg

Our chocolate pairing at Glenora Wine Cellars was one of our tasty stops on a Finger Lakes road trip.

A Little Something Different At The O’Begley Distillery

When we drove around the Finger Lakes Region, we were amused when we saw a roadside stall selling “Fifths”.  When we slowed down, we saw this was local moonshine.  So we wanted to try a distillery on our visit.  

We found the O’Begley Distillery just down Hwy 14 after we left Glenora.  Our waitress at lunch suggested this might be a fun stop for a distillery.

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There was one long tasting bar at O’Begley’s and it was almost full when we arrived mid-week in the afternoon.  We walked around and saw what different spirits were available.  We saw no moonshine but we found a wide array of choices.  So we squeezed in at the end of the bar and made our choice for 5 tastings.

David had his first taste of Absinthe in Prague in the Czech Republic. So he definitely wanted to try the 3 different versions of absinthe available at O’Begley.  The chocolate cream was an easy choice.  And we wanted to try the Maple Whiskey.  Our last Maple Whiskey tasting was done on a road trip close to home in Prince Edward County.

OBegley Distillery Absinthe - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

OBegley Distillery Whiskey.jpg

The Absinthe tastings did not provide a winner.  And David was disappointed when he added drops of water to the Absinthe and did not get the vibrant green colour change we saw in Prague.  The chocolate cream was yummy.  And the whiskey had a sweet maple taste.  We even got a taste of the maple syrup flavoured with bourbon.

OBegley Distillery Maple Syrup.jpg

We were glad we added a distillery to our tasty stops on a Finger Lakes road trip.

Wine Tasting And Lunch At Ventosa Vineyards

Not all of the wineries in the Finger Lakes Region had restaurants.  But when we found a winery with food, it made a good stop when combined with a wine tasting.

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Ventosa Vineyards.jpg

We arrived at the Ventosa Vineyards for an early wine tasting and were delighted when we had Lindsay’s attention all to ourselves.  We tried two Rieslings and could not resist trying an un-oaked Chardonnay.  For red wines we sipped on a Sangiovese and a Cabernet Sauvignon.  

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We were pleasantly surprised with the Chardonnay and the semi sweet Riesling.  Both were smooth.  And the Riesling was sweet enough for David without being too sweet for me.  But our favourite was the jammy Cabernet Sauvignon.  The rich smooth taste would be perfect with food.

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Ventosa Vineyards Tasting - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

After our wine tasting we headed to the Cafe Toscana patio.  We even got glasses of free wine when we did a review of our visit!  We started with a lovely capresé salad.  For my lunch I then had the yummy French dip and David had the special summer berry salad.  With a view out over Seneca Lake, it was a lovely way to finish our visit to Ventosa Vineyards.

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Ventosa Vineyards Toscana View.jpg

Lunch and a wine tasting were the perfect tasty stops on a Finger Lakes road trip.

Exploring The Beer Options At Three Brothers Winery

We stopped at the Three Brothers Winery at the end of a long day trip for tasty stops on a Finger Lakes road trip.  We had no idea before we visited that there were 3 different wineries and War Horse Brewing on-site.  And there was even a coffee roaster there.  

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Since we did several wine tastings already, this stop was really about War Horse Brewing.  There were a large selection of beers and interesting hard ciders on the tasting menu.

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Three Brothers War Horse Brewing.jpg

David did his research in advance and knew there were several dark beers he wanted to try.  When he found that his choices were not on the beer tasting menu, the brewman was very helpful and provided David with his own custom beer tasting.  

Three Brothers War Horse Brewing Tasting - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

Three Brothers War Horse Brewing Tasting.jpg

David loved the “S’Mores With Churchill” (an oatmeal coffee stout) so much we went home with 4 cans.  He was happy when he tried the Copilot dark beer aged in bourbon barrels at almost 10% alcohol content.  And he even tried the in-house dark beer used only for the cheesy beer fries!  

Three Brothers War Horse Brewing Tasting.jpg

Three Brothers War Horse Brewing Tasting - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

Exploring Other Tasting Options At Three Brothers Winery

When we started in the “Welcome Center” there were tasting options for one spot or a massive 20 tasting card to sample all the different wine and beer shops.  This stop really needed a long visit.  If we wanted to enjoy all of the sites, a  2-3 hour visit was recommended.

Three Brothers - Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip.jpg

After the beer tasting, we wandered around the site and looked at the Iron Heart Coffee Company, the large Wine Shop and the Stoney Lonesome  Estates Winery.  We did not do a chocolate pairing at the Stoney Lonesome  Estates Winery.  But we did not resist buying the great chocolates we found.

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Three Brothers Stoney Lonesome Estates.jpg

Three Brothers Stoney Lonesome Estates.jpg

Three Brothers Stoney Lonesome Estates Chocolates.jpg

We found a chair in the sun and enjoyed the view.  On a return visit we would save more time for the extensive Three Brothers Winery complex.

Great Tasty Stops On A Finger Lakes Road Trip In Upstate New York

On our stay in Geneva in Upstate New York, we enjoyed so many tasty stops on a Finger Lakes road trip.  We loved the variety in the wineries we found.  It was amazing to do a chocolate pairing.  And we even found some great restaurants at the wineries too.

In addition to the wineries, we found interesting distilleries and breweries too.  We passed many cideries and places that specialized in fruit wines.  But we simply ran out of time to sample them all.

We were happy we did some research in advance so we had some idea which spots might have the tasting experiences we wanted.  But there really were so many great options for tasty stops in the Finger Lakes.  

It was a good thing we planned several day trips and explored the waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region.  Those trips burned off some of the food and drink calories.  

Did you make some tasty stops on a Finger Lakes road trip in Upstate New York?  Any new tastes we need to try on a return visit?

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62 Comments

  1. Wow a chocolate pairing with delicious wines, that sounds like a winner for me along with some of these amazing vineyard and tasting tours. I’ve wanted to visit the Finger Lakes region for some time and this has convinced me to do so time in the futures.

  2. I admit it. I have a sweet tooth! So, the wine tasting at Glenora would definitely be among my favorites. Pairing wine tasting with chocolates is simply brilliant! I also love your idea of finding the great food to go along with wine tasting because I definitely would get a little tipsy on an empty stomach. The dishes you chose look delicious, and I love the beautiful scenic views many, like Thirsty Owl Wine Company, offer. I would love to see wine tasting tours worldwide limit the groups to four people. That makes a much more intimate experience, and I imagine the service and attention would be very personal as well. Love all these options for road tripping in the Finger Lakes! Also, bourbon infused maple syrup? YUM!

  3. Ha! I would also trade wine tasting for heading to a creamery — each and every time! I’m headed to the Finger Lakes area soon, so this is a great guide. I didn’t realize they had such amazing options. Yum!

    • You are going to love the Finger Lakes Region. One trip was certainly not enough to enjoy all the tasty options. We did some waterfalls and explored the area in Upstate New York too. More posts coming. Maybe they will post before you finish your planning.

  4. This tour sounds amazing. Who is driving you after this?! 😉 While I don’t like chocolate in combination with alcohol, those cheese melt thingies look fantastic – now I’m thinking about making something like this tonight 😀 I love how unique those tasty stops are – at least for me as an European.

    • We spaced our wine tasting out – and David does not really like many wines – so we did not need to hire a driver for this wine tasting trip. Booking lunch with our wine tastings also helped. So many great tasty stops. And so many left for many return visits.

  5. I miss driving on roads cut through the mountains and viewing weeping willow trees. Last time I was up there, my husband and I picked up a lot of info on wine trails, but we have’t had the chance to go back yet. I am going to pin this for later.

  6. It sounds like you had an interesting journey filled with excitement and delicious tasty food. Finger Lake might be anyone destination and couple escape the busy life. The tasty food looks amazing.

    • We were happy we found the Finger Lakes region on another road trip. It stayed on our list for places we wanted to re-visit. And it sure was a tasty return visit.

  7. I’m not a wine or beer drinker but I always enjoyed reading your wine tasting trips. I like the look of Glenora’s fruit wines and I think I would like to give it a try. It’s interesting that they even combined wine tasting with chocolate, and you could even taste maple syrup flavored with bourbon. Definitely the food look delicious and Finger Lakes is a beautiful area which I want to visit.

  8. Making delightful stops along the way on a road trip like this looks like so much fun. It is undoubtedly fun and educational to tour different vineyards and breweries. Although I don’t normally drink wine, if I ever have the chance to visit these locations, I’m coming!

    • There were lots of choices besides wine tasting on our tasty travels around the Finger Lakes region. It is always interesting to learn more about the local products. And even without the wine the chocolate was amazing.

  9. You did find some tasty stops on your winery tour around the Finger Lakes region. It all looks good! And now I want some salted caramel ice cream!

  10. My husband and I got to stop into the Finger Lakes one time on the way to Canada. It was so brief but we enjoyed it. Your travels make me want to go back! A lot to see and do.

  11. Sounds wonderful! We also like to treat ourselves with good food and wine while we travel. We live close to Napa Valley so we have been lucky to be able to explore it often. But we also like to try new wine areas, local dishes and my husband like to visit breweries. This post made me so hungry and excited for our next trip.

  12. Omg you had me at the pairing of wine and sweets! I want to go now! 🤣 This looks amazing and like the perfect way to spend a day…a week….😳🥴

  13. this is a region we have visited but never for wine tasting. I know we will be back and so I will keep this to refer to for a future visit. It looks great and my hubs would love it too.

  14. It was definitely a great lunch stop. The picnic table is so perfect to enjoy the view plus the food looks delicious. Happy to know that there are many wineries and breweries in the area. We’d love to visit in the future.

  15. This is SUCH a fab idea for a tour! I love how varied the tasty things you found (with soo many kinds of drinks and dishes…) but the wine pairings with chocolate has to take the biscuit! What a fabulous (and fun sounding) way to pair wines. I’m not normally a fan of sweet, fruity wines, but I think this may be a way to convert me!

  16. The food looks amazing. I love finding a place with a good salad. And I’m so glad you decided to stop at Cayuga Lake Creamery because that custard looks too good to pass up!

  17. Gotta love a wine tasting experience and an extra joy stopping by a winery that pairs their wines with chocolate. Yummy!! Plus, I Googled the wine region name, interesting Native American legend.

  18. Everything in this article looks delicious, but chocolate wine pairing would be on the top of my list! Thanks for making me hungry haha… Going to save this for my future travels 🙂

  19. This made my mouth water! I particularly like the idea of a chocolate & wine pairing, that seems to be the best of both worlds! Some great suggestions for wine, beer, restaurants & chocolate. Hard to think of a better road trip!

  20. I really want to visit the Finger Lakes in New York! I love wineries and wine regions so I think I would especially love this spot 🙂 Three Brothers Winery sounds like lots of fun. Thanks for sharing all these awesome spots!

  21. I really like that most of these limit the sizes of groups or don’t offer large group tours. This would definitely appeal to me. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of the wine trails in Seneca Lake or Cayuga Lake. I would love the chocolate and wine pairing from dimitri’s. And really love that there are distilleries too, my husband would love that more than the wineries so we could do a day on each kind of tour.

    • We were glad we visited for 4 days so we could explore different routes and different tasty stops. We only scratched the surface and will definitely go back again. Hope you get to visit the tasty spots in the Finger Lakes region.

  22. I lived in PA for most of my life and never visited the Finger Lakes in NY. My sister and my mom would go on bus trips there a number of times but I never went. Now I see what I was missing and I wish I had gone. Thanks so much for sharing!

  23. I didn’t know upstate New York had such a big wine region. I love doing wine tastings although my husband would definitely prefer the brewery stop! It’s interesting that with the chocolate wine pairings you got to try two different wines with each chocolate. I normally prefer dry wines, but I’d be interested to taste the sweet ones too. All the food looks amazing too, and it sounds like you had a great trip.

    • We did indeed have a great trip. It was good to have two different wines with each chocolate – one I liked and one David did. So many tasty stops for food and drink lovers.

  24. I’ve been thinking the finger lakes may be a great next trip. Now that I know good food is involved, it’s a no-brainer!

  25. Wow I really had no idea there was so much to do in upstate NY. I hadn’t even heard of Finger Lakes let alone a whole WINE REGION. I would love to do a late-spring or early fall visit!

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