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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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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