I received a complimentary tour of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail while attending the TBEX conference. All opinions expressed are my own.
Have you ever had wine all day? Well, A few weeks ago, I did while visiting Corning and NY’s Finger Lakes Wine Country for the TBEX North America conference. In addition to meeting other content creators, I was able to keep track of my goals for the year to learn more about video and photography from some of the top people in the industry. I also explored part of the Finger Lakes Wine Country region via pre-conference tours and in my own free time. A tour I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish was wine tasting on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. In one day we sampled some of the best wines from 10 different Seneca Lake Vineyards. If you’re planning a trip to Finger Lakes Wine Country, read more about our day on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and favorites from the Seneca Lakes Wineries.
About Finger Lakes Wine Country
Can you believe I’ve lived in New York State my entire life and never visited Finger Lakes Wine Country before? Finger Lakes Wine Country is the home to three wine trails around distinct lakes in New York State: the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Keuka Lake Wine Trail, and the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. If you remember my visit to the Rose Wine Mansion, I tasted a sample of Dr. Konstantin Frank wine which is harvested in this region. Each of the Finger Lakes Wine wine tours offers tastings and food pairings around year-round events. Some pairing event themes include chocolate, cheese, barbecue, harvest, and holiday.
Best Time to Visit Finger Lakes Wine Country
The best time to visit Finger Lakes Wine Country is from mid-late spring to about mid-fall. Harvest season is a popular time to visit Finger Lakes Wine Country due to Fall foliage tours and events. If you’re visiting Finger Lakes Wine Country in the summer months, expect accommodation costs to be higher than in other seasons and lines to be longer when visiting any of the tasting rooms.
What is the Seneca Lake Wine Trail?
Seneca Lake is the deepest of the eleven Finger Lakes and rarely freezes over even in the coldest temperatures. The Seneca Lake Wine Trail is the largest wine trail in Finger Lakes Wine Country and was designed for visitors to learn about the history and production of wine in New York State. Members produce Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and more. There are over 30 member wineries on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and they have won hundreds of awards on a national and international level. Below are the three Seneca Lake Vineyards visited and some samples tasted throughout the day.
First Stop on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail – Wagner Vineyards
Wagner Vineyards is an estate winery in the Finger Lakes Region and produces over 20 varieties of grapes. As one of the first Seneca Lake wineries to open in the region, it attracts over 100,000 people every year. Wagner Vineyards is also home to Wagner Valley Brewing Co and hosts weddings, dinners, and other notable events. In addition to tastings, we did a detailed tour of their winemaking operations and had lunch with a view from their Ginny Lee Cafe. After tastings, my personal favorite was the semi-dry Riesling which was also the same wine given to TBEX attendees at the opening party.
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards has been growing grapes and fruit trees since 1852 and produces over 200,000 cases of wine annually. Award-winning wines include their Rieslings, Cabernet Franc and Icewine. They’re also famously known for their Red Cat Wine, but I enjoyed the Bramble Berry which is a Catawba grape infusion with red and black raspberries.
Chateau Lafayette Reneau Winery
Chateau Lafayette Reneau is another estate winery in the Finger Lakes Region that has been producing wine for over 30 years. The tasting room is a century-old barn with panoramic views of Seneca Lake. Tastings included the Niagara Mist which was awarded the Best of Class in the 2017 New York Wine & Food Classic and my favorites the Semi-Dry Riesling and Cabernet Franc.
Second Stop on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail – Boundary Breaks
If you want to get one of the BEST views of Lake Seneca, you have to visit Boundary Breaks. Boundary Breaks specializes in Rieslings, but my favorite tasting of the many options given was their Unoaked Chardonnay.
J.R. Dill Winery
J.R. Dill is a boutique winery that focuses on producing quality wines at an affordable price. The winery doesn’t grow its own grapes, but all the grapes come from local vineyards. The Blanc de Blanc was exceptionally great.
Three Brothers Wineries and Estates
Three Brothers Wineries and Estates has three wineries and a microbrewery on site. Out of the many tastings, I loved the Stony Lonesome Red Blend.
Last Stop on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail – Lakewood Vineyards
Located on the west side of Lake Seneca, Lakewood Vineyard’s first grapes were sold to Welch’s in 1955, but they did not start making wine until the 1980s. Starting with 7 varieties of grapes, the vineyard now produces over 20. Tastings included a new release Lemberger, Riesling, Bubbly Candeo, and the best of the bunch for me: Pinot Gris.
Glenora Wine Cellars
Glenora Wine Cellars is noted as one of the first wineries on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and the oldest winery on Seneca Lake. Nearly everyone I spoke to asked if I tasted their wine or visited the winery. Glenora also has accommodations available for guests who would like to stay on their property at their Inn. This is perfect for romantic getaways or a girl’s trip. Favorites included the Willow White and Cabernet Sauvignon.
As with the other vineyards on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, Fulkerson Winery focuses on Riesling. They even offer free home winemaking classes during the harvest season. In addition to tasting the Syrah Rose, I really loved the non-alcoholic himrod grape juice.
Fox Run Vineyards
Fox Run Vineyards is another boutique winery. One thing that stood out about Fox Run Vineyards to me was the Semi-dry Riesling in a can which is perfect for two glasses of wine for a pair of friends or yourself (no judgments).
Wine tasting along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail was also informative as I got to speak directly with owners and representatives of the respective Seneca Lake Wineries. It was also great to discover I can purchase locally from wine shops and restaurants in the NYC area.