Finger Lakes, NY
We like using our birthdays for an excuse to go on vacation. In a world filled with “things”, the experiences and memories from a weekend trip hold more value then material items. Ready to explore a new wine region and only a weekend available, we decided on the Finger Lakes.
We drove up Friday after work and made it to the Finger Lakes very late. A bit of an unease drive since once off the high since there were unlit portions of the road leading up to our Airbnb. We found our Airbnb, located on the east side of Seneca Lake, which was our own personal cabin on the property. With limited time on this trip, we went straight to bed for an early morning. We could truly appreciate the property once the sun was up!
Breakfast: Glen Mountain Market
We woke up on schedule for our 30 minute journey to the town of Watkins Glen. Glen Mountain Market had a 6AM opening so it worked well for us since we wanted to get an early start on the day. The breakfast sandwiches here were amazing, and quite filling! One can pretty much customize for any sandwich desired and the coffee options were endless, as well as displaying tasty pastries in the window. This was exactly what we needed to fuel up our morning. Very glad we found it!
Kevin wanted to do something hiking and there was plenty of that in upstate New York! Down the street from Glen Mountain Market is the entrance to Watkins Glen State Park and for $8 a car you have access to the trails. We got to the entrance when it opened at 8:30AM and arrived to limited crowds. This park had everything- streams, cliffs, waterfalls, gorges- it was far more impressive than we expected! We did several miles of walking and made our way back to the car around 10AM and the crowds had increased considerably- the parking lot was very crowded.
When we got back to the Airbnb, we met our lovely host who had several recommendations for the rest of our day. We got freshened up, admired the beautiful landscape, and made our way to a few wineries!
Wineries: (Part 1)
- Boundary Breaks: With a brand new tasting room still under construction, our Airbnb host insisted we visited here as it is one of her new favorites. Since we had no allegiance to certain wineries, we easily incorporated this into our plans and went here first. The pristine tasting room, we were warmly welcomed by staff who educated us on the winery and its recent beginnings as we plunged into a tasting solely focused on Riesling. Boundary Breaks only grows Riesling so that they can “do one thing great”. Several different clones of Riesling to showcase visitors, as well as a late harvest, ice box wine. This experience was exceptional- the wines were phenomenal and far exceeded our expectation for Finger Lake wines. Unsure what the rest of the day hand in store, we settled on purchasing one bottle (though would have bought a case in retrospective!). I cannot recommend this tasting enough!
- Lamoreaux Landing: We selected this winery as it boasted french styled wine that was well rated. In contrast the first winery, we were given a menu of over 20 different wines you could try. It was hard the select which ones we wanted to try so between the two of us we sampled a lot of the wines they offered. Some were better than others to our taste but we did enjoy the variety. The tasting room and the grounds were stunning! Our friendly server here gave us a bunch of recommendations as well, including our lunch spot.
Lunch: Two Goats Brewing
Our server at Lamoreux said that Two Goats is where the wine makers and vineyard workers go to hang and relax after a long day. She warned they only serve one meal though- roast beef sandwich with locally sourced meat, a homemade bun from the bakery nearby and au jus and horseradish mayonnaise on top with a side of chips. We walked into the small lakeside cabin has all sorts of eclectic things on the wall, dollar bills thumbtack’ed to the ceiling, a popcorn machine (free!) in the corner, and a bar featuring their local brews with a slow cooker in the back with the roast beef. A small operation, a quirky atmosphere, we loved it. Place has bands play on weekends, a deck that overlooks the lake, killer beer, and a ridiculous sandwich. Simple and fresh is always what makes the best food. This place was not on our list so we are happy to have followed our server’s advice and stop in here.
Wineries: (Part 1)
- Atwater Vineyards: We walked into a crowded tasting room that also had people spilling out onto the deck overlooking the lake (that deck seems to be a must have for all of these vineyards!). We hit it off great with our server who is from not far from where we live. We enjoyed the wine and the company! When we walked out of the tasting room, Silo Food Truck was propped in the parking lot featuring one item- fried chicken. Was I hungry? No. Do I say “no” to fried chicken? Never. We got a few pieces of fried chicken, coleslaw and a biscuit with honey butter. Literally a day filled with favorite things- food and wine! If we lived here I would be hunting this food truck routinely.
- Damiani Winery: On our way back to the cabin we fit in one last vineyard for the day. This particular winery was on our list since it had Italian styled wine, which is still our favorite varietals. A lovely tasting selection, though I think by this point in the day we were wine’ed out!
Exhausted from the day and knowing we had been non-stop since breakfast, we did ourselves the favor of heading back to the cabin and relaxing for the night (but not before stopping for ice cream on the way back!), as much as it pained us to skip an opportunity of a delicious dinner. We sat on the dock and watched the sunset, reflecting on another birthday, another year, another new adventure
Breakfast: Stonecat Cafe
Live Jazz Brunch at Stonecat Cafe- enough said! Farm to table popular breakfast place, we made sure to have reservations ahead of time to snag a table when the doors opened at 10:30AM. It was difficult to choose a dish as everything sounded fantastic. I settled on the french toast with strawberry puree and New York maple syrup and Kevin got the corned beef hash with poached eggs. Everything was incredible- even the homemade jam that came with the toast was spooned straight into my mouth. We then got dessert, splitting a homemade olive oil cake with strawberries and fresh cream. The quintessential farm to table executed fabulously. I would eat here again instantly- everything really was delicious!
While we had more agenda items on the list, we decided to wrap up at the cabin and start to head home. We were so happy with everything we were able to fit in on this extremely quick trip. Finger lakes has everything- inexpensive wine tastings (wine is improving in quality each year!), awesome food, great music scene (we noticed most wineries host bands on weekends!), plenty of outdoor activities, and everything is on the lake. This does bring up the one disadvantage- that you have to drive around the entire lake to get to the other side. While there were several wineries we wanted to visit on the west side of Seneca Lake, since our Airbnb was on the east side it would take an hour to get to the other side and then an hour back so it did not make sense for this short trip. Even if we wanted to go into Watkins Glenn for dinner Saturday night, it would have meant driving 30 minutes to get there and then back. A boat would come in handy for travel in this case! The Finger Lakes has respectable wines, definitely some of the best Riesling we have had, and an entire craft beer and brewing scene that we have yet to explore. In fact, we had so many more places star’ed on our Google map that we did not get to visit so a return trip will definitely be in our future. Where should we stop on the next visit that you never miss in the Finger Lakes?