Travel Guide: Sipping in Seneca Lake
There are two reasons why I fell in love with Seneca Lake: 1.) My engagement spot to Andrew. 2.) The WINE.
The Seneca Lake Wine Trail sits in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country. Located in Upstate New York, Seneca Lake is neighbored by both Cayuga Lake and Keuka Lake - both of which I am eager to visit on future trips!
Andrew, being born in Upstate New York, always talked about how we needed to visit the Finger Lakes Region. So in 2018 we decided to finally take a trip!
The first time visiting, Andrew and I unexpectedly got engaged and spent the entire trip in a bubble of happiness. It was an amazing place to spend such a monumental life moment and a trip that will always be very near and dear to our hearts. However, we didn't get to see or taste as much as we wanted on that first trip, simply because we didn't quite know where the best places were.
You see, Seneca Lake is HUGE. It's not a quick trip from the bottom to the top, let alone around the entire lake. We learned a lot that first trip and it made our second visit even better. Today, I am so excited to share all the details from this fun fall adventure!
Before we jump into the wineries, let me first share a few things that are important to note...
Like I said, the lake is huge. Depending on how much you want to see & taste, you will need at least 2 days.
Almost every winery closes by 5-6pm. That means you will be drinking early...think 10-11am. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, right?
The wineries are not located close together and walking isn't really an option. This means you will need to allow for travel time between each stop.
Which leads me to my next point. Map out your trip before you get there. Check how close your hotel or Airbnb is to the wineries you want to visit and determine what your best route is. We focused on the left-hand side of the lake on day 1 and then explored the top right side on day 2.
Ubers are hard to come by, at least from our experience. Andrew and I still don't understand why a wine drinking region is lacking in transportation such as Uber or Lyft, nevertheless we've struggled both trips. For two people, hiring a private driver, limo or bus just wasn't realistic - or affordable. That said, we made sure to have numbers to local taxi services in the event an Uber wasn't available. If you think you can just drive yourself all day - don't.
Where We Stayed:
Andrew and I stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb located right on Seneca Lake. This was actually our second time staying with this host after such a lovely stay the year prior.
We adored this private apartment complete with spacious living room, cozy fireplace, bedroom overlooking the lake, sparkling clean bathroom, and amazing amenities. Our host even provided breakfast items and a local bottle of wine to celebrate our anniversary!
* If you are seriously interested in this listing, please contact me and I will share the details with you privately.
Where We Tasted:
Below are the wineries we visited, in order, over the course of a three day weekend. Please note these are just a handful of the wineries that one can visit. Andrew and I hope to explore more in the future!
Fox Run Vineyards | foxrunvineyards.com
Our first stop and one of our favorites! This location has everything I look for in a great winery: a beautiful deck overlooking the lake, terrace facing the vineyard, large tasting room and lunch cafe with seasonal bites to eat. We particularly enjoyed the Traminette, Artic Fox, and Chardonnay during our wine tasting, as well as the delicious white pizza and taco-dilla to eat.
Anthony Road Wine Company | anthonyroadwine.com
This winery not only tasted amazing, but it was by far the most modern. I loved the sleek interior with unique touches and trendy decor. Andrew and I fell in love with their award winning 16' Vignoles, a unique dry white wine with floral and fruity notes.
Our favorite part of the property was their garden! Located right outside of the tasting room was a gorgeous garden filled with flowers, greenery, and grapes for tasting right off the vine.
Belhurst Castle Winery | belhurst.com
Who wouldn't want to visit a castle? This winery is home to my favorite Riesling! If you didn't already know, Seneca Lake is known for their variety of Rieslings due to the unique climate and soils. This time we opted for their wine & chocolate pairing, which made for a sweet treat.
Geneva on the Lake Resort & Dining | genevaonthelake.com
If you were wondering where Andrew and I got engaged, this is the spot! This is not a winery, but they do offer romantic candlelit dinners in the evenings. Just like the evening we got engaged, Andrew once again made reservations for a beautiful dinner complete with a bottle of sparkling wine and the most incredible cheesecake I've ever tasted! We highly recommend for a special occasion.
Ventosa Vineyards | ventosavineyards.com
If I had to choose my number one stop on the trail, it's here. Ventosa Vineyards blew us away! This was our first time visiting this winery and it will certainly not be our last.
At first glance the exterior is simply stunning. Upon entering we were welcomed into a large tasting room, complete with wines to purchase and a full service cafe. However the best part about this winery is the back. As soon as you step foot onto their deck, you will be transported to a beautiful world overlooking the colorful vineyards and lake...what I would like to imagine Italy looks like.
Andrew and I had such a wonderful time at this winery. Together we enjoyed gracious pours during our tasting, especially loving the chardonnay, and completed our visit with a local cheese board and artisan pizza.
Three Brothers Wineries & Estates | 3brotherswinery.com
This place is known as "Disneyland for adults"...and I can certainly see why! Three Brothers is made up of 3 wineries and 1 brewery all in one location - a must visit on this trip.
Guests are encouraged to purchase a tasting passport, which I highly recommend, that allows one to enjoy tastings at all four locations. I can spend a whole blog post on just this location, but I've summed up our thoughts below:
Stony Lonesome Vineyard: 4 uniquely different, but equally delicious Rieslings
Passion Feet Vineyard: Loved the canned rose wine spritzers (which I brought back home)
Bagg Dare Wine Company: 69 Ways to Have Fun was our favorite wine
War Horse Brewing Company: Andrew loved Lieutenant Dan IPA and I the Bombshell Rose so much that it is now sitting in our fridge.
Zugibe Vineyards | zugibevineyards.com
Our whole day was spent looking out onto gorgeous vistas, but the second we stepped into Zugibe Vineyards we were in awe. It also didn't hurt that they were setting up for a sunset wedding and my heart swooned at the sight. (Can someone I know please get married here?!)
The most surprising discovery at this stop was our love for their Merlot! Andrew and I primarily drink whites but were quite surprised when we fell in love with this red.
Bottomless Brewing | bottomlessbrewing.com
For our last stop on day 2 we headed to Bottomless Brewing, one of the only locations open past 6:00pm that we know of. We enjoyed some craft brews and pub-style food from their kitchen while watching the sun set over the lake. It was truly a beautiful way to end an incredible fall day in the Finger Lakes!
Glenora Wine Cellars | glenora.com
One of the two final stops we made before our journey home. We stopped in quick to pick up a bottle of our favorite sparkling, Blanc de Blanc and also enjoyed some delicious samples of their local cheeses! We hope to have more time to spend here on future visits.
Magnus Ridge Winery | magnusridge.com
Saved the best tasting experience for last. For the final stop on our three day trip we headed down to Magnus Ridge before heading home. What makes this tasting experience the best are the items offered. While every other winery simply just samples wine, Magnus combines each and every tasting with local cheeses and their signature Cheeky Monkey dip - both of which we brought home to enjoy!
Hopefully if you made it to this point in the post, you feel ready to head to this beautiful wine region with a packed itinerary of options! If you have any questions regarding any of the locations I have mentioned above, please feel free to contact me here. As always, drink responsibly!