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Wine Lover's Guide To The Finger Lakes

Encompassing 14 counties and 16 major cities, Finger Lakes is one of the most popular destinations in New York and in the entire country. Earlier in the year, Wine Enthusiast named Finger Lakes one of this year's 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations in the world and last year, the state of New York was honored as the Wine Region of the Year by the same publication. With more than 200 wineries spread across the Finger Lakes area, wine lovers have numerous opportunities to visit world-class wineries and enjoy world-class wine tasting. But it's not just all about the magnificent wineries and flowing acres of vineyards. With a variety of outstanding lodging, award-winning restaurants, outdoor recreation and attractions, there is so much to see and do for the entire trip. For recommendations for the best wineries, places to stay, places to dine and other notable points of interest, this guide for wine lovers will help make a trip to Finger Lakes an unforgettable experience.
Room with a View (credit: Randy Yagi) Room with a View (credit: Randy Yagi)
Where To Stay

The largest collection of wineries can be found around the two most notable Finger Lakes – Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake. By far the largest and the most popular, Seneca Lake would be the ideal spot to stay for wine lovers, in communities like Watkins Glen to the south and Geneva to the north. However, there are several other great places to stay, including Ithaca in the southern section of Cayuga Lake, Skaneatles Lake and the two largest cities of the wine country region, Syracuse and Rochester. However, please note below in the listing that the cities of Rochester, Cortland, Syracuse, Fairport and Pittsford are not located along the shores of any of the Finger Lakes but feature outstanding lodging. For example, Syracuse is 24 miles from the easternmost lake, Otisco Lake and Rochester is about 34 miles from Conesus Lake, the westernmost lake,

Related: Best Destinations For the Wine Lover's Vacation

Fine Dining (credit: Randy Yagi) Fine Dining (credit: Randy Yagi)
Where To Dine

The widest selection of restaurants within Finger Lakes can be found in the two largest cities of Rochester, along Lake Ontario and Syracuse, about 40 miles southeast of Lake Ontario. However, countless numbers of restaurants operate all over the region, with some of best located along the shores of Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake. The city of Ithaca is home to one of the most famous restaurants in Finger Lakes – Moosewood, an acclaimed vegetarian restaurant once named by Bon Appétit as one of the most influential restaurants of the 20th century and a former James Beard Foundation Award Winner for American Classic. More recently the same magazine recognized Ithaca as one of America's Foodiest Towns. But wine lovers must not miss the opportunity to visit any of the other great restaurants within Finger Lakes at places like Geneva, Seneca Falls and Skaneatles. As with the list of recommendations for lodging, Syracuse and Rochester are not in close proximity of any of the 11 Finger Lakes. One last highlight is a visit to the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Cadandigua, one of the must see attractions in the region.

Vineyard (credit: Randy Yagi) Vineyard (credit: Randy Yagi)
Top Wineries And Vineyards

There are a number of reasons why Finger Lakes is an internationally acclaimed wine destination. First and foremost within this AVA is its production of world-renowned Rieslings, the white grape variety whose history comes from the Rhine region in western Germany. Finger Lakes is one of the  country's top wine regions for Riesling wines and several local wineries have earned numerous awards in national and international competition. Among the notable wineries are Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, whose cache of awards is the largest in New York state and Herman J. Wiemer Vineyard, whose winery is considered a pioneer in Finger Lakes for viticulture and winemaking. Other notable wines produced here are Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. History buffs may also be interested in visiting Finger Lakes' oldest winery, Pleasant Valley Wine Company in Hammondsport.

Related: Best Up-And-Coming Travel Destinations For 2015

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on
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