On Finger Lakes

Smooth as glass

Seneca Lake smooth as glass at Watkins Glen

Last fall we spent some time in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Given May was Finger Lakes Wine Month, thus I missed the perfect chance to look back. Oh well, better late than never

The Finger Lakes region is in central New York, far from the hustle and bustle of New York City. On the map, there are a series of long, narrow, parallel lakes looking like fingers, which are actually very deep.

FingerLakesMap

For many years I’ve heard of people vacationing to the Finger Lakes region – but the urge to go never overwhelmed us enough to act on a trip. Given last year’s change of address, 2014 turned out to be a good time for a driving vacation.

As people who enjoy the fruit of the vine, wine was our primary focus. Although known for many years for its sweet, low-cost wines, todays Finger Lakes winemakers produce very respectable wines.

View from Dr. Frank's

View from Dr. Frank’s

Anyone expecting hardy reds will be (for the most part) disappointed. Reds as Cabernet Franc and some blends are good, but far from the deep, rich reds from California or Washington.

Riesling is king of grape in the region. Although I prefer a wide variety of red wines, Rieslings have captured my attention for a long time. Similar to their Germans and the French Alsatian counterparts, Finger Lake winemakers produce Riesling in a variety of styles, which range in sweetness and dryness.

Most tasting rooms have a small fee ($3-5) for a series of wines. To me, the following wineries were exceptional (lake name in parentheses)
Domaine LeSeurre (Keuka)
Dr. Frank Konstantin (Keuka)
Herman Wiemer (Seneca)
Lamoreaux Landing (Seneca)
Ravines (Seneca)
Thirsty Owl (Cayuga)

Towns as Watkins Glen, Hammondsport, Seneca Falls, and others are small, but large enough to have restaurants, small hotels, and bed & breakfast inns. Besides wineries, the region also includes state parks, hiking trails, local artisans, and museums.

DSC02463Comp

Taughannock falls

 

Ithaca is one the region’s largest cities (30,000+), and is home to Cornell University. Because one of my Bucket List oddities is to visit all the Ivy League universities, we enjoyed the campus, the botanical gardens, and arboretum.

3 daily bell concerts at the famed Cornell tower

3 daily bell concerts at the famed Cornell tower

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Visitors Center at the Cornell Botanical Gardens

Visitors Center at the Cornell Botanical Gardens

 

Corning (population 11,000+) is less than an hour away, and home to the Corning Museum of Glass. Our original itinerary didn’t include a stop, but to me, this was the biggest surprise of our trip. Simply fabulous!

Corning Museum of Glass

Corning Museum of Glass

A masterpiece by Tiffany at the Corning Museum of Glass

A masterpiece by Tiffany at the Corning Museum of Glass

For readers in the northeastern US and eastern Canada, the Finger Lakes region is a worthwhile destination – so, consider it.

Useful References
Finger Lakes Wine
Cayuga Wine Trail
Seneca Wine Trail
Keuka Wine Trail
Cornell University Botanical Gardens
Corning Museum of Glass

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80 thoughts on “On Finger Lakes

  1. Thanks Frank for this journey. WW and I lived in this region for years and spent multiple dates getting to know each other over glasses of delicious Rieslings (and then trying to make it home down those windy mountainous roads). Happiest times of my life were spent here and you took me home again in such a beautiful way. Thank you.

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  2. Frank, in the almost 33 years that I’ve lived in NYC, I’ve never seen the Finger Lakes, I’ve never been to Ithaca and I’ve never quaffed New York State wine (unless I did so unknowingly). Now, I’m just trying to figure out which Finger Lake is the middle one.

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  3. What a lovely post, Frank. I would love to take a little trip here. The glass museum looks wonderful. What a find. Now, I need a glass of red wine from California where they’re deep. 🙂

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    • Nia,
      You would love it! The glass museum was outstanding. It had several areas: contemporary art, history, interactive information & demonstrations, and the gift shop (amazing itself).

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  4. We had a wonderful, fairly spontaneous family reunion in Ithaca years ago when my sister-in-law was interviewing for a job at Cornell. We had a blast wandering and hiking the gorges. It is lovely there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful post, Frank! I would love to visit that area – I’ve not been anywhere but NYC in the state. But I only drink red wine, so I hope I wouldn’t be disappointed 🙂

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  6. Great post Frank. I grew up on Lake Ontario and have visited many times the finger lake regions – still have relatives and a nephew that lives in several of these lake communities. It’s a wonderful area of NY State.

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  7. They do look exactly like finger lakes! Nothing like deep water to set a beautiful scene…and a little wine to appreciate it! (Hear that glass museum is well worth the trip. Glass, colors, lights, and reflection makes wondrous art!)
    Enjoyed tagging along on your trip!

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  8. Very enjoyable trip, Frank. I agree about NY wines versus those of California, and though everyone seems to be into Chardonnay these days, I prefer Riesling. On my first trip to Europe I expected to drink wine in Italy and beer in Austria. It turned out the opposite: we favored beer in Rome because it was the only thing cold to drink on a hot summer day, and Vienna had the very best Riesling I ever tasted, before or since. Do you follow rules when pairing wine with food, or just do what you feel like?

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    • Cynthia,
      Hooray for you being a Riesling lover! Such a wonderful wine. … but I can say that I hang around many non-Chardonnay drinkers.

      In terms of pairing wine with food, I go by the following:
      1) There are broad rules for various dishes in general.
      2) Ingredients/flavors are just as important (maybe more so) than the main dish. Example: Pork is one thing, but the marinades/glazes are even more important … and as the side dishes.

      Bottom line: I asked someone who I think is knowledgeable and I tell them as much as possible about the meal.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. When I was a kid my family visited relatives in Horseheads, NY, which is just north of Elmira, and we always made it a point to spend time in Watkins Glen State Park. I also remember visiting the Corning Museum of Glass. As to the wines, I prefer reds but would be open to trying some of the Rieslings.

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    • Tim,
      Caution … Rieslings may be too sweet for your taste buds. We didn’t make it to Watkins Glen State Park, but I’ve seen photos … wonderful! FYI: The glass museum has probably expanded and been renovated several times since your last trip … including a major expansion that I believe just opened. Mrs. Tim would love it!

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  10. In some of my reading about wine regions I have been introduced to the Finger Lakes Region, but this has only been recently. Prior to that I had never heard of it. It sounds like a wonderful place to visit and I would be interested. Maybe one day! It sounds like you had a wonderful vacation last fall!

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    • Debra,
      Finger Lake wines have been around for a while, but maybe even the larger wineries don’t ship to California. Then again, a few could be in your store but you’ve never notice them. …If I had to guess, not sure which of those I would choose.

      I can say that wine has been produced in that reason since the late 1800’s (I’m guessing 1880s). Two of the big producers (Taylor and Bully Hill) I’ve seen for many years here … but the ones here aren’t the quality that the region provides. … Hope this makes sense. …. However, it is a good vacation area.

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  11. One of my writing colleagues lives in Ithaca and for a few years also lived in my town in NC. The Finger Lakes region is definitely on my list of must-see places. There is church on Martha’s Vineyard with Tiffany windows, so I can attest to the beauty of sunlight through the wonderful colors. Marvelous!

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    • Renee,
      I just search on Google … St. Andrew’s Episcopal? … Beautiful! … then again, maybe other churches.

      Meanwhile, the Finger Laws region may be closer than you think … well, one long day of driving?

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  12. I haven’t spent much time in that part of the country except for work, meaning didn’t see anything. You have opened my eyes. The museum, now added to my wish list!

    The falls, beautiful. Of course the wine, another add. Lovely trip Frank thank you for allowing us to to ride along.

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    • Val,
      There a numerous falls in the area. This one was very accessible … we also drive up to the overlook, but didn’t walk the trail on the rim.

      The Corning Museum of Glass is a gem. A person into art and museums can easily spent two days there … and the $18 ticket is good for two days. For now, visit their website … http://www.cmog.org/ … enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I enjoyed this post, Frank. I have not spent much time in New York, and will put the Finger Lakes region on my list of driving destinations. 🙂
    The Tiffany window is gorgeous. Have you ever been to Lakeview Cemetery up in Cleveland? The Wade Chapel there is amazing. The windows and most of the interior were done by Tiffany. Lots of other things to see in there, too.

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    • Robin,
      I haven’t been to Wade Chapel, but I just searched images – beautiful! I have no doubt you would love the Corning Museum of Glass, and hiking around the state parks in the Finger Lakes region.

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  14. Holy cow! 71 comments on this post! You be one popular fella there, Mr. Frank!

    I had heard of this region before and ironically, a friend of mine spent the last week there, racing his car… so I hear about the region twice in one week. Hmmm.. hidden message?

    Definitely adding this to my “must-visit” list. Bloody hell, I better live for another 50 years so I can do all that is on my list…

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    • Debra,
      Very true …. so much in the world to see … and let alone in one’s own area and country. Nonetheless, the Finger Lakes region is a pleasant treasure with a variety of things to see and do.

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