Cost to taste: FREE
Must Tastes: Rieslings, Lemberger, Coho Red
This winery is the most famous of all of the Finger Lakes Winery. The founder, Dr. Frank, is thought to be the father of the Upstate New York wine business. He recognized that the right rootstock was necessary and with the help of others introduced European grapes into the region and thus kicking off the the Riesling explosion in the area.
A tasting here is much more about education than just flavor. All of the employees will tell you stories of Dr. Frank and how no one was a stranger if they would drink with him. They also would share his philosophy on wine making and what new techniques they are experimenting with today.
The Rieslings are what they are known for and they will explain how what side of the lake the grapes are grown on determines the flavor of the wine. The Dry Riesling is interesting. It really has a strong mineral flavor while the Semi Dry is more traditional with tropical flavor. Both are good but very very different.
The tasting are free and they can go heavy on the pours so be prepared to spend some time here.
Cost to taste: $3 wine only, $6 with cheese pairing, $6 with chocolate pairing
Must Tastes: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc
With a link to Dr. Frank, Ravines stands on it’s own with a french influence. The winemaker, Morten, was raised in the Provence region of the South of France known for wine and food. He has brought this over to the Finger Lakes in such a way you will walk away wanting more.
Where Ravines excels (and the reason I am a member of their wine club) is with their reds. They are complex and will usually have a spicy undertone. Perfect for pairing with food.
My favorite hands down is the Pinot Noir. Good on it’s own but with a piece of chocolate DELICIOUS!
Would highly recommend splurging to get the wine and chocolate pairing. They use artisan chocolates and it cannot be beat.
Cost to taste: $5 and includes snack plate and souvenir glass
Must Tastes: any wine with Rkatsiteli, Vignoles
Originally focusing on the Europoean varieties, McGregor now creates their wine with the ‘voice of the grapes’. What this means to you is that you will get something wonderful and totally unique.
They do have some wonderful reds using varieties of grapes not usual seen in the US, like the Rkatsiteli or Sereksiya. They also provide you with a snack plate that compliments the wines (and doesn’t hurt if you are a bit hungry).
McGregor wines have a lot of depth and flavor that can set you back a penny. So do try the Highland Red table wine. It is reasonably priced and will impress any wine snob. It really is that good!
Cost to taste: $5 for feature wine and souvenir glass, $7 for premium wine and souvenir glass
Must Tastes: Rieslings, Gewurztraminer, Silver Pencil, Port
The youngest of the wineries, this winery continues to surprise us with their new grapes and the technology they use to produce it. The owners gave up jobs in corporate America to live our their dreams as winery owners (something Joe and I would love to do some day).
Their wines focus on the whites that are so prevalent in the area. They have won awards for their Rieslings and Gewurztraminer but do not let their reds fool you. They can stand on their own too.
The bottle that comes home with us on every trip is the port. It really is one of the best ports I have ever tasted.
We really do go out of the way to try these wineries and I would recommend them to anyone. In fact writing this has already made me homesick for them.
Each one has it’s own personality and that makes it even more fun. Some have artisan cheeses and chocolate while other offer pottery made by local artists.
So don’t go into it just for the wine, enjoy the entire experience. You will not be disappointed.