Updated: Jun 26, 2021
East Side of Lake Seneca from Standing Stone Vineyard
Yesterday I posted about our trip to the Finger Lakes, which included all about where to stay and what to do in Watkins Glen. If you missed the post, you can catch it here. Many of you were anxious to hear which wineries we hit while there, so this post is alllllll about that! And I included some breweries too, since J wanted to try a few craft beers while we were there.
Hint: Make sure to go all the way to the bottom to see all my tips for a great trip, plus your free PDF download for a Winery Itinerary....
WHICH WINERIES ARE GOOD?
Like beer, wine is a preference. So a winery that I may think is phenomenal another may think is average, at best. Keeping that in mind, I will give you the run down of my must-stops, others I found to be delightful, plus a few new surprises. Also a side note about my taste in wine -- I prefer dry wines (both red and white), but I do love the semi-dry Rieslings or Gewürztraminer wines that are made in the Finger Lakes. There is just something about the flavor.
Whenever I go to this area, I have a few standing favorites that are always on my list. And they go in this order:
My Top Three:
Hermann J. Wiemer. Hands-down the absolute best winery up there. Fun fact #1: It also is pretty cool that a local kid owns it. This winery is on the smaller side and they do not allow buses or limos, for good reason. Fun fact #2: I am a huge Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) fan and several years back she was doing a show about her favorite wines paired with food. One of Wiemer's Rieslings was on her list. This is my number one stop and I always plan it as the first stop of the day - just to get the full experience.
Standing Stone. This one has always been my second favorite. Back when I used to go regularly, a retired elementary school secretary used to work there and she made the experience so much fun. Plus, the wines were equally delicious. Fun fact #3 - Wiemer bought Standing Stone back in 2017, so in my opinion - it's a match made in heaven.
Keuka Lake Vineyards. This small winery is tucked in the hill on the west side of Lake Keuka and I always thought it was a gem. This time around we had the pleasure of spending a good portion of an hour with Mel, the owner and vineyard manager. Because we had the place to ourselves (thank you, reservations), we really got the chance to sit and talk with Mel about all the things! And we also got to taste just about every wine they make because of it. I'm bummed I didn't get any photos of this one...
Others that are good to check out on your next visit:
Ravines Wine Cellars. This one has two locations (west side of Keuka and west side of Seneca). It was recommended by a friend who loves Wiemer equally as much as I do, so we gave it a whirl. We went to the Keuka location and it was cute and quaint and our waiter was super knowledgeable and friendly. Their wines were lovely. I would go again.
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellar. This one is on the east side of Seneca and is usually a stop for me while up there. They have nice wines and it's a relaxing place to visit.
Damiani Wine Cellars. This is another east side Seneca vineyard and is known for their reds. If you like reds, this is a place to taste, especially since the area is known for their whites. No reservations are required.
Atwater Vineyards. This was the last visit on our first day and by that time I was pretty tired. That said, it was still a nice place to add to your list.
Dr. Konstantin Frank. We had the most pleasant tasting experience here! I've been to this one before, but due to Covid, they had a progressive tasting. This meant that we moved from spot to spot to taste their wines, plus we met a few interesting people along the way. I came home with more Frank wine on this trip than I ever had!
Heron Hill Winery. Another lovely winery on top of a hill on the west side on Seneca. We had a relaxing tasting while overlooking the lake.
Glenora Wine Cellars. This one is a rather large winery, plus it has these pretty cool villas that you can stay in that overlook Seneca. Glenora has one of the best views up there! I was contemplating their wine and chocolate pairing, but didn't pull the trigger.
Recommended, but we just weren't about to stop in:
~ Bloomer Creek (currently closed due to Covid)
~ JR Dill
~ Anthony Road
~ Fox Run
~ Three Brothers
BREWERIES WE POPPED IN:
As a beer lover, J wanted to stop in for a few beers here and there....so here are the few we tried and enjoyed:
Grist Iron Brewing Company. Located on the east side of Seneca, we stopped here first to have lunch before hitting the first winery. They were known for their pizzas and pulled pork nachos. J got a beer and we split a pizza. Nice place!
Keuka Brewery Co. This was a small and quiet little brewery located just north of Hammondsport on the west side of Keuka. J had a beer and we split a soft pretzel for some fuel.
WHAT'S THERE TO EAT?
I did give a few recommendations in yesterday's post that are in Watkins Glen, but here is one more place where we ate a nice dinner:
Edgar's Restaurant in the Castle (Belhurst Winery). We had our first dinner at this place and it was delicious! It is a hike from Watkins Glen since it's at the top of Seneca, but the grounds are beautiful and the food was so yummy.
Other options on Keuka to scout out for a future trip:
Lakeside Restaurant and Tavern. I did have a reservation here, but they ended up being closed on the day we wanted to visit. I was bummed since I love this spot.
~ Timberstone Grill
~ Village Tavern
~ The Switz - Switzerland Inn
~~~TIPS TO MAKE YOUR TRIP A LITTLE MORE ENJOYABLE~~~
~ Plan your routes. There are so many wineries and breweries to see, so it's best to do a little research to see which ones you want to visit. Plus, the lakes are rather big, so it's a big help to have a general idea which area you want to hit on each day. Below you will see how I planned our getaway, and I even made you a PDF to print out and use for your next trip!
~ Make Reservations. This was new to me. Since COVID, many wineries are going to a reservation only format. The good thing is that you are able to go in, sit down at a table (mostly outside), and get served by a waiter. Your tastings tend to be longer than before, but they are more enjoyable. The not so great part is having to really plan your days with reservation times. Some wineries require no reservations and it's also important to note that in your agenda. I added these on my itinerary in between the reserved spots.
~ Allow time to drive. Some of the wineries are not close to one another and it can take a fair amount of time to travel between spots. If going to another lake which you are not staying near, also factor driving time for that. For example, it took us 40 minutes to get from Watkins Glen to our first winery on the east side of Lake Keuka.
~ Check websites to see which days the wineries are open/closed. We heard it over and over again while we were up there.....places are short staffed due to lack of workers. Some places were not in full swing and only open certain days of the week because of this...restaurants too!
~ Tasting fees. As I said before, some wineries required reservations. Some require you to prepay your tasting fee, which is generally per person. Here's the thing. At my favorites, I paid for two tasting fees so we both could enjoy the flights of wines served and get the full experience. However, at other places, I only paid for one because I wanted to enjoy the winery but didn't need all of the extra wine. In this case, we shared a tasting and it was plenty. It's important to really pick and choose which wineries to indulge in because sips of wine add up fast!
~ Food and water. Make sure to start your day with a good breakfast and drink plenty of water along the way. This is not the time to be doing your intermittent fasting! lol! I brought a big bag of peanut butter pretzels to have in the car, and we always had a cooler of water.
~ Dinner reservations. I planned to have our nice dinner on the first night. I've found that as the days go by, I was not as interested in having a big dinner at night. Also be sure to check the restaurants' hours as the same thing applied with staff as it did with the wineries.
Here is what I created for myself when planning this trip. First and foremost, it kept me organized. Plus, having this printout was super helpful when trying to navigate through our days. I was able to see when our reservation times were, where we paid and where we didn't, and the restaurant details were noted at the bottom of. each day
I also listed the wineries in the order in which they are located on the drive. Prior to making reservations, I looked at a map to plan this out.
And....here is the winery itinerary I created just for you!!! I included a PDF version below. If, for some reason, it's not opening for you...just email me.
Other food options on Keuka to scout out for a future trip....where to stay, what to do, where to drink...haha...all written in my humble opinion. If you have any questions, let me know. Plus, I'd love to add to my list for next time - so also let me know if you have any other recommendations that I missed.food Enjoy! xo