A Very Finger Lakes Wine Tour — PART III

Ay, yi, yi… I’ve been home for nearly a month, and yet I still haven’t finished recapping our Finger Lakes Vacation.

For anyone who wants to play catch-up, you can read about our itinerary for the first day <– here. For my commentary on the wines of the Finger Lakes, here’s Part I and Part II.


We began Day 2 of our Finger Lakes Vacation with a scenic drive through the fork of the ‘Y’ of Keuka Lake. (This experience had been suggested to us by the kind gentleman at Lakewood Vineyards the day before.) Since we couldn’t get enough of staring at the lakes and gawking at the beautiful scenery, we were all for it.

Here’s roughly the route we took. (I borrowed this map from http://www.hws.edu/fli/explore.aspx and edited it in MS Paint… holla!) We started at our Inn in Himrod (the red dot), drove north then west to the village of Penn Yan, then down through the Y of Keuka Lake. The red is our morning drive; the purple was the afternoon/evening.

Day 2 driving map

Since P and I both got our Master’s degrees in Higher Education, we were tickled to learn about Keuka College, a small liberal arts school also at the tip of Keuka Lake. We drove through their campus and daydreamed about what it might be like to work there (at least, I did. P’s lucky enough to be super happy with his current job).

Here’s some of the scenery from that drive.

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And here’s what we saw when we reached the north tip of Keuka Lake. Simply gorgeous:

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Once we were on the west side of Keuka and it was after noon, we stopped at a few wineries. (Part of the reason we sought out non-wine-tasting activities in the mornings is because of my preference not to start drinking until after noon. Since I tend to get tipsy after 3 or 4 tastings, I knew I’d be a complete mess if I tried to go at it all day from 9-5. Plus, since P was driving, it was better for him not to try, either.)

First up was Hunt Country Vineyards, where I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos. It had been so cloudy and overcast on our first day, but by Day 2 the sky was clear.

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We had seen vine after vine after vine from afar, but I think these were the first grapes we saw close-up on our trip.

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Yum! (Not that we ate any of these. I did steal one off a vine from a different winery later. Shh!)

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After Hunt Country, we headed to Stever Hill Vineyards, which we learned had recently changed management and had built a brand-new tasting room. I liked that they were decked-out in fall decor, especially since it was still pretty hot here in Charlottesville at the time.

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Continuing my trend, I purchased a bottle here, as P and I were the only people in the tasting room.

Next up was Yates Cellars, our last winery before we headed back to Seneca Lake. Yates was in a big old house on the Historic Register, which of course I instantly liked. When we walked inside to find an elderly, half-deaf, sleeping German Shepherd, I liked it even more! (I realized he was deaf when he didn’t stir from his nap when we walked in the door. The owner confirmed my suspicion.)

2013-09-23 14.21.38P and I both liked the wines at Yates, and this is where I decided to purchase my first ice wine. My dad had requested one as a souvenir, and this seemed to be the place for it.

After these three wineries, we got back in the car and took the shorter route back to the western side of Seneca Lake, where wineries were more densely populated. (See the purple route on my homemade map sketch above.) Here’s a sample of the roadside scenery:

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Unfair, right?

Once we were back on Lake Seneca, first up was Anthony Road Wine Company, where I remember not particularly enjoying any of the wines. I’m thinking this means they must have been on the dryer side. (I think I had also started to feel a little full, and kind of wanted a break from drinking.) Even though I didn’t love the wine, I loved the view. I never got sick of seeing row upon row of grapes with that deep blue lake as a backdrop.

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The woman who poured our tastings was telling another group about the barge in the middle of the lake, which was clearly visible from their tasting room. (That big white thing in the middle of the lake on the right of the photo below.) We learned that the U.S. Navy uses the barge to do sonar testing in the depths of the lake from this barge, and that alarms go off if a boat gets too close!

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Our next stop was at Serenity Vineyards, which literally shared a driveway with another winery (Seneca Shore; up next). I can’t repeat enough how freaking close all these wineries are to one another. It was insane. I opted not to taste here, because my belly was full of wine, and because when we walked in, the guy who greeted us told us that they only did dry wines. P did a tasting and loved their Chardonnay; he even bought a bottle–his one and only purchase of the trip.

At Seneca Shore Wine Cellars, there was a kitty outside, so I liked it right away. (Apparently I am to animals as Rain Man is to Jeopardy!–especially when intoxicated.) I remember this winery specifically because the woman who did our tasting was so terse. Not the best impression to leave on people, but actually, their wine was good. I bought a bottle of their Forbidden Apple wine.

It must have been getting close to 6pm closing time, because Fox Run Vineyards was our last winery of the day. I was fairly sloshed at this point and don’t really remember any of their wines or whether I liked them, but P convinced me to buy a bottle of their Arctic Fox (because it’s funny to make your drunk girlfriend spend money she doesn’t need to, yes?). I do remember seeing lots of t-shirts and posters for their Garlic Festival, which I think we had just missed by a few weeks. I so wish we had been there for that–garlic and wine, YUM!–but there’s always next year! I took these pictures in their tasting room:

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After leaving Fox Run, we headed north to find a restaurant that we had chosen earlier in the day. At this point, I can’t remember how we had heard about it, so I’m guessing that it was probably on one of our maps. The restaurant was at the northeastern tip of Seneca Lake, and when we got close, I had to stop for pictures. P obliged, and took some of his own. (He rarely takes photos of anything, so you know something’s pretty noteworthy when he’s willing to stop.) These photos were taken from the northwestern tip–Geneva. We didn’t spend much time at all in Geneva (we only stopped for these photos, and then drove through again in the dark later that night), but Geneva was probably my favorite of all the towns around the Finger Lakes. The streets were tree-lined and had lots of beautiful old row houses and historical buildings–I wish I had pictures!! It’s also the home of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where I’d also happily accept a job. Preferably in an office with a water view.

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Like the anonymous runner below, I’m pretty sure I could deal with running next to this backdrop.

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After a few u-turns, we found the restaurant and had dinner, after which, P continued to oblige me — we continued north to the Waterloo Outlets! (See the final destination on the purple line on my map at the start of the post.) I was somewhat disappointed once we got there, since all I ended up buying was a dress from Rue21 and a pair of tights from Old Navy (and it was kind of a hike to get there). The outlets closed at 9, at which point we headed back home to the Savannah House Inn. It was about a 40 minute drive, which took us back through Geneva in the dark. If we ever visit again, I’ll remember to walk through town with a camera.

Once we got back to the Savannah House, it was the end of our first full day on the Finger Lakes. We had covered a lot of ground, consumed a lot of wine, and were pretty dang tired! This night (September 23) was the premiere of The Voice (which I wanted to watch), plus Monday Night Football (P’s choice), and the series premiere of The Black List (also P’s choice). So we flipped back and forth between football and The Voice blind auditions before settling in to watch The Black List, which I found to be far too much action shoved into one episode. After that, we passed out in our cozy bed, resting up for day #3!


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