If you enjoy wine – especially white wine – a visit to the Finger Lakes is in order. The region, which spans 11 lakes in New York, makes the perfect escape from New York City and other locales in the Mid-Atlantic and New England for a weekend or even a week – though the Finger Lakes are also worthy of a cross-country flight.
The best wine in the Finger Lakes
New York state is America’s third-largest wine producer thanks to the quality vintages of the Finger Lakes, where ice age glaciers left an ideal terroir and microclimate for growing riesling and cool weather-tolerant grapes. Riesling is the signature wine of the Finger Lakes, closely followed by gewurztraminer. Many wineries also produce delicious chardonnay and pinot gris; you’ll likely find ice wine, a sweet wine made from frozen grapes still on the vine. If you like red wine, try the varietals such as pinot noir and cabernet franc for which the region is also known.
The best Finger Lakes for wineries
Look for wineries on Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Considered the heart of Finger Lakes wine country, these lakes each have a designated wine trail – though new growth and wine tasting rooms are popping up elsewhere in the region too. Note that wineries pay to be members of their respective trail(s) and appear on public maps and guides; plenty of excellent wineries are not members of these official trails and shouldn’t be overlooked.
The best Finger Lakes wineries
The best Finger Lakes wineries are located both on and off the official wine trails in Finger Lakes wine country.
Add these Finger Lakes wineries to your vacation itinerary for a chance to tour bucolic vineyards, meet local winemakers, and sip award-winning whites and reds while you take in the scenery.
(Courtesy of Boundary Breaks)
Boundary Breaks’ dry riesling No. 239 has been named one of the world’s top wines by Wine Spectator Magazine twice, most recently in 2021; No. 239 has also been recognized by Wine Enthusiast and the Wall Street Journal. The winemakers attribute the success of this wine and others to a late harvest, which allows more time for the fruit to ripen, resulting in a tropical quality and taste.
You can sip some of the award-winning wine in a seated tasting (available on a first-come, first-served basis) that includes five samples. Be sure to try a gewurztraminer and cabernet franc, other specialties by the winery. Visitors can also order wine by the glass or bottle, best enjoyed in the winery’s Adirondack chairs that overlook Seneca Lake. Many recent visitors tout Boundary Breaks as their favorite winery in the Finger Lakes – and bonus: It’s dog-friendly.
Address: 1568 Porter Covert Road, Lodi, NY 14860
(Courtesy of Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery)
In 1958, a Ukrainian viticulturist named Dr. Konstantin Frank planted the first European grape varieties in the eastern U.S., establishing what would become known as the “vinifera revolution” amid the cool climate of New York. His expertise launched the Finger Lakes region’s reputation for riesling and other vinifera varieties. Decades later, the late winemaker’s namesake winery remains family-run and more popular than ever.
Located on Keuka Lake – with an additional vineyard on Seneca Lake – Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery draws crowds to an array of tasting experiences, including a seated sampling of five wines for which reservations are recommended. In the summer, walk-in guests are welcome to order wine by the glass, flight or bottle in Eugenia’s Garden. Also from May to October (but by reservation only), visitors can enjoy the 1886 Food & Wine Experience, which features an in-depth look at the vineyards or winemaking process and pairs wines with small plates.
The winery has earned innumerable awards and accolades for its wines. Of special note is its growing focus on saperavi, an ancient red grape with a pigmented pulp – and one of the first varietals Dr. Frank planted when he began his winemaking journey. The winery’s saperavi is light and elegant, with notes of fresh berries, licorice, violets, tobacco, grilled spices and chocolate.
Address: 9749 Middle Road, Hammondsport, NY 14840
(Courtesy of O-Neh-Da and Eagle Crest Vineyards)
Head to Hemlock Lake in Conesus to discover two distinct vineyards in one place: O-Neh-Da and Eagle Crest.
Established in 1872 by Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid, O-Neh-Da Vineyard derives its name from what the Seneca people called Hemlock Lake, the only Finger Lake that didn’t keep its original Indigenous name. Today O-Neh-Da considers itself the oldest authentic producer of premium sacramental wine; it also produces traditional Finger Lakes wines such as a cabernet franc, rieslings and a unoaked chardonnay. Eagle Crest Vineyards, on the other hand, makes proprietary blend table wines with playful names such as Yummy or Queen of the Vine, a top seller.
Travelers appreciate the historic setting and knowledgeable staff of the winery, which runs on solar power. O-Neh-Da and Eagle Crest’s two tasting options each include five wines, with a choice of 1-ounce or 2-ounce pours. When selecting wines to sample, be sure to try the cabernet franc. What’s more is the property’s FLX Glamping sites, with kayaks, bicycles, pontoon boat rides and guided hikes available to overnight guests.
Address: 7107 Vineyard Road, Conesus, NY 14435
Oenophiles will want to sample a sophisticated riesling by master sommelier Christopher Bates, whose global training and technical skills have made him an illustrious winemaker. To maintain all-natural flavors and aromas, Bates’ wines are made exclusively with hand-picked grapes and without the use of additives or oak barrels.
Element Winery’s tasting room can be found at the Geneva location of F.L.X. Provisions, where you can try Bates’ world-class wines plus dozens of other Finger Lakes vintages. Previous visitors say the experience and staff are outstanding, with some commenting that it’s a great place get a taste of various Finger Lakes wines if you’re short on time.
After stopping for a wine tasting in Geneva, take a ride 25 miles south to Dundee to enjoy another passion project co-founded by Bates: FLX Wienery, a casual restaurant that pairs artisanal brats and fast-casual food with beer and wine.
Address: 16 Linden St., Geneva, NY 14456
(Courtesy of Fox Run Vineyards)
If you’re visiting the Finger Lakes with kids and/or dogs in tow, check out Fox Run Vineyards. In addition to its popular semi-dry riesling, unoaked chardonnay, dry rose and lemberger, the winery offers educational vineyard tours, a seasonal cafe, a wine barn (where you can enjoy wine by self-guided flight, glass or bottle on Saturdays in the summer), live entertainment, festivals and other events, all of which are family-friendly. Leashed dogs are welcome at Fox Run’s tasting bar, back patio and yard.
As part of its mission to reduce environmental impact, Fox Run Vineyards’ practice of “dry farming” means the crops are not watered by artificial means. Fox Run also fully operates on solar power and maintains a 4-acre monarch butterfly and bee sanctuary nearby to support the local pollinator population, among a variety of other sustainability efforts.
For traditional tastings, choose your flight – dry, sweet or riesling – for a sampling of five wines, or opt for the Taste Buds Flight, which pairs five preselected wines with five artisanal bites. Fox Run does not take reservations for tastings. Elevate your experience further with a VIP Tour, in which you’ll be able to explore the estate with co-owner Scott Osborn, followed by a private wine tasting paired with charcuterie and cheese in the barrel room, a restored 1800s dairy barn. This experience must be reserved at least two weeks in advance. Recent visitors say they thoroughly enjoyed the winery and its offerings, especially the food from the cafe.
Address: 670 state Route 14, Penn Yan, NY 14527
(Courtesy of Glenora Wine Cellars)
Glenora Wine Cellars is the perfect place to escape for a romantic weekend in upstate New York (with or without Fido). This winery’s high-quality offerings include sparkling wines, rieslings, red and white vinifera wines, blends, and dessert and fruit wines. Year-round tastings allow you to sample a six-wine flight on a walk-in basis (or by reservation if your group exceeds eight people). Visitors can also make an appointment for a cellar tour or a wine tasting paired with chocolate truffles. Recent visitors enjoyed their wine tasting at Glenora, with some saying they appreciated the selection of cheeses available to purchase.
After you’ve enjoyed a cellar tour or a tasting overlooking Seneca Lake, retreat to The Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars, where you can stay in one of the Vintner’s guest rooms – some of which feature fireplaces and whirlpool tubs – or the GSE Vineyard Cottage, complete with a fully equipped kitchen and sleeping space for up to six guests. You can also dine on-site at Veraisons Restaurant, which receives praise for both its food and its fast, friendly service.
Address: 5435 state Route 14, Dundee, NY 14837
(Courtesy of Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards)
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards isn’t just any winery; it’s a rite of passage in the Finger Lakes. The historic farm-turned-winery offers wines, hard ciders and wine seltzers, all of which you can try in a regular tasting or even a private tasting. Available to groups of between seven and 12 people with advance reservations, the private tasting includes a pairing with locally sourced cheeses and meats.
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards is especially famous for its award-winning Red Cat wine. Dubbed the “Original Hot Tub Wine,” this sweet red wine has a story (ask your wine tasting guide) and a chant (which you’ll likely hear and/or be singing by the time you leave). The winery’s second location – Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars, in Naples, New York – is named for the wine, which is also an entire line of products including Red Cat Sangria, Red Cat Fizz (a bubbly wine) and White Cat (a sweet white wine).
Because regular wine tastings can accommodate groups of up to 18 people on a first-come, first-served basis, the winery can get busy. If you have to wait for a tasting (and even if you don’t), pull up a seat at The Oasis, an on-site outdoor bar serving wine by the glass, wine slushies, local craft beers, hard cider, nonalcoholic beverages and light bites. Both Hazlitt locations are wheelchair-accessible and kid- and dog-friendly.
Address: 5712 state Route 414, Hector, NY 14841
(Courtesy of Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard)
A pioneer of winemaking in the Finger Lakes, now-retired Hermann J. Wiemer comes from a long line of winemakers from one of the world’s top riesling-producing areas in Germany. Wiemer’s vine nursery, which opened in 1974, helped populate the region’s vineyards and today provides tailored solutions to farmers and their vineyards nationwide; his namesake winery, which opened in 1979, has won countless awards for its dry rieslings. Head winemaker Fred Merwath, named Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2021, was particularly praised for his biodynamic farming of riesling and chardonnay.
Previous visitors highly recommend making a wine tasting reservation well in advance of your visit. Wine is offered by the glass, bottle or in 2.5-ounce pours so you can design your own flight of wines by Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard – and by Standing Stone Vineyards, which was acquired by the winery in 2017. Specialty tastings and custom flights may be available with advance request; kids and leashed pets are welcome.
Address: 3962 state Route 14, Dundee, NY 14837
(Stu Gallagher/Courtesy of Heron Hill Winery)
Heron Hill offers seven distinct rieslings – which span dry varietals to ice wines – and two locations: Its original Heron Hill Winery and tasting hall on Keuka Lake opened in 1977, while the Heron Hill Tasting Room on Canandaigua Lake opened in 2010. Both are worthy of a visit, but the latter is especially lovely. Heron Hill Tasting Room is situated in a renovated century-old barn overlooking the riesling and cabernet franc vineyards. It offers both indoor and outdoor seating plus wood-fired pizza in the summer months and live music on select days. Reservations are required for tastings, which include five wines.
Address: 5323 Seneca Point Road, Canandaigua, NY 14424
(Bonnie Gustin/Courtesy of Keuka Spring Vineyards)
Patrons of Keuka Spring Vineyards praise the stunning views of Keuka Lake, the relaxing ambiance, the hospitality and, of course, the wine. Recent accolades include winning Best of Class for the 2020 Wiltberger Vineyard riesling at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, as well as high scores by Wine Enthusiast for two of its other rieslings.
Tastings feature six wines and are offered on a walk-in basis to groups of six people or less. Larger parties can purchase wine by the glass or bottle to enjoy with food – either their own picnic or something delivered from a Penn Yan eatery. Local cheeses, crackers and other snacks are also available for purchase on-site.
Address: 243 state Route 54, East Lake Road, Penn Yan, NY 14527
(Courtesy of Miles Wine Cellars)
Beware the spirits at this early 19th-century Greek Revival mansion on Seneca Lake. Miles Wine Cellars’ best-known offering is the “Ghost” wine, a blend of chardonnay and cayuga grapes that commemorates the departed among us. The winery offers beer, wine and reserve spirits tastings; groups of less than 10 people do not need a reservation.
Speaking of spirits, ghosts are said to haunt the property’s historic inn, which features two newly furnished suites for overnight stays. If visiting in the summer, you can arrive by boat (a popular mode of transportation in the Finger Lakes) and have an ice-cold beer or a glass of wine at The Boathouse, a small dockside cafe that’s typically open seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Address: 168 Randall Crossing Road, Himrod, NY 14842
(Courtesy of Pleasant Valley Wine Company)
As the Finger Lakes’ oldest winery, Pleasant Valley Wine Company has eight landmarked stone buildings dating back to 1860 that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At the Great Western Visitor Center on-site, you’ll discover the winery’s surprising accomplishments, which include an honorable mention at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle for its sparkling catawba wine, the first American sparkling wine to win this type of award in Europe. That was only the beginning: The winery gained such a reputation for its sparkling wines that Pleasant Valley came to be known as the “Rheims of America.”
Tastings and informative guided tours of the historic buildings are offered year-round. In summer and fall you’ll need to make a reservation for a tour. Aside from the main location in Hammondsport, you can also taste Pleasant Valley wines at Caywood Vineyards in Lodi and Seneca Harbor Wine Center in Watkins Glen.
Address: 8260 Pleasant Valley Road, Hammondsport, NY 14840
(Courtesy of Ravines Wine Cellars)
Owners Morten and Lisa Hallgren learned much of what they know about wine in the Provence region of France before settling at Ravines Wine Cellars. Together, they produce excellent, mostly dry rieslings, chardonnays, pinot noirs, a red meritage blend and more. Ravines’ wines have been listed in the top 100 in the world by Wine Spectator Magazine, among other accolades. These wines can be sampled at two locations: the main one in Geneva or the Keuka Tasting Room in Hammondsport.
Traditional wine tastings in Geneva, which include five pours, are available for groups of up to six people by appointment only, though larger groups of up to 14 people can request tastings. You must make your reservation online. A tasting here could also be paired with seasonal bites from the popular Ravinous Kitchen. If you’re planning to visit the Keuka location, reservations are recommended but not required.
Address: 400 Barracks Road, Geneva, NY 14456
(Courtesy of Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery)
Not only will you find good wine at Wagner Vineyards, but you’ll also find craft beer at Wagner Valley Brewing Co and lunch at The Ginny Lee Café. Wagner is one of a few wineries in the so-called “Banana Belt,” a warmer microclimate on Seneca Lake’s eastern shores. The 250-acre estate grows a variety of grapes, several of which have won wine competitions year after year.
Guided wine tastings include five wines of your choice and must be reserved in advance; you can set these up on the winery’s website. More casual tastings are available on a walk-in basis as well. You can also enjoy wine – and beer – flights at the Vantage Point on Seneca (an enclosed deck) or at the picnic tables outside, weather permitting. Aside from the wine and beer, visitors rave about the property’s informative and attentive staff.
Address: 9322 state Route 414, Lodi, NY 14860
(Rima Brindamour/Courtesy of Chateau LaFayette Reneau)
Despite the Finger Lakes’ reputation as a mostly white-wine destination, Chateau LaFayette Reneau manages to produce some delicious dry reds including cabernet sauvignon and merlot, as well as the area’s signature cabernet franc. Another winery in the Banana Belt, this one sits about 5 miles north of Watkins Glen and offers tastings that include five pours and front-row views of Seneca Lake from both the indoor tasting room and outdoor deck. Reservations are highly recommended for groups with less than six people and are required for larger parties. Wine is also available by the glass. Additional offerings include the Vineyard Picnic Experience, with seasonal fare and a baguette to pair with a bottle of chilled pinot noir rose, and a five-room guesthouse for overnight stays. Previous visitors say they love the wine and appreciate that the winery welcomes dogs.
Address: 5081 state Route 414, Hector, NY 14841
(Courtesy of Sheldrake Point Winery)
Choose one of six preselected tasting flights to sample dry roses, ice wines, wines from the small-lot Beta Series (otherwise known as trial wines) and more at Sheldrake Point Winery, one of the best Finger Lakes wineries. Seated tastings, limited to groups of up to six, will allow you to taste five wines plus a bonus “welcome wine,” which includes your choice of the popular dry rose or cabernet franc. Enjoy them in the tasting room or outside in the garden. Reservations are suggested, but Sheldrake Point does welcome walk-ins. For a unique experience, make a reservation in the Vintage Room, Sheldrake’s extensive wine library and a rare offering in the Finger Lakes. Here you can taste the winery’s aged wines, which date back to its inception in 1997, accompanied by cheese and crostini. Reviewers note that this sustainable winery is slightly off the beaten path, and that while it’s not located right on the water, it offers beautiful views of Cayuga Lake. If traveling by boat, you can park in one of the winery’s eight boat slips.
Address: 7448 County Road 153, Ovid, NY 14521
(Courtesy of Bully Hill Vineyards)
Bully Hill Vineyards is an essential Finger Lakes winery for anyone who enjoys sweet wine. Located in Hammondsport, this winery is known for its sweet blush and fruit wines. The latter type constitutes an entire line called Sweet Walter – named for the winery’s founder, Walter S. Taylor – with flavors including peach and pineapple.
Enjoy a tasting with five preselected wines and get a complimentary wine glass as a souvenir, or take a free tour of the winery if the weather permits. You can also visit Bully Hill’s restaurant for lunch or Sunday brunch; previous visitors rave about the food. An on-site museum tells the story of Bully Hill Vineyards through antique equipment, historic artifacts and more. The winery also welcomes leashed pets.
Address: 8843 Greyton H. Taylor Memorial Drive, Hammondsport, NY 14840
(Courtesy of Heart & Hands Wine Company)
If you like pinot noir, stop at Heart & Hands Wine Company, a sustainably farmed vineyard whose red varietal is aged in French oak barrels. The pinot noir comes highly recommended by travelers, as does the riesling. Tucked into a peaceful location overlooking Cayuga Lake, Heart & Hands Wine Company features a cozy tasting room and cellar, where attentive staff provide guided flights with five wines. The warm atmosphere matches the winery’s logo: an Irish Claddagh, which represents friendship, love and loyalty. Tastings are available primarily by appointment and are limited to four guests.
Address: 4162 state Route 90, Union Springs, NY 13160
Finger Lakes wineries FAQ
How to tour the Finger Lakes wineries
Since many of the wineries are close together, it’s easy to visit a few in one day. That said, it’s also easy to get tipsy after just one winery or two, which makes guided tours or personal drivers a popular option for visiting the wineries. Explore some of the top transportation options compiled by New York’s Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance.
The best time to visit the Finger Lakes wineries
Though most wineries in this region offer tastings year-round, consider visiting between May and September for the best weather.
The best Finger Lakes hotels near wineries
No matter where you stay in the Finger Lakes, you won’t be far from a winery or several. In fact, some wineries offer their own accommodations for a unique experience, and you can even spend the night in a castle with its own winery and brewery at Belhurst in Geneva. Other lodging options include glamping, bed-and-breakfasts, vacation rentals, traditional hotels and lakefront resorts. If you’re looking for the best Finger Lakes hotels near wineries, start your search here.