Seneca Lake Wine Trail

By: Tonya

As the newest member of the Simon Admissions Team, I am thrilled to be writing my very first blog entry!  Better still I am writing about the amazing day I spent recently exploring the Seneca Lake Wine Trail in New York State’s Finger Lakes Region.

I have heard time and again that New York’s Finger Lakes Region boasts one of the largest and most beautiful groups of wineries in the northeast, so when friends suggested we plan a wine tour I was excited to finally see what it was all about.  We booked our limo bus about two months in advance of our trip and recruited 14 friends who all share a love of wine.

The day we headed out was a beautiful, crisp autumn day.  Our first stop on the tour was Glenora Wine Cellars.  What a great place to start as the view of Seneca Lake was spectacular.  Being that we were a party of 14, we had called ahead to reserve a room for a private tasting session.  We got to sample about a dozen different wines and spent some time in their large Visitor’s Center.

After that we hopped back on the bus and headed north on the Lake up to Fox Run Vineyards.  Here, we sampled various wines in their rustic downstairs tasting room.  The staff was knowledgeable and friendly as they explained how the varieties of wines are made at Fox Run.

Next we drove around the northern tip of Seneca Lake to hit some of the vineyards on the east side of the lake.  Ventosa Vineyards was our first stop on the east side.  Stefanie had told me that she had stopped at Ventosa on her 2006 wine tour and found it to be breathtakingly beautiful.  How right she was!  The view of the Lake from their deck was just stunning.  Inside we could smell delicious paninis being grilled in their Cafe Toscana.  Several of us in the group vowed we would return to Ventosa some day when we could linger on their deck while enjoying their delicious wine and food.  But not this day, next we were off to Nagy’s New Land Vineyard & Winery.

Nagy’s is actually 4 unique wineries on one estate.  If you follow the dirt path that goes around the pond in back, you’ll find the haunted house-like tasting room of Rogue’s Hollow Winery.  We were greeted by a skeleton in an old pickup truck as we approached their "backwoods bayou" tasting room.  Inside it was a loud, festive party . . . this place actually makes me want to use the phrase we had a "hootin and hollerin" good time.

After our "spooky" experience at Rogue Hollow, we headed south to Wagner Vineyards.  This place was bustling with folks enjoying both the wine and the "brew."  Wagner Vineyards offers guided tours of the winemaking operation and Wagner Brewing Co. offers a self-guided tour of the brewing process.  This appeased the beer enthusiasts in our group. 

At 5PM the wineries were closed and we still had a couple hours with our limo bus, so we decided to check out the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, N.Y.  We had all heard it was a magnificent facility and thought it would be the perfect way to end a day dedicated to wine.

Opened in June 2006, the New York Wine & Culinary Center was created to showcase and provide a gateway to New York’s dynamic wine and food industries.  We learned that New York is the third largest wine producing state in the nation with over 212 wineries.  The Center offers instructional courses in cooking and wine tasting.  Some of the upcoming classes include holiday cookies, chocolate truffles, and holiday entertaining.  A self professed "foodie" I will definitely come back to the Center to take advantage of these classes! 

At the end of our day we were all exhausted (not to mention full and happy).  It was the perfect way to spend a beautiful autumn day in Western New York.  We plan to make it an annual event.  See you on the wine trail! 

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