This past March Frank and I spent our honeymoon in wine country. It wasn’t just any wine country, but the beautiful California wine country. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. Not only is the wine flowing in almost any store you walk into, the food is amazing and is brilliantly paired by experienced chefs to compliment every morsel of food you put into your mouth. I still have dreams about some of those wine and food pairings. In addition to our honeymoon gluttony, (yes, I admit it.), we came home with an education regarding why wines have different flavors, oakey, buttery, etc…. and also an education as to the science of growing the grapes. I felt myself becoming a wine snob while there. It was fun, but thankfully reality brought me back to my bargain wine shopping ways as soon as we got home and my palate and wallet are okay with that. Our favorite area in wine country was Sonoma, which has a quaint, charming downtown area verses Napa which felt more like a city. I truly can’t wait to go back.
However, while the California wine country is second to none, this past weekend we met our friends, Tom and Teri, in the Finger Lakes area of New York State to try out the wine tasting in that region. We were not disappointed, partly because we found some great wines to bring home and enjoy, but mainly because this particular couple had us laughing the entire weekend. I’m not talking about a giggle or a guffaw here and there. I’m talking about regular laughing until your belly feels like you’ve just finished doing your crunches. I’m actually surprised that I didn’t come home with six pack abs. In fact, I think I came home about five pounds heavier. Now that’s my kind of weekend!
A major perk for us was that the Finger Lakes are only about a four hour drive from where we live. That may sound like a lot, but it really isn’t bad, especially when we can stop, eat, stretch our legs and just generally take our sweet time to “smell the roses.” I hope we can always enjoy each others company like that. However, the next time I think we should skip the “travel food” which tastes so great when you’re really hungry and trying to make good time, but after eating it makes you feel puffy, greasy and just mad at yourself for “doing it again.” Oh well…what’s done is done. It’s still better than a long flight and airplane food. I dislike being stuck in a small chair within a confined space and with tiny, not always clean bathrooms. Ugh…. I don’t mind the actual flying in the air part. That I find fun, especially the take off when the plane speeds up and then lifts off, but anything more than 2 to 3 hours in the air is torturous to me. I feel as if flying makes me an intolerant person. Usually I adore children. I mean, what’s not precious about a baby? I’ll tell you what’s not precious, a baby that screams for hours in my space! My child never did that…oh no! (yea, right) You know what else isn’t precious? Body odor! I’m just sayin that if you’re one of those rude people who thinks it’s okay to board a plane without a proper shower and without applying your daily deodorant, I will truly hate you by the time we land. I’ve experienced this….I know of what I speak. Grrrr……
Aaaaaaanywaaaay…..we stayed in a town called Watkins Glen which is located at the southernmost tip of Lake Seneca. The gorgeous and pristine Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel very graciously put us up for three nights. This is a relatively new hotel, about five years old now, is located right on the water and was a luxurious yet homey place to make our home base for our little weekend jaunt. It boasts one of the areas nicest restaurants, the Blue Pointe Grill, which had both indoor and outdoor seating. Right next to the Grill was the Coldwater Bar, a local hotspot. I have to say that the customer service in both the hotel and the restaurant were phenomenal.
Each morning we met Tom and Teri downstairs at 9:30 for a hearty breakfast before setting out on our wine tasting stops. Teri was the navigator extraordinaire and Tom was the chauffeur, as they brought the car with the most comfortable back seat. Lucky us, we got to sit back and enjoy the ride. Note to self…the next time we need to bring the comfy car and then cart our friends around. Fair is fair, right?
We hit several small vineyards and I took pictures of some the pretty, interesting and even funny wine labels. There were also local parks and water falls which shouldn’t be missed. I personally find it fascinating that Mother Nature and Father Time collectively form beautiful rock structures and natural trails for us to enjoy. Darn nice of em!
As far as the wine tasting goes, Frank and I both like wines that are less sweet, therefore we skipped the vineyards which boasted the sweeter varieties. Very rarely do we purchase anything sweet, except for maybe a dessert wine such as a port. Even that is more Frank’s cup of tea. We tasted reds primarily, but did happen upon a few buttery tasting Chardonnays we enjoyed as well.
It was a very different experience than the wine county in California. From what we gathered during our tours, the vineyards in California are older for the most part, fancier with impressive buildings, and much larger with vines growing over hundreds or thousands of acres versus the smaller vineyards in New York which are sometimes set on ten to fifty acres total. I did like the intimacy of the New York vineyards. The tastings had smaller groups of people and at times we received one of one attention. It’s also more affordable. If you’re looking for a chef inspired sit down wine tasting that may last two to three hours including the tour and which has a price tag of at least $45, go to California. If simple, one on one pairings where the food is a few pieces of cheese and a piece of chocolate on a tiny paper plate with a price tag of $9 to $15, the Finger Lakes will work for you. Like I said, it’s much more affordable. Just to be clear, this comparison is based on our experience and there are quite possibly more upscale pairings in the Finger Lakes as well. Our weekend there was meant to be casual and spontaneous. None of our vineyard visits were planned.
I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the vineyards located along Lake Seneca and Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes and hope to do it again someday, maybe visiting the vineyards along some of the other lakes the next time. We had delicious food, drank good wine and had sometimes silly, but always quality time with our good friends. It was perfect.
Below are some of the labels from the vineyards we visited. Have you been to the Finger Lakes? If so, please tell me about your favorite vineyards.