Keuka Lake Wine Trail
Fifteen wineries are within easy reach of the banks of beautiful Keuka Lake. The Keuka Lake Wine Trail (tel. 800/440-4898; www.keukawinetrail.com; brochure widely available in the area) comprises eight independent wineries located on or near the lake. Check the trail's website for special scheduled events throughout the year. Visits to Keuka Lake wineries can easily be combined with a tour of those along the west (and even east) bank of nearby Seneca Lake. Heron Hill Winery, 9249 County Rte. 76, Hammondsport (tel. 800/441-4241; www.heronhill.com), has a gorgeous setting high above Keuka Lake, and very nice wines, among which the owner's single-vineyard Ingle wines are standouts, as well as frequent music events, a cafe with an outdoor terrace, and a good gift shop. It's open year-round Monday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from noon to 5pm.
The most distinguished winery in the entire region and a favorite of connoisseurs is Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars, 9749 Middle Rd., Hammondsport (tel. 800/320-0735; www.drfrankwines.com). Dr. Frank, as it's known, produces outstanding perennial, international award-winning wines, including a splendid dry Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Though the Finger Lakes aren't yet well known for their reds, Dr. Frank's cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and pinot noir are quite excellent, and the rare Rkatsiteli and Chateau Frank sparkling wines are surprisingly good. Dr. Frank's Salmon Run wines are the winery's second label, and they use both estate grapes as well as grapes grown at other Finger Lakes vineyards. The setting on the slopes of Keuka Lake is lovely (sadly, the large tasting pavilion added in 2007 was destroyed by fire in early 2009, but visits are still going strong and efforts to rebuild are underway), and the full tasting, while serious about the wines, is conducted by a lively group of folks who make it educational but not stuffy. Dr. Frank was a Ukrainian viticulturist who almost single-handedly brought noble European varietals (vinifera grapes) to the Finger Lakes when he began making wine in 1962; he became the iconic figure in the region, emulated by many up-and-coming winemakers. Dr. Frank's remains a family-owned operation, now run by Frank's grandson. It's open year-round Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from noon to 5pm.
Not officially part of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, but very near those that are, Bully Hill Vineyards, 8843 Greyton H. Taylor Memorial Dr., Hammondsport (tel. 607/868-3610; www.bullyhill.com), has a reputation as one of the zaniest wineries in the region, a reflection of its original owner, a gadfly who left the Taylor winery and repeatedly battled Coca-Cola (for the rights to use the Taylor name) after it purchased his family's business. Tours and tastings aim to inject fun into the sometimes formal wine world. Also on the premises are a restaurant and the Greyton H. Taylor Wine Museum, with antique winemaking implements and artwork (much of which found its way onto Bully Hill labels) of the owner. Open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 11am to 5pm; restaurant and wine museum open daily mid-May through October (restaurant for lunch daily, dinner Fri-Sat).
On the east side of Keuka Lake, Ravines Wine Cellars, 14630 Rte. 54, Hammondsport (tel. 607/292-7007; www.ravineswinecellars.com), is a boutique winery with a tasting bar inside an attractive new Tuscan-style villa (a drawing of which appears on the wine labels). Ravines makes quality, European-style vinifera wines, including Riesling, pinot noir, and meritage, a bordeaux-style blend. Open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from noon to 5pm, from April through November (plus weekends in Mar and Dec). Tucked away on a quiet country road a mile or so from Keuka is McGregor Vineyard, 5503 Dutch St., Dundee (tel. 800/272-0192; www.mcgregorwinery.com). The family-run winery, in a cool space that looks more like a beer hall than a tasting room, has developed a cult following for its oddball varietals from eastern Europe. Chief among them is the coveted, powerful, and age-worthy Black Russian, a blend of Saperavi and Sereksiya Charni. It sells out quickly every year, though, so it may be tough to get a taste of it. Open year-round daily 10am to 6pm (until 5pm Dec-Mar), but July and August, until 8pm on Friday and Saturday.
For a taste of old-school Finger Lakes wineries and a time when the region concentrated more on jugs of sweet wine than on low-yield noble grapes, visit Pleasant Valley Wine Company, Route 88, Hammondsport (tel. 607/569-6111; www.pleasantvalleywine.com). Established in 1860, it's the oldest bonded winery in the Finger Lakes region, holder of U.S. Bond No. 1, in fact. Physically, it is the most atmospheric winery in the entire region -- it retains original buildings carved out of the rocky hillside. Full tours include an introductory film. It's open April to December daily from 10am to 5pm, and January to March, Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.