On our second day in Watkins Glen, we follow the signs to the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. There are over 50 wineries that ring Seneca Lake, which stretches to a length of 38 miles, the largest of the Finger Lakes. This region is well-suited for wine production. The loam soils provide good drainage while the depth of the lake acts like a heater in the winter, keeping the vines on the hills surrounding it warmer.
With our limited time, we pick four to visit along State Route 414, which skirts the lake. Along the way, we go through the town of Hector, and get a closer view of Hector Falls, a portion of which is right off the roadway (see our previous POST).
Our first stop is Lamoreaux Landing, with its 119 acres of vineyards. Like most of the wineries, masks are required to enter, and must be worn except during tastings. Some wineries require reservations in advance, so we chose ones that take walk-ins. Family-owned through three generations, "Riesling, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc make up the majority of our vineyards, and we also grow Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grüner Veltliner, and Muscat Ottonel."
Pam and i are far from wine experts. We go with what we like. For Pam, it's bolder reds; for me, I prefer sweet. So we get a nice cross-section of what each winery has to offer. One thing they all had in common: Great views and picturesque locations, with plenty of tables beside the rows of grapes leading down to the lake.
Our next stop is Wagner Vineyards Estate Winery, a fifth-generation, family-owned operation that also includes a craft brewing company and an adjacent restaurant, the Ginny Lee Cafe. They produce 30 award-winning wines, so you'll likely find something for every taste. It's also interesting here that you can view the production area and see the bottling in action.
From here we go down the road to Chateau LaFayette Reneau, which has been producing wine from their 110-acre vineyards for over 35 years, collecting their share of gold medals and awards in the process. Tastings are housed in a restored, 100-year-old barn. We take a seat on their patio overlooking the vineyards and lake to sample their products. The Finger Lakes have all the charm of Napa without the pretense.
Our last stop swings us to the west side of Seneca Lake -- Lakewood Vineyards. This winery's history goes back to 1951, when "the Stamp family moved to Lakewood Farm, a run-down peach and apple orchard on the west side of Seneca Lake. The next spring, they started planting grapes." It was 1988 when they pressed their first vintage, and three generations later, they are going strong. We liked the informal, friendly atmosphere, where dogs owned by the staff roam free and enjoy being petted during the tastings.
By now it's afternoon, and we have to make time for another "must-see" on our list: Watkins Glen State Park. So we take our wine and head back to Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel to regroup. Stay with us!
Video/Photos by North Palm Beach Life