Finger Lakes and NOTL trip/suggestions

A group of us are planning to go to Niagara on the Lakes and the Finger Lakes … when the world opens back up. I have put together an itinerary and would like to get some feedback on a 4 day trip.

Day 1: NOTL

Ice House Winery
Reif Estate

Day 2:

Keuka Lake
Herman Weimer
Anthony Road

Day 3:

Fox Run
Heart & Hands

Day 4:

Bloomer Creek
Boundry Breaks

Is this a doable itinerary or can I fit more into individual days

As I have not visited the NOTL area recently, my comments apply only to your day 2-4 itineraries. Your day 2 and 3 winery stops will require a fair bit of driving, get an early start. On day 4, your list includes “Boundary Brook”. I assume you are referring to Boundary Breaks. Those three wineries are fairly close together on the east side of Seneca Lake, so easy peasy. Three visits per day is reasonable in my experience. I recommend taking a break for lunch between winery visits. If you will be near the FLX Wienery, definitely consider stopping for lunch. Your list contains my favorite FLX wineries. Forge Cellars is appointment only, book early. May to Halloween is beautiful in the FLX.

If you don’t mind going another half hour into Canada past St. Catharines, Pearl Morissette is probably Ontario’s best winery and, frankly, far better than the others you’ve listed unless you’re exclusively interested in icewine. They also have one of the best restaurants in Canada if you wanted to do dinner there as well.

I’d also recommend Bachelder Estate and Leaning Post winery before the others on your list.

The finger lakes are pretty easy to get around by car, without tons of traffic or anything like that, so three wineries per day at a leisurely pace should be easily do-able as long as you sequence them logically.

I haven’t had a chance to try it, but the restaurant flx table, on the northern end of Keuka, is widely beloved around here and apparently has a pretty impressive wine cellar, so you might want to take a look at that.

I tried my first Pearl Morissette wine a couple of months ago (cuvée Métis). My wife and I were planning to try to get to the restaurant sometime in spring back before the shutdown. It’s high on my list, should the world ever return to normal.

The wienery is decorated almost exclusively with empty drc bottles. A dramatic setting if you’re a wine nerd.

Jeff—have you been to flx table?

FLX Table is in Geneva along the northwest side of Seneca Lake. On the first day of each month, reservations open for the following month. They book up quickly. I have been there twice.

The other NOTL suggestions above are good. I also have not been down there for a while, last few years have been visiting The County. New wineries seem to pop up like daisies.

Contact Bachelder ahead of time , would be great if he’s there, he’s very knowledgeable passionate and great winemaker with good perspective on Niagara (he makes wine in Burgundy and Oregon too)

Tawse can offer a good tasting experience if you phone ahead and introduce yourself. Hidden Bench wines are good also. Creek side, Ravine Vineyards worth considering.

If you are closer NOTL itself Stratus has higher end tasting facility and good wines (and prices to match). Not sure if they show the Charles Baker Riesling (made there) one of the better Ont Rieslings. Lailey also good wines.

If you are at all into beer, I recommend a stop at Aurora Brewing Co. on Day 3 if you can fit it in. It’s a few miles south of Heart & Hands on Rte 90. Excellent microbrewery with a wide array of styles that go well beyond your typical IPA.

I live about 60km from NOTL and I wouldn’t visit any of the wineries you list.

As others have mentioned the best wines in the region are being made further down the highway at Pearl Morissette, through even pre-COVID they were not doing visits. Best bet is to visit their fine dining restaurant for lunch or dinner.

I personally really like Tawse’s whites (near Pearl Morissette). They do a nice job with Chard (in a lean reductive way) and Riesling. I personally find their reds a little to lean and with hard textured tannin.

Besides that I think the other recommendations are solid. Stratus, Cave Spring (Riesling), Creekside (Syrah), Flat Rock (Pinot Noir + Bubbles), and Henry of Pelham (Bubbles), are all doing good stuff at fair prices. Ironically only stratus is actually in NOTL.

Remove Anthony Road and replace with Nathan Kendall/Hickory Hollow. Our group, really didn’t enjoy Anthony Road when we visited last fall. The Nathan Kendall/Hickory Hollow visit was much better and only minutes away from Wiemer and the wienery

For another point of view, I think Anthony Road is worth a visit. The wines won’t blow you away, but they’re making some of the better reds in the region at very fair prices, in my opinion. You could probably do both and keep to the rest of the itinerary for that day. Hickory Hollow isn’t adding any significant driving time.

Wiemer might offer additional tasting wines for a fee. If that’s still the case, do it.

I haven’t been to the Finger Lakes in quite a while, so others might have more up to date information, but from what I know, you have the highlights on your list. You probably can manage another winery per day, but maybe you don’t need to. Once you get below the top tier of Finger Lakes wineries, quality declines fast.

I’m quite unfamiliar with Finger Lakes but I recall reading Riesling is good there. If so, a possibly interesting side project would be comparing Niagara and Finger Lakes Riesling. I keep being told that Riesling is great in Niagara, but personally I’m not convinced. There are some very plausible inexpensive wines like Hidden Bench basic Riesling, Cave Spring, etc And Charles Baker is def quite good. But personally I think Chardonnay is ‘the’ grape for Niagara.

Chris’ comments are good. Re Tawse, their best red IMHO is Cab Franc. (See also at Creekside).

I’m also not convinced, Richard, FWIW. I know it’s supposed to be our signature white grape and we’re awash with mediocre off-dry examples but I’ve never had anything that has been paradigm-changing. Cave Spring is fine for ~$16 CAD but why drink “meh” wine? I agree that the Charles Baker is nice and steely but it’s the sense of “alive-ness” and energy that our Riesling lacks, if that makes any sense. Even our best examples seem a bit joyless.

Mosel, much? :grinning:

I didn’t wanna say it. [oops.gif]

Pearl Morissette is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at. It was better than anything in Montreal and/or Toronto for sure. Their wine wasn’t my style but the restaurant is great.

I’d skip Inniskillin and Peller for sure - large corporate wineries that were amazing in the 90’s but even 15 years ago were starting to show their size.

Closer to NOTL, I’ve often visited Pillitteri (who has also gotten a lot larger in the last while), and enjoyed many of their wines.
Joseph’s Estate a couple blocks up the road from Pillitteri has had excellent icewine, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Cave Spring has a wide array that are all worth tasting.
I’ve long been a fan of Harbour Estates Winery, pretty close to Cave Spring, in Jordan Harbour. They have a killer icewine sale every year, and their Reserve Chardonnay has been very kind to me.
Featherstone up on the benchlands has some good stuff - last time I was there I liked their Cab Franc (dry and late harvest), Merlot, and their Riesling
Lastly, we had an excellent visit at Daniel Lenko. I believe they are appointment only.

1 Like

Did you try their reserve wines? The standard wines are not that special but the reserve ones (at a higher tasting fee) are much betterl.

no recent experience re NOTL…not a big fan of Anthony Road or Ravines but they are probably worth a visit as your schedule appears very doable…Wd second the recommendations re Nathan Kendall/Hickory Hollow as well as availing yourself of any addtl tastings at Hermann Weimer