Finger Lakes and NOTL trip/suggestions

I honestly don’t remember. When I set up the appointment for our group, I had a very good conversation about what I wanted and our willingness to pay a higher fee to get it. When we arrived, the place was largely empty, yet they weren’t ready for us. Put us in a small room off of the main tasting room and left us there as they then went to hunt bottles to pour. I’m not sure if we ended up with the standard list or something random, but it wasn’t at all what was discussed previously and we were charged the standard fee as well. By the time we had the last wine, no one had liked anything and wasn’t wanting to try anything else so I wasn’t asking for more.

To be fair, we had visited Wiemer and Nathan Kendall/Hickory Hollow prior and the wines we tried suffered in comparison. I and one or two others did manage to purchase a sympathy bottle and take them back to the house and when opened later they were better than remembered but still not on my recommendation to anyone visiting.

BTW, the experiences at Wiemer and Hickory Hollow were just great. I mentioned when setting up the appointment at Wiemer, that I hadn’t been back since Herman sold it and how my wife and I fondly remember barrel tasting with Herman on our honeymoon. They started off our group with a glass of sparkling and congratulations for returning and celebrating with them again all these years later. A small touch but very nice and set the mood for a good time. At Hickory Hollow, Nathan had offered to pour our group himself but harvest took priority so we met his mother instead which may actually have been more fun.

Hidden Bench and Domaine Queylus offer great tasting experiences and their wines are very good. ICellars is another one I would suggest.

We typically stay in St. Catherines as most of the wineries are in that direction.
For a restaurant rec, OddBird, in St. Catherines, was suggested by our hotel staff. Tiny place, arrive when it opens to get a table. More fun to sit at the bar watching the chefs do their thing. We can’t wait to go back when the border opens up. They just opened a pizza place called OddBar.

In the NOTL region the Beamsville Bench area makes for some nice white wines, in particular Riesling and Chardonnay. Some producers have been already mentioned above and are definitively worth a visit. As far a red wines Two Sisters Vinyard Vineyard and Big Head would be on top of my list. I have visited the Finger Lake area at least five times and continue to look out for something different then the off dry local classics. Some dryer examples are offered at J.R. Dill and Leidenfrost vineries. I was also very fond of the cyder in the area - really excellent and a lot of variety if you fancy it.

For the NOTL region, this trip is definitely all about the ice wines.

Other varietals up there will require another trip.

Thanks for all the recommendations.


Sorry, I missed the focus on ice wine. My suggestions were not based on that, so ignore them. Please refer to others’ suggestions, my ice wine knowledge is not that extensive.


Just heard from Bloomer Creek and they believe they will not be tasting this summer (unfortunately). Trying to fill in their spot with either Wagner or Lamoreaux Landing. Would be interested in your and other poster’s opinions.

Lamoreaux Landing makes good to very good wines. I would not make it my primary destination; however, if in the area, worth a stop. I haven’t had anything from Wagner that impressed. When were you planning to visit? Will the wineries be open?

Lamoreaux Landing over Wagner 100%. Wagner is a bit more of a tourist destination and I think the wines are much more varied and interersting at Lamoreaux. Very terroir focused with great dry whites and reds.

Regarding your itinerary overall I do agree that you have a lot of great spots there. I’m very familiar with the wineries in the region and these are some of the best. I’ll echo the Nate Kendall references. I think you could probably fit more stops in on some of those days, it’s generally quick to get between stops and they are not always long drawn out tastings. The main exception to this would be the day you visit Heart and Hands - they are more off the beaten path without much around them.

I have a couple of comments, having spent a good deal of time in both regions. First, if you are only allowing one day in NOTL you are really missing it. The area is hardly just about the wineries and there are extremely charming attractions in the area that will provide a lot of diversity for a trip. The history and charm of NOTL itself is quite lovely. Suggest you spend an extra day, rent a bike (fabulous for biking) and enjoy the history of the place as it is quite compact. To paraphrase a bit from Matt Kramer, NOTL is where they make the money, Jordan is where they make the wine! The suggestions above are quite spot on for tasting experiences. Tawse in particular has a Burgundian bent as they have a foot in both areas.

You won’t be able to get into the Pearl for a tasting, they are not doing open tours and tastings much these days. If you miss the restaurant, well you have just missed possibly the best experience east of the Mississippi outside NYC. Just go, but reservations are hard to get and they will not accommodate a party bigger than 6 people, so you may have to split up. These wines in the area are definitely more AFWE wines, and usually benefit from some age. DO NOT expect California Cabernet profiles or you will be disappointed. Think Loire-like cool climate expressions of the grape. Trust me, if you have spouses who are not total wine geeks, they will be unhappy you did not spend a bit more time here. You might also want to get a glance at the greatest natural wonder in the east, a little stream called Niagara Falls. BTW, the last exchange rate I checked was something like $1.30CDN to $1.00 US. That doesn’t suck either. (Sorry Canada, but your currency is linked to the price of oil) Wines are not expensive to begin with and the discount is an extra bonus. If you worry about carrying wine across the border, really you should just relax. The border customs officials really don’t care if you bring a case of wine across. Just tell them what they want to hear, two bottles of wine per person. The paperwork they have to go through to assess a 17 cent tax per bottle on every wine above 2 bottles per person is literally not worth their time. As long as you are not bringing a tractor trailer or U Haul filled with Cuban Cigars they really don’t care.

If you plan on driving from there to the Finger Lakes, this will be several hours drive (like 4ish). The roads are not direct, and you have to cross an international border. I presume you will not be flying, as this is nearly impossible unless you have your own plane. In the FLX do NOT miss Ravine. Lots of wineries talk terroir, but not many can deliver it. For my money they do the nicest portfolio, and the single greatest individual expression of Riesling in the area,
Argetsinger Vineyard Riesling.
If this were Germany, it would be $100.00 and worth every penny. Not everything is outstanding, but I would drink their Rieslings all day long. Don’t get me wrong, FLX is lovely, but it is NOT compact. Those wineries can be really spread out in distance, plan carefully!

Enjoy the trip!

Good point about drive times. Remember folks, there are NO BRIDGES across the lakes. This means you have to go up-and-down rather than across them. Two lane roads and the largest lakes are over 40 miles long, so to get from one side to the other if you are half way down means about an hour of driving. And, last I heard (because of COVID), Canada-US Border closed to all but commercial traffic.

Thank you for all the replys.

Mike and Jeff - Lamoreaux Landing it is. Thank you very much.
Mike - I do have something set up with Nate Kendall - of course this assumes the wineries will be opened again

Dennis - will talk to others about eating at Pearl. I have heard about the place from several others and I am never opposed to a great meal. Thank you for the recommendation.

Marcus - I do know about the border being closed. The trip is mid-August and I am hopeful the border will be open then.

Yep, at present closed through June 21

SO glad I found this thread as my wife and I are heading to this area in October. I have no knowledge of the wines at all and am excited to try some. That being said, we are really going to relax and unwind (after living with my parents and then her parents for over a year while renovating a house). We will not be doing as much tasting. If you had to pick no more than 5 wineries which 5 would you pick? We are planning on FLX table for sure one night and potentially doing a cooking class one day.

Also we will not be traveling into Canada and any other restaurant recommendations in the FLX area are appreciated.

Coincidentally also planning a similar October trip, staying in Geneva and planning to eat at a couple of the FLX restaurants. The big question mark for me right now is whether Virginia remains on the 14 day quarantine list–right now not looking so good. All that said, top of mind for me are probably: Herman Wiemer, Boundary Breaks, Bloomer Creek, Heart and Hands and Ravines. Good luck with your trip!

So I am hearing that a bunch of hotels in the northeast will allow visitors from “hotspot” states so long as you have been self quarantining prior to and get a negative test within 72 hours of your arrival.

The Aurora Inn either for the accommodations or restaurant

The ride along Route 14, south of Geneva, heading towards Watkins Glen, parallels Seneca Lake. The best views.

That’s a tough choice to have to make, I think my 5 would be:

Bloomer Creek
Herman Wiemer
Hickory Hollow/Nathan K

My assumption–which is just that–is that the two inns where I have booked rooms would be happy to have my dollars. More a question of whether we feel like we’re breaking rules intended to keep everyone safe and healthy. I don’t want to invent a cover story for wine tasting, you know? I need to make a call on keeping or canceling my trip by mid-September, so we’ll see how it things look then!