Nordic Libations

Kueka Lake
By Stefani Jackenthal
Page 4 of 5   |  
Finger Lakes region as seen from space
ELEVEN-FINGERED HIGH-FIVE: The Finger Lakes region (courtesy, NASA)

Keuka Lake Wine Trail is the westernmost trail, sandwiched between the towns of Penn Yan at the north and Hammondsport at the south. Most of the trail's nine wineries are along the lake shore, paralleling Route 54A.

Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars & Chateau Frank is internationally renowned for its outstanding bright, juicy Rieslings. Founder Dr. Frank, an immigrant from Europe and regional pioneer, is thought to have revolutionized New York's state wine industry by introducing European grapes like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, chardonnay, and pinot noir to upstate soil in the early 1960s. Its dry Rosé, Rkatsiteli, and cabernet sauvignon have also received notoriety.

Northwest of Keuka Lake, Stever Hill Vineyards is run by fifth-generation grape farmers Terry and Kelley Nesbit, producing dry and semi-dry whites and reds, plus a rainbow of belly-warming sweet wines such as Cooper's Pink, Mae Rosé, and blueberry served in a rustic, restored barn that dates back to the mid 1800s and, now renovated, serves as the tasting room. Another "must-see" tasting room (at least according to Gourmet magazine—and who are we to argue?): the quaint, Tuscan-style environs at The Rooster Hill. This relative newcomer melds old world wine savvy with state-of-the-art equipment, crafting dry, European-style wines that are frequently paired with gourmet cuisine made from locally grown ingredients alongside artisanal cheeses and exotic chocolates. They also host winemaker dinners and music-theater events throughout the season.

Those looking for less culture and more fun should stop into Bully Hill Vineyards, where the staff thrives on telling corny jokes and leading group sing-along's while pouring a stash of eclectic wine with fun names like Fish Market White, Love My Goat, Equinox Blush, and Bulldog Baco Noir. The winery offers group tours and has a stocked gift shop with hats, shirts, and wine accessories.

Skinny-ski enthusiasts, meanwhile, should start the day at 621-acre Keuka Lake State Park. Near Hammondsport, past the snow-dusted hillsides and dairy farms, this spot is great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, with a hilly seven-mile trail that weaves through vineyard-laced slopes, fragrant woodlands, and hibernating orchards alongside frozen stretches of Crooked Lake, with a 486-foot climb to keep you honest.

Afterward, visit RobLyn's Roost (607.569.2361) in Hammondsport for a taste of local maple syrup. Then warm up with bubbling Swiss fondue at Castel Grisch Winery & Restaurant in Watkins Glen. It also serves Bavarian favorites like bratwurst, jaegerschnitzel, and burgermeister. For a casual dinner check out Wildflower Café & The Crooked Rooster Brewpub, grilling up thick, juicy burgers and salmon with salads, soups, and brick-oven pizza. Those desiring upscale fare can head to Three Birds Restaurant in Corning, with a soothing lakeside view and house favorites like toasted corn and Chesapeake crab cake, homemade pumpkin ravioli, oven-roasted New Zealand rack of lamb, and honey-roasted pecan-crusted pork tenderloin.

For lodging, Black Sheep Inn in Hammondsport is a nifty historic octagonal house with serene lighting, cozy overstuffed furniture, and organic gourmet food. While Blushing Rose Inn, also in Hammondsport, is ideal for those looking for simple elegance in a casual atmosphere.

Published: 11 Jan 2009 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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