By Patricia Canole
Like many, you’ve probably learned quite a bit about wines and Champagne over the years. How about bringing that new interest along with you on your getaway? And if you think you have to travel to Europe—France’s Provence or Italy’s Tuscany—think again. New York State and neighboring Canada have wine-producing regions where you can sample award-winning wines from red to whites, sparkling to sweet—even ice wine! Choose any one (or two) of these close-to-home destinations and you’ll have an array of cafes, bistros, and elegant restaurants to explore.
THE FINGER LAKES
This upstate New York wine-making region (about four hours from New York City) is home to 11 long and slender lakes, collectively known as the Finger Lakes. In addition to quaint towns on the shores of such lakes as Seneca and Cayuga and vast apple and peach orchards, the area now boasts more than one hundred wineries.
Along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, visit Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars (lamoreauxwine.com), where you can sample the delicious sparkling wine. Try peach-infused Chardonnay at Caywood Vineyards (caywoodvineyards.com), whose centerpiece is an 1800s barn. Along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, pop into Swedish Hill Vineyard (swedishhill.com) for a tour and tasting. The Riesling with a floral aroma and a crisp finish is so good you’ll want to bring home a bottle (or two).
Enjoy the lakes with activities like kayaking, canoeing, and swimming. History lovers will be astounded by the wealth of fascinating and well-preserved history in Cayuga County. Marvel at the Tiffany-designed stained-glass in the Willard Memorial Chapel (willard-chapel.org) and see where Harriet Tubman settled after her numerous trips on the Underground Railroad rescuing slaves.
WHERE TO EAT
Have lunch at the Knapp Vineyard Restaurant (knappwine.com) on Cayuga Lake and be sure not to pass up the jumbo crab cakes. For fine dining, there’s Edgar’s restaurant at the Belhurst Castle (belhurst.com) where dinner is paired with Belhurst’s own wine.
WHERE TO STAY
On Cayuga Lake, Annie’s Guest House (aghaurora.com) welcomes families (yes, you can rent the entire house!). Blooming gardens and a picnic table are just a few shorts step from the back door. An inviting front porch has a breakfast table and rocking chairs. On Seneca Lake sits the intimate Geneva on the Lake (genevaontelake.com), which features grand marble fireplaces and carved wooden ceilings. There are also manicured gardens and a swimming pool. Also well-noted is The Stone’s Throw Bed & Breakfast (astonesthrowbnb.com) in the town of Interlaken. Here, you’ll enjoy a bountiful farm-to-table breakfast and incredibly delicious biscotti (it’s the real thing) and cappuccino in the afternoon. Pillow top beds help refresh and restore.
The North Fork of Long Island has quietly been emerging as one of the premier East Coast wine-producing areas. Today, there are more than 25 wineries to explore, as well as cozy nautical villages with white clapboard houses, romantic inns and farm stands selling delicious fresh produce.
Bedell Cellars (bedellcellars.com) is located on 57 acres in the town of Cutchogue in the heart of the Long Island Wine Country. The vineyards produce varietals like Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. Nearby, the Castello di Borghese Vineyard & Winery (castellodiborghese.com), owned by a descendant of the Italian Borghese, produces Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs. In Mattituck at Shinn Estate (shinnestatevineyards.com), you can find excellent Merlots.
Go back to your childhood with a round of mini golf at Tick Tock Mini-Golf (drossosmotel.com) in Greenport Village, complete with kitschy windmills and lighthouses. Stop by the snack bar for frozen custard.
WHERE TO EAT
One of the top restaurants in Greenport is the Frisky Oyster (thefriskyoyster.com), where a seasonal menu might include grouper with lobster potato hash and prosciutto-wrapped scallops.
WHERE TO STAY
The area’s newest luxury hotel, the Greenporter Hotel (thegreenporter.com), is a restored ‘50s motor lodge with rooms boasting Frette linens and mid-century chairs. In Jamesport is the Jedediah Hawkins Inn (jedediahhawkinsinn.com), a delightful inn in a restored mansion, whose six opulent rooms overlook picturesque flower gardens and rolling farmland.
For more info on New York State, visit iloveny.com.
Technically, this wine-making region isn’t in New York State, but rather just over the New York/Canadian border in Ontario (one hour from Buffalo, two hours from Toronto). After a day of touring the wineries, explore the beautiful Victorian town on the shore of Lake Ontario. Plus, you’re just twenty minutes from the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls!
Rent a bike with tour wineries like Reif Estate Winery (reifwinery.com), a 125-acre estate where you can order the cheese/wine sampler—a flight of four wines and local cheeses. Canada is known for its ice wine, and the most famous place to sample this unique wine (made from frozen grapes) is Inniskillin (inniskillin.com) whose tasting room is in a restored Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired barn.
From April through November catch a play from George Bernard Shaw in local theaters as part of the Shaw Festival. And be sure to visit the mighty Niagara Falls—take the Maid of the Mist boat trip where you can get up close and personal with the thunderous falls.
WHERE TO EAT
Zee’s Grill (zees.ca) housed in an enchanting Victorian house with a white picket fence; the menu features pan-roasted Lake Erie pickerel. And join the crowd at Shaw Café & Wine Bar (shawcafe.ca) dinner for two $100), with a large statue of the Irish writer outside. Enjoy burgers or baguettes for lunch and roasted chicken with apricot couscous for dinner.
WHERE TO STAY
The 110-room Prince of Wales (vintage-hotels.com) dating from 1864 is a town landmark. Have tea in the Drawing Room, take a dip in the indoor pool and have a massage at the Secret Garden Spa. The Charles Inn (charlesinn.ca) housed in a Georgian mansion has 12 rooms (four poster beds, fireplaces, artwork) and a lovely verandah where you can relax with a glass of ice wine.
For more info on Canada, visit canada.travel.com.