Let's walk through the options for wine travel in New York. Whether it's plush tastings in the Hamptons or water adventures in Finger Lakes, there's something for you.
Planning a wine country adventure in New York? You might be surprised to know that New York has a wealth of vineyard areas making excellent wines. By the way, New York is an agricultural hotspot, so get ready for a truly farm-to-table experience.
- Where to Go
- Wine-Focused Highlights Not to Miss
- Getting There (When and How to Do it Best)
- Additional Planning Resources
Where to Go
Hudson Valley and Long Island are the closest to the city. But you might consider these additional details:
This is New York's largest wine area in terms of wineries, where more than 140 sit along the region's eleven glacial lakes.
The lakes provide ideal conditions for growing European varieties like Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Riesling. You'll find many historic lakeside towns, farms, and restaurants that offer legit farm-to-table experiences.
Nearly 100 wineries dot the swank eastern side of Long Island from the Hamptons to the North Fork. Given the maritime influence and growing conditions similar to Bordeaux, you'll find everything from Cab-Merlot blends to high-quality sparkling wines.
Other New York Regions
Hudson River Valley – Small and historic wineries line the Hudson with a selection of traditional white, rosé, and light red wines as well as rare hybrid varieties like Baco Noir, Deschaunac, and Frontenac.
Niagara Escarpment – This tiny strip that parallels Lake Ontario has unique potential for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It's just a short jaunt from Niagara Falls.
Lake Erie – The largest growing region in terms of vineyard area for America's native Concord grapes. Several wineries along Lake Erie's coast promise to quench your thirst.
Champlain Valley – Next to Lake Champlain (the nation's 6th largest lake) – the most Northern wine region. A treasure trove of cideries and cold climate winemaking with grapes like Marechal Foch, Marquette, Petite Pearl, and much more.
Wine-Focused Highlights Not to Miss
Try the dry Riesling.
New York's most famous export is Riesling. This cold hardy variety grows happily all over the state, producing world-class wines. The dry styles have rich aromatics with a lean, minerally taste that's stylistically similar to what you might find in Germany.
Some classic Riesling makers include Dr. Konstantin Frank and Hermann J. Wiemer in the Finger Lakes.
Seek out a Bordeaux-style blend.
Long Island has an ideal climate for Bordeaux varieties. It's no surprise they've made a name for themselves with Cabernet and Merlot-based blends. Two local Long Island estate wineries known for reds include Roanoke Vineyards and Paumanok Vineyards.
Still, you'll find red grapes grown on Long Island feature in wines made around the state and include rarer Bordeaux varieties like Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.
Taste New York's unknown varieties
The infamous "grape flavor" has an original, natural source: the Concord grape (aka the "fox grape" because foxes like it). Concord was bred during the 1800s in New York using native Vitis labrusca varieties (and a tiny bit Vitis vinifera).
There are many unknown-but-popular-in-New-York varieties, especially in the colder climate growing areas. Make sure you try a hybrid cold climate variety like Marechal Foch, Marquette, Seyval Blanc, and Ives.
Learn how New Yorker's do viticulture.
Viticulture, or grape growing, is challenging in New York. With epic winter storms, hot summers, and humidity, it's very difficult to ripen grapes properly (especially those favorites like Cabernet Franc or Chardonnay).
Your challenge is to go to an estate winery and find out how they make wine.
One example we found was at Ravines Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes where the winery picked two separate harvests to create the structure of a delicious Chardonnay which had both rich pineapple flavors and satisfying acidity.
Getting There (When and How to Do it Best)
Summer in upstate New York is hard to beat. You can rent a canoe or kayak in the Finger Lakes, take leisurely walks around the Great Lakes or the Atlantic beaches, and the farming scene rocks.
If you're headed to Finger Lakes, the fastest is to fly into Rochester and rent a car. Look into the towns of Watkins Glen, Ithaca, Geneva, and Canandaigua as possible jumping off spots–the larger the town, the more amenities. Most of Finger Lake's top vineyards sit between Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes.
Hamptons-side has the cushiest and luxury amenities, but it's also the farthest away from most wineries (which sit on the North Fork side). Still, it's only about an hour's drive (max) to get to where you want to be!
- Hudson Valley – Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow are exceptionally quaint and steeped with New York history.
- Niagara and Lake Erie – Buffalo and Niagara Falls have many great local food and accommodation options.
- Lake Champlain – Plan to rent a cabin on an island or close to the lake for a family adventure of wine, cider, and even maple syrup!
Additional Planning Resources
We're geeks about New York wines, but not the local experts. So, check out these additional resources to help plan your trip: