All Day Finger Lakes Wine Tour

I left off on our most recent Finger Lakes trip documenting a pretty epic first day staying on Seneca Lake for the Fourth of July!  But we had a lot more of our trip ahead of us, so I wanted to share the rest of trip our trip to recommend some more fun places to visit in the Finger Lakes :)

Friday morning I woke up to a beautiful, sunny morning and IMMEDIATELY knew I needed to get out on the dock to enjoy the morning beauty on the lake.  I made some coffee from our Air BnB's Keurig, put on a baiting suit, and tip toed out the front door while bae was sleeping with my kindle and coffee to enjoy the morning on the lake.

This may not sound like a big deal - going out to relax a morning on vacation...but I have to be honest.  This is a pretty big deal for me.  For so long during my weight loss journey, I was very dedicated with working out almost every single day.  ESPECIALLY while on vacation while I was enjoying extra treats and food I felt like I NEEDED to workout in order to "earn" those extra indulgences.  I've learned though, FINALLY as I've found a greater balance in my weight loss journey that it is OK to be able to just live your life sometimes.  I still workout almost everyday during my "regular" day-to-day life, so it's been a refreshing feeling to be able to give myself enough grace to be able to take a vacation and actually *VACATION.* To feel no pressure to go out and run 5 miles, no pressure to choose the lowest calorie option on the menu for each meal since I was also having a few drinks, no pressure to do anything except LIVE! It may seem trivial to some...but honestly this was just a very freeing moment for myself to just enjoy having a relaxed, no effort required morning for me :)

Anywho.  Enough of that chat ;) We decided that for our first "full day" in the Finger Lakes we needed to take advantage of our favorite service in the area - hiring a driver for the day to take you around to all the local wineries!  On our last visit to the Finger Lakes we discovered "Main Street Drivers" where you could hire a driver to come and meet you at your home/hotel/airbnb who would drive your car around for the day! It's a lot cheaper than paying for a private car service...and a heck of a lot cheaper than a DUI too. We had so much fun with our driver Steve on our last trip that we knew that we needed to book him again to have a day where we hit up a bunch of wineries and didn't have to worry about the driving portion of things.

Another nice thing about hiring a driver - they are often local and know the area well and can give you some added discounts to places you visit! Steve took us to Boundary Breaks Winery on a whim our last trip to the Finger Lakes because he could get us free tastings there.  It was never on my "itinerary" of places to visit but we really enjoyed it on our last trip, and decided to start there on our first day out of this trip! I really, really like the Rieslings that they offer and they also have a beautiful large, open and airy tasting room.  One of the best parts - the VIEW from their backyard! Both times we have visited we have had a GREAT tasting experience here!

After Boundary Breaks, we decided to hop over to Cayuga Lake while we had a driver.  We had visited Lucas Vineyards on our first trip to the Finger Lakes, and loved the easy going, relaxed vibe there so we decided to stop back over.  You can do a tasting of six wines there with 3 personal choices, and 3 of some of their popular wine pics.  The wine shop itself has a bunch of little knick-knacks for purchase  including lots of specialty dips and crackers.  Last time we came we bought some cheese and crackers and hung out in the outdoor wine area for a while snacking!  This time I bought a shirt and we grabbed some drinks to take outside. I love this Tug Boat red wine SO much.  It’s a yummy sweet red – almost Concord style.  I had a bit and then corked it up for later (it’s so much cheaper to buy wine by the bottle versus the glass up here.  Just cork the leftovers for later!!!) while Will enjoyed a wine slushy. After a little bit in the sun enjoying the far-off lake views of Cayuga Lake from our seats, we set off for our next spot.

Only about 10 minutes away from Lucas Vineyards was Americana Vineyards.  This place was recommended by a friend of mine, and I was excited to try it out for my first time! It has a very rustic/wood/down to earth feel inside.  Make SURE you grab samples of the fudge available in the tasting room – big props to our driver Steve for letting us in on that little tip ;)  Our experience here was just ok: the tasting room was PACKED and they only had two people offering tastings so overall it was very understaffed and took forever.  The wine was ok – nothing too special but fun to drink regardless.  A real plus to this place though was that you could either do a wine tasting OR a beer tasting since they offer both.  Thus, while I waited on my wine tastings, Will just enjoyed a flight of mini beer samples.  We sat outside for a bit here as well: they have a huge glassy backyard with tables and chairs (no lake views though, boo) and this Bubbling Red Rubies wine was pretty easy to drink on a hot day! I’d be interested to try them again when it wasn’t so packed.  They also have a café on site too which is convenient.

We didn’t have time for lunch though while we had wine to drink!!! Hah, actually I had packed a bunch of snacks for us to enjoy in the car – cheese, salami, grapes, crackers, protein bars, etc. so we just skipped out on a formal lunch to cover more ground.

And speaking of snacks: our next winery has one of the best snacks available on Seneca lake: Hazlitt Winery gives out free fresh buttered popcorn to all their tasters! We may or may not have eaten two bowls full during our tasting…whoops. I’ve been to this winery plenty of times but it’s always such a fun place to come back too.  Plus: we get free tastings here with Steve our driver and it’s very centrally located to other wineries on Seneca Lake so it’s always worth a stop.  I actually learned some history our their famous selling “Red Cat” wine from our driver that had to do with its…um “aphrodisiac” qualities, hah! If you want a good time, ask your taster about it and you too can participate in this fun little chant with strangers, lol.

The great thing about strangers in the Finger Lakes though, is that when wine is involved, they are never strangers for too long :) After our tasting we headed outdoors to the outdoor “Oasis” that Hazlitt offers with a bar, wine slushy machine, and various snacks and easy meals available.  We settled onto some outdoor couches with our driver and enjoyed some slushy’s while chatting with my new red-cat-chanting friends.  This is a fun outdoor area to comfortably relax at and a lot of Friday evenings during the summer the Oasis stays open late and has live bands come play music.

We were not staying late this Friday though…because we still had more wineries to hit up! I honestly think that a big part of the fun of the Finger Lakes is the ability to hit up SO many different wineries because of how close together they are.  Especially in this area – just a quick drive away from Hazlitt was Atwater Winery which has one of the most gorgeous views of Seneca Lake that I have experienced.  We only went in and out for a quick tasting here because their outdoor deck that overlooks the lake was filled with people (no chairs available!) but I bought a few of my favorite bottles from here to take back home.  In the summer, Atwater often stays open until sunset on their outdoor deck offering wine and cocktails: we did that on another trip to the area and I LOVED getting to watch the sunset over the lake!

Finally, the last winery on the EAST side of Seneca Lake we hit up was J.R. Dill Winery.  This was actually the first winery that Will and I visited on our first trip to the Finger Lakes together and we both REALLY enjoyed it.  We both really enjoyed a variety of the wines they offered and they also have a great down-to-earth vibe.  And check out that beautiful tasting wine bar: so much lovely sea glass inside of it! We bought multiple bottles of wine to take back home from here!

At this point, it was just about 5PM which is when a lot of the wineries start closing.  We piled back into the car, and Steve suggested one more place to visit that he could get us free tastings at which was open until 8PM on Fridays! It was on the way back to our Air BnB, so of course we said WHY NOT and headed into Magnus Ridge Winery. Thanks Steve for grabbing our picture outside first, because this is where I STOPPED taking pictures for the rest of the night, hah.

 I'm really glad we stopped here though: they have a really nice tasting option where they paired all of their wines with a small sample of cheese which were all REALLY good.  They also paired one with some kind of bread with a tomato oil/vinaigrette/bruschetta sampler which was AMAZING.  We ended up grabbing some cheese and crackers here after the sample and sat outside with another couple we met for almost an hour chatting with them. It’s pretty easy to make friends up here if you are just a little personable and share your wine ;) and we had a fun time just sitting and chatting at the end of our day!

 (Pic stolen from the Magnus Ridge Winery website so you can see their cool tasting room!)

To culminate our day, we ended up at the very fine dinner establishment: “THE WEINERY.” Haha, yup! This is like a glorified hot dog shop on steroids.  Can I tell you what I ate? No.  I think I had drank about 100 gallons of wine at this point in the trip.  Whatever it was, it was delicious though, I do remember that.  HAH.  Here’s a picture of some of their grub I stole off their Instagram account, because I totally didn’t think to take any pictures here either, lol.  Fun fact: they also stock a pretty large wine bottle selection here in this little hot dog joint.  If you want to drop a $1,000 on a bottle of fancy champagne to go with your wiener, you totally could.

With full bellies and fuzzy memories, Steve delivered us safely back to our Air BnB, where we promptly went to be at about 8:30PM.  Man, drinking wine all day sure is a tough gig ;)

And we still had one day left to do it again! I'll do one more post sharing our last day up here and the final wineries we visited soon.

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