The Finger Lakes region in New York is home to more than a handful of small-scale wineries. The best Finger Lakes wineries excel at creating high-quality, cool-climate wines utilizing native varieties and employing sustainable viticulture. If you are looking to piece together a wine trip in the region, these Finger Lakes wineries will deliver some top-notch wines along with the stunning landscape.
Bloomer Creek Vineyard
Kim Engle and Debra Bermingham have been producing minimal intervention wines with native yeasts in the Finger Lakes for the last 30-plus years. Bloomer Creek vineyard sites are a beautiful depiction of how a thriving ecosystem reflects the subtilties and complexities of the landscape within each wine. Growing grapes on both Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, they produce pinot noir, cabernet franc, numerous rieslings, grüner veltliner, and chardonnay along with a handful of pet-nats.
After making wine around the world, Nathan Kendall returned to the Finger Lakes to establish his own winery. Working primarily with pinot noir, riesling, and chardonnay, the wines go through spontaneous fermentation and are unfined and unfiltered. The wines give a nod to Old World style and are a transparent reflection of the micro-climate of each vintage.
Heart & Hands Wine Company
Heart & Hands is situated on limestone-rich soil above Cayuga Lake. Winemaker Tom Higgins works with estate-grown fruit from numerous sites, creating high-quality pinot noir, riesling, and chardonnay. Their pinot is an excellent expression of what can come out of the cool-climate site as it balances red fruit, roses, and forest floor with subtle tannins.
Red Tail Ridge Winery
Nancy Irelan and Mike Schnelle combined their expertise to start the winery in Penn Yan, New York. With a gold tier LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, they are committed to making strides towards a more sustainable wine industry as a whole. They produce dry riesling, unoaked chardonnay, cab franc, gewürztraminer, and numerous other cool-climate varietals from Europe like teroldego, dornfelder, and blaufränkisch.
Herman J. Wiemer
One of the oldest wineries in the Finger Lakes, Herman J. Wiemer emigrated from Mosel, Germany and established the winery with significant plantings of riesling. They are making strides towards sustainability in the vineyard, avoiding using synthetic pesticides and herbicides amongst the vines. The rieslings undergo long, slow native yeast fermentations that allow for complex flavors to develop and progress over time. Their late harvest riesling is made in the German spätlese style--slightly sweet with charged acidity, balancing it beautifully.
Ravines Wine Cellars
Ravines creates stunning dry riesling from the sustainably-farmed, limestone-rich slopes above Seneca Lake. The minerality from the soil brings a lovely quality to the floral grape, rounding out the wine. Morten and the team embrace the seasonal variability and harsh growing conditions, coercing the wines to express the complexities of each vintage to the fullest.
Finger Lakes native Steve Shaw has been in viticulture for over 30 years. Shaw aims for a less intensive approach in the vineyard by avoiding pesticides and opting to hand-pick the grapes at harvest. The vineyard focuses on cellar-aged wines, producing cab franc, merlot, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, riesling, sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer, and chardonnay. In the cellar, Shaw ferments all the reds whole berry, and every wine is gently pressed so as to not over-extract, creating uniquely delicate and expressive wines.
Onyare is a partnership in wine knowledge between French-raised Thijs and American-born Katie. Each brings a unique skill-set to the winery to produce terroir-driven wines that are dynamic and evolving. Small with plans to grow, Onyare produces a noble rot riesling that is full and lush alongside a bone dry, high-acid riesling to express two unique styles. A sparkling program is in the works with a 100% chardonnay blanc de blanc soon to be released.
Inspired by the wine-growing regions of Burgundy, Chablis, Hermitage and Chinon, Element employs a minimal approach to their winemaking. Estate grown syrah, pinot noir, cab franc, chardonnay, cab sauv, and merlot make up their 30-acres on Seneca Lake. Duo Christopher and Isabel combine their experience in enology and hospitality to create structured wines along with other homemade goods at their tasting room in Geneva, F.L.X. Provisions.
Another Finger Lakes native, Ben Riccardi returned home to the southern end of Seneca Lake with a vision to create Osmote in 2014. Osmote produces energetic wines with lower alcohol, bright acidity, and eager characteristics. From chardonnay, to rosé of cabernet franc, to heirloom New York varietals like cayuga and dechaunac, these are fun and compelling wines made with a minimal intervention approach.
Exploring Finger Lakes Wineries
These Finger Lakes wineries are producing exceptional wines in this unique cool-climate region. If you are in Geneva, New York, choose a few to visit, and be sure to call ahead to book a tasting appointment and tour. Experiencing the best Finger Lakes wineries through the wine and vintners who made it is truly special.