Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finger Lakes Winery Mini Review

I recently read a review of wineries in the Finger lakes by Eric Asimov, the wine critic for The New York Times. He said a lot of nice things about some wineries that I have been to, but I noticed that he mostly concentrated on Seneca Lake wineries. I spend my summers on the west side of Cayuga Lake and therefore go to more wineries there, and I drink mostly Rieslings, which is a good thing if one is drinking wines in the Finger Lakes. Rieslings thrive there, as the climate is very Rhine like.

So I decided to tell you about (in alphabetical order for fairness' sake) three of my favorite Cayuga wineries. The first is Buttonwood Grove, a winery that looks a little like a Swiss chalet and sits on a hill overlooking the lake. There are flowers all along the walkway, and half way down the hill is a pond where couples often have weddings. Outside the winery is a large deck with an awning facing the lake where you can sit and enjoy some wine and cheese. In addition to a lovely Riesling, Buttonwood Grove makes a very flavorful dessert wine, Blackberry Briar, that is a big favorite with almost everyone who drinks dessert wines. (Not everyone does drink dessert wines, but my opinion is that they are gluten free, dairy free and fat free. How can you argue with that?)

Also a long time favorite winery is Swedish Hill, on Route 414, between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, but part of the Cayuga Wine Trail. They have a very crisp Cayuga White that I particularly like. There are many Finger Lakes wineries that have a Cayuga White, made from a grape that was developed just for the Finger Lakes region by Cornell University. The wine is always one of the least expensive at any of the wineries, but because the grape is so suited to the climate the wine is often one of the more flavorful offerings and that makes it a great buy.

Last in this review, but certainly not least, is Thirsty Owl, a winery which has a bistro with both indoor and outdoor seating. The deck seating overlooks the lake and is one of my most favorite places to have lunch with visiting friends. Some family members of the owners are gluten intolerant which means that the bistro is very familiar with the diet and are able to help with choosing dishes that are gluten free. The Diamond Custard, which is served with berries, is made with Diamond wine produced by Thirsty Owl. It's a sweeter wine and very good, but the Riesling here is a real winner, as is Snow Owl, another one of my favorites, which we buy by the case to serve at home.

If you want to check out the wineries in the Finger Lakes, you can go to, or to to learn about the wineries located on Cayuga Lake. There are probably a hundred wineries in the area now, and in addition to the wineries, there are several breweries (pretty much off limits to celiacs) and some distilleries, not so much off limits to celiacs! Check it out. It's a great place to visit even if you are a teetotaler. There are fresh fruits and Farmers Markets and water sports; there are waterfalls, universities, and history. It's a lovely area and still not overly commercialized, almost a secret place, but not so hidden that you can't sit in wonderful little restaurants feeling the incredibly luck of being in the middle of nowhere enjoying a superb meal accompanied by an excellent (and local!) glass of wine


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