Finger Lakes (Keuka and Seneca Lakes) and wine tasting

Near (Figures 1 and 2), far (Figure 3-5), wherever you are, I believe that the wine does go on…

Figure 1. Wine tasting at The Wine Spot in Cleveland, OH.  Dr. Farren Briggs and I practiced our selfie skills while Dr. Darcy Freedman proceeded with her tasting (2016).

Figure 2. Mom wine tasting and Dr. Scott Williams wine buying at Whole Foods in Cleveland, OH (2016).









Figure 3. Mmmmm…Pinotage.  Delheim winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa (2011).

Figure 5. Enjoying my wine tasting at MauiWine in Hawaii (2017).

What can I say, I do heart me some wine.  When I am out and about, I can’t resist the opportunity to do some tasting when it presents itself.  You would think northeast Ohio and the surrounding area would be a wine desert, but I had been assured that, no, this is not the case.  Really?  Where?

Figure 4. My sister and her husband are not so sure about these whites at Esk Valley Estate, Napier, New Zealand (2015).




Why, the Finger Lakes, that’s where.





Both the Finger Lakes and wines in this region are new to me, as they may be new to you.  First and foremost, what are the Finger Lakes?  The Finger Lakes are a collection of 11 lakes in New York state that look like skinny fingers (that is, the lakes run north-south on the map).  This region has long been popular for outdoor fun for those interested in boating, camping, hiking, and the like.  Lucky for me, these regions also have microclimates that support vineyards.  Super duper lucky for me is that we’re not talking Concord grapes–no–it’s European-style Vitis vinifera that’s taken root over the last 25 years or so!  So, of course, when Steve and I decided to road trip to the Finger Lakes, wine tasting was prominent on the itinerary.

Figure 6. Enjoying the view while wine tasting at Point of the Bluff Vineyards (2017).


Figure 7. Checking out the Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery with apparently hundreds of others at the same time (2017).


Figure 8. Views from Dr. Konstatin Frank Winery (2017).


Figure 9. Finish the day with a great meal and and wine at Belhurst Castle (2017).

On this road trip, Steve and I visited the area of Keuka and Seneca Lakes along with their associated wineries.  Keuka Lake, also known as the Crooked Lake, is the Y-shaped lake ~4 1/2 hours from Cleveland.  Its neighboring lake Seneca Lake is the largest of the Finger Lakes.  We spent a weekend there in the early summer, and here are a a couple of quick notes for those interested in wine tasting in this region.  First, while each lake has official wine trails, there are actually many more wineries open to the public for tastings, so get a good map that shows all wineries instead of those associated with official “trails.”  Second, the wines in this region lean white.  A few wineries do grow grapes for red wine, but the climate does not support the spicier, full-bodied reds.  Just warning you.  Finally, like most wine trails, the wineries in the area range from the small boutique or family-owned business (Figure 6) to big operations (Figure 7).  We visited both during this trip, but in the end preferred the smaller outfits.  Also, I am more of a red wine fan, so I wasn’t bowled over by anything we tried.  Still, we really enjoyed the scenery each winery provided (Figure 8).

Figure 10. The Calendonian Highlanders — Pipe and Drum Band in Hammandsport, NY (2017).

Besides wine, the Finger Lakes offer seasonal festivals and other places of note to visit such as Belhurst Castle (Figure 9).  We happened to be there for a Fourth of July parade in Hammondsport, an event complete with fire trucks, marching bands (Figure 10), and other things uniquely small-town America (Figure 11).  And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass is a must (Figure 12).

Two lakes down, nine to go…

Figure 11.  Who doesn’t love ABBA?  Hammondsport, NY (2017).





Figure 12. That is a very large glass bunny. Corning Museum of Glass (2017).


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Dana Crawford

Professor of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences and Associate Director of the Cleveland Institute for Computational Biology, with interest in pharmacogenomics, electronic health records, and diverse populations. Also, an avid foodie!