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May 18, 2007 12:21 PM

Finger Lakes Help

I'm a Baltimore hound planing a summer juant up through the Finger Lakes area and on to Montreal. I'd appreciate any advice on which wine area/lake you think is most worth a visit, which wineries to hit up AND where we should eat - both a casual lunch and a nice dinner place. Much obliged!

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  1. Hi If you are coming up route 14, Seneca Lake is your obvious choice for wine tasting. Seneca Lake also has more wineries around its shores than any other. There are great wineries on Seneca Lake. Glenora, Anthony Rd. Herman Weimer, Fox Run, White Springs Winery(new) are excellent and all have won great awards. More recently they were recognized by Wine & Spirits Magazine editor Joshua Green as producing world class Rieslings. I would lunch at Fox Run. No wait service, but the food is pretty good. I would then have dinner up the road at Madderlake. Excellent food, great service and a fantastic wine list. You can stay in Geneva, or head back down to Glenora and stay there...Geneva has a Ramada, a Hampton and some great B&B's

    1 Reply
    1. re: itune3

      Is Moosewood Restaurant still good? Haven't been there in 20 years!

    2. Geneva, NY. The Belhusrt Castle: located on Route 14; Seneca Lake waterfront: Charming, picturesque, romantic, historic restaurant and Hotel. *****; $$$$.

      Geneva, NY. Geneva on the Bay; located on Route 14; Seneca Lake waterfront. Charming, picturesque, romantic, historic Villa and restaurant and hotel.*****, $$$$.

      VICTOR, NY: Victor Grilling Co. Mark and Sue Cupolo. The dining room is not in the main tourist zone, but it's work the drive for dinner. Mark works wonders with tender lamb chops, a smoked pork rib chop, dry-aged sirloin. Creamy mashed potatoes, crisp onion rings, and a gratin of macaroni and New York State cheddar. A notable selection of local wines, such as one of the finest reds, Standing Stone Vineyards Cabernet Franc. According to Mobil Guide Black Angus rib eye steaks, specializes in pasta with shrimp. Has many microbrewery selections. Located at 75 Coville St in Whistle Stop Arcade; 716-924-1760. Reservations Fri/Sat; Bar, $14-$25 range.

      Victor, NY: The Blacksmith Shop (recommended by David Corwin) located at 7422 Victor-Pittsford Road; 716-924-9399; 11am - 11pm; Reservations required for weekend. Bar; range $11-$26; Specializes in Balcksmith's steak, poultry. Backsmith Shop Decor. A,C.D.DS,MC, V

      In Canandaigua, NY (east side of Canandaigua Lake): The Thendara Inn; 716-394-4868. 5-11pm; Labor day-Memorial Day 5-10pm; Sundays 1-8pm. Res. accepted. Bar, Wine Cellar. Specializes in steak, prime rib, duck. Pianist Thurs, Fri & Sun; jazz trio on Sat. Parking. Outdoor dining; 4 separate dining areas include Victorian and Longview rooms in main house; also porch and boathouse dineing. Cr. Cds: A, MC, V (recommended by Prodigy Member Julie Starr AQNG46B) (I LOVE THIS PLACE [Tom Shunick says]).

      Keuka (pronounced Q-ka) Lake; Keuka Overlook Inn. Terry and Bob Barrett. Breakfast of peachy French toast and sausage made by their Mennonite neighbors.

      Penn Yan (about 9 miles from Keuka Lake. The Windmill: a combination farmers' market, swap meet, crafts bazaar and country fair . Valhalla (a food stand) Try the "famous Frittatas". A huge four-egg wonder -- filled with sausage, red peppers, ham, onions, bacon, American cheese and potatoes.

      Ithaca, NY: one of many imaginative restaurants, "Just a Taste" an eclectic tapas bar; lists several dozen small savory plates and over 40 wines by the glass on its menu. Its patio is a perfect spot to spend a summer day.

      Also the, Coyote Loco's turquoise facade augured well for a Mexican restaurant. The impression is confirmed by tasty fare with nineties flair, like deep-fried, cornmeal-crusted chiles rellenos stuffed with goat cheese and shitake mushrooms.

      At Trattoria Tre Stelle, the pizzas are crisply Italian.

      Renee's Bistro (a place for Mom & Dad visits): presents an elegant room where chef-owner Renee Senne puts her French training to good use with classics like duck pate', shrimp and sea scallops with saffron beurre blanc, and tarte Tatin.

      "Still despite such delicious man-made pleasures, it's the extraordinary setting that makes the Finger Lakes unique...sitting in the warm sun on the deck at Fox Run Vineyards, drinking in the view of Seneca Lake..."

      1 Reply
      1. re: Shunick

        Coyote Loco (Ithaca) used to be very good, but it;s not in it;s old location at the station on East Hill - I have no idea if it moved or not, though I'm not finding a listing for it in Yahoo Yellow Pages

        Cabbagetown (also Ithaca) is always pretty much the same.

        I lived in Ithaca for years and was never particularly fond of CBT, but I can;t maker referrals after having been away for so long.... Unless you want Japanese/sushi, then I love Kayuga up in Collegetown (sits just below the Cornell campus)

      2. I'm not sure I agree 100% with some of the recommendations given. Madderlake (north of Fox Run, south of Geneva) is the best choice on that side of the lake. But for dining and visiting wineries you would probably be best off on the east side of Seneca, where you will find along Rt. 414 Dano's, Red Newt Bistro and Stone Cat Cafe, along with some of the best of the area's wineries. Do a search; I think they all have websites. Note that white wine, especially riesling, are the best wines here.

        Otherwise, Watkins Glen is virtually a do not eat area. Ithaca is best by far for food. Not too keen on Moosewood or ABC and Coyote Loco is long gone. My current favorites include Pangea (hard to find - do a map online), Just a Taste or Taste of Thai (at the Aurora St. end of the commons). For a good pint of beer try the bar next to Taste of Thai or the Chapter House up in collegetown. Gimme Coffee is also a must have.

        Lots of nice smaller B&Bs in the area. Do some searching on the web; Trumansburg is a nice town to stay in.

        4 Replies
        1. re: jmoryl

          I agree that Red Newt is a better place for lunch than fox run. Their wines are also better IMO.

          For dinner try the madderlake cafe...its really good.

          And for what it's worth, my top 5 Fingerlake wineries:

          1) Heron Hill
          2) Hermann Wiemer
          3) Anthony Road
          4) Lamoreaux Landing
          5) Dr Konstantin Frank

          1. re: Scotty100

            That is a pretty solid list of wineries. I would probably add to that Sheldrake Point and Hosmer (on Cayuga), Silver Thread (organic), Shalestone (red only), Standing Stone and maybe Atwater (all on Seneca) and Ravines (on Keuka).

            1. re: jmoryl

              I forgot about standing stone...they have a great dessert wine for about 30 bucks. My experience with sheldrake and shalestone wasn't that great...the reds up in the fingerlakes are not worth the money imo...the only reds I found drinkable were from Konstantins and Heron Hill. The rieslings, however, are very good.

              1. re: Scotty100

                In general, the whites are the best. Occasionally one finds a really impressive red, usually Cab Franc or sometimes Pinot Noir. The weather for several recent vintages has not been favorable to the red varieites, so there is a lot of crap wine out there from the '03 thru '05 vintages. Many producers needed to resort to buying in grapes, which were in short supply after some heavy freeze damage during the '03-'04 winter, which severly reduced supplies until last harvest. Things were back towards normal for the '06 vintage.

        2. Thanks for all the input so far! Keep it coming! I've been trying to map out a course, and it seems as if each lake is a day's tasting in and of itself, as driving around and between lakes might take a while. Is that acurate? and if so, which lake would you pick if you had to pick one - from my research and the replies so far I'm getting the sense that Seneca Lake (esp the east side) would be the best option. Is this a fair assumption? If not, what is a better path? thanks SO much!

          2 Replies
          1. re: pagoda girl

            Knapp Vinyards, on the West side of Cayuga Lake has a charming restaurant. When the weather is right you can dine on the patio looking out at the vinyards. I have not tried dinner, but the lunches are very good. I'm not a fan of New York wines, but they do a Champagne coctail with different flavors of armagnac (peach, cherry, strawberry, etc) that is worth a stop if you are in the area.
            As I mentioned, I am not a fan of New York wines. The Niagara region of Ontario produces much finer wines, at comparable or lower prices. California and Australia also have New York beat by a mile, IMHO. If you are just looking for a wine country experience, and not too fussy about what you are drinking, the Finger Lakes region is, by far, the prettiest.

            1. re: pagoda girl

              We're Anne Arundel hounds with property on the east side of Seneca in Lodi. By far, the greatest concentration of chowish restaurants runs from Hector to Lodi, including Red Newt Cafe, Dano's on Seneca, Stonecat Cafe and Suzanne's. Lamoreaux Landing, Atwater, and Standing Stone are our choices for wines. Wagner has ok beer - for wine, we only like their Reisling. We've enjoyed Red Newt for lunch. Stonecat is a casual, hip-hippieish fun time with wonderful food and a nice sunset porch out back - highly recommended (one warning - live entertainment after 9pm inside on the weekends). Dano's was featured on Opening Soon awhile back. It's an Austrian meat fest with lots of yummy sides, has an outdoor patio too - very unique and highly recommended also. Suzanne's is more dignified and quieter - yet to try but comes with great recs too. There are plenty of b&b's in the area. I'd also hit the west side of Cayuga on your way north. Lucas, Sheldrake, Hosmer, and Knapp are the better wineries. If you've got the time, check out Taughannock Falls and Ithaca. There are plenty of dining and lodging options in Ithaca, but it's not the same rural "wine country" experience. Still, we've had very good meals at Pangea, Just a Taste and Stella's. The gorges are quite nice. On our list to try is Simply Red Bistro at Sheldrake Point Winery. Once in the Finger Lakes, the region really is visually awesome and still fairly rural. Keuka is probably the prettiest scenery; but once you get through Watkins Glen (past the mill and Walmart), the east side of Seneca is almost paradise.