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Where to Eat and Drink in The Finger Lakes

No trip to the Finger Lakes is complete without a taste of the region's celebrated wines and bountiful produce. Find out where to experience the best food, drink and scenery.
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What to See, Eat & Drink

With more than 120 wineries, breweries and distilleries spread across the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York, you'll likely need more than a weekend to discover all that the area has to offer. If you're short on time, focus on the three largest lakes: Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga. While Riesling is the most famous varietal produced in the region, wineries here are on a mission to not only perfect their whites but also prove they can compete with bold reds reminiscent of European labels. Plus, a trip to this part of the state means you'll get to experience the bounty of produce available from the many farms that neighbor each vineyard.

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For Something Modern: Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard

One of the pioneers of viticulture and winemaking in the Finger Lakes, this estate and tasting room (3962 Route 14, Dundee, NY 14837) is also an architectural dream. The original barn that Hermann Wiemer himself lived in has been completely renovated and an additional space has been added to make the overall experience a delight. Sample some of their sparkling varieties like the Frost Cuvee 2013 or stick to what they've been perfecting since 1979: Riesling. The Semi-Dry Riesling 2013 is fruit-forward while the Dry Riesling 2014 is more aromatic. The best way to compare and find your favorites is through the Dry Riesling Flight ($8), which lets you really explore the striking differences in profile among the selections. Fifteen of Wiemer's wines are available only at the tasting room, so you can choose your own adventure to explore these exclusives.

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For Something Off the Beaten Path: Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars

Overlooking Keuka Lake and off the main wine route, you’ll stumble upon one of the oldest wineries in the region. It was founded by Dr. Konstantin Frank, who ignited the “Vinifera Revolution” in the 1960s after discovering that the cold climate wasn’t a barrier to growing European grape varieties and that the problem was actually the lack of proper rootstock. In 1962, he founded Vinifera Wine Cellars (9749 Middle Rd, Hammondsport, NY 14840) and quickly became famous for spectacular Rieslings. Today, the winery is still family-run, by Konstantin's great-grandson Frederick Frank and his daughter, Meaghan Frank. Riesling isn’t the only wine you’ll want to try in the complimentary tasting; Vinifera's sparkling wines are all made in the methode champenoise style and should be at the top of your list. For something totally unique, try their Rkatsiteli 2013, made from the oldest wine grape known to man, with origins in the Republic of Georgia.

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For Something Familiar: Hazlitt 1852

You may have heard of Red Cat and White Cat, the core brands of this vineyard’s collection and the workhorses of their vineyard, which are the best-selling New York wines in the state. So, if you’re a fan, this is the perfect opportunity to swing by and visit The Oasis (5712 New York 414, Hector, NY 14841), an outside covered-patio bar serving Red Cat and Bramble Berry Slushies (picnic tables are packed in the summer months). Gluten-free fans will appreciate the unique palate cleanser between tastings: popcorn. But one of the best things about the popularity of this winery's core brands is that it gives current owners and sixth-generation family members Doug Hazlitt and Leigh (Hazlitt) Triner the chance to experiment and innovate with other varietals, like Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, and even a sherry and a Port.

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