With more than 200 wineries nestled along the slopes of its glacier-carved lakes, you’d need weeks to visit them all. Cool climate grapes — some of America’s best Rieslings are produced here — are the norm, but pioneering winemakers and next-gen producers are also experimenting with new varietals.
Hermann J. Wiemer
Ask locals where to go, and they’ll point you to this premier Riesling producer. This is the place to sample your way through the varietal’s many permutations, from aromatic and dry to sweet and syrupy.
Dr. Konstantin Frank
Dr. Frank revolutionized the Finger Lakes wine scene in the ’60s, when he decided to plant European varietals. Today, in its tasting room perched above Keuka Lake, the winery still pioneers new-to-the-region grapes, including trendy Georgian Rkatsiteli.
Photo courtesy of Bloomer Creek
Even before the natural-wine boom, Kim Engle was making earthy, personality-filled, transparent wines, fermented with indigenous yeasts, that change from vintage to vintage.
It’s not just the highly touted wines that draw visitors to Ravines. The winery has an excellent culinary program, pairing pours with seasonal tasting menus and bites from local farms and producers.
Photo courtesy of Sheldrake Point
Proof that the Finger Lakes can produce more than just Riesling and Gewürzt, Sheldrake Point does unusual grapes for the region, like Gamay, plus top-notch ice wines.
The East End is home to more than tony summer homes. Turns out, the beach climate is just right for growing popular Bordeaux grapes, like Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. You might recognize the names Macari and Wölffer Estate, but don’t overlook smaller vineyards where indie vintners employ buzzy winemaking techniques.
At one of the North Fork’s O.G. wineries, Eric Fry makes some of the region’s best estate-produced wines. Shell out the extra bucks to do a premium-level tasting, featuring old-vine wines typically available only to subscribers.
The only Long Island winery dedicated exclusively to bubbles (okay, there’s brandy, too) made in the méthode Champenoise, Sparkling Pointe also boasts a chic, modern-art-adorned tasting room.
This one’s for the cool kids. The South Fork winery, known for its range of pet-nats, also produces varietals like Ribolla Gialla and Teroldego, plus skin-contact wines, including a rainbow of rosés.
Founded in 1983, Paumanok has racked up awards and titles. Today, it’s a great place to lounge with a pour of its crisp Chenin Blanc and a plate of local cheese or oysters plucked from nearby waters.
Photo courtesy of Bridge Lane
Love it or hate it, this offshoot of Lieb Cellars might be a snapshot of the future of wine. Their small-batch, sustainably farmed, dry “craft wines” are an experiment in packaging, available in bottles, cans, boxes, and 20-liter kegs.