New York State

We’ve come a long way from New York’s unfortunate viticultural history of Lambrusco grapes that yielded mass-produced, bottom-of-the-market sparklers. Though New York State holds our nation’s oldest continually operating winery (the Hudson Valley’s Brotherhood Winery, all of 300 years old), it’s only relatively recently that New York wines have come into their own. Modern developments in cold-climate viticulture have helped to boost the process, as has today’s growing determination to drink locally produced wine. With every growing season that passes, New York State produces ever more coveted wines.

All of New York’s primary wine regions—Long Island, the Finger Lakes, and the Hudson Valley—can be found within a day’s drive of Westchester.  Just up the River, Hudson Valley wineries are so close that it’s hard to consider a visit “travel,” while Long Island’s North Fork wineries are popular pit stops for pricey summer vacations in the Hamptons or on the North Fork (so, perhaps not for the budget-conscious). But the Finger Lakes region (named for a series of long, narrow, glacial lakes that hang like tassels north-to-south below Lake Ontario), at about four and a half hours up the Thruway, can offer a truly luxurious, bargain getaway and an airport-free way to experience winemaking.

Stay: Overlooking Seneca Lake in Geneva, New York, Belhurst Castle is a former private estate built in the 1880s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During Prohibition, the turreted stone mansion was operated as an illegal casino and speakeasy lubricated by alcohol smuggled from Canada via Lake Ontario. Now, Belhurst is a luxury hotel with a vineyard that produces award-winning dry and semi-dry Rieslings. Rooms in the Castle start at $155 per night. (4069 Rte 14S, Geneva 315-781-0201;

- Advertisement -

Taste: Often credited with the reinvigoration of New York wines in the 1960s, Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars specializes in cool-climate Rieslings, Pinot Noirs, Gewürztraminer, and Chardonnays—in fact, Dr. Frank’s Dry Riesling and Gewürztraminer Reserve were named “Must Try” wines in Food & Wine magazine’s Wine Guide 2013. Dr. Frank’s tasting room, in the former home of its founder, Dr. Konstantin Frank, is lined with windows that offer breathtaking views of Keuka Lake. (9749 Middle Rd, Hammondsport, NY 607-868-4884;

Also in Hammondsport, there is the Keuka Lake tasting room of Ravines Wine Cellars. This winery was recently touted by New York Times wine columnist Eric Asimov as one of the best producers in an up-and-coming region of world-class Rieslings. The Ravines Keuka Lake tasting room is open from 10 to 5 pm daily from Thursday to Sunday—also, in summer, look for the Ravinous Kitchen, a restaurant that offers small plates of locally sourced cheese and other foods geared to pair with wines. (14630 State Rte 54, Hammondsport NY 607-292-7007;

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard is another Finger Lakes heavyweight producing critically acclaimed Rieslings to a growing number of fans. Wiemer’s  Dundee winery conducts tastings seven days a week in summer. Also, amateur winemakers can buy grafted grape vines in its attached nursery—they’re ideally suited to our New York State climate. (3962 Rte 14 Dundee 607-243-7971;



Relax: The Mirbeau Inn & Spa offers scores of treatments in every price range, and all include access to its Aqua Terrace with a pretty whirlpool, mineral salt bath, herb-infused saunas, and steam rooms. The 50-minute Signature Massage is $130. (851 W Genesee Street Rd, Skaneateles, NY 315-685-5006;

- Partner Content -

Eat: While Chez Panisse is often credited as the restaurant that changed America’s eating, Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca did its fair share. Look for rigorously local food and wine at this casual (and quite famous) restaurant that was the inspiration for 1977’s Moosewood Cookbook, one of the New York Times’ top 10 bestselling cookbooks of all time. (215 N. Cayuga St, Ithaca, NY 607-273-9610;

Shop: The GlassMarket at the Corning Museum  of Glass offers both housewares and glass art from scores of independent glass manufacturers. Look for everything from one-of-the-kind objets d’art to tableware from elite producers like Waterford and Simon Pearce. (1 Museum Wy, Corning, NY 607-937-5371;

Off the Beaten Track: The over-eager consumption of food and wine has its drawbacks, which are mostly manifest in your growing girth. To battle the inevitable, rent a trendy stand-up paddleboard and work out your core as you skim along the scenic Finger Lakes. Finger Lakes Paddleboard ( will deliver a board anywhere in the Finger Lakes; delivery is free for Cayuga, Owasco, and Skaneateles Lakes. Rentals include board, paddle, life vest, and instruction. ($25 per hour, $60 for three hours, $80 per day.)



What do you get when you take two of Napa’s most cultish (and opinionated) winemakers and bring them together in a waterfront factory building and former turn-of-the-century Brooklyn brothel? You get The Red Hook Winery, brainchild of owner Mark Snyder of Angels’ Share Wines. Five years ago, Snyder had the foresight to unite Abe Schoener and Robert Foley with a Brooklyn-based venture. With each vintage, the two winemakers use the same fruit to make different wines. It’s wine geek bait: essentially, each vintage is an exploration of the two winemakers’ visions given the same baseline terroir. Since its debut, RHW has made 64 types of wine with grapes grown primarily on Long Island. Meanwhile, it has also has become a model for modern, urban winemaking.

- Advertisement -

Though the pier where RHW is located took a beating during Superstorm Sandy (and most of RHW’s stock was lost), the winery has reopened for business and is expected to continue making world-class wines. Look for stellar views of the Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island (plus, Sixpoint Brewery is within walking distance). Red Hook’s tasting room offers three different tastings ($5-$12) pulled from a daily rotation of wines; also look for bites available for purchase from Brooklyn heavy-hitters A.L.C. Italian Grocery, Saxelby Cheese, and super-elite Cacao Prieto. For more substantial meals, check out the Brooklyn foodie landmarks in the neighborhood, like the The Good Fork, Red Hook Lobster Pound and Baked bakery. The winery is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm for tastings, and offers tours every hour on the hour, starting at 11 am (Pier 41, 175-204 Van Dyke St, Brooklyn, NY 347-689-2432;


Julia Sexton is a New York-based restaurant critic, food writer, and CRMA Award-winning blogger who has spent many lost weeks wandering the wine countries of the world.  Check out Sexton’s blog, Eat. Drink. Post. and, this fall, look for her book, Hudson Valley Chef’s Table, published by Lyons Press, a division of Globe Pequot Press.

â–º For more from the June issue, click here.
â–º For more on Wine Country, click here.

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.