Native American legend tells that the Great Spirit outstretched its hand to bless the Earth. The massive hand fell over what is today Upstate New York and left finger-shaped indentations. These became the Finger Lakes. Anyone who visits them will believe that they are truly the result of God's blessing. Amazing landscapes, luscious vineyards, majestic sunsets, and gushing waterfalls enchant visitors to the area.

Seneca Lake is the largest of the 11 Finger Lakes. This lake is nearly 50 miles long and is situated between Keuka and Cayuga Lake. The drive from Watkins Glen at the southern tip to Geneva, New York at the northernmost point takes about an hour. Travelers flock here every summer to taste award-winning wines and walk through lakeside vineyards. Anyone planning to visit Seneca Lake will want to follow wine trails to these amazing wineries.

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West Seneca Lake Wineries

The land around Seneca Lake is so packed with vineyards that it's easiest to think about visiting in terms of east and west-shore destinations. Here's a list of the wineries and vineyards on the west side of the lake:

  • Anthony Road Wine Company*
  • Barnstormer Winery
  • Belhurst Estate Winery*
  • Bilsboro Winery
  • Castel Grisch Winery*
  • Earl Estates Meadery
  • Fox Run Vineyards*
  • Fruit Yard Winery*
  • Fulkerson Winery*
  • Glenora Wine Cellars*
  • Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard
  • Lacey Magruder Winery
  • Lakewood Vineyards*
  • Lake Street Station Winery
  • Miles Wine Cellars*
  • Prejean Winery*
  • Ravines Wine Cellars
  • Rock Stream Vineyards*
  • Seneca Shore Wine Cellars*
  • Shaw Vineyard
  • Starkey's Lookout
  • Tabora Farm and Winery
  • Torrey Ridge Winery*
  • Villa Bellangelo
  • White Springs Winery*

The wineries with asterisks after their names conform to the official Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

Anyone traveling the west shore of Seneca Lake should stop for lunch at either Fox Run Vineyards or Glenora Wine Cellars. Both of these received top reviews from USA Today for their wine restaurants.

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The Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard is the star of the wineries on this trail. Winemakers use the estate grapes from the Magdalena, Josef, and HJW vineyards. They have eliminated agrochemicals like pesticides and insecticides and rely on ecological techniques. The owners produce their wines in a 90-year-old barn. Their formula depends on indigenous yeast, long fermentation, and small lot sizes to create award-winning Rieslings. In 2018, USA Today rated it as the 7th Best Winery Tour in the country. Anyone interested in visiting needs to make a reservation ahead of time via the vineyard's website.

East Seneca Lake Wineries

On the east side of Seneca Lake, some estates have been in the same family for generations. For example, Hazlitt 1852 started as a subsistence farm six generations ago. In 1985, the Hazlitts began producing grapes and wines. Here some other East Seneca wineries and vineyards:

  • Atwater Estate Vineyards*
  • Bagley's Poplar Ridge Vineyards*
  • Boundary Breaks Vineyard*
  • Catherine Valley Winery*
  • Caywood Vineyards*
  • Chateau LaFayette Reneau*
  • Damiani Wine Cellars
  • Hazlitt 1852*
  • Idol Ridge Winery
  • J.R. Dill Winery*
  • Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellar*
  • Leidenfrost Vineyards*
  • Penguin Bay Winery*
  • Three Brothers Winery and Estates*
  • Ventosa Vineyards*
  • Wagner Vineyards*
  • Zugibe Vineyards

Visitors to the east shore of Seneca Lake won't want to miss visiting the Damiani tasting room. This winery doesn't take reservations and serves guests on a first come first serve basis for groups up to six. Wine enthusiasts will love the tasting room's flexibility since servers work with guests to create the tasting experience they want. This can even include sampling in the barrel room.

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Seneca Lake Wine Trail

In all, there are more than 35 wineries and vineyards on Seneca Lake's shores. Twenty-nine of them belong to the official Seneca Lake Wine Trail. This organization allows visitors to buy and reserve tastings ahead of time. It also periodically offers promotional deals on lodging and dining.

Making an itinerary for a wine-tasting trip is vital to having a good experience. Visiting two or three wineries in a day allows guests to try wines at a leisurely pace without overdoing it. Enthusiasts who want to see as much as they can fit in as many as six tastings, but they'd be rushed. This means that anyone interested in visiting Seneca Lake wineries should research them before making the trip and, then, pick the ones that they find most fascinating.

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