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Sipping Along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail

Finger Lakes region is one of the best in the country for wine-tasting. You’ve got your Cayuga, Keuka and Seneca Lake wine trails all within only a couple hours of each other. So in other words, if you’re a lover of some deliciously fermented grapes, central/western New York is a great place to be. This past weekend was my 21st, so my parents, the wonderful, beautiful souls that they are, decided to take me along the Seneca trail. Starting on the southern tip down near Watkins Glen we worked our way up the east side of the lake, stopping at about 4-5 wineries of the- hear me out- 54 wineries along the way. 54!!! That’s a lot of booze if you’re really feelin it. (And trust me, some people were really feeling it. Hazlitt bridal party, I’m looking at you.)

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After flying by winery after winery in the mom van (thanks to the Steele family not being able to make a decision), our first stop ended up being at Hazlitt, which was defffffinitely a good choice and set my standards pretty high. First impressions of a Finger Lakes winery? AMAZING. In fact, I have to say it was my favorite of the day. Kinda hard for anyone else to live up to you, Hazlitt.

As soon as we opened the doors to Hazlitt we were greeted with the screams of multiple bachelor/bachelorette parties who had clearly already been out for a few hours. We were given a spot at the counter and the sweetest woman asked for my ID which I PROUDLY showed her (still haven’t gotten over this being legal thing, yet). We were given a basket of popcorn (gluten free… SCORE) and a list of all of the wines, and were told we could choose 6 to sample! SO MANY CHOICES, SO LITTLE TIME.

For my 6 samples, I chose the 2013 Pinot Gris, 2013 Riesling, Cider Tree, White Stag, White Cat and Red Cat. However, once word got around that it was my birthday, we were given free range to sample whatever we wanted, which was delicious but dangerous. I’ve always loved white over red and sweet over dry, so I steered clear from the reds with my choices (I also was wearing white pants which was clearly a smart choice). Keeping that in mind, my favorites were Red Cat, White Cat and White Stag (literally tasted like straight up Welch’s white grape juice- it’s nickname “liquid sunshine” does it justice). Favorite ciders: Cider Tree and Cider Tree Cinnamon Spice. So. Good. Perfect for the fall. Honestly, everything I tasted here was out of this world good and this was coming off of a hangover from the night before, so that’s saying something. Plus the popcorn was super buttery and they let us take home a to-go bag of it. I left with a pretty strong buzz and a goody bag of treats for the car- 10 out of 10 Hazlitt, you outdid yourself.

Hazlitt also had a super cute outdoor seating area, cafe and bar, perfect for relaxing on those sunny summer days. Not to mention The Oasis hosts live music every Friday night and takes reservations to host your own private parties!

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Next up on the tour was Wagner Vineyards, another big name on the Seneca Trail. Perched up on a hill overlooking the lake, Wagner definitely wins as far as view is concerned. We decided to forgo the sampling here and instead just order a glass and sit on the very impressive back porch for a while to enjoy the afternoon, but were pleasantly surprised when we were once again offered free samples because it was my 21st.

After a toast with the cute couple next to us, we headed outside (box of stolen popcorn from the bar in hand) and settled in for a bit. Of course a photo shoot was in order (not my fault, the view demanded it), and my mom and I put my dad in charge as photographer for the day (also our DD, you rock dad). I’m pretty proud of him for grabbing some killer shots, so naturally I have to post them and give all necessary photo cred:

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After we had finally sobered up a bit and gotten the perfect pic for Insta we headed on to the rest of our tour, crossing over to Cayuga, passing Owasco and finishing up at Skaneateles, where a delicious dinner and BLACK CHERRY POMEGRANATE MARGARITA awaited us at Blue Water. A walk on the pier later, too stuffed to barely move, we left for home, a great birthday in the books.

For more on the Seneca Lake Wine trail, or any of the other Finger Lakes trails, visit: A great day trip to add to your summer/ early fall plans!

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