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Not just a pretty place, the Finger Lakes are a destination for history and wine

Patti Nickell, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Travel News

For more than a century-and-a-half, the Finger Lakes have been a wine lover's paradise, particularly if you are a fan of Riesling. With more than 100 wineries to choose from, it would be advisable to do a little research before setting out (remember you are covering an area the size of a New England state).

I visited three wineries in the picturesque town of Hammondsport overlooking Lake Keuka: Bully Hill Vineyards, Keuka Lake Vineyards & Winery, and the granddaddy of them all, Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars.

Recognized by Wine and Spirits Magazine as one of the "Top 100 Wineries in the World," it has been winning awards since 1962, when Dr. Frank revolutionized viticulture in upstate New York.

If you are an oenophile, book a tasting in the winery's 1886 Reserve Room. Available June through October (Friday, Saturday and Sunday by reservation only, and a bargain at $35), it is an introduction to some of the region's most elegant and complex wines.

Another wine experience not to be missed is a visit to the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua. Through partnerships with area farmers, artisans, winemakers, brewers and distillers, it promotes the agricultural bounty of New York State.

The Center offers three different visitor experiences: demonstrations by various purveyors (the night I visited, the demo was on pairing wine with Halloween candy), cooking classes and wine dinners in the restaurant.


There was a legend among the Native Americans of the Finger Lakes region that the Great Spirit placed his hand on the land to bless it and left behind a divine handprint. Gazing at this beautiful landscape, and seeing the long, slender fingers of water, the legend doesn't seem that hard to believe.


Where to stay: Ellwanger Estate, Rochester. A family estate turned bed and breakfast.

1837 Cobblestone Cottage, Canandaigua. At the north end of Canandaigua Lake, it was formerly a farmhouse and has an attic room that was once part of the Underground Railroad.


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