Though it took a little while to catch on, the world is finally recognizing the quality that is emerging from the Finger Lakes Wine region. While Riesling continues to dominate most people’s opinion of New York wine, the variety and craft has much evolved. But while there are some great wines and wineries in that region, the Niagara Wine Trail is showing it has just as many reasons to get people excited about New York wine.
While living in Virginia, our Western New York wine trips were limited. We would make the occasional trip during the summer, and make sure to vary our trips over the holidays. Though our stops may have been brief, we always returned home with several bottles to share with our friends in DC. Now that we’re back in the area, we’ve been making the rounds again on the trail and are very excited…..
Here are the 7 Niagara Wine Trail stops we think you should make right now:
- Freedom Run Winery – From top to bottom we believe this is one of the best wineries on the trail. We’ve only had wonderful experiences, and the wine you’ll buy is sure to remind you of how good the trip was. The red wines are what we talk most about, with the Meritage Appassimento and Pinot Noir Quast Vineyard both worth the splurge.
- Leonard Oakes Winery – Truly one of the staples of the trail, Leonard Oakes Winery goes far beyond expectations with red, white, orange, sparkling, cider, and more. Among their most noteworthy is the Steampunk Cider, which has an individual following and has been reviewed by the New York Times. A recent favorite of ours is the Rosé Cider.
- Chateau Niagara Winery – If I can only say one thing about this winery, it’s that Jim Baker really cares about his wine. Not only that, but he cares about the trail. If you like red wine you’re going to leave with the Cabernet Franc, Bull’s Blood, or possibly one of each. There are some exciting and rare wines that are coming in the near future, so stay tuned.
- BlackBird Cider Works – Cider might not be your focus on a wine tour, but skipping over this place is something you’ll immediately regret. The Buffalo Bluegrass should end up going home with you; we grabbed two on our last visit.
- 810 Meadworks – That fact that you might not be familiar with mead is one of the main reasons to visit. Oddly enough, honey wine has been around long before any of us started drinking wine. 810 Meadworks has an incredible variety, but don’t miss their Barrel-Aged Maple Tap – my favorite. Oh – and warm it up and you have yourself a lovely alternative to a Hot Toddy.
- Schultz Winery – To us, this stop is all about bubbles. We enjoyed a bottle of their Reserve Brut on New Year’s Eve, and always try to include them for this specific reason. However, their entire selection is well crafted, so give it a shot as well.
- Arrowhead Springs Vineyard – I want to be honest: everyone recommends stopping here. While our experiences have largely been hit or miss, it’s proximity to some of our favorites makes it easy to include. Unfortunately, some of the wines we hear so much about are rarely on the tasting menu. We’ve included it because we think there is potential here, and we are dying to hear what you think.
Now it’s time to round up the places to eat while making your stops along the trail. Stay tuned…