The Finger Lakes has been named the fourth most popular wine destination in the country by travel planning website TripAdvisor.
Being recognized as one of the top wine destinations in the country is about more than producing high-quality, award-winning wines, according to Chrys Baldwin, education director at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua. For the Finger Lakes region, it is about a long tradition of wine production coupled with a bounty of other activities that draw tourists to the region and keep them coming back for more.
“We have a long history of wine production and agriculture in the region,” said Baldwin. “Half the wineries in New York state are in the Finger Lakes...I think it’s been a very long process. The bar is up, but it’s always been strong.”
Travel planning website Trip Advisor has named the Finger Lakes the fourth most popular wine destination in the United States and the top East Coast wine destination. The results are based on millions of traveler reviews and opinions on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, for local wineries, restaurants, attractions and accommodations.
The Finger Lakes was ranked fourth after Sonoma County and Napa Valley in California and the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
“We live in such a great area and such a wonderful wine region,” said AJ Shear, communications manager of the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection. “It all kind of ties together nicely...As much as people love wine, they’re going to come for other things to do.”
He said that in addition to wineries, there are many other tourist draws in the Finger Lakes, including bed and breakfasts, shopping, restaurants and outdoor recreation.
Tim Moore, owner of Inspire Moore Winery in Naples, said “the pristine beauty and the lakes” bring in a lot of tourists, in addition to the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail and the numerous restaurants that use locally-grown products.
“There’s a wide variety of activities, not only visiting the wineries and the vineyards,” said Moore, whose winery celebrated its fifth anniversary in July. “There’s so much to do in such a small, little region.”
He said there is a strong community locally within the wine industry and support from local universities, including Finger Lakes Community College and Cornell University, which both offer viticulture programs.
Baldwin said the wineries along the Finger Lakes’ four wine trails — Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga — have done well to promote themselves through marketing and events such as the Riesling Festival, held in August in Canandaigua. And lots of local restaurants and hotels give Finger Lakes wineries a leg up by only serving local wines, she said.
“We have this whole local movement and awareness by consumers to buy local, eat local,” she said. “Wineries see the benefit from it, too. It’s not just the wine — it’s the whole foodie experience.”
Page 2 of 2 - She added that most of the wineries sell the majority of their wine at their wineries, as opposed to through retail outlets.
“It brings people into the area and brings awareness of the great winemaking,” she said.
One of the things that makes Finger Lakes wineries stand out, said Shear, is that there is a personal touch compared to other wine regions. It’s common, he said, when you visit a winery that the person who hosts the wine tastings is the same person who made the wine.
“We’re involved from the ground up in regards to our business,” he said. “One thing about our area is that we really educate people about the region and the new varieties. The tasting room kind of turns into a classroom. We try to focus on educating our consumers and teaching them something new.”