Weekend Getaway from Cleveland to the Finger Lakes
- 9:00 AM: Depart Cleveland (Be sure to pack yummy snacks, download your favorite podcasts and bring plenty of water. Read my article on three travel tips for an enjoyable road trip here!)
- 1:30 PM: Tasting at Dr. Frank Wines (My mom and I LOVED this winery. It’s located right on Keuka Lake and has beautiful views of the water and surrounding area. You don’t need to make a reservation if you have a small group and tastings are FREE! I couldn’t believe this. Also, the employees were all super friendly and did a great job not only explaining the different wines we were tasting, but also describing historical information about the winery. I highly recommend stopping here and buying a bottle of Célèbre. I can’t wait to open mine on NYE. Thank you to Crystal from Eat Drink Cleveland for this excellent suggestion.)
- 4:15 PM: Tasting at Ravines on Seneca Lake (This winery is set in a bit of an odd location, as it is located smack dab in the middle of a subdivison. None the less, it is a perfect moody autumn location with the tasting room in an old refurbished barn and grape vines surrounding the entire area. It was rated by Wine & Spirits Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Wineries of 2017” worldwide. Whoa. The tastings were less than $5 a person and my mom and I really enjoyed the 2016 Gewürztraminer. Next time I return, I want to attend their communal farm to table meal at the Ravinous Table which is connected to the tasting room. Thank you to Jared from JAF Wine for this great recommendation.)
- 6:30 PM: Dinner at Kindred Fare (Oh my goodness. The food at this restaurant is so good. SO GOOD. The location is a bit odd (in a strip mall), but don’t let that throw you off. My mom and I both got the house burger and fries but the real show stopper was the soup! Don’t leave here without tasting the Butternut Squash Bisque with lime crema, cumin toasted pepitas, and chili oil.)
- 8:00 PM: Stay at Belhurst Castle (Since this trip was planned on short notice, I was limited in my choice of lodging. The Finger Lakes area is known for their quaint bed and breakfasts, so don’t expect to find a lot of large hotel chains. I was thankful to find the Belhurst Castle which is located on the northern tip of Seneca Lake. This property offers guests three distinct lodging options: Historic Belhurst Castle Chambers Hotel, Vinifera Inn at Belhurst and White Springs Manor Guesthouse. My mom and I stayed in the Ice Cottage on the castle property and were in awe of the castle’s views of Seneca lake, as well as the architecture! We enjoyed a complimentary wine, cheese and chocolate pairing at the Estate’s Wine and Gift Shop and I highly recommend trying this experience as all of the samples are local and delicious.)
- 9:00 AM: Eat a hearty breakfast at the Castle (We actually didn’t realize that they offered a free continental breakfast, so we opted to do this instead of the breakfast buffet…although the buffet spread looked like it was fit for a king and queen. How fitting!)
- 11:00 AM: Tasting at Fox Run Vineyards (We started drinking quite early and got to sippin’ at 11 AM! The wines here were a bit too sweet for my liking, but my mom thoroughly enjoyed her flight. Their tastings were about $5 per person and they also offer tours of their property. No reservation was needed for us two.)
- 12:00 PM: Tasting at Red Tail Ridge (We actually ended up skipping this winery because we needed a grape break and opted instead to drive around the surrounding area. It is VERY RURAL but also VERY PRETTY.)
- 1:00 PM: Tasting at Kemmeter Wines (If you want an intimate tasting experience, be sure to book a reservation with Johannes. This tasting was my favorite by far because Johannes not only descried in detail the various wines we were trying, but he also shared the story behind the wines. For example, one of the wines was dedicated to his pastor back in Germany and it was heartwarming to listen to the reason behind the dedication. I bought a bottle of his 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé and will definitely be saving this for a special occasion. Another big shout out to my favorite wino friend, Jared, for this great recommendation.)
- 2:00 PM: Tasting at Hermann J Wiemer (This was the first winery that we visited where we had to wait for a tasting. After about 20 minutes, we enjoyed a delightful Riesling flight and learned how all of their grapes are hand-harvested and hand-sorted. Whattt?! Wine-making is definitely an art and I appreciate the artists! Sip here for gorgeous views and delicious Rieslings.)
- 3:00 PM: Hike in Watkins Glen State Park (I had heard such wonderful things about this state park that I knew we couldn’t skip this experience. It is known for their Gorge Trail which winds over and under waterfalls, but when we visited (November 10-12), it was unfortunately closed due to cold weather and icy conditions. I’m not gonna lie…I was BUMMED, but I guess this gives me a reason to return. Instead, my mom and I hiked a few of the rim trails.
- 6:30 PM: Dinner at Graft Wine & Cider Bar (After leaving Watkins Glen State Park, my mom and I needed to find a place to stay. Did I mention we didn’t have any reservations anywhere? #Oops After calling a few places near Watkins Glen, we ended up finding a vacancy at a Best Western Plus on the northern tip of Keuka Lake. We ended up skipping dinner at Graft, which I was again a bit disappointed about, but as we were passing through the town, we noticed that all of the businesses were black. The power was out! It was a blessing in disguise and the Best Western Plus ended up being very nice.
10:30 AM: Live Jazz Brunch at Stone Cat (I had heard rave reviews of Stone Cat, but since we ended up staying on the northern tip of Keuka Lake and were driving back to Cleveland this day, we ended up skipping Stone Cat. We opted instead for a quick continental breakfast at our hotel and headed to discover the Garrett Memorial Chapel.)
12:00 PM: Tasting at Bloomer Creek (Again, we ended up skipping this winery as it’s located on the east side of Seneca Lake. We’ll be back, Bloomer Creek!)
1:30 PM: Depart Finger Lakes for CLE
Overall, I immensely enjoyed my weekend getaway from Cleveland to the Finger Lakes. The next time I visit, I will definitely go a bit earlier in the fall (late September or early October) to see more of the fall foliage and experience the Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park. I hope this article inspires you Clevelanders to hop in your car and visit this winederful region to our east.