Thank you Mary! In 1981 Mary Plane of Plane's Cayuga Vineyards (currently known as Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery) needed a boost in order for her winery to survive. So she decided to band together with four other local wineries to create what would become America's first organized wine trail - Cayuga Lake Wine Trail!
Cool Facts about the Lake
The vineyards are mostly planted on the western side of the lake and are comprised mainly of limestone and shale soils. The eastern facing, steep sloping hillsides provide a unique micro-climate that allows for extended sun exposure and growing season.
In 1987 Cayuga Lake was the first in the Finger Lakes to be awarded the American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation. Today you will find 28 wineries within the region.
The lake itself is the longest of our glacial lakes at just under 40 miles. The average width is around 1.7 miles (3.5 miles at widest point) and the water is 435 feet at its deepest point. The lake has two islands, Frontenac and Canoga. In addition, the lake is named from the native Cayuga tribes of the area.
About the Wine
Starting on the north-eastern side, just past Union Springs you will find one of the area's true gems -- Heart & Hands Wine Company. Known for its small lot, boutique wines that are terroir driven, powerful and premium.
From there travel south to a winery that excels at producing red wines -- Long Point Winery. With nearly two times as many red wines, you will want to try the Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah while at the tasting room.
The next winery must make your list as it has it all; wine, beer, food, music, events and fun! Welcome to Treleaven Wines*. Located in King Ferry, you may know this winery formerly known as King Ferry Winery. Stop in and see why it's so popular.
Expert Tip: Due to this lakes size and length, stay within a defined area when touring and choose between either the east or west side.
Let's go West Side
Starting from Ithaca you'll first want to experience the blue barn of Bet the Farm Winery*. We recommend you bring along a chair, blanket and picnic on the expansive lawn to enjoy their Wine and Food Flight.
Frontenac Point Vineyard & Winery. As one of the founding members of the wine trail, they produce small-lot estate grown European styled wines. Sit on the deck overlooking the lake and enjoy!
Just a short drive north to find the oldest winery on the lake, the one with nautical themed wines, colorful labels and expansive wine options. Welcome to Lucas Vineyards* a producer of estate-grown vinifera, sparkling and Iced wines.
As a past winner of the Governor's Cup Best Wine, Buttonwood Grove Winery* is a must-stop destination. With a multi-level deck with amazing views, live music, great wine and log cabin rentals, you'll see why Robert Parker says it's a top ten vineyard vacation spot.
Of all the wineries around the lake, I keep coming back to Varick Vineyard and Winery*. I love the rocking chairs on the front porch and the complimentary sampling of jellies, preserves, mustards, salsas, hot sauces, dipping oils, salad dressings and BBQ sauces. Plus the wine is good too, so be sure to stop by and experience.
Other DON'T MISS places along Cayuga Lake:
Top Lake View: Sheldrake Point Winery
A Hidden Gem: Six Mile Creek Winery
Get Some Cider: Finger Lakes Cider House
Best Place to Stop for Lunch: The Inns of Aurora
Best Brewery Stop: Fleur de Lis Brew Works*
Best Distillery Stop: Myer Farm Distillery
Explore, and see what Cayuga the Pioneer has in store for you! Cheers.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Can you name two of the four other founding members of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail? Email your entry to: email@example.com. We will select 5 correct entries to win a 2021 Wine Travel Card. Cheers to winning!
* Denotes a member of the Wine Travel Card passport program