Updated: Jul 17, 2020
With wineries beginning to re-open, a sunny weekend made for the perfect time to go Seneca Sippin'. A leisurely trip around the northern tip of Seneca Lake is just what we needed to get out of the house. Like we needed an excuse to enjoy some wine?
Stop #1 @ 11:45 am, Sunday, June 14th
The first stop on our wine adventure is Zugibe Vineyards, located along the eastern side of Seneca Lake (just about six miles from Geneva). First impression: beautiful location, chill vibe and the view from the Adirondack chairs on the back porch is amazing.
Wine tastings are $5 for five wines, mimosa tasting for $6 includes five varieties, and they have rotating beer taps. On this day, they were featuring Lake Drum Brewing from Geneva.
I opted for a glass of the 2017 Cabernet Franc (go with the strength of the region), while my tasting partner was intrigued by the mimosa flight. The tasting room manager (Ashley) was very knowledgeable and helpful. I asked a few very specific questions about this vintage of Cabernet Franc, which she answered with great ease.
The wine was as expected. Jammy, showing bright red fruits, vegetal notes with a distinct leather/smoky nose. Having been aged for 17 months in Hungarian Oak (which they also use for Lemberger) nicely compliments and accentuates the peppery/spicy finish which is distinctive of this varietal. Alcohol is 12.5%, the wine is medium-plus acidity, medium-plus tannins, medium in body and shows a nice ruby color.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Bottle cost: $17.99.
At Zugibe, you will also find a few cheese pairings. We went with the "Cheese Pack" featuring fellow Wine Travel Card destination Sunset View Creamery.
Expert Tip: Reservations are not required and groups of only up to 8 are allowed. Winery is open daily from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm. Relax with the lake view from the back porch and check out the music/event calendar as they host many cool events (such as Zugtoberfest)!
Stop #2 @ 1:00 pm, Sunday, June 14th
Just a short ways down East Lake Road you will find a beer lover's paradise, Bottomless Brewing. The iconic re-built barn is part of the 200-year-old Johnson House Estate Dairy Farm, which you can still tour right next door.
The tasting room features 10 taps which include nine beers and one cider. Tasting flights are $10 for four five ounce samples and pints are $6. Beer to go? Yes please! Crowlers are $11, a 32 ounce Grumbler is $14, and a 64 ounce Growler is $22 (glass included).
The Bohemian Pilsner caught my eye. It's a medium-bodied clean Pils that shows a malty, hoppy finish. My tour partner is not a beer drinker, so she went with the Apple Bottom Cider (which she found delightful). ABV is 5.8%, with 35 IBU's. ABV on the cider was 5.5%. Sarah was very helpful behind the taps and she made a nice impression for the brewery.
We found the dairy themed items (check out the udder in the men's bathroom in the picture below) fun and a nice pairing with the history of the barn and farm. It was our first time at Bottomless Brewing, and we will be back to check out the eats in the near future (kitchen opens June 18th).
Stop #3 @ 1:50 pm, Sunday, June 14th
Just around the corner we arrived at Ventosa Vineyards, which feels like a slice of Tuscany in the Finger Lakes. The iconic tasting room boasts an expansive back patio with amazing views of the vineyards and lake.
The focus at the winery is on dry classic vinifera wines, which are estate grown. Our tasting bar host was Alyssa, who was pleasant and informative. Once again, I selected a glass of wine, a 2015 Sangiovese which I was eager to compare to the Tuscan version. My tasting partner went the more classic route of a full tasting, which was $10 for five wine selections.
Would I regret my decision for such an unconventional choice for the region? At first glance, the wine shows a less intense garnet color than one would expect. The nose is filled with bright red fruits, some earthiness and definite oak aging. The legs are robust, with nice tearing. As I took my first sip, I was impressed. This actually tasted like what you would expect from an Italian Sangiovese (albeit a bit less round and full bodied). Red fruit on the nose (tart cherry, strawberry & fig), with hints of tobacco, thyme, leather, and a nice texturally balanced earthy/gritty appeal that draws me into this wine. Alcohol is 14% the wine is medium-plus acid, medium-plus tannins, full bodied with a garnet/slight ruby color.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Bottle cost: $37.96
Cafe Toscana does offer a few drafts and full dinner service from 6-9:30 pm Thursday through Sunday. While we did not have a nibble, the food did look and smell amazing!
Expert Tip: Reservations are not required, groups of only up to 6 are allowed. Winery is open daily from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm. Expansive back patio offers a great backdrop to enjoy. a bottle of wine. Once allowed, live music and weddings are held on premise.
Stop #4 @ 3:00 pm, Sunday, June 14th
For our last stop of the day, we looped around the tip of the lake to head over to one of my favorite destinations on Seneca Lake, White Springs Winery. The extensive wine list, along with the beer, cider and vodka selections make this stop a fan favorite.
The wine and beer tasting flights are $10 for five choices. The wine list has dry, semi-sweet and sweet selections, so there is a wine here for everyone. The wine here is approachable and reasonably priced (most expensive bottle is $21.99).
My tour partner selected a wine flight, which the highlight for her was the Glass Factory Bay Red (a semi-dry red, no oak, inky black and succulent wine, sold at $10.99 bottle).
I selected a glass of the 2015 Geneva Reserve (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Lemberger). See my theme? The wine showed a nice amount of red fruits, vegetal notes and has an earthy component. The finish was spicy and relatively short. Alcohol is 12.5% with medium-plus acid, medium-plus tannins, and is medium-plus in body with a nice ruby color.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Bottle cost: $14.99
Sylas, our host was attentive to our needs as we enjoyed the beautiful weather and the lake view from the front porch. He made a note to mention that the winery will soon be hosting live music every Saturday and Sunday from 1-4:00 pm. We will surely be back!
Expert Tip: Reservations are requested, groups of only up to 4 allowed. Winery is open Friday through Sunday from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm (last seating at 4:00 pm). Make sure to sit on the front patio to enjoy some wine and company.
We definitely enjoyed our Sunday afternoon! The wine, beer, cider and lake views were worth the drive. Be sure to take some time this summer to create your own Seneca Sippin' adventure! Cheers.