Three Cheers for Riesling

how three wineries in the Finger Lakes managed to turn me into a Riesling drinker

with our favorite stops along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail + Beyond


Happy spring everybody amiright!?

There's really nothing like a Nor'easter to close out March on the east coast. I manage to jinx myself every year, when at some point I mention that I shouldn't get too excited for spring because there's usually a snow or ice storm on my birthday. With my birthday just hours away, it looks like I was right - again! Shocking. Since I have ample reason to have an extra glass or wine of two, this post couldn't come at a more perfect time. We just got back from a couple of days exploring the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, with various stops at amazing restaurants and other wineries on some nearby lakes along the way.

Now if you'll allow me to get nerdy for a moment, the beauty of blog analytics is that I know if you're reading Better Happier regularly, or if you follow me on social media you are more likely to be located in one of these three places ...

Rochester, ny  
Philadelphia, PA
New York City

Why is this important? Because you're all very, very close to Finger Lakes Wine Country, and I'm taking it upon myself to tell you that  it has changed a lot in the last ten years. Unsurprisingly, you might not be hip to this bit of info. It's an overlooked region that even us wine nerds, (with an added bonus that I'm originally from the area) only recently started appreciating. We're part of wine clubs in Sonoma, and Long Island, and never fully paused to explore the wineries that are in our own region, until now that is. It's amazing to see winemakers taking full advantage of the grapes that thrive, various microclimates, and experimenting in interesting ways to create other notable wines that may seem unusual to those who think they already know what to expect from the area. In all honesty, you might not know the half of it. 


You may remember seeing pictures from our trip last summer - we had a super fun weekend on Cayuga Lake, where we stayed in some picturesque lakeside cabins, and hung out on a boat. This time in the region, we went a little more in depth, seeking out the more serious tasting experiences with wine that we knew would be dynamic and interesting. This trip also came along with some very inhibiting weather, and since it was super chilly and not hospitable for being outdoors, it was the perfect excuse to seek out cozy indoor spots and try to fit in as many tasting experiences as we could.

I was decidedly not a riesling drinker before the tasting experiences we had at Boundary Breaks, Atwater + Ravines. When I thought of riesling before I thought of all the really bad riesling I've had. The ones that are sickly sweet, lack balance and leave me questioning who is actually interested in drinking this stuff. What I learned after having outstanding riesling is it really is all about balance. I was super happy with glasses that went from bone dry to relatively sweet, and by the end of our trip, nobody was more surprised than me ...

If I had to sum up my new found love of riesling in one word, it's nuance. Each wine had its own complex thing going on that was impossible not to appreciate. The ones that excited us the most (also the ones that Robert brought home more than our industrial sized wine shelves can accommodate...) were the Extra Dry Riesling from Boundary Breaks, Dry Riesling from Ravines, and Skin Fermented Chardonnay + Skin-Fermented Gewürztraminer from Atwater. 

In terms of food + wine bars, if you're gluten-free, I cannot recommend Kindred Fare highly enough. Nearly the entire menu is GF friendly and you can have things you usually can't, like fried chicken and calamari. Pitter patter went my heart when I found that out. Another incredible dinner + drinks option on the other end of the lake is Hand + Foot. We had randomly stopped in there for lunch a couple of summers ago on our way to a wedding, and the food was just as good as we remembered. The beer / spirits / cocktail selection is spot on, meaning that when you need a break from wine you are more than covered. If you're looking for an intimate wine + cider tasting experience, Graft Wine Bar is your place. The menu is small, with impeccable attention to detail, with local wines and ciders to pair with each bite. 

Thank you Seneca Lake Wine Trail for hosting our exploration of the region!


wineries of note

where we had the best experiences + of course, wine
along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail


interesting eats

from north of Seneca Lake to south
these places stood out for food, beer + cocktails

• Hand + Foot 
Corning, ny  

• kindred Fare 
(amazing for gluten-free!)
geneva, NY

• graft wine + cider bar 
watkins glen, ny