Introduction to the Seneca Lake Wine Trail
The following 22 minute video provides an excellent overview of our organization, member wineries and how our industry has contributed to the economic vitality of the communities in which our wineries reside.
Founded in 1986, the Senecal Lake Wine Trail is a 501C-6, non-profit organization dedicated to its member wineries. We are not unlike your local Chamber of Commerce, except where our members are all wineries, rather than the usual mix of businesses associated with Chambers. Our members are all independently owned and operated businesses, and collectively run the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and its modest business office. Our member wineries are complex businesses that require the gamut of skills ranging from agriculture/farming, chemistry, art, human resources, retail, marketing, advertising, etc. Some members employ dozens of fulltime staff running a substantial tourism based busines, yet in October can be found in the vineyards, harvesting the grapes personally. Other members are owned, and managed by multi-generational families. The wineries of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail are real, local, industrious and determined businesses that hope to help sustain a beautiful and prosperous region.
Much more information can be found about the Trail, our member wineries, events, activities and other relevant businesses and experiences all around Seneca Lake and throughout the Finger Lakes Region of western, central New York State by clicking around in this site, becoming a fan of the Trail at Facebook, following us on Twitter and signing up to receive a mere 6-10 informatively entertaining emails per year.
There are exceptions to all the following generalizations, and before embarking on a trip to visit the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and our member wineries, we encourage you to call the individual wineries themselves for answers to any questions, or the offices of the Trail itself, weekdays, at 877-536-2717.
Our wineries are open all year and contrary to popular belief, for those that are visiting to enjoy and learn about our wines, the best time of year to visit the wineries are doing the slowest months of January-April. That is not to say that you aren't welcome to visit any time of the year, but it is during the slower months, especially on weekdays, that the wineries are slowest, with senior staff at the tasting bar, making for a quietly personal experience. Winery operating hours vary, but the hours of the day that most wineries are open most of the time is 11am - 5pm. Some open earlier, others stay open later, but that is the average schedule most days. Sundays, more wineries tend to open near noon. During the deep winter some of our member wineries cull back the number of days they are open, perhaps only opening Friday-Sunday of a given week, for example. Many, however, are literally open all year long, only closing for major holidays like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years.
For 1-7 people wanting to partake in a wine tour, it's as simple as hopping in a vehicle and visiting the wineries. For 8 or more people (this policy varies by winery) it is sometimes necessary to make an appointment, so the winery can make sure to have enough staff on hand to serve your group. While there is never harm in hiring a professional liveried driver and vehicle to drive you and your party to the wineries, having a designated driver in your own vehicle is equally responsible. Wineries serve only 1 ounce samples of wine to visitors, always provide spit buckets, and so a person can also safely and responsibly visit our member wineries and drive themselves. The wineries are too far apart to be walked. Seneca Lake is about 35 miles long, with wineries positioned all around the lake, making it even challenging for the fittest bicyclists.
There is no fee to enter the wineries, and people of all ages are permitted in the tasting room of our member wineries. Of course only people 21+ years old are permitted to sample wine. Most wineries do charge a modest tasting fee, for several small samples of wine. Fees and number of samples vary by winery. Sometimes wineries will refund your tasting fee with your first purchase, though not always. Rare, however, is the winery that charges a person a tasting fee after they've just bought a case of wine, for example.
The Seneca Lake Wine Trail also markets and helps manage large, Trail-wide wine and food pairing weekend events. These popular, ticketed events typically take place at most of our member wineries, with attendees driving from one winery to the next throughout the 2 1/2 day long event. Wine is food, and wine is best paired with food. Our events highlight that philosophy, enabling participants to experience dozens of wine/food pairing samples, discovering their own new favorite pairings. Attendees can then buy a bottle or more of that wine, and using the provided recipe, introduce that same dynamic combination to friends and family back home. Our Trail Events section of this site, link above, provides more information about various individual events.
We hope you find this site useful, informative and engaging and at the same time sincerely hope your visit to our member wineries is both entertaining, educational and beyond everything else, delicious. Please drink responsibly. Also, please be kind to the staff at our wineries. Without fail they're dedicated, hardworking people doing their best to help you have a terrific, memorable visit in our region.