Sometimes you go to a bar or restaurant for a drink and try something new and wonder, where did that come from? That happened to me recently when I was at Lake Drum Brewing in Geneva, trying a flight of hard ciders from the region. One in particular stood out. It was a pleasantly spicy and alluring ginger cider, sweet but not cloying, and it tasted great with the popcorn I was eating. I could imagine it tasting even better with some Chinese food. I was thrilled when I discovered that the producer, Star Cider, is just a few miles away in Clifton Springs.

With purple fire hydrants dotting the downtown streets and vineyards defining its hills and valley, the village of Naples takes its grapes, and grape pies, very seriously. These inky purple pies are the unofficial mascot of the community, sold at roadside stands and at farm markets during harvest season and at small retail shops throughout the year. There's even a local pizzeria that has a grape pie pizza on its dessert menu.

After a long, hot summer that saw very little rain, I assumed that the late September afternoon I would be hosting a travel writer from Nashville, Tennessee, would follow suit, and I would be able to show her the splendor of Indian summer in the Finger Lakes.

I had plans to take Alex, an editor at an online women’s lifestyle publication in the Southeast, kayaking on Canadice Lake, and John Kenney, owner of Canadice Lake Outfitters, was going to be our guide.