Can there really be a National Drink Wine Day? February 18 is the magical day - every year. With all of the amazing wine available to all of us that are lucky enough to live in the Finger Lakes, we like to think of every day as Drink Finger Lakes Wine Day.

 

New York comes in third behind California and Washington, respectively, in total wine production. Approximately 80% of New York wine is produced in the Finger Lakes. It is no wonder that wine is a top draw for visitors to our beautiful region.

We like to recommend a guided tour on one of our wine trails - check out the Canandaigua Wine Trail (CWT) with our good friends at Crush on Canandaigua. Russell and his trusted crew will provide a safe, fun and entertaining tour of the wineries.

You can start your tour at Casa Larga Vineyards & Winery. Casa Larga began back in 1974 and continues with a tradition of producing high quality, award winning wines. For a unique, special treat, try one of their Fiori Ice Wines! Tours of the winery are also available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Continue on to the Finger Lakes Wine Center at Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua. Located on the grounds of the beautiful Sonnenberg Gardens and housed in the historic Bay House, the Wine Center offers 10 to 15 different Finger Lakes wines for tasting and purchase. Take in the beauty of the 1911 Tiffany-style window, the focal point of the tasting room.

Head out of Canandaigua to witness the beauty of Canandaigua Lake and surrounding hills. Make a stop at the Heron Hills Tasting Room at Bristol with spectacular views of the surrounding vineyards and the Bristol Hills. Enjoy a tasting of the Ingle family's wines served by the pleasant, knowledgeable Joshua. I recommend taking home the Ingle Vineyard Riesling 2011 - Double Gold Winner!

Feel like you are part of the Brahm family when you make your next stop at Arbor Hill Winery and Grapery in Bristol Springs. John and Katie Brahm continue on with a fourth generation family tradition of growing grapes. Arbor Hill is an award-winning producer of wine and gourmet food products. Experience a wine tasting in the quaint gift shop and sample the tasty food products. Come in as a stranger, leave as a friend!

Continue on the wine trail to the picturesque village of Naples and a stop at Hazlitt's Red Cat Cellars. Housed in the former Widmer's winery, experience the fun of Red Cat - and all of the Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards offerings.

We need to head west to our final destination - Eagle Crest Vineyards on beautiful Hemlock Lake, one of the little lakes. Eagle Crest was founded in 1872 - wow! They pride themselves on their sustainable vineyard practices and their unique cool-climate grapes, producing unadulterated wines. A visit to Eagle Crest is worth going the extra distance!

Restaurants and shopping opportunities abound along your CWT tour! Buy that special gift at Artizanns Gifts from the Finger Lakes or Sweet Expressions. Where to eat lunch or dinner? Taste the locally sourced culinary delights of The Brown Hound Bistro or Brew and Brats at Arbor Hill in Bristol Springs, Cafe Sol in Bristol Center or at the Upstairs Bistro in the The New York Wine and Culinary Center (NYWCC) in Canandaigua. I recommend taking the extra time for a cooking class in the hands-on kitchen at the NYWCC and a visit to the Tasting Room for NYS wine, craft beers and spirits.

Whew!! After a long day of celebrating Drink Finger Lakes Wine Day with wine, friends and culinary delights, I'm happy but exhausted. Time to get a room at The Inn on the Lake in Canandaigua or Hampton Inn and Suites in Victor. Prefer a more intimate experience? Visit the Mountain Horse Farm Bed & Breakfast in Naples for the ultimate in relaxation and Finger Lakes beauty. A spa treatment sounds perfect!

The purpose of National Drink Wine Day is to spread the love and health benefits of wine. Living in the Finger Lakes, we do appreciate both every day! I propose a toast from the wise Benjamin Franklin - "Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance." Let us celebrate wine, health, friends and the beauty that surrounds us in the Finger Lakes! Cheers!