Grapes are gold here in the Finger Lakes region! Whether baked in a delicious pie or tart, fermented to make the perfect bottle of wine or picked fresh from the vine, we love the grape in all its forms!
A Bit of History
The history of the grape in the Finger Lakes region begins in the 19th century, when Reverend William Bostwick planted grapes down in the Hammondsport area in 1829. Fast forward 200 years later, and the region is now home to more than 120 wineries and is the biggest producer of wine in New York state!
Roots in Naples
Closer to home, Ontario County’s wine history began in 1887 with Widmer Wine Cellars (now Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars) in Naples. John Jacob Widmer began the winery after arriving to Naples from Switzerland in the 1880s, and the winery was known for its dry red table wines in addition to its ports, sherries and marketed varietals like Niagara, Chardonnay, Riesling and a selection of champagnes, proprietary reds, blushes and white wines that rivaled those made in Europe.
The region’s glacial lakes and rolling hills prove that when growing good grapes, the secret ingredient is in the landscape. the landscapes cool climate varietals thrive here, particularly varietal whites like Riesling and Gewurztraminer, but also reds like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
Riesling is the most widely planted variety here in the Finger Lakes, but the award to most acreage planted goes to the Concord. Head to a u-pick site to get the grapes fresh from the vine, like Jerome’s U-Pick. Enjoy the breathtaking vistas while immersing yourself in the vineyards at Jerome’s, where you can pick grapes in addition to raspberries and other seasonal products. If you’re looking to enjoy the fruits of the Finger Lakes in another way, a visit to Joseph’s Wayside Market on Main Street in Naples brings you to one of the largest open-air farm markets in the Finger Lakes region. You’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for: fresh, seasonal plants grown right in the greenhouses, specialty gourmet groceries and baked goods, rustic patio furniture and more! This multi-generational, family-owned and operated businesses is a must visit during a visit to the Naples Valley.
Grape Pie Capital of the World
Did you know Naples is considered the Grape Pie Capital of the World? Over 70,000 grape pies are made in this small town every single year, and once you reach town limits you’ll understand why! Purple fire hydrants and grape signs line the streets of the town where the delectable grape pies, tarts and candies can be purchased.
You’re sure to spot the giant grape sign outside Monica’s Pies when you get into town! The abundance of Concord grapes launched the grape pie boom in Naples that began in the 1960’s, but today Monica’s award-winning shop offers more than 25 varieties of pies including her popular chicken pot pie. Her jams, jellies, conserves, seasonal specialties and gifts are also located inside the shop just north of Naples. Also found in the village is Cindy’s Pies, another great stop for the classic grape pie and other baked-from-scratch goodies!
From twists to gummies, and from healthy purple to tarts, Arbor Hill is a fantastic spot to sample all things grape. A stop on the Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail and ROC/FLX Craft Beverage Trail, this winery not only serves a smaller grape tart, but also embraces the grape in the production of grape twists and gummies so addicting you’ll want to buy some for the trip home! It also offers a shortcake to replicating the grape pie inside your own kitchen with its Healthy Purple Topping and Filling, a grape product that contains the natural juice pulp and skin of the grape for the ultimate topping for cheesecakes or ice cream, filling for kuchens and coffee cakes and, of course, grape pie!
Naples Grape Festival
Every year, the streets are full of grape enthusiasts preparing for the Naples Grape Festival in September! The festival is held in the Naples Valley to celebrate the area’s grape harvest and wine makers, and thousands of people come to celebrate and sample the grape pies. Starting in 1961, this two-day festival features a juried art show, wine tasting, “the World’s Greatest Grape Pie” content, live, original music, tons of food and everything grape, including pies, breads, jams, ice cream, kuchens, juice, grapes and more. Today, it is estimated that more than 30,000 grape pies are produced by dozens of bakers in just six weeks of the year!