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20 July 2011
Three unexpected Finger Lakes finds
recommendations for a spare afternoon in NY

I was prepared for the worst.

Upstate New York hadn't been on our short list of weekend getaways, but we sucked it up, Did The Needful, and drove up to Wayland, NY, for a family wedding in June. Honestly, we went under protest. So it was an extra-pleasant surprise to spend a few delightful hours on Sunday afternoon, soaking in the fresh lake air and listening to the grapes grow. I might actually consider going back sometime soon!

overlooking Keuka Lake
overlooking Keuka Lake

If you happen to find yourself with a spare afternoon in the Finger Lakes region, here are a few recommendations:

1) Stay
Cohocton Valley InnBecause of its proximity to the wedding festivities, we wound up staying at the kooky Cohocton Valley Inn. Somewhat reminiscent of the Bates Motel, this family-run B&B is in a great location right off I-390/Route 15 . Kim, its friendly if somewhat xenophobic proprietor knows all the goings-on in the region and can recommend four regional festivals at the drop of a hat. (Just don't get her started on all the "foreigners" overtaking nearby Niagara Falls!) Our room was clean and comfy, albeit somewhat antiquated. The old-school plumbing fixtures and fussy bedspreads reminded me of a visit with a favorite maiden aunt. For around $60 a night per double, including free wifi and excellent coffee, we would definitely stay there again on a Finger Lakes redux.

2) Eat
San Carlos Mexican RestaurantWe decided to spend our free afternoon doing some winery-hopping. En route to the wine trail, we made a random stop at a Mexican restaurant along Highway 54 in Bath. San Carlos prides itself on locally-sourced ingredients, and the slogan on the servers' tshirts proclaims "Cocinamos con pasion!" They have excellent housemade salsa and even better guac, the kind where you just can't stop munching even though you know you should save your appetite for the main dish. It turned out to be a great place to chase away the wedding hangover and prepare for an afternoon of more drinking!

Bully Hill Vineyards

3) Drink (and chillllllllax...)
We had one false start at Pleasant Valley Wine Company, which just happened to be the closest winery to where we started. The wines were sickly sweet enough to cause cavities and the weird little museum next to the tasting was fusty-dusty. After this less-than-auspicious beginning we headed to the next winery, which had been recommended by our server at San Carlos. A subsequent road closure and scenic detour later, we finally ended up at our destination, which was worth the work: Bully Hill Vineyards, where the staff are cheeky and the wines are actually worth drinking. Even the corks are sassy, emblazoned with slogans like "Wine with laughter" and "Wine with honesty." A festive gent named Woody poured our wines, cracking goofy jokes the whole time, clearly having a blast and loving his job. We splurged on the a la carte tasting menu, where you can have your choice of wines at a buck a taste, rather than go with the standard $5 tasting lineup. I highly recommend this, as you get to taste some of their premium wines like the St Croix red. (Yum!) Afterwards, we ended up at the winery restaurant, with a fantastic view overlooking Keuka Lake. Baked brie + a glass of tart green apple Verdelet = a sublime way to end a surprisingly excellent day.

After this lovely afternoon, I realized I hadn't given the Finger Lakes region its due. According to our Finger Lakes Wineries map, there's not only a wine trail but a cheese trail as well! And supposedly a new Finger Lakes Wine Map app is coming soon. We'll definitely need to go back for a full weekend of fun.

By the way, I'm trying something new, and sharing this photo album via Google+. Haven't joined the plus-party yet? Drop me a line and I'll send you an invite.

Cohocton Valley Inn
33 Maple Ave
Cohocton, NY 14826

San Carlos Mexican Restaurant
7500 New York 54
Bath, NY 14810-9526

Bully Hill Vineyards
8843 Greyton H. Taylor Mem Dr
Hammondsport, NY 14840

* view
all photos from this excursion
Finger Lakes Wine Trail
San Carlos Mexican Restaurant Facebook page
* Bully Hill Vineyards site and Facebook page
* WanderFood Wednesday: Finger Lakes Finger Food

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