Lakes as the readers' choice for most beautiful wine destination in the world. In doing so, the Finger Lakes outscored Napa Valley, Tuscany, the Loire Valley, Willamette Valley and Australia while absolutely crushing Hungary. You can see a Budget Travel reader pulling into town in the photo. (Just kidding!)
We concur that the Finger Lakes is absolutely gorgeous and an amazing value. Recently while traveling between Richmond and Baltimore on Amtrak I had a chance to peruse Vineyard & Winery Management magazine. A columnist had surveyed wineries on their tasting room fees. This should be no surprise, but several examples were cited of Finger Lakes wineries with $1 or $2 tasting fees (some free). This was in contrast to some of the Napa wineries where $10 was the norm with additional charges for reserve wine tastings or other add-ons.
The Finger Lakes region encompasses 9,000 square miles of rolling hills and beautiful lakes in the state's panhandle. It has 117 wineries, a concentration second only to Napa Valley. The wineries are close enough to be clustered into great wine trails and the majority of wineries have great tasting rooms and beautiful scenery.
The wine, well it is of surprising quality -- especially if you love Riesling and Gerwurztraminer that thrive in the limestne and mineral terroir. Finger Lake reds are also on the rise. The QPR (quality price ratio) really tips in favor of Finger Lakes wines. You can grab a beautiful bottle of wine for $25 or less that might cost $10 to $20 more if it came from California.
The Finger Lakes can, at times, also seem like an insider's secret. Uncrowded tasting rooms with very low tasting fees abound. You also have a good chance to meet the winemaker or owner. The Finger Lakes also can offer fall foliage that California simply cannot match. A word of caution: The word is getting out so you may want to plan on going in off-season (summer is good) because the fall can be very busy.
As you can tell, we love the Finger Lakes. We suggest you see what all the talk is about by planning a visit there soon.