The holiday season in Finger Lakes Wine Country is one of the most festive and exciting times in the region. As the weather cools and the days become shorter, the holiday spirit fills the air and the region bursts with merry surprises!
Here's the scoop on celebration-worthy wines, local arts and hand-crafted products perfect for gifting, and festive decorations and traditions. We've created this guide to help you enjoy the best of the holidays in Finger Lakes Wine Country.
Safety Notice: This holiday season may require planning ahead before visiting many of our region’s restaurants, museums, wineries, and more. Call in advance to find out our businesses' latest guidelines or to book reservations. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing where ever you may visit in the region.
Wines Perfect for the Holiday Season
The holiday season is the perfect time to pop open a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate with those closest to you. Finger Lakes Wine Country offers a variety of great bubbly options for your holiday festivities.
Try J.R. Dill Winery Cayuga White Rise or Glenora Wine Cellars Brut for sparkling white wines. If you’re looking for a bit of color in your sparkle, try Heron Hill Winery Lady of the Lakes Bubbly Blush or Dr. Konstantin Frank Célèbre Rosé.
For wines that pair well with your holiday dinners at home, try one of our region’s dry red wines like Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon or Ravines Wine Cellars Pinot Noir. Our region’s celebrated white wines, like Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, or Pinot Gris perfectly pair with white meat like turkey. And no Finger Lakes-inspired holiday is complete without Riesling, the region's shining star. Wagner Vineyards offers a variety of Rieslings, ranging from dry to sweet. We love the Semi-Dry Riesling, which is always a crowd pleaser.
Don't forget dessert! Pair your sweets with one of our region’s fortified wines like Ravines Wine Cellars Ampersand Port. Want to sip something on the sweeter side? Try Riesling Ice Wine from Wagner Vineyards or a fruit wine from Glenora Wine Cellars.
Local Gift Ideas
Finger Lakes Wine Country is home to many independent shops selling unique items that make perfect, thoughtful gifts for loved ones. Check our small towns for great gift ideas and locally made products. The region is also full of quaint antique shops for those who love collecting valuables and items from the past.
Staving Artist Woodwork in Penn Yan offers handmade artwork and furniture made from wine barrel staves. For the wine lover or Finger Lakes fan on your list, Staving Artist Woodwork is a must visit! They also offer online shopping and quick shipping options.
For a selection of unique and locally made products check out Hector Handmade, a beloved roadside stop along Seneca Lake. Just south of Hector is Watkins Glen, home to antique shops, Famous Brands, and Watkins Glen International's The Shop, which is sure to please any race fan in your life.
Spend an afternoon in Corning’s Gaffer District where you'll find many shops on Market Street. Check out Card Carrying Books & Gifts for feminist books and small gifts, or Connors Mercantile for unique and thoughtful items for anyone on your list. Crystal City Olive Oil is perfect for the foodies in your life, who will surely delight over specialty holiday gift baskets.
Visit The Rockwell Museum, the only Smithsonian Affiliate in upstate New York, where you can find unique gifts in their shop. Just across Centerway Bridge you'll find the The Shops at The Corning Museum of Glass for one-of-a-kind, artisan glass products and gifts, many of which are handmade blown glass. You can also find household staples like Corelle ware and Pyrex.
In Elmira, visit the Christmas House located in a breathtaking Queen Anne Victorian mansion and selling all kinds of unique gifts and Christmas decor. On your way to Elmira from Corning, stop into Antiques Revival to browse their incredible collection of offerings from every era.
Most of our wineries in the region offer small retail areas filled with gifts perfect for wine lovers, as well as locally-sourced products to fill the stockings.
Stop in or call any of our restaurants, shops, wineries, breweries, cideries, distilleries, or museums to purchase gift certificates for loved ones. Gift cards are the perfect way to share Finger Lakes Wine Country if you're not able to join us this holiday season.
Holiday Festivities & Activities
Our small towns get decked out for the holidays, so plan a drive or stroll through the region’s charming towns of Owego, Elmira, Corning, Hammondsport, and Watkins Glen to enjoy the holiday decorations.
Twinkle Town at Bradley Farms in Elmira offers a drive-through holiday lights and music spectacular. An unforgettable experience for the whole family; Twinkle Town even makes a sweet romantic date. While you’re in Elmira, make a reservation at Hill Top Inn on Jerusalem Hill where you not only enjoy sweeping views of the valley below, but also witness the world’s largest lighted Christmas wreath.
Don't miss holiday activities at The Corning Museum of Glass where you can participate in a hands-on workshop making your very own blown glass ornament or snowman. While you're there, make sure to get your photo in front of their 14' glass ornament tree. Also in Corning, delight in confectionary amazement at the Gingerbread Invitational at The Rockwell Museum.
Book a wine tasting appointment at any of our region's 130+ wineries to decide which wines will pair perfectly with your holiday meals or should to feature at your holiday celebrations. Whether you check out Cayuga, Keuka, or Seneca Lake Wine Trails, take advantage of discounted shipping and online offers when shopping from home.
Find the Perfect Christmas Tree
Nothing says holiday more than cutting down your own Christmas tree. We recommend a few local farms to visit and bring the family to for tree hunting and fun. West Hill Tree Farm in Montour Falls has a field of trees to explore, art by resident artist and co-owner Joe Steveson, as well as hot cocoa and other complimentary treats. VanDerZee Christmas Tree Farm in Trumansburg offers both pre-cut and cut your own trees, as well as Christmas wreaths. Bean Station Tree Farm in Prattsburgh has over 90 acres filled with live trees of all shapes and sizes to choose from. They also sell wreaths and have a sweet Christmas shop for last-minute decorations and gifts.
There is no denying the joy in creating fun holiday memories with loved ones and we hope this guide will help in making Finger Lakes Wine Country a part of that magic for you and your family.