The Seneca Lake Wine Trail consists of a collection of member wineries producing award-winning wines made entirely from grapes grown in the Seneca Lake AVA (American Viticultural Area). From grape-growing to production, the Seneca Lake Wine Trail is one of the largest cohesive wine trails in North America where you're guaranteed to be sipping wine from the Seneca Lake terroir, or the natural environment from which a wine is produced, involving factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.
Meads, Ciders, and Brews - Oh my!
Besides being a haven for some unforgettable wineries, you can also find breweries, cideries, and even a meadery alongside the stunning scenery of lush vineyard landscapes and Seneca Lake. Earle Estates Meadery, Cider Tree at Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Wagner Valley Brewing at Wagner Vineyards, and War Horse Brewing and Red Apple Bombshell Hard Ciders at Three Brothers Winery & Estates are a few not to miss.
The Deepest Lake
Seneca Lake is not only the largest of the glacially-formed Finger Lakes, but is also the deepest lake within New York State. At 630 feet in depth, Seneca makes up 50% of the water in the Finger Lakes region. The depth of the lake helps moderate temperatures and contributes to the relatively mild climate every season. Seneca Lake’s southeastern shores are known as the “banana belt” because the afternoon sun lingers through the summer on its high, steep, shaley, west-facing slopes, making this small microclimate within the region unusually warm.
These conditions contribute to the favorable terroir which makes it ideal for grape growing and provides the perfect conditions for the cultivation of delicate Vinifera grapes used in wines like Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and other award-winning hybrids and varietals familiar to the region.
The Towns of Seneca Lake
In addition to scenic views, wineries, waterfalls, and parks, there are charming towns along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail that are great stopping points.
At the northern tip of Seneca Lake you’ll find the town of Geneva, and at the southern tip is Watkins Glen, home of Watkins Glen International, the birthplace of American Road Racing, and of the waterfalls and trails in Watkins Glen State Park. Explore the town for lake views from Seneca Harbor, or take in the eateries and shops downtown. There are plenty of lodging options with easy access to all the Seneca Lake Wine Trail has to offer. Try the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, recently named America’s Most Beautiful Waterfront Hotel by USA Today readers, for lake luxury at its finest.
Fun Activities on Seneca Lake
From kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, boating, or riding aboard the historic ‘True Love’ Schooner at sunset, there are tons of fun activities to enjoy on and around Seneca Lake.
Explore the hiking trails along 19 cascading waterfalls in under 2 miles in Watkins Glen State Park.
Drive along Route 414 in Burdett and come upon the gorgeous roadside attraction of Hector Falls. You can safely pull over and get a close-up view, and you can catch a glimpse of the lower cascading falls from the lake.
The Seneca Lake Wine Trail is not just a summer destination. Tasting rooms, restaurants, and lodging are open year-round. Fall harvest time is an event within itself and different year-round holiday activities keep the region festive and fun. Outdoor lovers will always find plenty to do in the region, no matter the season.
There are lots of eateries to choose from as you explore the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Driving up from Watkins Glen, on the west side on Route 14, you’ll find Veraisons Restaurant at the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars, offering a new local menu each season along with a gorgeous view of Seneca Lake that’s perfect any time of year. Just up the road, don’t miss the FLX Wienery, a favorite for its eclectic choice of “upscale fair food” options and always friendly service.
On the east side of Seneca, traveling north on Route 414, at the Ginny Lee Café at Wagner Vineyards, you’ll find their beautiful view pairs perfectly with a menu of lunchtime favorites. Down the road, Elf in the Oak offers a great selection of salads and sandwiches to keep you energized, and Stonecat Café is a beloved farm-to-table experience with a Sunday Jazz Brunch you won’t want to miss. Grist Iron Brewing Company offers cold beer, local music, and great food (the wings are a must!). Many of the wineries on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail offer locally-made cheeses and other snacks to keep you satiated. Fox Run Vineyards, Three Brothers Winery & Estates, Belhurst Estate Winery, and Ventosa Vineyards all have restaurants on site. Be sure to check their listings for seasonal hours.
More Amazing Attractions
If wineries, breweries, distilleries, meaderies, lake activities, waterfalls, auto racing, and a state park weren’t enough reasons to make this a remarkable destination to explore, the Seneca Lake Wine Trail is just a short drive from some incredible small towns. Cities and villages throughout Finger Lakes Wine Country, such as Hammondsport, Corning, Penn Yan, Owego, and Elmira, offer outdoor activities, performance venues, museums, shops, dining, and much more.