Wine  Touring  Tips


Heron Hill Winery

With over 120 wineries in Finger Lakes Wine Country, how do you choose which ones to visit? What should you be prepared for when visiting a winery? What should you expect and plan for during a day of wine tasting? And when is the best time to visit Finger Lakes Wine Country?

How Do You Get Around?
While wine tasting, a designated driver is a must. If you decide to taste wine and get behind the wheel, be sure to spit the wine out into the dump buckets that are provided at each winery. Another great option is hiring a transportation company for a worry-free day.

Which Wineries Should I Visit?
With so many to choose from, how do you know which ones are right for you?  First, plan on visiting just two to three wineries in any given day.  Plan for time to become familiar with the wines and enjoy your tasting. Many wineries have great gift shops and cafes to explore. And make sure to allow time for travel between wineries. In order to decide what wineries you want to visit, a little research is necessary. Do you like whites or reds? Sweet or dry? Are you interested in fruit wine or ice wine? With so many options, it can become overwhelming, but rest assured, the information is out there for you to familiarize yourself with. Start by going through our winery database. Search by your favorite variety or which region you prefer to visit and you'll have your wine tasting itinerary in no time!

Winter Wine Glass

When is the Best Time of Year to Visit?
Finger Lakes Wine Country, New York is a year-round destination. During the summer and fall, the wineries are the busiest, as this is peak travel season but is also a great time of year in the Finger Lakes. However, during the off-season of winter and spring, your wine tasting experience is likely to be more personal and comfortable. It is these months of the year when you are likely to speak with the owners and winemakers themselves in the tasting room.  Each season has its perks. Be sure to take into consideration what you would like to do during your visit outside of wine tasting: boating and swimming? Leaf peeping and harvest festivals? Skiing and snowshoeing? Considering all of the Finger Lakes activities available should give you a great idea of when is right for your visit to Finger Lakes Wine Country.

When are the Wineries Open?
In the summer and fall most of the wineries in the Finger Lakes are open seven days a week.  During late/fall early winter and spring it is important that you confirm each winery's hours as some have more limited tasting room hours, especially during the week.  It is most common for wineries to open 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. and close around 5:00 p.m. each day, including Sunday.  Again in the summer, some wineries extend their hours to accommodate the increased number of visitors. 

Do I need to make a reservation?
In most cases, yes. It's best to visit the winery's website or give them a call to see if they require or suggest reservations. Most wineries offer seated tasting experiences with a flight of wine and some offer snacks or small bites to enjoy with your wine. Some wineries will do their best to accommodate walk-in visitors, but to ensure you have a spot, reservations are your best option. If you're traveling in a group of six or more, reservations are almost always required. 

Women Having Lunch

Don't Forget Lunch
Before your day of wine tasting, be sure to have a full breakfast. This will not only give you the energy you need to make it through the day, it will make wine tasting easier and more enjoyable.  For lunch, many of the wineries have areas for picnicking that offer breathtaking views of the lakes and countryside. Pick up some sandwiches at a café or deli in town and select a bottle of wine to enjoy while taking in the surrounding beauty of the Finger Lakes. There are also many wineries with restaurants and local restaurants in town to choose from. Check out great restaurants here.

This may seem like a given, but it is so important to drink plenty of water while touring the wineries or any of our wonderful craft beverage establishments. We promise you'll have more fun if you feel better and hydration is key to ensuring you feel your best. 

Where Should I Stay?
Finger Lakes Wine Country offers a variety of lodging options to suit every person and budget. From luxury hotels to campgrounds, there really is something for everyone. Accommodations can be researched ahead of time in our accommodation database. Options include:

Wine Tasting, Woman smelling wine

Experience the Essence of Wine with the Seven S’s of Wine Tasting

  • SEE the wine: the color, the clarity, and intensity.
  • SWIRL the glass to release the aromas.
  • SMELL the wine. This begins your tasting experience; discover the qualities and aromas of the wine like spicy, nutty, fruity, floral, or anything else you can use to describe what you are experiencing. There is not right or wrong answer.
  • SIP the wine. Take a small amount of the wine in your mouth along with a small bit of air, almost slurping the wine in – this will aerate the wine further releasing more aromas onto your palate.
  • SAVOR the wine. Swish the wine around, hitting every part of your mouth.
  • SPIT/SWALLOW the wine. It is perfectly acceptable to utilize the spit buckets, especially when you are driving from winery to winery.
  • SCORE the wine. Create your own scoring system and take notes. This reflects your personal experience of the wine, keep a wine journal that you can take with you to the gift shop after your tasting or to the wine store at home in the future to make your purchasing choice easy.