Thursday, September 17, 2020

A drive around Cayuga Lake

The Finger Lakes region of New York is a beautiful area to visit. There are several state parks and lots of places to hike in nature. But there is more than that to do in the Ithaca area. So, on a lovely, if windy day I took off and drove around Cayuga lake. This gave me the chance to visit a few of the local wineries and some historic sites.

The loop around Cayuga Lake is about 90 miles, and, if you do it right, it will take you most of a day. I started by heading north on NY-89, which hugs the western shore of the lake. I chose this route because it took me to two of the three wineries I had chosen, out of the more than a dozen that are in the area. My first stop was at the Thirsty Owl Wine Company, a 24-mile drive north of Ithaca, with the lake peaking in and out of the trees the whole way. Thirsty Owl sits on the lake shore, offering great views along with great wines. You can purchase a tasting flight of five wines for $5. You choose the ones you want from a long menu of wines. Thirsty Owl also offers a bistro menu from 11:30 - 5:00 (Thursday thru Monday) so you can enjoy lunch on their estate overlooking Cayuga lake.

Five miles up route 89 is the Goose Watch Winery.  Sitting up on a hillside overlooking the lake, they have a beautiful spot, and their tasting room offers great views. Goose Watch sells several pre-chosen tasting flights that are organized by the type of wine (red/white; sweet/dry). Their flight run from $8 to $10 (plus $1for five chocolate kisses, for which they blamed Gov. Cuomo’s food and alcohol restrictions). Only five miles apart, these two wineries have a very different feel. At Thirsty Owl I was met at the door and escorted to the outdoor tasting area. I was assigned a sommelier who led me through my tasting, offering advice as I chose the wines. She stayed with me, and gave a description of each wine as she poured them. At Goose Watch, I ordered my entire flight at the bar, and then found seating on the outdoor veranda. All five wines were brought at the same time, along with a printed description for each.

For lunch, I stopped in the town of Seneca Falls. It is best known as the birth-place of the Women’s Rights Movement. Here you will find the Seneca Falls National historical Monument along with several other historic homes and places to visit. I did not have time to see them on this trip. I came for lunch, but Main Street did not offer great options. I chose a sports bar - Parker’s Grille & Tap House. They did have a good Caesar salad with Grilled Chicken.

After recharging my batteries, and buying a couple of tee-shirts, I headed east on US-20 across the northern edge of Cayuga Lake, and then turned south onto NY-90. I passed through several small towns, and then stumbled across what looked like a historic farm. It turned out to be the factory and showroom for MacKenzie-Childs, an producer of upscale home furnishings. The have a signature checkerboard pattern. What drew me in were their beautiful grounds. The Farm is open to the public and has a lovely pond, and a historical farm house. What was the barn is now the store and factory.

The MacKenzie-Childs facility sits on the outskirts of the town of Aurora. This little town on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake wa founded in the 1790’s. It has served a transfer point for boats heading for the Erie Canal and as the home to Wells College. There are beautiful old buildings along its Main Street, along with several small inns. Many of the buildings are run today by the Aurora Inn.

My last stop on this trip was at the Long Point Winery. It is set back from the lake, up on a hill. By the time I arrived there, it had become very windy, so I opted for a seat inside a large tent. Their tasting flight was $5 and I was free to choose the five wines I wanted to try.

It was about a half-hour drive back into Ithaca, altogether a day well spent enjoying the beautiful sights and some great wine.


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