Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” the Seneca Lake? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Seneca Lake?”
Carved into 9,000 square miles across central New York State are 11 lakes, an assortment officially called the Finger Lakes. Why? Well, they look like fingers, deep trenches formed by a big hand reaching for something in the dirt. Officially, they were formed by retreating glaciers some 10,000 years ago. Gravel deposits left behind formed the bottoms of these lakes, all while the depressions damned existing streams.
The biggest of the bunch, Seneca Lake, is 618 feet deep, which is three times as deep as Lake Erie, one of the U.S.’s Great Lakes. It’s hard to put its sheer size into words, and first-time visitors will surely be surprised by its vastness, especially if the region’s wines, not nature, is what brought them there.
There’s a surplus of both up there, though, but especially wine, courtesy of the myriad soil types that surround the lake: limestone, shale, gravel and silt deposits each offer winemakers their own expressive base to grow grapes from. Riesling grapes dominate, but there are a few red ones, too, albeit less common.
In the Seneca Lake AVA (American Viticultural Area), there are 44 total wineries of varying size and focus. A few, I’ll be honest, are worth skipping. Others are making some of the best wines you’ll ever try. Here’s where to get a good glass (or bottle), and then places to offset the booze — whether with food or a few-mile hike.