If there's one thing to know about my extended family, it's that we are defined by our traditions. We run/walk the Buffalo YMCA Turkey Trot every Thanksgiving morning, we slow clap after each present is unwrapped on Christmas Day, and (probably my favorite tradition of all) we vacation together in the Finger Lakes each summer.
Ever since I was a baby, the week at the Lake has been the central point of my summers. Our family rents a cottage right on the water and we all cram in (all 18 of us) for seven days of sunshine, beers, boating and campfires. We've done this every summer for the past 26 years without fail - and last year we added my boyfriend, Adam, into the mix. The Lake has become like a second home to me and I look forward to the trip every year.
The Finger Lakes region of New York is full of beautiful lakes, and over the years we've tried staying on several of them, but our favorite of the bunch has become Keuka Lake. The lake is peaceful and beautiful, with warm water and gorgeous cottages. We just returned from our annual trip a few days ago, and I wanted to share some of the wineries and breweries we visited and some other photos from the week. If you're looking for a relaxing place to get away, definitely check Keuka Lake out!
Wineries and Breweries
The Finger Lakes region is a popular place to visit for wine tours. The area is full of vineyards and I love spending time at the different wineries (and now some breweries!) doing tastings and finding yummy wines to bring back home. This year, we visited three - Ravines Wine Cellar Tasting Room, McGregor Vineyard, and Abandon Brewing Company.
The Ravines tasting room sits on a hill with a beautiful view of the Lake. The building is rustic, cute and surrounded by rows and rows of grape vines. I felt like I was in the French countryside. Inside, the space was small and intimate, with several stations set up around the room. The space was light and bright - I loved it! We were taken to a station where we did a tasting paired with New York State cheeses. The cheese was such a nice feature and made the tasting extra special, and the man who led our tasting was great! He gave us useful descriptions and information on each wine, without coming across "snobby" as some wine tastings can be. I left with a delicious bottle of Gewurtzstraminer that I can't wait to drink this summer. This was my favorite winery of the two we visited during the trip and I would definitely recommend it.
McGregor Vineyard is a five minute drive from Ravines and also has amazing views of the Lake. The space is larger than Ravines - they have a front deck with rocking chairs that makes for a great photo-op and space to relax after your tasting - and the space is a little more on the casual side. The tasting area is rustic and cozy, with string lights decorating the ceiling and wooden picnic tables where you sit and taste. We even got a visit from the winery's resident dog - so cute! The nice part about McGregor is that you get to choose all of the wines you taste. They also give you a small snack plate (with crackers and chocolate) to pair with the wine. My only complaint was that after pouring our samples, the woman who led our tasting would walk away, without giving any descriptions or thoughts about the wine. But it was a very relaxed, easy atmosphere that's perfect for a larger group of friends. I ended up leaving with a bottle of Muscat Ottonel that I loved - and everyone at the tasting gets to take home a complimentary wine glass!
Keuka Lake is also surrounded by some fun, laidback breweries. This year, we spent an afternoon at Abandon. The brewery is up on a hill surrounded by hops vines and beautiful lake views. The space is rustic and cute with both an outdoor patio and an old, wooden barn. The barn space is adorable and I love spending time there - I've even heard from some people that they host an amazing New Years Eve party there each year. While snacking on complimentary peanuts we each tried a flight of beers ($2 per sample) before deciding on our favorite and ordering it full-size. My personal favorite was the Abbey Ale, but they also have some delicious sour beer options if that's what you're into. The bartenders are all super knowledgable about the flavors of each beer, and the atmosphere is really friendly and relaxed. They even host yoga and beer night each week and have live music on the small stage in the barn! Abandon is a great place to kick back and relax while sipping on delicious beers.
More Photos from the Trip
When we weren't off sampling the region's wines and beers, we were relaxing lakeside and soaking up the sun. If you're renting a cottage on Keuka Lake, I definitely recommend renting paddle boards or kayaks from Regan's Kayak, or even a small boat. Our family always has so much fun taking after-dinner boat cruises, getting some exercise by paddle boarding around the bay, and relaxing with a beer while floating in a tube. Check out some photos from the trip below:
My name is Abby Formella and I'm a 27 year-old working girl living in the lovely borough of Brooklyn, New York.