Editor’s Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.
When it comes to wine making in the U.S., sunny California gets all the love. It’s true, the Mediterranean-like valleys north of San Francisco are certainly ideal for vineyards. (Fertile soil is one perk of the area’s seismic tendencies.) Yet many grape varieties are cuckoo for cooler temps, and Northern California is not the end-all, be-all of American wine production. On the opposite side of the country, New York state — whose viticulture was once rather limited to sweet concord ice wine — has quietly grown into a wine-producing powerhouse. Wine making in the state’s Hudson Valley dates back to the 1600s, so it’s not totally surprising that New York has emerged at the forefront of the industry.
From the North Fork of Long Island to the Finger Lakes and back to Brooklyn (really!), the Empire State is home to some 2,000 wineries and vineyards — the majority family-owned and several truly outstanding. Here are some of the best New York wineries and vineyards.
Finger Lakes Wineries
Ravines Wine Cellars in Seneca Lake
The Finger Lakes may not be as wine-famous as Napa and Sonoma, but this rustic winery proves that the region is just as stunning. The incredible natural beauty — rolling bands of green vines, the deep, dark blue of glacier-carved Seneca Lake — would tempt grape lovers to stick around even if the wine wasn’t very good. (Luckily, it’s very good.) Ravines‘ beautifully restored barn looks like it’s straight out of California wine country, as do the artful meat and cheese boards and the wedding-ready tasting menus.
Nearby: The 1914 Geneva on the Lake Boutique Resort Hotel was designed to emulate a villa outside of Rome. Pay homage to the hotel’s Frascati inspiration by drinking up lake views and a glass of sparkling.
Boundary Breaks in Lodi
This pristine winery on the Seneca Wine Trail focuses on cool-air-loving riesling grapes, grown on-site, fermented in stainless-steel casks, and made in styles ranging from sparkling to sweet to super dry. Red wine lovers, fret not: Boundary is also known for its fruit-forward cabernet franc.
Nearby: The Finger Lakes region is patchworked with family winegrowers….and orchards, creameries, and horse pastures. Between idyllic vineyard visits, explore the area’s non-wine offerings, like Rue Claire Lavender Farm and Wolftree, a pick-your-own blueberry farm with an apiary and wool from Icelandic sheep, set between Seneca Lake and Finger Lakes National Forest.
Vineyard Views in Keuka Park
Go for the vino, stay for the views. This fifth-generation grape farm has a primo spot far above Keuka Lake. For the full experience, grab a two-top on the terrace and sample the selection, from the just barely spicy (and quick to sell out) traminette to the dry marquette — harvested, crushed, and pressed on-site.
Nearby: If Vineyard Views isn’t hosting a pop-up event with a local restaurant, drive three miles up the lake for a heaping tray of fried chicken and mashed potatoes (and a sundae) at Seneca Farms Ice Cream.
Stever Hill Vineyards in Branchport
This family-friendly farm doesn’t quite compare to Vineyard View’s lake scenery, but its panorama of grapevines and forested hills is as peaceful as can be. And it has the sort of warm, laid-back vibe that encourages all-day lingering, with a genuinely friendly staff happy to make recommendations. A renovated barn (with a backbone of 1850s hand-hewn wood beams) houses the tasting room, wine shop, and big back deck. Try the fan-favorite Old Barn Red (aged in New York oak) or, on a hot summer day, a juicy, boozy slushie.
Nearby: Conklin’s Gully and Grimes Glen are lovely waterfall hikes within easy reach by car, for anyone really wanting to earn their afternoon wine flight. Work in a stop at the Havill Pottery farm studio, long run by a husband-and-wife ceramicist team, for functional souvenirs of the hand-painted stoneware sort.
Silver Springs Winery in Burdett
See an old spray-painted station wagon on the side of the road? You’ve arrived. This small, father-daughter-run business is possibly NY state’s grooviest winery, with peace signs, tie-dye, and a sustainable ethos (solar energy, a zero-carbon footprint) to match. All of Silver Springs‘ wines are grown and produced on one of the family’s three local properties, and the selection runs the gamut from easy-drinking sweet whites to big, bold reds.
Nearby: A few miles south of the winery, Rainbow Falls Bridge is the most stunning of Watkins Glen State Park‘s many scenic waterfalls and craggy 200-foot cliffs. Loop up the west side of the lake for fresh cheese and curds from Shtayburne Farme Creamery or milky sweet treats (not technically ice cream due to their lower fat content) from Rock Stream Farm, where you can say hello to some very lovable Jersey cows just a few feet from the dipping counter.
Hudson Valley Wineries
Benmarl Winery in Marlboro
Benmarl is what you’re picturing when you think of the ideal upstate visit. The small-scale operation has spruce columns of grapevines stretching along the hillside, an antique pick-up truck hidden in the garden, and a driftwood gazebo framing the Hudson River Valley — the perfect spot for sunset photo ops. Benmarl focuses on small-batch NY wines, from their site-grown Baco noir and cabernet franc varieties to North Fork merlot. If you need to soak up all that wine, order a bubbling pizza, wood-fired in an outdoor brick oven.
Nearby: Toast to a day well spent at The Ship Lantern Inn, a cozy dining room that throws back to another era, 10 minutes up pretty Highway 9W. (If you’re looking for a pre-winery meal, try your luck for brunch at Blooming Hill Farm. Even if the wait stretches into hour-long territory, it’s time well spent.)
Millbrook Vineyards & Winery in Millbrook
Sylvain Cote/Courtesy of Millbrook Vineyards & Winery
With 130 acres that feel like the French countryside and a big vaulted barn venue, it’s really no surprise that visitors love this Millbrook winery. The wine holds its own against the magical setting — sit at the tasting bar to sample Millbrook’s chardonnay, cabernet franc, and heady pinot noir, or pick up bottles and go at your own pace, preferably in an easy chair on the front lawn.
Nearby: Millbrook’s shop sells crackers, sea salt caramels, and other local goodies, but if you’re looking to have a picnic or throw dinner on the grill, head four miles north to Big Rock Community Farms Market. The charming two-room shop in Stanfordville carries local H.V. produce, meat, cheese, and more on the ground floor of an 1845 house. Call in advance to visit Conrad Levenson‘s open-air sculpture garden, a little further north, with whimsical works made from materials like scrap metal, salvaged wood, and wagon wheels.
Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery in Gardiner
After a morning hike through Minnewaska or Mohonk Preserves (or a morning scramble up Bonticou Crag), reward your efforts in Whitecliff‘s cozy tasting room or shady picnic grove. The sustainable winery (named for the white cliffs in the distance) is known for its merlot and malbec blend (a bestseller), fruity vidal blanc, and oak-fermented chardonnay. There’s a solid menu of affordable flights, too; just be sure to book your reservation through the website.
Nearby: For more local goodness, drive up to Butterfield for a rhapsodic meal celebrating the natural bounty of the Hudson Valley (you’ll see Whitecliff on the excellent wine menu). If you’re in more of a bar food mood, there’s the quaint New Paltz gastropub, Huckleberry.
Milea Estate Vineyard in Straatsburg
Though it’s new on the scene, this 98-acre vineyard has already carved out a big name for itself on the Dutchess County wine trail. Anchored by a charming white farmhouse, this small estate makes a crowd-pleasing sparkling rosé, a plummy merlot, and a crisp chardonnay that reflects Hudson Valley’s unique terroir.
Nearby: Stand high over Ferncliff Forest — a 200-acre chunk of old-growth forest peppered with easy walking trails and old stone ruins — in its fire tower with magnificent views of the land and Hudson River. Swing by Migliorelli Farm Stand for fresh dinner supplies or check into Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck for a luxe retreat.
Long Island Wineries
Pindar Vineyards in Peconic
Courtesy of Pindar Vineyards
Long Island’s North Fork is a string of upscale wineries — and Pindar Vineyards was among the first. These days, the former potato farm is now a 500-acre enterprise with nearly 20 varieties of grapes (and a famous sunflower field). Fans swear that Pindar wines, including their red table wine (a smooth bordeaux blend) and vivid cabernet sauvignon, could vie with those made in California and France.
Nearby: Remain transported at North Fork Table & Inn — the chef earned his chops in kitchens in Paris and Napa Valley.
RGNY in Riverhead
Maria Rivero González harvested grapes with her family for years in Mexico’s Parras Valley before setting her eyes on the North Fork. Attracted by Long Island’s cool, maritime climate, the Mexican winemaker opened her certified-sustainable vineyard in 2019, where she grows and bottles unfiltered cabernet franc, velvety viognier with a hint of pineapple, and other meticulously thought-out wines.
Nearby: Taste the freshest oysters of your life at Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market, a homespun seafood shack in Greenport, before retiring to the beautiful The Menhaden (and its rooftop deck overlooking the harbor).
Castello di Borghese Vineyard in Cutchogue
Castello di Borghese lays claim to the title of Long Island’s first vineyard. In the early 1970s, its founders realized that the area’s fertile soil and oceanic climate were irresistible to grapevines. Modern-day visitors swear the vineyard’s still got it (it’s run by the original family, after all), praising its excellent pinot noir, peppery cabernet franc, and zippy sauvignon blanc.
Nearby: Hit up another local 70s-era landmark, Magic Fountain, where homemade ice cream flavors range from kulfi (rosewater, pistachio, and cardamon) to vegan coffee almond fudge.
New York City Wineries
Rooftop Reds in Brooklyn
Courtesy of Rooftop Reds
Beaches, ruins, cathedrals, caves…and wineries. Yes, New York City really has it all. The city is home to a number of wineries (where wines are made from grapes grown elsewhere), but Rooftop Reds ups the ante and actually grows grapes (via a unique planting system) on a 14,800-square-foot rooftop in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. You’ll have more than a dozen bottle selections, plus traminette, white, and dry rosé on tap — not to mention killer skyline views and bragging rights (how many inner-city vineyards do you know?).
Nearby: Former Crown Heights favorite The Food Sermon is a go-to for huge, healthy Caribbean bowls (think gingery rice with curried chicken and market veggies).