It seems that the slopes above glacial lakes are just what the doctor ordered if you are a grape. How else to explain the presence of more than 100 wineries around the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York? Actually, it has nothing to do with the doctor, but a lot to do with the depth of the lakes. The very deep water has a moderating effect on the climate; summer’s warmth is retained longer into the fall, while the slopes produce an inversion of temperature with cold air flowing down to the lakes and the hillsides remaining just warm enough to avoid killer frosts in the spring.
Frosts, however, are essential to one of the specialties of the area – ice wine, made from grapes which have been left on the vine so long that they do eventually freeze. This concentrates the sugars and produces a strong, sweet dessert wine.
The wineries are concentrated around the four major Finger Lakes – Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga, and vino-tourism (so to speak) is huge and likely to increase unless the area gets fracked, a nightmare possibility for both the wineries and tourism. In the meantime, limos can regularly be seen circling the lakes with bachelorette parties and other celebrations or small groups needing a designated driver. They may just be doing the rounds of tasting rooms, or they may be headed to one of the excellent restaurants attached to the wineries. The stunning scenery enhances the enjoyment of a chef-prepared meal of mostly local produce, washed down with a crisp refreshing wine grown just yards away.