Despite the fact that Seneca Lake is gaining renown for being a top wine region to visit, there still seems to be a misconception that you cannot find great red wine here. Comments like “oh, but they only make Riesling,” or “it’s too bad they don’t produce dry wine,” seem to be fairly common despite the fact that dozens of wineries have a focus on drier styles and produce amazing reds.
If you’re heading into the Finger Lakes, and are a lover of dry red wines, I suggest challenging yourself to doing a red wine-only tour on Seneca Lake. It’s a fun new way to explore the lakes.
Not sure where to go? Here are several wineries that are producing delicious reds around Seneca Lake. If you’re considering visiting the Finger Lakes region, Rochester International Airport is the closest to the Eastside, Hancock International Airport in Syracuse is closest to the West. Take a look at current flight deals here and some recommended wine country hotels here.
You can also visit Seneca Lake wineries with our highly recommended guided tour, which includes an expert guide and driver. You can also opt to hire a tour guide and driver who focuses on the southern portion of Seneca Lake, who will allow you to plan your day trip to any of the following wineries we discuss, or take their own advice.
- Best Seneca Lake Wineries
- Frequently Asked Questions about Seneca Lake Wineries
- More Wineries To Explore in the Finger Lakes
Best Seneca Lake Wineries
400 Barracks Rd, Geneva, NY 14456
Located just outside of Geneva within a historic barn, Ravines Wine Cellars is the perfect way to kick off your red wine tour. The winery is the passion project of Morten and Lisa Hallgren. Since 2003, they’ve been releasing award-winning wines in the region, with a focus on using classic European varietals. While their single-varietal reds, such as Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, are fantastic, it is their blends that are the most impressive.
Named in honor of their son, the Maximilien series is a Bordeaux-style red blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Maximilien tends to have notes of plum and black cherry, with hints of baking spice, and strong but smooth tannin. It’s a wine you could easily age for a few years, or drink now.
Looking for something a little different? Their Cerise, the French word for cherry, is a blend of Pinot Noir and Blaufränksich. Fitting for its name, the nose pops with tart cherries, with hints of tobacco and fresh herbs. Its bright cherry acidity and chalky tannin leave you wanting another sip.
4760 W Lake Rd, Geneva, NY 14456
Billsboro Winery was started in 2007 by Vinny and Kim Aliperti, and they’ve focused on making dry red and white wines. When people say that the Finger Lakes don’t have great dry or red wines, I use Billsboro as my example to prove them wrong. Need proof? Former New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Billsboro Winery won the 2016 Governor’s Cup competition at the 31st New York Wine & Food Classic for their 2013 Syrah.
Their Syrah continues to be one of the best wines in the region, and the current release is no exception. Its notes of ripe cherry and black currant, with loads of earth, smoke, and white pepper, and rich, chewy tannin, will convince you that the Finger Lakes is a red wine region.
While all of their red wines are fantastic, I highly suggest trying their Cabernet Franc. It seems now that almost every winery is producing a Cabernet Franc, but few are able to really showcase what this grape has to offer. Billsboro’s is a complex, nuanced exemplar featuring notes of bright cherry, tart raspberry, baking spice, hints of green herbs, and a warm vanilla finish.
846 NY-14, Penn Yan, NY 14527
Founded by Mike Schnelle and Nancy Irelan, Red Tail Ridge Winery is known for its unique red varietals that they grow on their 52-acre vineyard. The winery consistently receives high accolades for its clean and nuanced wines. Most recently, Irelan was announced as a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist. What is fun about this winery is that the focus isn’t on the classic varietals. Instead, they’ve chosen to grow and make wine from grapes that come from cooler European regions.
The Dornfelder has an interesting nose of black raspberry and black currant, with secondary notes of baking spices, earth, and mint. When sipped, it has a tart plum finish and bright acidity.
One of their more interesting wines is the NV Rebel with a Cause Sparkling, a red, dry, bubbly. This wine is meant to showcase the growing season and the grapes that best represent it. The current blend is 66% Lagrein, 17% Teroldego, & 17% Blaufränksich, which gives the wine a nose of cranberry and currant jam, licorice, mineral, and baking spice.
3901 NY-14, Dundee, NY 14837
Shaw Vineyard opened its doors in 2007. Prior to that, owner Steve Shaw was known throughout the Finger Lakes for growing vinifera. Unlike many wineries that release wines young, holding on to them only a year or two after harvest, Shaw waits until he thinks the wine is at its peak and ready to drink. That means that on any given visit, you may find some nice surprises from their cellars that may be up to a decade old (and perhaps even older).
Try sampling the Cabernet Sauvignon, with its intense nose of black currant, plum, chocolate, and a hint of nuttiness. It leaves lingering tobacco and vanilla, balanced out by a rich tannin. The eight years of aging have made this a complex and fascinating wine to enjoy.
Looking for something a little lighter? Their Unoaked Cabernet Franc is a nice change from the richer wines you’ve probably been tasting. Instead of notes like almond and vanilla, it has a bright nose of tart raspberry and blackberry, pepper and earth, with a lovely chalky tannin.
3962 NY-14, Dundee, NY 14837
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard was founded in 1979 by its namesake, a pioneer of vinifera viticulture. For the last decade, the winery has been run by Fred Merwarth and Oscar Bynke. They are one of the top vineyards in the region, and their fantastic wine is only surpassed by their intimate and amazing tasting sessions.
While they are known for their white wines, particularly their Rieslings, they are producing some delicious reds. One of my personal favorites is their Field Blend. It isn’t just a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Lemberger in the bottle, the fields are a mixture of these vines. Each year is a little different, but it tends to have a nose of black fruit, plum, and pepper with big chewy tannins and zingy cherry acid.
You should also try the Lemberger. This is becoming one of the more popular grapes in the region, and Hermann J. Wiemer’s is a great example. The nose is full of cigar box, smoke, raspberry, and red plum. It finishes with light chalky tannins and hints of chocolate.
Standing Stone Vineyards
9934 NY-414, Hector, NY 14841
Founded in 1972, Standing Stone Vineyards is a testament to the visionary spirit of its founders, who saw the promise in the terroir of the Finger Lakes. For many years now, the winery has been meticulously managed by the Peterson family, who have held the helm and continued to champion the region’s viticultural potential. This vineyard stands as a beacon in the region, its wines capturing the unique essence of Finger Lakes, with a tasting experience that is nothing short of extraordinary, rivaling the best in the world.
As you plan your visit to the eastern shores of Seneca Lake, don’t miss the chance to savor Standing Stone’s signature “Saperavi”. This vineyard is especially renowned for its white wines, like the vibrant and complex Rieslings, but the Reds shouldn’t be overlooked. Saperavi, for instance, is a unique wine that’s native to Georgia but has found a new home here in the Finger Lakes. Its characteristics change subtly with each vintage, typically presenting a bouquet of ripe dark berries, hints of spice, and an earthy undertone. It’s beautifully balanced with a sturdy structure, soft tannins, and a refreshing acidity.
Equally compelling is the Cabernet Franc from Standing Stone Vineyards. This varietal is gaining a lot of traction in the region, and their interpretation is truly compelling. The wine opens with an alluring aroma of bell pepper, raspberry, and a touch of cedar. The palate is greeted with smooth tannins and a well-rounded structure, finishing with a hint of dark chocolate and a whisper of smoke.
5055 NY-414, Burdett, NY 14818
Established in 2000, Atwater Vineyards is a relatively young winery that has quickly made its mark on the Finger Lakes wine scene. The brainchild of Ted Marks, a visionary entrepreneur with a passion for wine, the vineyard has been nurtured under his careful stewardship for the past two decades. In December 2020, Ted handed the reigns to Matt Russo and George Nosis.
Atwater Vineyards has fast established itself as a prominent player in the region, crafting exceptional wines that are a true reflection of the Finger Lakes terroir. The vineyard’s tasting experiences are cherished by visitors, blending the warmth of their hospitality with the captivating beauty of the lakeside vineyard.
Upon your visit to the southwestern bank of Seneca Lake, be sure to indulge in Atwater’s standout “Big Blend”. While the winery is highly reputed for their aromatic white varietals, notably the expressive and lively Rieslings, it’s their reds that also demand attention. The Big Blend is a harmonious medley of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, each contributing to a rich tapestry of flavors. Depending on the vintage, you might discover notes of dark fruit, leather, and a subtle hint of vanilla, all underpinned by a firm structure and velvety tannins that make for an engaging sip.
Atwater’s Cabernet Sauvignon is another must-try. This grape is increasingly popular in the region, and Atwater’s version doesn’t disappoint. Aromas of ripe blackcurrant, tobacco leaf, and a touch of spice give way to a palate that is full-bodied yet elegantly balanced. The finish is long, leaving a delightful trail of mocha and a hint of toasted oak, a testament to the careful aging process in the winery’s cellars.
Zugibe Vineyards – Wine With A View
4248 E Lake Rd, Geneva, NY 14456
Inaugurated in 2005, Zugibe Vineyards is the fruit of the Zugibe family’s hard work and commitment to viticulture, a testament to their deep-rooted love for wine. Anchored on the eastern shores of Seneca Lake, this vineyard is not just known for its stellar wines but also its breathtaking views, offering a panoramic spectacle of the lake and its surrounding beauty. The winery has carved a niche for itself in the region, producing wines that encapsulate the unique essence of the Finger Lakes terroir. The tasting sessions here are as much about the stunning landscape as the wines themselves, offering an immersive, unforgettable experience.
Be sure to sample Zugibe’s acclaimed “Phoenician Blend” during your visit. While Zugibe Vineyards is lauded for its crisp and fragrant whites, especially the Rieslings, their reds are equally compelling. The Phoenician Blend, a harmonious mix of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Lemberger, is a standout. Depending on the vintage, you may encounter a bouquet of ripe red fruits, black pepper, and an earthy hint, paired with robust tannins and a balanced acidity. Don’t miss out on their Lemberger either. Gaining popularity in the region, Zugibe’s interpretation of this grape is exceptional, with a nose boasting of black cherry, smoky undertones, and a touch of spice, while the palate is treated to velvety tannins and a finish hinting at dark chocolate.
3775 Mathews Rd, Burdett, NY 14818
Founded in 2011, Forge Cellars is a boutique winery nestled on the eastern slopes of Seneca Lake. A collaborative venture between a trio of wine enthusiasts—Louis Barruol, Rick Rainey, and Justin Boyette—this vineyard is a convergence of old-world wisdom and the unique terroir of the Finger Lakes. Their small-scale, artisanal approach to wine-making is reflected in their meticulously crafted wines that speak volumes of the region’s potential. The intimate and knowledgeable tastings here have fast become the stuff of legends in the Finger Lakes region, drawing wine aficionados from far and wide.
Forge Cellars is particularly known for its red wines, with their Pinot Noir and their classically styled Cabernet Franc leading the pack. Their Pinot Noir is truly a revelation—ethereal, elegant, and robust. Depending on the vintage, you might find an intriguing interplay of red berries, earthy undertones, and a hint of spice, all bound together by silky tannins and a lively acidity. The wine’s complexity is a testament to Forge Cellars’ commitment to honoring the inherent characteristics of the grape and the unique terroir of the region.
Similarly, their Cabernet Franc is a must-try. This varietal has been gaining popularity in the Finger Lakes, and Forge Cellars’ rendition is a shining example of why. Bursting with aromas of ripe raspberries, bell pepper, and a touch of tobacco, it leads to a palate that’s beautifully balanced, with ripe tannins and an enduring finish that leaves traces of cocoa and a hint of earthiness. It’s a wine that’s as evocative as it is enjoyable, encapsulating the essence of Forge Cellars and its stunning surroundings.
Hector Wine Co.
5610 NY-414, Hector, NY 14841
You might begin noticing a theme here and a camaraderie among winemakers around Seneca Lake. Established in 2009, Hector Wine Company is a gem tucked away in the picturesque landscape of the Finger Lakes. Co-founded by Jason Hazlitt and Justin Boyette, two individuals with a shared passion for viticulture and the terroir of their homeland, this winery has become a beacon for those seeking genuinely expressive wines. Located on the eastern side of Seneca Lake, Hector Wine Company offers an array of wines that truly encapsulate the unique terroir of the region, with the tasting experience here being both educational and deeply enjoyable, in an environment that’s as welcoming as it is beautiful.
Hector Wine Company is particularly recognized for its red wines, with their Soul Red and Cabernet Franc capturing the hearts of many. The Soul Red, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, presents an intriguing tapestry of flavors. Depending on the vintage, expect a bouquet of ripe red and black fruits, a touch of spice, and an undercurrent of earthiness, tied together with well-integrated tannins and a refreshing acidity. The Cabernet Franc is another standout, a testament to the grape’s growing popularity in the Finger Lakes region. The wine greets the nose with alluring aromas of ripe red berries, bell pepper, and a hint of tobacco, leading to a palate that’s beautifully balanced, with smooth tannins and a lingering finish hinting at a whisper of cocoa and a subtle earthiness.
Damiani Wine Cellars
4704 NY-414, Burdett, NY 14818
Founded in 2007, Damiani Wine Cellars is the realization of a shared dream among its founders, Lou Damiani, Phil Davis, and Glenn Allen. Nestled on the eastern side of Seneca Lake, this winery represents the quintessence of Finger Lakes viticulture, having earned its place as a top-tier vineyard in the region. Damiani Wine Cellars has gained recognition for its dedication to crafting wines that express the unique characteristics of the Finger Lakes terroir, with a wine tasting experience that is as enriching as it is enjoyable, set against the picturesque backdrop of the lake’s serene beauty.
Renowned for their reds, Damiani Wine Cellars has an impressive roster that includes their signature Meritage and Cabernet Franc. The Meritage, a harmonious blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, is a wine lover’s delight. Depending on the vintage, you might be treated to a symphony of flavors featuring ripe dark fruits, a hint of sweet spice, and a subtle earthy undertone, all supported by structured tannins and a balanced acidity. Equally captivating is their Cabernet Franc, which has rapidly gained popularity in the region. With its enticing aroma of ripe raspberries, bell pepper, and a touch of spice, it reveals a palate that is full-bodied yet elegantly balanced. The finish lingers, leaving a delightful trail of cocoa and a hint of toasted oak, a testament to the careful maturation process in the winery’s cellars.
Frequently Asked Questions about Seneca Lake Wineries
More Wineries To Explore in the Finger Lakes
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