Tuscany’s golden hills. The Cabernet-filled vineyards of Napa. These iconic wine regions represent the pinnacle of aspirational travel. Yet, such popularity and prestige come with crowds and high price tags. Lodging in the heart of Napa’s wine country can be expensive, as are some of the castle hotels that dot Chianti’s hilltops, many of which can command up to $1,000 per night.
Here are summer getaway ideas that won’t break the bank.
With its proximity to New York City and the tony Hamptons, Long Island’s North Fork has evolved into a haven for limos and party buses.
Instead, drive northwest from New York City. The Finger Lakes region delivers thrilling wines in a sleepy setting. Its wine country is dispersed predominately around three deep lakes that make viticulture viable in this cool climate: Cayuga, Seneca and Keuka.
Instead of the red blends of Long Island, you’ll sip on some of America’s best Rieslings. Pinot Noir and other delicate reds have gained traction too, like at Heart and Hands Winery on Cayuga’s eastern shores.
On Cayuga’s west side, taste racy white wines at Sheldrake Point, then head over to Seneca Lake for the experimental, bottlings of Bloomer Creek Vineyard and the textural wines of Forge Cellars. Stop by Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, a regional pioneer, and head toward Geneva for racy Rieslings by Ravines. Also on Seneca are Fox Run and Red Tail Ridge.
On Keuka Lake, Dr. Konstantin Frank winery dates to the 1960s and was one of the first to experiment with planting Vitis vinifera grapes in the Finger Lakes.
Food and lodging are as scattered as the wineries. Stay at the Aurora Inn on the east side of Cayuga to enjoy a bit of history In Geneva, Geneva on the Lake offers old-school romance on 10 garden-filled acres. To eat, score a reservation at F.L.X. Table, run by master sommelier/chef Christopher Bates. With his wife, Isabel Bogadtke, he also owns F.L.X. Wienery, F.L.X. Fry Bird, F.L.X. Provisions and Element Winery.