New England wine is starting to create a new identity, focusing on cold-weather grapes and acidic wines to produce a variety of tastes and textures unique to the region. For example, Seneca Lake in New York has a myriad of wineries that are becoming more and more popular over the years.
Here’s what you need to know about these wineries, including 10 of the most popular in the area.
Where’s Seneca Lake?
Seneca Lake is one of the many “finger lakes” in New York State, long and narrow lakes that look fairly similar to fingers when viewed from above!
It is one of the most popular of these lakes due to its fantastic scenery, fantastic fishing, and reasonable proximity to popular tourist destinations.
Seneca Lake is about 30 miles to the west of both Ithaca and Auburn, just to the east of Dundee, about 30 miles from Prattsburgh and Naples, and Highway 390.
Just to its east, about 10-30 minutes away, is sister finger lake Cayuga Lake, depending on where you start.
Related: Checkout wineries close by at North Fork, New York state.
Popular Wines from Seneca Lake
The lush vegetation between Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake creates a great growing environment for many wines, which is why so many wineries are popular in and around this area!
Vinifera grapes grow particularly well in Seneca Lake’s reasonably cool and low-key climate.
Like much of New York State, the temperatures here can veer towards the relatively cold end during the winter, with some extreme snow often falling surprisingly early in the late fall.
As a result, the growing season is pretty short, and the wines often somewhat acidic and potent.
Therefore, popular wine options often include varietals like Gruner Veltliner, Cabernet Franc, and Riesling.
Just about any of the wineries on this list include at least one or two of these wine types, giving you plenty of options from which to choose when you pick your favorites!
10 of The Best Wineries in Seneca Lake
In this list, I’ll discuss things like the winery’s view, the wine options available to you, the tasting room’s quality, and any food options they may offer.
You’ll also get the necessary contact information, including their website, which will make this information very easy to research!
Map of The Best Wineries in Seneca Lake
1. Belhurst Castle and Winery
- Website: Belhurst Castle and Winery
- Address: 4069 W Lake Rd, Geneva, NY 14456
- Phone Number: 315-781-0201
The first time you see Belhurst Castle and Winery, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to medieval England, as a gorgeous and authentic 1880s castle is where you’ll spend most of your time.
This castle makes Belhurst one of the more unique and enjoyable wineries on this list.
Beyond this beautiful castle atmosphere, Belhurst is also a popular destination for weddings, family reunions, and corporate events.
The Castle Ballroom holds up to 250 guests with a spacious dancefloor, inside and outside bars, and views of Seneca Lake you’ll never forget.
Another thing that stands out about Belhurst is its multiple dining options.
Edgar’s Restaurant in the Castle includes crab cakes, calamari, duck, filet mignon, and curry at gourmet prices. Stonecutter’s Tavern is more family-friendly with burgers, sandwiches, and falafel.
At either restaurant, you can do wine and food pairings and buy craft beer (the honey blonde is fantastic), hard cider (I loved the blueberry), and excellent wines (get the Cabernet Sauvignon: trust me).
Other amenities you may experience when visiting here include:
- The on-site spa where you can relax and enjoy yourself at the end of a night
- Lodging options for people who want to stay a more extended time
- Specialized salon options for brides preparing for an on-site wedding
2. Lakewood Vineyards
- Website: Lakewood Vineyards
- Address: 4024 NY-14, Watkins Glen, NY
- Phone Number: 607-535-9252
Lakewood Vineyards near Watkins Glen boasts a beautiful view of Seneca Lake, and they’re not lying!
Whether you’re sitting outdoors or in their inside tasting room, you can view this beautiful lake with a breathtaking expanse that will make you fall in love with the region.
Lakewood has been a farm since 1951 and served nearby wineries with grapes during that time.
However, it wasn’t until 1988 when second-generation owners Monty and Beverly Stamp stomped their first grapes and created Lakewood Vineyards for the whole world to love.
One thing that stands out heavily about this winery is the quality of its service.
While the wines are great, the 80-acres of vineyards beautiful, and the views to die for when visiting here, Lakewood always hires knowledgeable, friendly, and fun staff who make you feel at home whenever you’re there.
The wines here vary from sweet to dry and include reds and even sparkling whites.
This diverse array of options makes choosing a favorite difficult, but I fell in love with the Pinot Gris, the Riesling, and the Lemberger when I tried them out.
A few amenities you may love include:
- A reasonably priced guided tour and tasting that gives you access to some specialized wines
- More extensive signature tastings where you get to choose the wine types
- Hike and tasting experiences, where you explore the winery’s 80 acres
3. Billsboro Winery
- Website: Billsboro Winery
- Address: 4760 W Lake Rd, Geneva, NY 14456
- Phone Number: 315-789-9538
European wine fans may struggle to find destinations in America that produce blends that emulate the unique tastes and textures of the old countries.
However, Billsboro focuses heavily on classic European wines and is acclaimed for its flavors.
As a result, they use classic European-style winemaking methods, including harvesting grapes later in the season and using manual presses whenever possible.
Their longer fermenting times produce the kind of alcohol-rich dry wine that many people prefer in Europe.
Located inside a restored 19th-century barn, their tasting room is comfy, relaxing, and a great place to try a variety of different chocolates.
The helpful staff can provide you with local chocolates that pair perfectly with multiple wines already in the tasting room.
When picking wines, there should be several options you can choose.
Just know that their wines are almost always dry, including their Saluti, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Albarino, and Kashong White.
So if you’re a dry wine fan, and you’re visiting Seneca Lake, you have to stop here at least once and taste what they have to offer.
Other amenities you may experience include:
- Regular art showings from local and national artists
- The Il Fienile Wine Club with three different enrollment options
- Friendly staff that is chosen for their wine knowledge and personal skills
4. Ventosa Vineyards
- Website: Ventosa Vineyards
- Address: 3440 NY-96A, Geneva, NY 14456
- Phone Number: 315-719-0000
Ventosa is such a fun place to visit because it combines a rural and urban atmosphere.
The winery tasting area is beautiful, with a southwest-style design, while the surrounding farm is gorgeous, with perfect sunset views over Lake Seneca.
But at what other winery will you also get the chance to pet a cute and friendly donkey?
Beyond this welcoming atmosphere, Ventosa Vineyards offers a handful of destination event options, including options for weddings, receptions, corporate events, and more.
Depending on your event type, you can hold these events outdoors on their terrace and lawn or in the vast La Vesta e Bella Ballroom.
While many Seneca Lake wineries have some kind of food options, this winery includes Cafe Toscana, a Mediterranean-style restaurant with delicious panini, wraps, salads, soups, and pizza.
Nearby residents often order pizza from here for pick up rather than go with more significant name-brand options.
Wines that I enjoyed here included Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and a Cabernet Franc.
They specialize in dry reds grown in nutrient-rich clay/loam soil and do all work by hand, creating a delicious variety of wines.
Handy tip: dry red wines are fantastic for cooking with!
Other amenities you may experience when visiting here include:
- Regular on-site events, including popular live bands
- A high-quality wine club that saves you money on your wines
- Special weekend dinners on Fridays and Saturdays you can’t get during the week
5. Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
- Website: Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards
- Address: 5712 NY-414, Hector, NY 14841
- Phone Number: 607-546-9463
While some wineries prefer to go the dry route, which is often considered a harder experience to get right, others like Hazlitt shoot for sweet wines.
However, it’s not easy to craft a high-quality sweet wine that isn’t too overpowering: thankfully, Hazlitt has got this balancing act down pat.
Since 1985, they’ve perfected the art of creating sweet wines that even dry wine fans will enjoy.
They do this by using a hands-on winemaking experience that shows great attention to small details.
As a result, there’s a comfortable and informal atmosphere that the smell of the free, complimentary, and freshly popped popcorn will only enhance.
Another thing that makes this winery unique is its multiple tasting experiences.
First, of course, there’s a horseshoe tasting bar where you can interact with visitors and try numerous drinks. However, the outdoor tasting space (The Oasis) also has beautiful views, comfortable seating, and relaxing.
One thing about Hazlitt that stands out is its sheer variety of wines.
You can get red, white, rose, and dessert wines, along with their part-style Red Cat line. These wines are a little quirky and unique, and even if you’re not generally into such light options, they’re worth a try.
- Live music options that change regularly throughout the year
- A fun gift shop where you can buy many types of goods
- A large fire pit area that’s perfect for late-night wine enjoyment
6. Chateau LaFayette Reneau
- Website: Chateau LaFayette Reneau
- Address: 5081 NY-414, Hector, NY 14841
- Phone Number: 607-546-2062
Do you want a weekend-destination experience where you can stay in a winery for a few days, explore its beautiful landscape, and enjoy fantastic wines?
You may like this winery. Its comfortable inn is close to its century-old barn tasting room and on a 110-acre vineyard.
Visitors can explore these vineyards as they like or take a tour to check out the nearby lakes, examine grapes as they’re grown, and experience a friendly and welcoming environment.
The staff here is some of the nicest in the area and will welcome you into this winery with aplomb and enjoyment.
Their extensive grounds also ensure that you always get estate-grown wines with a consistent and high-quality taste.
While other wineries in the region may import grapes from different wineries, Chateau LaFayette Reneau keeps it honest by consistently providing the same Vinifera grape styles.
As a result, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a wine that you enjoy!
Their signature Rieslings are probably their most popular options, though there are many other great wines here. These include a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah that I think you’ll enjoy.
Other amenities include:
- Five-room inn with Wi-Fi, dishware, cookware, flatscreen TVs, and barbecues
- An on-site kitchen that serves guests at the inn
- Private picnic experience that includes freshly baked demi-baguettes and a picnic box prepared for you
7. Glenora Wine Cellars
- Website: Glenora Wine Cellars
- Address: 5435 NY-14, Dundee, NY 14837
- Phone Number: 800-243-5513
Glenora’s main claim to fame is starting the Seneca Lake winery trends in 1977.
They were not only the first winery in the region but remained the only winery in the area for many years.
And even if first doesn’t always mean best, Glenora remains at or near the top of all winery options in the area.
One thing that sets them apart right away is their dedication to long-term wine experiences.
Their 30-room inn is one of the biggest in the region and includes an acclaimed restaurant that serves seasonal and locally sourced food that is also reasonably priced, considering its quality.
Once you start your wine experience, though, you can enjoy guided tours around the winery, a comfortable and large dining room with cathedral ceilings, amazing views of the surrounding forests and Seneca Lake, relaxing stone fireplaces, and a beautiful terrace.
“Relaxation” is the big takeaway I got from Glenora.
Their whole atmosphere is designed to make this the most relaxing winery on our list. Like other wineries in the area, the Riesling is fantastic, though they also produce great fruit wines.
Related: If fruit wines are your thing then checkout wineries in Maine.
Amenities to consider here include:
- Close proximity to many off-site events, including fairs and music celebrations
- Holiday celebration and charity event options
- Private booking options, including beautiful weddings
8. Barnstormer Winery
- Website: Barnstormer Winery
- Address: 4184 State Route 14, Rock Stream, New York 14878
- Phone Number: 607-243-4008
While viticulture generally praises tradition and experience, there are some situations where newer may be better.
For example, Barnstormer Winery is one of the newest wineries on our list but has already become one of the most popular and acclaimed options that we could find.
What more can I say about the beauty of Seneca Lake wineries and the general region without repeating myself?
Barnstormer Winery makes the wise choice of sitting on top of a hill to create a unique view of the lake that, honestly, looks great during sunrises and sunsets.
If you’re into wine clubs or haven’t picked one that you like yet, you might enjoy the options at Barnstormer.
They include a few different options, including an Aviator’s Wine Club that provides club-only wines that you can’t get in any other way!
As for wines, I’d say that the whites tend to be slightly better than the reds, though the quality will vary depending on your taste.
Some people will prefer the reds because they’re of a high quality, but I was drawn repeatedly to the Sangiovese Rose and Blaufränkisch Rose.
Amenities here include:
- Multiple live music nights throughout the year
- Private event and wedding event options
- An outdoor “Flight Bar” during clear summer days
9. Castel Grisch Winery
- Website: Castel Grisch Winery
- Address: 3380 County Rte 28, Watkins Glen, New York 14871
- Phone Number: 607-535-9614
Castel Grisch Winery may take the cake when it comes to vineyard size.
They sit on over 200 acres of land, with 40 acres under vine, meaning that they use only estate-grown grapes when creating wines. As a result, their wines remain consistent and appealing with each bottle.
Like most Seneca Lake wineries, Castel Grisch sits on some beautiful landscape and provides lake views that are just as good as any other winery.
But, honestly, that’s probably the best thing about these wineries: you’ll never be at a loss for heartbreaking scenery, that’s for sure.
What about if you like bringing your dog with you to different destinations while on vacation?
Castel Grisch has a dog-friendly policy, welcoming well-behaved and leashed dogs into their winery.
While others allow outdoor dogs, this winery is one of the few options that invite pups indoors, and it’s great for dog owners or people who just love meeting new dogs.
Do you like wines you don’t get a chance to try elsewhere?
You may enjoy this winery’s Baco Noir, a varietal I don’t see a lot in Seneca. However, they also have classics like Riesling and Chardonnay that will taste great after a big meal.
Other amenities that you may enjoy when visiting here include:
- The yearly Festival Of Lights draws many, many people to the area
- Disc golf destinations in and around the vineyard to stay active
- Wedding destination options that provide a beautiful look and feel
10. Fulkerson Winery
- Website: Fulkerson Winery
- Address: 5576 Rt. 14, Dundee, New York 14837
- Phone Number: 607-243-7883
Last but certainly not least is Fulkerson Winery, which boasts the longest tradition of any option on our list.
While they didn’t start wine production until the late 20th century, the Fulkerson Family has owned this property since 1805 and has farmed it for seven generations.
That kind of family dedication creates a uniquely relaxing, comfortable, and high-quality option for wine fans.
In addition, they produce over 30 different varieties of wine and even 33 types of fresh grape juice that you can use for your personal enjoyment or when making wine at home.
Visitors may stay at the 1856 farmhouse, accommodating up to 10 people on four different queen beds.
This house includes a full kitchen, a comfortable dining room, and a relaxing living room. This booking is always in hot demand, so book ahead! And explore the many beautiful trails in and around the area.
Fulkerson is great at both white and red wines, with their Cabernet Sauvignon the highlight of the former and their Riesling of the latter.
They also have a more “party-oriented” wine line with their Zeppelin brand, one that is a bit lighter and easier for non-wine drinkers to enjoy.
Other amenities include:
- Horse back tours of the vineyard
- Full-farm tours, including in-depth discussions highlighting the unique history of this farm
- Multiple events every year, including fishing tournaments
- Probably the best wine club you’ll find at a Seneca winery
Best Seneca Lake Wineries With Restaurants
As you can see, we highlighted several wineries with restaurants that may be a good choice for you.
However, we strongly suggest Ventosa Vineyards and Belhurst Castle if you want great food.
The former has fantastic pizza that will make your mouth water, while the latter has two different restaurants with pub-style foods at one and a more upper-class feel at the other. The choice is yours here!
Overall Best Seneca Lake Winery
As always, the winery choices here are so great that it’s hard to pick one that stands out.
However, for those who want the most unique and inspiring experience, we strongly suggest Belhurst Castle.
Getting to drink wine in a castle and having two different restaurant options just pushed this one over the edge for me. Not only that, their wines are just great: no matter what varietal you choose, you get quality.
The Seneca Lake region’s undeniable natural beauty and sprawl make this a place we’re sure you’ll come back to time and time again!
I strongly suggest finding a winery with lodging options, as you can stay here and wake up before the sun rises and see it come up over the horizon on Seneca Lake.
That’s an experience that I know will stay with you long into your life.