While many wine aficionados flock to Napa Valley, new wine regions continue to sprout up across the United States. On the East Coast, upstate New York is making a name for itself with various major wine regions, including the Niagara wine region – located just outside of Buffalo and nestled next to Lake Ontario.
On this day trip from Buffalo to Niagara wine country, be sure to visit at least the top three wineries.
The Niagara Wine Trail is a perfect day trip from Buffalo — Photo courtesy of Niagara Wine Trail
The geography and microclimate of the Niagara area make it ideal for growing grapes – especially Rieslings – and producing fruit wine and ice wine. As of early 2014, there are 19 members on the Niagara Wine Trail, a number that continues to grow. The Niagara Wine Trail has a full list of wineries for those who want to spend more time exploring beyond just a one-day stop.
While each winery has something unique to offer, there are a few standouts that provide a more robust travel experience. These three wineries make wonderful day trips for visitors from the Buffalo area, and travelers visiting the wineries of western New York during the fall have the added advantage of seeing the vibrant fall foliage that the area is famous for.
A fall harvest at Freedom Run Winery — Photo courtesy of Freedom Run Winery
Freedom Run Winery
Planted in spring of 2005, the vines at Freedom Run Winery are growing varieties of Pinot Noir, Bordeaux (Cabernet and Merlot), Riesling and Chardonnay. Visitors can see the production room and sample wines in their unique tasting room, decorated with modern artwork and designs.
Special events include movie nights on the outdoor screen, weddings and private tastings. Guests also have the option of staying overnight at the Vineyard Manor House, located on the property. The tasting room is open year-round, but movies are limited to the summer months (although they may extend in the future).
Spring Lake Winery
A day can easily be spent at the 76-acre property of Spring Lake Winery, which boasts its own private lake and nature trails.
On select dates through the fall, a unique Amtrak train excursion is offered. Upon arrival, patrons can enjoy a light breakfast and hop aboard the “Vineyard Express” for a 45-minute scenic train ride to the Medina Railroad Museum. A barbecue lunch and live music will be waiting at Spring Lake Winery when passengers return.
With events like the Niagara Wine Trail Murder Mystery, wine and food pairings, private tours and pick-your-own-grapes, there is always something going on here. Spring Lake Winery remains open through the winter months.
Relax by the water at Spring Lake Winery — Photo courtesy of Spring Lake Winery
The Winery at Marjim Manor
Located in Appleton, New York, The Winery at Marjim Manor is a 19th-century estate that is ripe with ghost stories and tales of spooky encounters. It was even featured on the television series Ghost Hunters and on the Travel Channel series Most Terrifying Places in America.
During the day, it's a relaxing place to sample specialty fruit wines in one of three tasting rooms. Some of their award winners include True Blue, a rich blueberry wine; the sweet Cherry Concerto; and Adam's Apple, a blend of cranberry apple that was their 2012 signature wine. The winery remains opens during cold months, too.