Bonnie’s Wine Tour

Saturday I waved the drivers off on their tours and headed out on one of my own with a friend. The day was beautiful with crisp, cold air and bright sunshine. I had read online that Silver Thread was opening for the season and was hosting complimentary tasting with local foods. Off we went. The drive to Silver Thread is a lovely lane winding down toward Seneca Lake. Past sleeping vineyards, over a wooden bridge, past a barn and only then do we see the peak of the tasting room. Although well off the road, the tasting room was a buzz with people sampling and talking.   I enjoy both red and white wines so sampled some of each. I began with the Dry Riesling. As I always tell my guests, take 3 sips before you really decide upon the wine. The first sip laid the foundation, the second built on the flavor and after I took the third sip and moved the wine around my mouth, I tasted the explosion of citrus flavors and the complexity of the wine…not just one single taste, but a variety of interesting flavors that we have come to expect from Riesling. In addition, Shannon and Paul were offering a discount as this wine with a vintage close out sale, so this was certainly a win/win!   The other white wine samplings were equally amazing. I went on to sample the Pinot Noir which was absolutely delicious. This is one of my favorite vinifera wines, but seems to be harder and harder to find in the Finger Lakes. This is a temperamental grape which some wineries have decided to eliminate from their vineyards and/or repertoire of wines. Another fantastic wine is the 2015 Blackbird. The unique name indicates that this is a blended wine, 76% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is an Estate wine which means they grew 100% of the grapes on their own property and under the watchful eye of Paul Brock. In addition to the wine, there was cheese from Muranda Cheese and Butternut Squash seed oil from Stony Brook to sample.

Well, after that great start, I was in the tasting groove. As we were traveling along the East side of Seneca Lake, we noticed that Shale Stone was open for the season…a very pleasant surprise. They “only do Reds” so we were in seventh heaven. Their Syrah was the MOST delicious and on the WOWZA list. I highly recommend you give that one a taste. We also tasted Red Legend and Crossrows. Rob Thomas is the master of reds and has worked with many of the local vintners to learn how to make a balanced and complex red wine.

Just a bit further down the road, we stopped into Hector Wine Company. This is a relaxing and welcoming place where we bought some cheese and bread to enjoy with Justin’s delicious wines. I stayed with the reds here and sampled Soul Red, a blend of grapes including Syrah and Lemberger, which are 2 of my favorites, although there is only 17% of these combined with Cabernet Sauvignon making up the major player. Very economical at $16.00 a bottle, this is a real winner! Justin also served us the 2015 Cabernet Franc and 2014 Essence, the latter again a blend of grapes with 47% Cab Sauv, 36% Merlot and 17% Cab Franc. Finally, he poured us the 2016 HWC Syrah. Oh, so good!   All of the wines are hand harvested here so the fruit is not bruised by the grape harvesters which vibrate the grapes off the vine. You can just imagine how that impacts the grape.

Newcomers to the Finger Lakes think they know that we don’t “do” good reds in the Finger Lakes, especially, the Syrah, but they haven’t tasted the reds on the East side of Seneca. The hot summer sun pounds down on the lakeside slopes through most of the day and produces a rich and flavorful grape. When this grape gets into the hands of our fantastic vintners, they explode with flavor and complexity that the Finger Lakes is now becoming known for.


We had such an interesting and fun day that I never thought to take even one photo. Shame on me! I can only recommend that you visit and try for yourselves.



Fun at Fulkerson Winery

This past Saturday, I had a great group of ladies.  They enjoyed every stop.  Their favorite server of the day was Linda at Fulkerson Winery.  This is a wonderful time of the year to visit the Finger Lakes because there are fewer people here and the servers can spend some extra time with you.  Linda at Fulkerson pulled out all the stops and gave my friends a great time.  They preferred sweeter wines and Fulkerson wines did not disappoint.  From Sunset Blush to Matinee, they enjoyed them all.  The girls insisted upon us all getting into the shot.  Of course, if you like dry wines, Fulkerson also has plenty of those.  Something for everyone!


Three Brothers Winery

My girls on Saturday had a great time at Three Brothers Winery.  They enjoyed each of the tasting rooms there.  Three Wineries with wines from drier to sweet are offered, but I really think it is the fun staff and the ambiance of the property which attracts guests.  They always tell me how entertaining and knowledgeable the servers are.  There is even an opportunity to get something to eat as well as taste the local craft brews.  In the summer, we can look forward to music on the weekends.    It is one stop that everyone needs to experience when they visit the Finger Lakes.  Dave Mansfield and his staff are always making changes to bring more entertainment and enjoyment to visitors.  For more information,

Wine news for Lakewood Vineyards!


Everyone at Grapevine Country Tours LOVES Lakewood!!!

Lakewood Vineyards 2017 Bubbly Candeo was awarded Best Sparkling wine at the Florida State Fair International Wine Competition recently held in Tampa, Florida. After being awarded a Double Gold Medal (unanimous gold) in its class, the Bubbly Candeo was awarded Best Sparkling Wine among all winning sparklers in the competition.

Bubbly Candeo was not the only Lakewood wine to win Double Gold. The 2016 Dry Riesling, 2016 Riesling and 2016 Pinot Gris were all awarded Double Gold to round out a strong showing for Lakewood’s entries. held a readers’ poll asking people to vote for their favorite upstate New York winery. The top five wineries in the voting were then visited by three members of the team—and they named Lakewood Vineyards the Judges’ Choice Award Winner.

During their visit, the judges were especially fond of our Bubbly Candeo, a light, crisp sparkler similar to Prosecco. They also enjoyed the Lemberger, naming it Best Dry Red in their quest for the best.

Lakewood Vineyards president Chris Stamp says, “Thank you to all the fans who voted us into the final round, and to the judges who took their time to come experience Lakewood’s wines first-hand. We truly appreciate the recognition.”

Lakewood is open daily for wine tasting and sales: 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and 12pm to 5pm Sunday.

Coming out of Hibernation?

Seems that people are ready to get out and get going!  Lots of calls and lots of bookings.  Personally, I think May and June are the best times to visit the Finger Lakes.  It is a time when the weather is improving and school isn’t out yet so there are not as many people traveling.  Let’s face it:  wine tastes great any time of the year.

Bottomless Brewing near Geneva, NY

For most of my life, I have driven past this dairy barn just off Route 96A on East Lake Road.  Pretty much there was nothing going on there most of the time, except for occasionally some hay being loaded onto a flat bed.  That has changed in the past few years!  Bottomless Brewery transformed into a hot spot of the region.  This is a farm brewery that serves their own beer which is brewed on property.  Among other brews, they have Cider, Raspberry Wheat, Belgian Wit, Pilsner, Pale Ale, and Oak Smoked Brown Ale.  Yesterday I took my couple in there as the final stop on their tour.  My couple was from the Scranton area and visit the area 2-3 times every year.  We met 2 couples from Michigan who had been traveling for 8 hours to get to the Finger Lakes and to Bottomless Brewery.  We chatted about the other breweries and wineries in the area.  The one couple had been here in the Fall and loved it so much that they wanted to bring some friends back, so here they were.  It just goes to show how far and wide our reputation has spread.  I am proud to live here and to be able to show off what we have!  These are some pics I took from the top floor at Bottomless Brewing.  Check out their website to see the progression from Dairy barn to brewery.

Lake Drum Brewing, A Success Story

In November 2014, Victor Pultinas founded Lake Drum Brewing; through guidance and funding, he has created a successful brewery in the heart of downtown Geneva.  One of the building blocks to that success was hiring Rick Morse to brew the beers.  They make a wide variety of beer including IPAs, pilsners, lagers, porters and stouts.  They continue to concentrate on the sours and cider. He has an eclectic variety including hop cider, spiced cherry cider and cider made with currants.

Lake Drum Brewing got its name from the booming noises sometimes heard on the lake.  The Native Americans used to believe the sounds were from the ancestors that had passed, but scientists think it may be from gas that is coming up from the bottom of the lake and making the sound when it reaches the air.

Victor says “what I like about this job is meeting really good people, working in a good environment and doing something I love every day.”

Open—Fridays 3pm to 1am, Saturday 4pm till 2am.  Stop into 16 E. Castle St, Geneva, NY 315 789 1200

Congratulations, Victor!!!

This blog was taken from portions of an article in the Finger Lakes Times, February 8,2018

Winter in the Finger Lakes

I love the Finger Lakes in the Winter!   Just look at these pics!  There is beauty here year round.  Last week I drove to Connecticut to visit family and as I drove through the Finger Lakes, I was awestruck by the beauty that was all around me.  The waterfalls are located in the Southern parts of the Finger Lakes. These two below are near Watkins Glen.   We have the melting waters of the glaciers to thank for the waterfalls in our region.  I love the way you can see the terrain of the hills when the leaves are off the trees. It appears that there is nothing to hide.  The crisp winter air makes a freshness and clarity that isn’t here other times of the year.  The brilliant snow upon the ground glistens with purity.  It is a beautiful place, and I have been fortunate enough to call it home for my entire life.  Aren’t I just the lucky one?



Beautiful Seneca Lake

Aunt Sarah’s Falls

Now partnering with Belhurst Castle for wine tour packages

Experience your very own Wine Tour around the beautiful Seneca Lake! We’ve partnered with Grapevine Country Tours to offer guests a one-of-a-kind Wine Tour!

Tourin’ Around Seneca Lake includes:

  • A chauffeured, five-hour Wine Tour for wine tasting and sightseeing on the scenic Seneca Lake Wine Trail courtesy of Grapevine Country Tours
  • Overnight accommodations for one evening at any one of Belhurst’s three hotels: Belhurst Castle Chambers Hotel, Vinifera Inn or White Springs Manor
  • A Continental Breakfast for two

Rates: Please call our reservation specialists at 315-781-0201 ext. 2 for in-season pricing

Availability: Sunday through Friday now through March 1


Call hotel directly to reserve your hotel wine tour package 315 781 0201

New York Wine and Food Classic August 2017

The New York Wine & Food Classic has become known as “The Oscars” of the New York wine industry. The 21 judges include wine writers, wine educators, retailers, restaurateurs and other experts from around the State and country. All samples are judged “blind” on their own merits, with the “Governor’s Cup” and other awards made public as soon as possible after the competition ends. Stay tuned for the results….next week!