If you are looking for something to do this weekend, I recommend you check out the local wine trail. You would never think that Western New York was wine country,but we are blessed with many wineries in the area that offer a wide variety of wines. My family decided to enjoy a kid free Sunday Funday (very rare) and have some grown up fun last weekend. My mama, aunt, sister (not the 18yr old one), brother and a friend of the family loaded into my step dad’s mini van and he drove us along the wine trail. You should definitely consider having a designated driver, it is easy to drink a bit too much with so many small tastes. We only made it to 7 of the wineries this time, but I have been to most of them at one time or another.
Before leaving, I packed some snacks. Snacks are essential when drinking all afternoon. I brought healthy stuff- veggies, an herby greek yogurt dip, hummus, gluten free pretzels and some fresh fruit (not pictured). My aunt brought cheese, pepperoni and crackers.
Our first stop Mazza Chautauqua Cellars . This is a really clean, simple place. There is a small tasting bar, a small cafe area (which has always been closed when I have been there) and a small shop area. The employees are always super friendly and helpful. I enjoy their Bare Bones White and Bare Bones Red- depending on the season. They are great table wines and a safe bet to bring to share at a book club or dinner party.
Next up was Johnson Estate Winery. When I used to drink sweet wine, I drank A LOT of their Concord. It’s like grape juice. While I am happy not to drink such sweet wine anymore, I like some of their other ones and I love the space. It is kind of dark and cellar like in here, in a really beautiful way. My family members are not actually big wine drinkers so they really enjoyed some of the sweet wines offered here. I bought a bottle of their Proprietor’s Red. Another semi dry table wine that goes with just about anything.
Noble Winery was our third stop. This may be my favorite winery. They offer a wide range of wines, but more than their wine, I really enjoy the atmosphere. It is a large space and very open. There is seating indoors and out. They offer cheese plates and some other small dishes, but they strongly encourage you to pack a picnic and enjoy it on the property overlooking the vineyards. The staff is very friendly too. My favorite part of this place has absolutely nothing to do with wine. They have dogs there. They just roam the property and visit with people. They are super nice and love to get their bellies rubbed. I only saw one this time but there have been two the other times I visited. I bought a bottle of their Marechal Foch described as “Dry earthy wine with a splash of dark cherry & bramble,pairs well w/greek food”. This was my first time tasting it and I really liked it. (I haven’t been into reds in a couple of years and I am happy to be back to them this Fall)
After some snacks in the car, our next step was Quincy Cellars. I absolutely love this space and put it on the short list for possible future wedding venues long before I had a partner I even considered marrying. My family was not a huge fan of the wines offered here because there wasn’t much sweet stuff on the tasting menu, but I always enjoy their wines. I don’t remember exactly what I bought here, but I am pretty sure it was a white wine. I like to keep a few around for lighter dinners that would be overpowered by a red wine.
Next up was a family favorite, Heritage Wine Cellars. While I think the space is pretty interesting and I sometimes like the informal vibe, I am not that into their wines. They all just seem a bit too sweet for me. They just leave an open bottle of each of their wines on the counter with little tasting cups and it is kind of a free for all. I think I might get a better read off from some of their wines if they were chilled. Luckily, my family really enjoys their sweet wines and bought more here than anywhere else.
Next we visited a winery I had never been to and will most likely never return to, Arrowhead Wine Cellars. The space definitely felt more like a store than a winery with tons of merchandise like cheesy tshirts and wine novelty items everywhere and the staff was pretty rude. They did have a good Chardonnay and I am not usually a fan. My family enjoyed some of their sparkling wines.
Our last stop was mostly for me, Sensory Winery & Art Gallery. This is just such a cool space and I love seeing the ever changing art exhibits. They always have different wines here because they generally only make a big enough batch to last about a year, so there is always something new to try. Most of the wines here are on the drier side, which is perfect for me.
My failed attempt at a sibling photo. I cut off part of my sister’s face and you wouldn’t even know my brother was supposed to be in here. This honestly had more to do with being very out of practice taking group selfie shots with and actual camera than it did with the wine I had been drinking ;)
It was an awesome way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Fall is my favorite time to go on a mini wine tour because you get the added bonus of enjoying the beautiful fall colors in our area. There is a small fee for tasting at some wineries, but none are more than $5 and many are free. I always spend quite a bit of money stocking up on wine, but you don’t have to do that and you would have a really fun experience without spending much money.
Have you ever been on a wine tour? What is your favorite winery you have visited?