New York State
Best wine destination in 2013: New York State.
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We’ve come a long way from New York’s unfortunate viticultural history of Lambrusco grapes that yielded mass-produced, bottom-of-the-market sparklers. Though New York State holds our nation’s oldest continually operating winery (the Hudson Valley’s Brotherhood Winery, all of 300 years old), it’s only relatively recently that New York wines have come into their own. Modern developments in cold-climate viticulture have helped to boost the process, as has today’s growing determination to drink locally produced wine. With every growing season that passes, New York State produces ever more coveted wines.
All of New York’s primary wine regions—Long Island, the Finger Lakes, and the Hudson Valley—can be found within a day’s drive of Westchester. Just up the River, Hudson Valley wineries are so close that it’s hard to consider a visit “travel,” while Long Island’s North Fork wineries are popular pit stops for pricey summer vacations in the Hamptons or on the North Fork (so, perhaps not for the budget-conscious). But the Finger Lakes region (named for a series of long, narrow, glacial lakes that hang like tassels north-to-south below Lake Ontario), at about four and a half hours up the Thruway, can offer a truly luxurious, bargain getaway and an airport-free way to experience winemaking.
Stay: Overlooking Seneca Lake in Geneva, New York, Belhurst Castle is a former private estate built in the 1880s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During Prohibition, the turreted stone mansion was operated as an illegal casino and speakeasy lubricated by alcohol smuggled from Canada via Lake Ontario. Now, Belhurst is a luxury hotel with a vineyard that produces award-winning dry and semi-dry Rieslings. Rooms in the Castle start at $155 per night. (4069 Rte 14S, Geneva 315-781-0201; belhurst.com)