A recent overnight trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York proved to be just what the doctor ordered! Great weather, great company, and great food & drink!
The Fairfield Inn Corning Riverside was a good hotel. A few minute drive away from downtown Corning, the property was clean and comfortable, and breakfast was standard for a FFI.
This trip was supposed to be all about wineries, but our drive to the hotel had a detour which took us downtown and we decided to spend a few hours the next morning walking around before wine tasting. Corning, NY was recently ranked "most fun" small town by Rand McNally in 2013 ( Corning, NY named the 'most fun' of 2013's best small towns in America | syracuse.com).
It was refreshing to see a downtown area that had life, with a nice mix of shops and restaurants in the Gaffer District. Outside of a few chain clothing stores (Van Heusen, Bass, Tommy Hilfiger) the rest of the shops and restaurants were local independent outfits. We stopped in a local bakery that seemed to be doing a good business and purchased some delicious Tuscan Herb olive oil at Crystal City Olive Oil. Two great museums, the Corning Museum of Glass and Rockwell Museum of Western Art are located in the downtown district and are on our list for a return visit.
After two hours or so of walking around it was time to head out to Keuka Lake for wine, beer, and lunch! Our first stop led us just outside of the town of Hammondsport, NY to Bully Hill Vineyards. Bully Hill Vineyards was one of the main reasons for our trip as my brother has become a big fan of their wines. The drive up to Bully Hill has you leaving the town of Hammondsport, gradually climbing the southwest side of the lake, vineyards within reach just outside your window, and arriving at Bully Hill Vineyards on your right. The winery is quite expansive with a restaurant, gift shop, wine tasting room / store, and a museum.
The tasting room offers great views and the staff were fabulous - welcoming, informative, and all with great sense of humors. We ended up leaving the tasting room with 6 bottles to bring back home. Before heading to another winery we decided to eat lunch at Bully Hill - maybe the best decision we made the whole trip! The restaurant offers inside seating, but the outside deck overlooking the lake is the place to be. I was immediately drawn to the daily specials and was intrigued by the Irish Cuban - pulled pork, corned beef, sauerkraut, pickles, swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing on toast! It was fabulous - the combination of the pulled pork and corned beef was done just right. The others in my traveling party got a burger (very good) and the Portabella Crab Cake - Maryland style crab cake atop a grilled portabella mushroom cap, topped with pan seared scallops - another great dish prepared perfectly. To top off lunch we shared a piece of homemade peanut butter pie (I'd been eyeing it up halfway through my Irish Cuban)! The views, the wine, and most especially the restaurant all make Bully Hill a must!
Leaving Bully Hill we made our way to Heron Hill Winery, a five minute drive or so up the lake. Heron Hill was a quality winery, a good selection of wines, welcoming staff, and great views of the lake. With five o'clock approaching and most of the wineries closing we decided we would swing by Keuka Brewing Company. Within a few minutes we were pulling up to a nondescript building that housed the Keuka Brewing Company. It was 15 minutes or so away from closing time, but the staff were happy to see us and were very welcoming. $3 got you a shot glass size tasting of the five beers they had on tap. The "Afterburner" Habanero Ale was something else - the heat did not hit you as soon as you sipped, but the aftertaste was brutal - like you just ate a habanero. It wasn't for me, but props to the brewers for brewing it. The Bluff Point Brown was a great beef and the Fat Stack - a maple pecan porter was unique.