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The Fall Bucket List: A Drive Around Wine Country

vino in the vineyard

By Jennifer Weber

One of the many advantages to living in Western New York includes our lovely, and most of the time agreeable, four season weather forecast and proximity to the Great Lakes. This perfect combination creates the ideal atmosphere for grape growing and winemaking. And there’s no shortage of wineries out there, just a short drive away, waiting for you to discover. Pro tip: while driving through the picturesque country road wine trails, make sure to keep your windows down to soak in the aroma. The smell of grapes in the air, a clear sign that fall has arrived in Western New York.

Savage Winery located at 11300 Savage Road, Chaffee NY is a place where you can sample delicious beers, ciders, wines and wine slushies (I highly recommend the Loganberry) and get up close with animals on the farm including alpacas, a few sheep and a couple of miniature goats. The winery is the perfect place to create your own informal event outside at the gazebo while playing a game of cornhole or inside watching the game on the flatscreen TV. Visit www.savagewinery.com for more information.

The Winery of Ellicottville, located at 14 Monroe Street in Ellicottville, crafts over 18 varieties on-site, using only local grapes and all natural ingredients. Stop in for a tasting or browse the shop for unique wine-related gifts. For more information, visit www.wineryofellicottville.com.

Lake Erie Wine Country, formerly known as the Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail consists of 23 wineries located between 50 miles of vineyards between Silver Creek, NY and Harborcreek, PA and is known as the “largest grape growing region east of the Rockies.” Upcoming events include their annual Harvest Wine Celebration the weekends of Nov. 3-5 and Nov. 10-12 where visitors get the chance to sample delicious wine and food pairings at each winery on the trail over the three day weekend. For tickets and more information visit www.lakeeriewinecountry.org

Other upcoming events at individual wineries on the Lake Erie Wine Trail.

21 Brix Winery, located at 6654 West Main, Portland, NY is celebrating their 6th birthday on Saturday, Sept. 16 starting at noon. Lloyd’s Taco Truck will be joining the festivities as well as the acoustic duo Left of Center. In addition to birthday cupcakes and well, wine of course. Don’t forget to take a selfie with the giant elephant while visiting! For more information visit www.21brix.com

Noble Winery, located at 8630 Hardscrabble Road, Westfield, NY presents Murder on the Petulant Express, a night of intrigue, appetizers and wine on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. For more information and tickets visit www.noblewinery.com.

Liberty Vineyards & Winery, located at 2861 U.S. 20, Sheridan, NY offers horse-drawn wagon rides through the vineyards on Sept. 23, Sept. 30 and Oct. 7 from 1:30-4 p.m. Along the path, your guide will show you different varieties of grapes grown in the vineyard and explain how they make their wine. At the end of the ride, enjoy a special wine tasting. For more information and tickets visit www.libertywinery.com.

Merritt Estate Winery, located at 2264 King Road, Forestville, NY hosts several festival weekends throughout the year and is open for tastings on the weekends, but in addition to the winery you can find them on their Slush Bus at events all over Western New York. Upcoming event appearances include the Peek’ n Peak Fall Festival on Sept. 14-15, Silver Creek Festival of Grapes from Sept. 15 -17, Oinkfest at the Great Pumpkin Farm on September 23rd-24th and the Colden Arts Festival & Belle Star Music Festival on Saturday, Sept. 30. For more information, visit www.merrittestatewinery.com.

The Niagara Wine Trail USA includes 21 wineries across Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties between the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario. Upcoming events include their annual Harvest Festival the weekend of Sept. 23-24, where visitors will sample a harvest-themed dish and sample three wines at 10 participating wineries. Visit www.niagarawinetrail.org for tickets and more information.

Across the border in Canada, discover the Niagara-on-the-Lake Wine Trail, which includes over 20 wineries below the Niagara Escarpment between the Niagara River Parkway to Lake Ontario. The signature Fall Event: Taste the Season takes place every weekend in November from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.  which includes wine and food pairing at each member winery. Visit www.wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com for tickets and more information.

And last but not least, for the most dizzying array of wineries, take the drive out to Finger Lakes Wine Country and explore over 120 wineries. The Finger Lakes region offers several wine trails including the Cayuga Wine Trail (with 16 wineries), the Keuka Lake Trail (with 8 wineries) and the Seneca Lake Wine Trail (with 35 wineries.) Visit www.fingerlakeswinecountry.com for more information.

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