Wine Tasting Trips by Boat … Things to Do in the Finger Lakes

Wine tasting trips by boat? A real novelty and more. A relaxing way to combine a boat tour of Cayuga Lake and a wineries tour.
As far as wine trails in the US, this is the only place where you can do a wineries tour by water. Not even on any of the other Finger Lakes. The experience is likely to be the most leisurely and relaxing Finger Lakes wine tour you’ve ever taken.
the wineries
The wineries are a great                         attraction.

Wine Tasting Trips … the wineries

There are 6 wineries that operate boat docks for access to their wineries: Thirsty Owl, Sheldrake Point, Goose Watch, Long Point,
Knapp and Buttonwood Grove. We have visited them all and would return to them all. But we have two favorites we recommend:
Thirsty Owl Wine Company
Good wine selection and quality, but we really love two other elements of this winery … its Bistro (and particularly its chef) and its gorgeous patio overlooking the vineyard and Cayuga Lake. It is the perfect setting for lunch from the Bistro. Tie up to their dock and give them a call to pick you up for the drive up the hill (short golf cart drive, but too distant to walk).
Sheldrake Point Winery
Sheldrake Point Winery is located a mere stone’s throw from its boat dock, the closest of the six. You can walk to the winery by crossing the road right on the lake. This is a very nice property with great wine options and several nice patios and great garden and lake views. They were the New York State winery of the year in both 2009 and 2010 … with a great staff not afraid of trying new ideas. Late in the year they started offering wine boxes which included a bottle of wine with a selection of wine snacks for the patio.

Places to launch your boat

Planning on doing the tour with your own boat? Here are the best places to start the tour:
Taughannock Falls State Park
Go swimming in Cayuga Lake, take advantage of the boat rentals, and boat launching capabilities.
Long Point State Park
The park provides boat launch facilities, a beach with swimming area, picnic areas, and fishing access. Outdoor amenities include: boat dock; picnic table; fire ring and grill; and small lawn area.

Places to rent a boat

Taughannock Falls State Park
Go swimming in Cayuga Lake, take advantage of the boat rentals, and boat launching capabilities.
Ithaca Yacht Club
Lots of nice boats.
Hibiscus Harbor Marina
Good place to start the tour also.  Harbor Drive, Union Springs
boat tours
Several boat tours to choose from.

Wine Tasting Trips … boat tours

Two charter boat operators – Water to Wine Tours and School’s Out Charters — now offer guided cruises with winery ports of call on Cayuga Lake, the only lake in the region currently set-up to accommodate wine visitors by tour boat.
Skip Stamberger, who started Water to Wine tours last year, has three passenger boats on the lake. He took 750 people out to the wineries last year and hopes to build on that this year.
What he and Rick Eleck of School’s Out Charters offer is a glimpse of the wine region from a different angle.
Not to mention a different speed, as measured in both knots and pace.
Boat tours add another dimension to touring the area, visiting the wineries and tasting the wine. It is a great one of a kind.
Water to Wine Tours
Tours leave from Interlaken/Sheldrake on the west shore or Aurora on the east shore.
Uses three boats. Two of his boats, a mahogany-lined “Gentleman’s Runabout” and a New England-style lobster boat, take 6 to 8 passengers. The Isle of Skye takes 15. He offers happy hour cruises and dinner cruises from Aurora, along with the winery tours. Season is early May to late October.
School’s Out Charters
Tours leave from Myer’s Point in Lansing, but will also pick up passengers at Taughannock Falls State Park. Tour has two boats, a 22-foot “fast” Chapparal Bowrider and a 30-foot commercial pontoon boat. His private or group cruises can be customized, and involve a 45 minute or so ride to the first winery.
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 Have you toured these wineries by boat? What was your impression?  Have any stories of your visits to pass on to this community?
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More reading on travel recommendations from Digital Sparks Marketing’s Library:
4 Extraordinary Vacation Ideas and Recommendations
4 Awesome Activities Touring the Thousand Islands
8 Awesome Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Region
12 Amazing Finger Lakes Resorts for Getaway Celebrations
Mike Schoultz is a digital marketing and customer service expert. With 48 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+FacebookTwitter, Digital Spark Marketing, and LinkedIn.
Wine Tasting Trips by Boat … Things to Do in the Finger Lakes