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From A to Z on the CLWT

America’s First Wine Trail. The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is the first of its kind in the country, formed in 1983 and this year it celebrates its 35th year!

The Cayuga Lake wine trail is the first of its kind in the country, formed in 1983

Beauty. Cayuga Lake is home to some of the most stunning views of vineyard-clad lake sides, rolling hills and waterfalls. Carved by glaciers, it’s the longest and second deepest of the Finger Lakes, at 38.2 miles long and 435 feet deep at its deepest point. It reaches 53 feet below sea level, and along with Seneca Lake, it is among the deepest lakes in North America. The 87-mile loop around the lake was named a New York State Scenic Byway in 2002 by the New York State Department of Transportation.

Cayuga. It’s pronounced kay-oo-guh, not to be confused with our crooked neighbor to the west, Keuka Lake, which sounds almost the same over the phone.

Dogs. All 14 member wineries are pet-friendly and invite you to bring your furry companions along.

Estate Winery. An estate winery is one that grows 100% of their own grapes.

Finger Lakes. Cayuga Lake is 1 of the 11 Finger Lakes. The rest: Otisco, Skaneateles, Owasco, Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Honeoye. Canadice, Hemlock, and Conesus.

Governor’s Cup. In 2017, Buttonwood Grove winery won the Governor’s Cup for their 2016 Riesling, which is the equivalent of winning the Oscars.

Horizontal tastings. Travel the Trail tastings Rieslings from the same vintage, but grown in different vineyards and produced by different winemaker.

Ithaca. This diverse city is the southern gateway to the Trail, making it a great place to call your home-away-from-home for your next visit.

January. Or any winter month, really, is one of the best times for a wine tasting. Yes, we’re still open, but because it’s a slower time of the year, you may get a wine tasting from the owner or wine maker themselves!

Knapp. A winery with a restaurant with a vineyard view and menu not to miss!

Late Harvest. Harvest is delayed for a few types of grapes, to create a sweeter wine. The longer the wine is on the vine, the more sugar content it gets. It’s usually picked when it’s roughly 17 degrees out.

Mead. The Martin family started out as bee keepers and eventually began producing honey wine, or mead. It is still a major focus of their product line. 

New world. Per the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, our state is the new world of world-class wines.

Oenology. Studying winemaking is readily available with programs at both Cornell University and Finger Lakes Community College.

Premium wines. The Trail’s profile of winemakers is very diverse, ranging from self-taught to highly trained, some who have been in the industry for decades and some who are recent graduates from local viticulture programs. Each of them is capable of producing premium wines.

Quality. We guarantee a high quality product and experience.

Residual sugar. Some wineries will list or tell you the RS in each wine. This is the sugar that remains in the wine after fermentation completes. The higher the RS, the sweeter the wine will be.

Spirits. Four of the wineries make distilled products from their left over grapes.

Terroir. The steep hillsides, rich soil content and distinct microclimates create a prime grape-growing terroir that result in vibrant wines.

Upstate New York. The Trail is located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region.

Vertical tastings. Although rarely offered, a vertival tasting is when you’re able to sample the same time of wine, but in 4 or 5 different vintages. If ever given the change, it’s highly recommended, and a great way to taste how the aging process positively affects the flavor.

Water. We have lots of it, which makes for great growing conditions.

Xtended. (A reach, I know, but it’s a hard letter!) The Finger Lakes region has an extended growing season of about 190-205 days due to the radiant heat that the lakes provide the hillside vineyards into fall.

You. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you, our loyal wine drinkers!

Zinderella. Long Point Winery puts a slight twist on traditional Zinfandel by adding sugar to create a sweet light-bodied red with hints of raspberry and watermelon. They serve it chilled.

Katherine Chase