Lonely Planet Writer

‘Water to Wine’ boozy boat tours are a unique way to discover the Finger Lakes

Any wine connoisseur worth their salt has heard of the Finger Lakes. If not, pour yourself a glass of your favourite grape and read on.

Introducing the Wino Limo! Photo courtesy of Water to Wine Tours

The region, in New York State, is known primarily for two things: its narrow, long lakes and its vineyards. The veritable ‘wine heaven’ boasts more than 130 wineries and five wine trails. Last month, the area was named as the best wine region in America by USA Today. We’ll drink to that!

Arguably the most popular wine trail is Cayunga Lake, and it’s the mission of one local man to ensure that visitors to the region experience it in the best way possible. Skip Stamberger, who has lived and boated on the famed lake for over 33 years, is the brains behind Water to Wine Tours.

The tours, on various sized boats including the ‘Wino Limo’, are the only way to take in the stunning area and the surrounding nature, while stopping at wineries approximately every half hour.

Revellers on board the Isle of Skye. Photo courtesy of Water to Wine Tours

A usual trip meanders through the lake and stops at Long Point, Sheldrake Point, and Thirsty Owl Wineries. Skip and his fellow captains, ensure that those on-board also get a unique view of the lakes, the wineries, and the area’s picturesque Victorian lakefront homes and vintage boathouses.

The tours, which rely on safe weather conditions, vary in price depending on group size. On offer are dinner cruises, scenic boat tours, ‘Happy Hour’ cruises, and private group charters for up to 15 people. As Captain Skip has also ran the local Silver Strand at Sheldrake Bed & Breakfast for two decades, you can guarantee that dining recommendations and insider tips are ‘on the house’.

If Fall at the Finger Lakes sounds like the perfect Autumnal getaway – be sure to dive into all the area has to offer.

Newly-opened Letchworth Farm B&B is an 88-acre equestrian estate that offers private access to Madonna’s former riding coach. Animal lovers will also fall head-over-hooves for the teepees at Mountain Horse Farm – a luxury farm and animal rescue center that even contains a dog hotel.

Water to Wine vessel on Cayuga Lake. Photo courtesy of Water to Wine Tours

Other highlights include the Equal Rights Heritage Center – which pays homage to New York’s most famous suffragettes and civil rights activists – as well as the area’s apple tasting tours, cidery tours, hot air balloon tours, skydiving, haunted houses, and a two mile corn maze.

With all that on offer – it will almost be hard to find time to taste the famous wine. Almost.