Embark on a Self-Guided Wintertime Ithaca Wine Tour

Ithaca, NY: The Finger Lakes’ Wintertime Wonder


When Ithaca hurriedly transforms from a kaleidoscope of autumnal color to a wintry wonderland, many travelers assume that the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail also “goes cold.” It’s certainly true that most tourists disperse once the vines freeze, but the wintertime is actually the best opportunity to get an up-close-and-personal Ithaca wine tour at some of the region’s finest vineyards. La Tourelle, a 70-acre, French Chateau-style estate that hugs Ithaca’s Buttermilk Falls State Park, is minutes away from over a dozen wineries near serene Cayuga Lake. The aforementioned Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is the oldest of its kind here in the U.S., so there’s also a healthy dose of historical significance that further enhances the experience.

Ithaca, NY: The Finger Lakes’ Wintertime Wonder

Just to reiterate, most wineries and tasting rooms remain open, even in the heart of winter. Thanks to a lack of crowds and thirsty tourists, embarking on a self-guided Ithaca wine tour is never as seamless as it is from early January through early April. Instead of hibernating during these frostiest of days, vintners and owners gleefully approach wintertime guests with a genuine eagerness to “talk shop” with oenophiles and casual connoisseurs alike. One of the most unique aspects of these face-to-face encounters is that visitors often get a first-hand look at how ice wine is made. Many label ice wine as “one of the sweetest mistakes nature ever made” as it’s two times the sweetness of a Coca-Cola. The juice is so sweet that it takes three to six months to make ice wine. Many are surprised to discover that some grapes thrive during frigid temperatures, including Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Riesling, and Vidal Blanc.


It goes without saying, but don’t forget to make reservations well in advance. Most of these Ithaca area wineries are operating at less than half capacity during these unique times.

A Self-Guided Ithaca Wine Tour

As we noted several months ago, five of the best wineries near Ithaca include Six Mile Creek Winery, Ports of New York, Bet the Farm Winery, Lucas Vineyards, and Treleaven Wines. Six Mile Creek, winner of the New York Wine Classic’s coveted Governor’s Cup, is gladly offering wine tastings (reservations required). Treleaven is reopening as of January 25, while Bet the Farm and Lucas Vineyards zero in on return dates. For a complete list of winery policies and procedures, please visit the Wine Trail’s website. You’ll instantly obtain the latest on group maximums, reservations, tasting locations, and hours of operation via a downloadable chart or a list of current winery offerings. As they note on the website, “We’re still here for the winter, but things are a bit different.”


Your self-guided Ithaca wine tour will likely require a small bit of planning, but it’s well worth the effort, as we don’t expect an influx of tourists this winter. It’s sure to be a peaceful, serene winter here in the Finger Lakes.

Rejuvenating Spa Resorts in New York: La Tourelle

La Tourelle is so much more than “just” a historic, Chateau-style marvel set amid Ithaca’s peaceful southerly hillside. It’s a culinary staple, a renowned spa, a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, and the city’s most unique lodging option. This countryside palace is proud to be a family-owned establishment—one that flawlessly acts as a refuge for couples and families alike. Not only is La Tourelle minutes away from Cornell University, Ithaca College, and a bevy of year-round wineries, but you won’t have to hop back into the car to dine on gourmet cuisines, enjoy a massage, stroll past waterfalls, and relax beside a crackling fireplace.


To book a well-deserved wintertime escape to the Finger Lakes, please check availability online (or connect with a reservationist at 607-273-2734).