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Finger Lakes, NY by car

Author: Marjorie B.
Date of Trip: July 2010

I asked to use the bathroom and as I entered the nice clean facility, I heard her yell out the door, "Turn the water on! We have customers!" So I was not too surprised when I squirted the soap on my hands and there was no water to rinse it off. When I came out she apologized but I told her that was fine. I had wipes in the car. As we left we saw her husband coming up to his childhood home from the fields and the children going about their daily chores. They run a large farm along with starting their own winery. They were new to the "trail" and I'm sure they will do fine. She also directed us to another winery close by so we were officially on the Keuka Lake Wine Trail.

The Hunt Country Vineyards was not difficult to find on Rt 32 right off 54A in Branchport, which is at the tip of Keuka Lake. This was a fancy place compared to our first winery. The gift shop was awesome. John eyed a "wine bottle puzzle" as we walked around. We did the tasting which (I think) was $5.00 for 4. We chose to split the tasting. I did the whites; he did the reds. We were not really impressed besides they were a little pricey. We did go back to the gift area and John purchased his wine bottle puzzle. It sure is a neat little thing. It is the size of a regular wine bottle and it comes apart a certain way. Of course then you have to put it back together. I'll let him play with that. We left there and got back on 54A around noon.

Now we got side tracked by another little sign that read "pottery". Well, let's give that a shot. Again we are driving down or should I say up a country road seemingly to no where. We lost the sign. We decided to turn around -- we had passed the place where I thought we should go a little further -- and as we turned into a little driveway of a very little old house, a car stopped behind us. Wouldn't you know it, of all the places in the immense countryside -- with no other traffic, we pulled into THEIR driveway. Anyway we pulled in and then out onto the street, motioned that we were sorry, they smiled, then we took off to continue looking for the pottery place.

We went onto roads that had just been paved and some with loose gravel -- not fun. Anyway, we happen to see the sign again so we turn around and went down another little country road and there was this little house off on the left sitting back from the road. In the tree filled back yard is clothes hanging on the line and a large, rather run down garage like structure. There was a sign in the front yard that read,"Pottery", so John pulled in. I said, "this can't be right!" But then I glanced inside of the one section of the barn and there was pottery on display. Havill Pottery, 8921 Coryell Road, Branchport NY (607) 868-3151.

We got out and walked up to the door at the same time the lady walked out of her house greeting us at the display room door. She let us in and as I looked around. I thought, "I'm buying something here -- I don't care what. I have to have something that they made!" Very nice, quality pieces every one of them. I decided on a hanging pot which was one of the cheaper pieces ($29). But I was very happy to get it. She did not take credit cards so I had to dip into my cash but I didn't hesitate. I asked her if she had any pieces being sold locally. She said several wineries had some of her pieces for sale. She gave me paper magazine Summertime 2010 published by the Chronicle-Express which contained an article written about her and her husband's business. I left there very happy at 12:40pm!

Now let's get back to the wineries! Back onto 54A we saw a beautiful winery up on a hill and it was calling to us. So we turned down the long drive off County Road 76, Hammondsport, NY to Heron Hill Winery.

Tasting here was $2 for 4 tasting. We enjoyed all of them. I also happened to notice one of several pots on the tasting bar. It looked familiar. I picked it up to check the bottom for a signature and sure enough it was from Havill Pottery. I didn't realize at the time but they used the pots for people to dump wine into if they don't like it. Not a good move on my part. Whatever - I was impressed.

We both liked the one white wine on special (of course, cost does enter into your choice -- at least it does for us). So we purchased a bottle of Eclipse White. They uncorked it for us and gave us two glasses so we could sit outside in the gazebo and enjoy "life".

As we walked through their gift shop to the patio we noticed several more pieces of Havill Pottery on sale. I said "yes, I have one of those pieces!!"

Now for the good part. We got a great table under a very high gazebo type roof. It was in the corner so John could be in the shade and I could enjoy the sun. He poured us each a glass then he went to the car to get our cooler of fruit, cheese and crackers. I'm not sure if they really approved of this practice but since we had purchased a bottle from them they sort of looked the other way. This was our lunch and it was fantastic. Cheese, crackers, fruit and great wine along with a fantastic view of the Keuka Lake. It doesn't get much better that this!

At 2:30pm we left our Heron Hill respite and on to Hammondsport. We had heard so much about it we felt we had to check it out. Passing several other wineries we headed to our desired destination. We arrived in the steaming metropolis of Hammondsport at 2:45 and parked by the post office -- free. Walked around the little quaint town and stopped in a few shops. That was it! Back to the car and out of the town at 3:06.

We stopped at Ravines, tasted buy did not buy. Didn't strike our fancy. The gentleman behind the bar commented on John's t-shirt. It had a picture of Einstein holding a glass of wine with the saying: Albert Wine-Stein -- Drink a Few Glasses and become a Genius.

Onward to Barrington Cellars, 2794 Gray Road off Rt 54. This was out of the way also but very worth it. Arrived at 4:01. No charge for tasting and we liked the wine. We bought a case:1/2 white and1/2 red. Now we were both happy. They do give you deals if you buy a case. We left there at 4:20 and realized we were hungry for real food.

One thing I must mention again: EVERYTHING CLOSES AT 5:00 PM.

We had seen signs for The Switzerland Inn so that was our goal, to find this little place. We had to back track a bit toward Hammondsport but we were on a mission. I don't know how John found the street but all of a sudden there it was. At 4:31 we were at 14109 Keuka Village Rd, Hammondsport, NY -- located off the main street and right on the edge of the water. I asked people who were coming out of the restaurant if it was any good. They said, "it was fine. We've been here before." Well that was good enough for us plus we were hungry. We walked in and were seated on the outside balcony overlooking the boat docks. It was neat plus we were the only customers they had. We ordered our usual water -- needed hydration and a large salad. We enjoyed sitting there watching the boats and the calm lake water. The food was fine -- nothing spectacular. I think they specialize in the drinking crowd that patronizes the place on week-ends. We were just there for sustenance.

As we left the restaurant at 5:25 we noticed the sky was turning an ugly dark grey color. We also heard thunder in the distance. We decided we had better head for our "home away from home" Glen Motor Inn. John wanted to try a different way back to Watkins Glen from Hammondsport. We drove south on 54 looking for SR23 which we had seen the day we arrived. We went way to far south and turned around to ask a gentleman for directions. Well, he didn't know any more than we did. He discouraged us from taking SR 23 if he even knew what or where it was.

John had an itch and he had to scratch it. So we were going to find SR 23. He decided we would take SR 87 east and possibly it would turn into SR 23. He was absolutely correct. After a few turns 87 turned to 96 to114 then after a few turns, wala, SR 23. It was at this intersection in Tyrone, NY that we saw a little deer standing on the right side of the road. It was so relaxed, nibbling on the green stuff. I said "ohhh, I should have taken a picture." John asked if I wanted him to turn around so I could but I said "no" that was ok. Onward onto Rt23.

Alas, we saw a sign directing us to the Castel Grisch. The name was intriguing so we made a sharp left and went in search of the now "closed for the day" winery. Just to check it out to see if the location warranted a return visit. It was a very neat location, with a great view. We would try to return when they were open. He turned around and headed back toward the motel, trying to beat the pending storm indicated by the dark, ominous clouds.

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