At any time of year, New York wine country is full of opportunities to tour, taste and explore the state's beautiful viticultural, or wine-producing, areas. New York's wine country is expansive and includes vineyards in Long Island, Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes and Niagara. All told, New York wine country covers more than 34,000 acres (13,759 hectares) and includes hundreds of wineries.
A short trip east of New York City, Long Island is home to the North Fork and Hamptons wine regions. This region is extensive -- 120 miles (193 kilometers) long -- and the atmosphere can vary from the upscale Hamptons to more rustic areas like Montauk. Most of the area's wineries are on the far eastern end, in the North and South Forks. Both forks produce a lot of red wines, especially Bordeaux, thanks to a long growing season with warm weather that's ideal for growing quality red grapes.
Also near the city, you can check out the pastoral Hudson Valley region. Known for its stunning views, small farms and gourmet food, the valley has been home to winemakers as far back as the 1670s. The region boasts a rich history, including "America's Oldest Winery" -- Brotherhood -- established in 1839. Because the climate in this region isn't ideal for growing grapes, many winemakers in the Hudson Valley buy grapes from surrounding regions, like Long Island and the Finger Lakes, though there are wineries like Millbrook that do grow their grapes in the valley.
Named for the glacial lakes throughout the area, the Finger Lakes area is home to dozens of wineries. The region is probably best known for its riesling, a white dessert wine, and its ice wines. There's more to do in the area than just wine tasting, though. You can check out local farmers markets and museums, hike or bike through Sugar Hill State Forest, ride horses or head out on the water to enjoy the Finger Lakes themselves.
Niagara is the youngest wine region in New York. It wasn't an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) until late 2005, and the newly recognized region has a handful of major wineries, as well as dozens of smaller wineries in the surrounding areas. Because of the chilly temperatures in Niagara, its wineries tend to focus on ice wines (wines made from grapes that have frozen on the vine).
Not only do wineries in each of these regions offer tastings, but you can also experience the bounty of wine country in a party atmosphere by checking out some local wine festivals. Read on to learn more.