While New Yorkers are always ready to enjoy a great glass of wine, it’s doubtful many of us know just how impressive the state of winemaking is here.
A few facts to enlighten: There are, quite literally, hundreds of wineries across the State of New York. It’s the third-largest wine producing state in the entire country (behind California and Washington), and billions of dollars of economic activity are generated each year through New York’s winemaking industry. Innovation, experimentation, and evolution have defined winemaking here for decades—and from an impressively varied terroir to ecological transparency or longstanding traditions of winemaking, there’s never been a better time to delve into the local wine scene.
So whether your preference is a day trip just a couple of hours away by car or a long weekend getaway worth the scenic multi-hour journey (hello, summer road trip!), here are 10 beautiful stateside wineries to sip, savor, and taste the best vintages from this side of the coast — be sure to check each winery for specifics on their masking, distancing, and operational guidelines before your visit.
Lush greenery, a scenic hillside, views of the Hudson River landscape—Benmarl, which lays claim to being America's oldest vineyard, is set on 37-acres with a focus on handcrafted, small-batch wines. With over 20 varietals, including pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, rieslings, and verdot, Benmarl has a fierce dedication to producing wines with grapes grown exclusively in New York.
Known for its reds, Benmarl’s Baco Noir is entirely estate grown—derived from the winery’s 60-year old vines. For tastings, outdoor table reservations are available (with masks required and limited seating), and on weekends the winery offers pizzas from its wood-fired oven, custom built by the Spaccarelli family who are the current owners. Members of Benmarl’s Wine Club also get special access to the winery’s annual sangria festival, grape-stomping festival, and barrel-tasting events.
Founded by a husband-and-wife team (he is former a publishing exec; she is a former science teacher), Boundary Breaks is devoted to producing the best rieslings—dry, reserve, blends, ice wine and more—that the cooler climate of the Finger Lakes region can deliver. Set along the Seneca Wine Trail, the winery is a study in meticulous attention to grape caretaking: positioning growing shoots by hand, clearing leaves to ensure sunlight ripens each fruit cluster, gently pruning vines for maximum ripeness, utilizing a custom built trellis system.
Tasting experiences now available include a flight of wines served on the outdoor patio (masks are required), Sunset Saturdays with live music and locally-sourced dinners, and starting June 20, a reservation-only seasonal artisanal menu on Sunday afternoons. The vineyard’s chef is so passionate about sourcing local produce that he lists the farms on the back of their menu. Also, it’s one of the more pet-friendly wineries around, complete with a fenced in dog park.
Peppered by a remarkable history—started by cobbler John Jacques who grew grapes behind his store in 1824; later sold to wine merchants who utilized traditional French methods to create champagne in the late 19th century; staying operational during Prohibition by producing medicinal wines; restored as a vibrant tourist destination following a terrible fire in 1999—Brotherhood Winery is America’s oldest continuously operating winery.
Today, Brotherhood offers an incredible selection of wines—sparkling chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, dessert wines, rieslings (by bottle or can), rosé cuvée and more—plus liquors like port, sherry, and sangria. The tasting room has reopened (masks are required), private tours are available via reservation, and live music has returned, with a lively lineup featuring urban jazz, folk, and even classic rock.
Born in response to a remarkable family tale of activism and intrigue (a grandfather’s winemaking legacy originating in the 1870s is taken over by corporate subterfuge, later involving a legal battle with the likes of Coca-Cola), Bully Hill Vineyards has a rather storied past. Started in the 1960s, the winery employs a whole host of eco-friendly practices: recycling winery wastewater through reed canary grass fields, which are mowed to become vineyard mulch; using tangential-flow filtration to remove diatomaceous elements; even reusing fryer oil from the restaurant to fuel its vineyard tractors.
Over 40 different wines, which they bottle in recycled glass, are available, including blush wines, a Bordeaux-style estate red, chardonnay riesling, seyval blanc, and a range of boxed wines. The grounds also house a museum dedicated to the family’s history as vintners, a showcase for antique wine-making equipment, gift shops, and a restaurant that serves lunch and weekend brunch.
Credited with sparking a winemaking renaissance in New York, Dr. Konstantin Frank, a professor of viticulture, championed and ultimately proved the Finger Lakes were an ideal environment to grow vinifera, or European-style grapes (like chardonnay and riesling) in the late 1950s. Prior to this, many New York produced wines were considered sweet, inferior, or both. Today, the Finger Lakes is recognized as one of the most esteemed winemaking regions in the country. Established in 1962 and fourth-generation family owned, Dr. Konstantin Frank Wines features over 40 bottles, including chardonnay riesling, pinot gris, brut rosé, and grüner veltliner, with new varietals planted over the years by generations of the Frank family.
In-person tastings require a reservation; the Progressive Tasting Experience offers an in-depth look at the winery's dynamic history through a series of stations, set up in their tasting rooms. New this year: Guests are invited to enjoy wines by the glass or bottle with a la carte seasonal cheeses in Eugenia’s Garden, which was named for Dr. Frank’s wife, on the winery grounds.
Two Greek brothers launched this family-owned winery in 2013 which features, amongst its other attractions, rather spectacular views of the Long Island Sound. Set amidst a sweeping bluff on 62 acres of land, sustainable winemaking is at the forefront of Kontokosta Winery: established as the region’s first LEED gold-certified winery and tasting room, constructed with recycled steel and reclaimed barn wood; use of a wind turbine to power its tasting room; and reduction of water consumption by forty percent through custom fixtures.
Wines produced across 23 acres include sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, riesling, and viognier. The sleek, light-filled 9,000-square-foot tasting room is housed inside a pastoral-style exterior and accessible via appointment only (distancing and masking are required), where guests are currently served by the bottle.
Though Macari Vineyards was established in 1995, the Macari family has a winemaking legacy that spans generations: Back in the 1930s, the family began crushing grapes in their Queens home basement to create hand-bottled, homemade wines. At the vineyard, biodynamic viticultural practices, like utilizing cowherds for composting, were deployed early on to ensure soil diversity and richness. The sprawling, waterfront estate of 500 acres was transformed over the decades, and was initially purchased in the 1960s as a potato farm.
Wines include a sparkling cabernet franc, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay reserve, rosé magnum, and Bergen Road, their flagship red blend of cabernet, merlot, malbec, and petit verdot. While the tasting room has reopened, reservations are required. The newest addition to the winery’s lineup is Bergen Road Bungalows, luxuriously outfitted tents available for groups (up to six) to enjoy a private afternoon wine tasting and chef-prepared gourmet lunch.
Named as a tribute to her family’s Mexican roots (Rivero for her father’s side, González for her mother’s side), winemaker Maria Rivero González led RGNY in opening its first U.S. based sustainable vineyard and tasting room in 2019. However, the family’s viticultural heritage spans more than two decades in Mexico’s Parras Valley. The winery also recently began exploring fermenting and ageing their wines in clay amphora vessels, which were often utilized in ancient times.
A devotion to detail (for instance the grapes are hand sorted), is evident in the winery’s 11 offerings, with a focus on white—though there are plans to expand into more reds and potentially orange wines—ranging from riesling and sauvignon blanc to viognier and white merlot. Outdoor tables may be reserved and have distanced seating with QR enabled menus for limited contact. RGNY also offers visitors an intimate blending session experience for those who want an up close look at the art of winemaking.
Even by New York City standards, it’s a pretty impressive feat: opening the world’s first commercially-viable urban rooftop vineyard in the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard. Rooftop Reds gives urban dwellers the chance to sample some truly local terroir with the city views to match. Most grapes are sourced from the winery’s own vineyards on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes. Launched in 2016, the 14,000-square-foot rooftop is home to dozens of planters and a system developed in partnership with Cornell University and Finger Lakes industry veterans.
The wines include sparkling rosé, riesling ice wine, grüner veltliner, and pinot noir and are on offer by glass, on tap, by bottle, or carafe. Wood-fired oven pizzas provide the perfect pairing no matter what’s in your glass (the drinks menu also includes cider and beer).
10. Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery
The husband-and-wife duo who established this family-run, artisanal, sustainable vineyard have helmed its 40-acre vineyard property—one of the area’s largest—for the past three decades. As vegan wine producers, at Whitecliff Vineyard, they have dedicated their efforts to planting the most sustainable grape varieties (they now have 20) for the region’s climate.
Wines on offer include a cabernet blend of franc and sauvignon, syrah, merlot malbec, gamay noir, gewurztraminer based traminette, and steel-fermented chardonnay—housed in an above-ground, environmentally-conscious geothermal facility to ensure temperature control is maintained. Tastings are paired with vegan and vegetarian bites like artisanal cheeses as well as nut cheeses, dark chocolate, and savory crisps, which are sourced at regional farms and nearby creameries.