Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

Napa In New York: Our Trip To The Wine Country

It’s been awhile since I wrote about travel because, well, life sometimes gets in the way of our best laid plans. I’m back now and eager to tell you about our short vacation that was both magical and restorative. This review will be of particular interest to the disability community, but it certainly applies to everyone because Nature + Wine = Splendor for All.

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Sometimes there are places in our own backyard that we never visit. For us one of them was the Finger Lakes, a group of eleven long and narrow lakes located in the west-central section of Upstate New York. A scenic area with sprawling farmland, rolling hills and wonderful wineries, the Finger Lakes is defined as a “bioregion.” (“An area bounded by natural rather than artificial borders that has characteristic flora and fauna and includes one ecosystem.” ~Wikipedia)

We hadn’t taken a vacation in a long time so we decided to pack up and head to the Finger Lakes before the start of our crazy summer schedules. After a three-hour drive from home we arrived at the Inn where we’d be staying.

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Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Virgil, New York
Photo Credit: Greek Peek Mountain Resort

Greek Peak Mountain Resort, located in Virgil, New York is nestled in the midst of picturesque mountains that, from a distance, looks like a beautiful painting. When we entered the Inn through their glass doors I was happy to read the signs that announced it is both energy and environmentally friendly, as well as an award-winning green leader.

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Photo Credit: Greek Peak Mountain Resort

Once inside the Inn it is both a gorgeous ski lodge and a summer vacation resort with its high vaulted cedar ceilings and A-frame door of glass that allows visitors to drink in the dazzling beauty of the outdoors.

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Photo Credit: Greek Peak Mountain Resort

We checked into our handicapped accessible room on the first floor. A beautiful, bright room, it is large enough to maneuver a wheelchair and the bathroom is fully accessible. There is also a kitchen for those who prefer to cook meals in their room. (We also saw non-accessible rooms that were equally spacious and well appointed.)

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Photo Credit: Greek Peak Mountain Resort

Then it was dinnertime!

We settled into the Acorn Grill, the Inn’s restaurant located on the first floor. It offered a beautiful vista on one side with a buffet area on the other. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of menu choices, so I was happy to be completely wrong. Their menu offered a wide array of entrees and we were not disappointed. Each dish was deliciously prepared with fresh ingredients and dessert? Let’s just say there was nothing left over.

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Dinner at Acorn Grill

After dinner we walked the grounds and to our delight found a lovely, flat walking path that loops around a sparkling lake just begging to be used for boating or swimming.

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We were lucky to visit Greek Peak in between high seasons because we had the path all to ourselves.

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Photo Credit: Greek Peak Mountain Resort

If we stayed at the Inn longer I would have taken advantage of its full-service Waterfall Spa for a facial or massage. And I certainly should have used their state-of-the-art fitness center or taken a few laps in their pool…

Photo Credit: Greek Peak Mountain Resort

Photo Credit: Greek Peak Mountain Resort

A few other items you might be interested in:

Hope Lake Lodge Condominiums (part of Greek Peak): Hotel style condominiums are for sale and include concierge and bell service, 24 hour room service and daily housekeeping.

Photo Credit: Hope Lake Lounge

Photo Credit: Greek Peak Mountain Resort

Cascades Indoor Waterpark: A 41,000 square foot indoor waterpark with over 500 feet of slides, 3 story tube slides, a toddler pool, outdoor pool, indoor/outdoor hot tub and modern wave pool looks like a lot of fun for families to enjoy.

Photo Credit: Greek Peak Resort

Photo Credit: Greek Peak Mountain Resort

Greek Peak Ski and Ride Center: There are thirty-two trails and six aerial lifts that make this a popular ski resort. The Ski Center also offers two surface lifts, a beginners slope, a full service Nordic Center with groomed cross country and snowshoe trails. (The area boasts an average snowfall of 122 plus inches!)

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Photo Credit: Greek Peak Mountain Resort

Outside of Virgil many tiny towns dot the area, and as we toured them we felt compelled to pull over and drink in the beauty of the area.

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We stopped at a few places of note that I’d suggest to anyone planning a trip to this part of the Finger Lakes:

Cornell University and Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Botanical Gardens: After driving around the lovely campus of Cornell University in Ithaca our next stop was the beautiful Cornell Plantations, a part of the University that offers easily accessible pathways leading around beautifully landscaped gardens of herbs, vegetables, perennials, conifers, peonies and much more. It’s an enchanting region of Ithaca that’s made more lovely, I am sure, when the flowers are in full bloom. (NOTE: Most of the walkways are paved, flat and accessible. The path changes in a few areas where the walkway is made up of natural stone.)

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Cascadilla Gorge: This site is idyllic in both sight and sound with eight waterfalls creating frothy cascades that slide down limestone and shale to create wide cascades that can reach 54 feet high. (NOTE: The gorge is only accessible on the grassy park off the parking lot where you can see the creek and possibly one waterfall.)

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Lakewood Vineyards and Winery: The Finger Lakes is known for its award-winning wines found in many of the areas vineyards. We chose Lakewood Vineyards and Winery for our afternoon wine tasting and tour. I’ve visited many vineyards in Napa Valley and the Loire Valley in France and Lakewood is equally beautiful.

Located in Watkins Glen and situated off Seneca Lake, the views from the almost 80 acres of vineyards are breathtaking and, although they are best known for their whites, it also offers 14 varieties of grapes that include Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and helped make our “tasting menu” interesting and fun.

We decided to try their semi-sweet and sweet Rieslings, although the bottle we purchased was a Long Stem White from a grape that was developed at Cornell. Thank you, Cornell!

(NOTE: There are a few steps to get into the winery from the parking lot and then onto the deck that overlooks the vineyard. A path leading visitors through the vineyard toward Seneca Lake is flat but unpaved. As you get closer to the lake there is a large gazebo to sit and view this magnificent property.)

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We can’t wait to open our purchase of Long Stem White from Lakewood Winery!

If you’re looking to get away from it all for a few days I’d highly recommend losing yourself in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. There’s so much to do, and I know we’ll be going back to explore the area again and again.

Coming up next: Our private tour of The Corning Museum of Glass and their recently opened 100,000 square foot Contemporary Art and Design Wing. We were completely dazzled and I know you will be too.wine

NOTE: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Jessica Robideau and Dan Stokes of the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance for their help and generosity in arranging our vacation. We needed to cancel our plans with them last year and they were both gracious and kind. Thank you both for your patience and assistance.

Disclosure: I received two free nights’ stay and a free dinner for three at Greek Peak Mountain Resort. All opinions expressed, as always, are completely my own.

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38 thoughts on “Napa In New York: Our Trip To The Wine Country

  1. Janet O'Neil

    LOVELY review! What great photos too Cathy! I am so happy the three of you had this vacation. You can’t replace great memories. My niece was married at Lakeside! We have a photo of us on that outdoor deck – almost my whole family. Happy memory for us! I hope to go again one day to travel that area and stay where you did!

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      What a wonderful place for a wedding, Janet! That must have been beautiful. We absolutely loved it. It was a short but very sweet vacation that we just loved. Thanks for sharing your memories! xo

  2. Jennifer

    What a gorgeous looking spot!! Even though I grew up on the north east, I’ve never visited there!! Must fix that now that I see how beautiful it is!!

  3. Helene Cohen Bludman

    Now I want to visit the Finger Lakes! It looks beautiful and I bet in the spring and fall it is just exquisite. So glad you and your family enjoyed it so much. Putting this trip on my bucket list. 🙂

  4. Sherry macdonald

    Love the photos. You are right, there are so many great places to visit right in our back door. My Husband is from N.Y. and talks about how beautiful the finger lakes are. We need to pack up the car and take a road trip.

  5. Karen D. Austin

    It’s very dry and flat in my part of Kansas, so it’s lovely to see pictures of a more varied landscape. The resort’s lobby and rooms look very pretty. Ahhhh. I’m taking a mini vacation here at my desk. Now if I could just get my fork to actually pick up some of that food from my screen? I am glad that you had a nice trip. You look very pretty and relaxed in your photo.
    Karen D. Austin recently posted…TV or Not TV: Images of Older AdultsMy Profile

  6. Ines Roe

    Wow – what a beautiful place. I live in PA thus that that totally far from NY and we are looking at places to visit in the future and I will definitely have to add this to my list.
    Thank you.

  7. janet tancredi

    Cathy,you and your family are such an inspiration! You do such wonderful things! When I was still working, I had clients in the Finger Lakes. I never took advantage of visiting . It looks beautiful. It sounds like accessible also. Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Ruth Curran

    Oh my… you had me at nature and peaceful but a waterpark? A winery? Fabulous food? I am so thrilled that you got to get away (your smile tells the whole story doesn’t it?). I am definitely going to suggest this place to my neices and my SIL who both live not that far away!

    Awesome review! You make we want to jump on a plane NOW!
    Ruth Curran recently posted…Energy & the Power to Direct Brain ChangeMy Profile

  9. Doreen McGettigan

    I haven’t been to that area in ages and your pictures reminded how much I always loved it. It looks like the weather was nice for your visit. I think I will look into a fall visit.

  10. Deb

    So close to home in NJ…yet it seemed like a world away in the beautiful mountains of upstate NY! I would love to be breathing in fresh mountain air right now. You took me there through your words anyway Cathy. Thank you!

  11. Craig Evans

    We live in northcentral PA! Just a stones throw south of the Finger Lakes. My son is getting married mext month at a facility just up the road from the Glenora winery.

  12. Pa

    Loved this post, Cathy. It brought back so many happy memories. My brother attended Cornell and one summer he took us on a trip to the Finger Lakes. My husband still remembers the delicious wine we had there, and as Frenchman he can be critical of “our” wines. ha Hope that this mini vacation was good for your health.
    Pa recently posted…Happy Father’s Day – Thanks for the Swimming LessonMy Profile

  13. Rev @ Hobsess

    Wine tasting trips are my favorite vacations but I’ve only been to California. It seems that wineries are popping up all over and there are several now here in Texas.

    Your pictures really make me want to visit NY. Thanks for sharing.
    Rev @ Hobsess recently posted…Learn to Earn Money on AmazonMy Profile

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