In spite of looming clouds, Friday turned out to be a wonderful day to play hooky from work and give friends from New York City a tour of Canandaigua, NY. Although they’ve visited the Finger Lakes a number of times and love this region, it was their first to visit to the charming community that sits on the northern shores of the fourth largest of the Finger Lakes. They fell in love with the diverse, often Victorian, architecture throughout the town that took its name “Chosen Spot” from the Seneca People.
After a relaxing ramble through Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Site’s nine distinctive gardens and Queen Anne style estate that opened for the season earlier in the week, we stopped for a bite at one of the locals’ favorite eateries, Eric’s Office Restaurant and Taproom, located at 2574 Macedon Road in “Upper” Canandaigua. We discovered a bright pub and restaurant, a friendly waitress and a diverse menu that included soups, salads, burgers, wraps and sandwiches as well as full entrees. Even Susan, who follows a gluten-free diet, had a nice variety of menu items to choose from, and we were all delighted with our selections. If you enjoy beer, be sure to try the locally-brewed Naked Dove ale that’s on tap at Eric’s Office. The amber ale made a perfect pairing with the delicious roast beef wrap I ordered. Tom ordered the IPA. Being a connoisseur of India Pale Ales, he shared that it derives its distinctive taste from the early formulation where additional hops were added to preserve the beer on its multi-month journey from England to the British Colony of India.
After our leisurely lunch, we headed to the New York Wine and Culinary Center to further tempt our palates with a wine tasting (although NYWCC also offers tastings of beers (3 for $5), spirits (3 for $5) and non-alcoholic beverages (3 for $3) as well).
Jessica, our tasting room guide, shared that the tastings menu changes monthly and usually represents the breadth of New York State’s finest.
We had a choice of a single wine tasting for $2, any three premium wines for $5, the Empire Tasting of 5 wines for $6, or three premium wines plus two super premium wines for $7. My husband and I opted to sample three white wines. The drier Silver Thread Dry Reisling was my favorite, but my husband enjoyed the sweeter Thirsty Owl Vidal Blanc. Susan and Tom both opted for the 5 selections with the super premium wines, but Susan chose red and Tom, white. Because I was busy talking to Jessica, I never did hear which wines each preferred.
I was fascinated to learn from Jessica that during her viticulture classes at Finger Lakes Community College, she is often working side-by-side with home schooling families who give their children hands-on experience in agriculture and viticulture by caring for the vineyards, doing pruning and even harvesting.
The New York Wine and Culinary Center was opened in 2006 through a collaborative initiative between Constellation Brands, Wegmans Food Market, Inc., Rochester Institute of Technology and the New York Wine and Grape Foundation to showcase New York State’s agricultural and viticultural riches. Today, local residents and worldwide visitors can taste New York’s finest beverages, take cooking, wine tasting and food and wine pairing classes in state-of-the-art facilities, enjoy wining and dining in the NYWCC restaurant and host private events, including exclusive private sit-down dinners.
After our tasting, we meandered down to the lake shore, past Canandaigua’s boathouses, stacked side-by-side like spools of pretty colored threads. Welcoming benches offered a place to chat, to soak up what had turned into a luscious day, and to watch sailboats bobbing on the water, their owners playing hooky from chores awaiting them at home. All-in-all, the perfect way to spend the day with friends we hadn’t seen in quite a while.
Please leave a comment sharing what your favorite activities are in Canandaigua, NY!
Unless otherwise indicated, all photos copyright 2012 © Carol White Llewellyn. All rights reserved.