Courtesy George Eastman House
Finger Lakes Region
New York’s Finger Lakes offers something for every group: idyllic settings, fabulous museums, wine trails and award-winning cuisine.
A wine and food enthusiast’s dream, the $7.5 million New York Wine and Culinary Center isn’t simply a restaurant, a tasting room or a cooking school; it’s all three rolled into one. The center is situated on picturesque Canandaigua Lake in Canandaigua, a town notable for its historical architecture, a bustling main street and proximity to many farms and wineries.
The publike sampling room offers a variety of flights and a selection of wines, spirits and craft beers that represent New York wineries and breweries. The state-of-the-art kitchen showcases culinary techniques in its selection of wine and cooking classes. Sessions range from several hours to four-day intensives.
“The center does a great job representing the entire state,” said A.J. Shear, spokesman for Finger Lakes Visitors Connection. “Dozens and dozens of local farmers contribute to the products represented here, as well as provide ingredients for the classes.”
Dining al fresco on the deck that overlooks the lake or in the restaurant allows for the pairing of New York vintages with innovative cuisine. The New York Garden surrounds the southern and western sides of the center and contributes to the locally sourced seasonal menu.
The 40-room 1887 Queen Anne-style mansion and formal gardens at Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park is a popular stop for groups visiting the area. Built by New York City financier Frederick Ferris Thompson, the 50-acre estate sits atop a sun-bathed hillside. The greenhouse complex, completed in 1915, is one of the nation’s few remaining intact Lord and Burnham Greenhouses; five greenhouses are open for tours.
Thompson’s widow and her staff created the nine formal gardens seen by guests today. Every Wednesday through October, volunteers can provide plant maintenance and other gardening activities alongside Sonnenberg’s lead gardener. Also on the premises, the Finger Lakes Wine Center features regional wines.
In Rochester, the George Eastman House showcases 400,000 photographs from 14,000 photographers. The collection dates from the beginnings of the medium and includes the largest assemblage of daguerreotypes outside of France. Photography became a hobby available to the masses under Eastman’s tutelage. Eastman, founder of Kodak, invented the Brownie camera that revolutionized the industry and fueled America’s love of film. He partnered with Thomas Edison to produce color films, and that equipment is on display.
The Colonial Revival house, built in the early 1900s, has 37 rooms. Tours also highlight the profusion of blooms in four restored gardens. Estate photos, maps and plant lists have allowed for accurate restoration.