Tuesday, August 30, 2016


At my core, I feel like I am a Northwest girl through-and-through. I feel at home in the wilds of Idaho, and as I was recently discussing with Megan over on Facebook Live, being from Seattle has had a huge influence on shaping my personality and my "story." However, after more than six years in New York City, the East Coast has also become this majorly defining part of my adulthood. 

There are two reasons I wouldn't even consider living somewhere else right now: The first is that so many of the people I adore most in life—friends old and new—are out here. The second is that I love exploring this part of the country whenever I can. From Niagara Falls to Montauk, Boston to Philadelphia, there are so many distinct and wonderful places that are just a train ride or a short road trip away.

A couple of weekends ago I got to fuse those two things together in a really special way: I journeyed up to Ithaca, New York, to surprise my friend of 25 years, Anne, for her 30th birthday. The whole plan was masterminded by Anne's husband and her younger sister (who lives in Manhattan), and I was more than happy to jump in the car and go along for the ride.

To celebrate her big day, we drove up Cayuga Lake to get on a boat and go winery hopping by water. Yes, that's a thing up there—the Finger Lakes region boasts some of the best wineries in New York—and it's so fun.


Our first stop on the wine tour was Sheldrake Point Winery, and I suppose the first thing I need to point out is that not only can you bring a dog on the boat tour and into every winery, but also—this whole experience is extremely casual. Hence I wore my summertime off-duty uniform of this cotton-linen muscle tee from Old Navy and a pair of Gap denim shorts

The grounds of the winery are incredibly beautiful, with a wall of sunflowers so lush and tall you couldn't see more than a foot into the thick of the plants. After tasting a variety of the winery's red, white and "ice wine" offerings (for just $5, I might add), we frolicked in the field with Joey (the four-legged cutie I'm with above) before boarding out boat and heading out to the next stop.

{ The birthday girl, her hubs and their dog, Joey }

How cool is our boat? Water To Wine Tours (yes, that's their name) did such a great job of ferrying us around Cayuga Lake. We packed a few drinks and some snacks and sandwiches to have while we were on the water—a must during the six-hour tour. 

{ No, I'm not above enjoying a cold, light beer in between wine tastings... }

I think Thirsty Owl Winery, the second stop on our tasting tour, might have been my favorite. Once landing at the dock, a driver from the winery comes to pick up your group on an all-terrain four-wheeler type vehicle and drive you up to the grounds, positioned on a bluff overlooking the lake. Along with live music, incredible views and a restaurant on the patio, the wine here is excellent.

Oddly enough, my favorite thing we tasted here was actually their hard cider. Crisp, carbonated and refreshing, it was a nice change from the typical offerings of the area which are dry rieslings, some rosé and that ultra-sweet "ice wine" I mentioned before.

Long Point Winery was the last stop on our tour—and certainly one of the most scenic spots along Cayuga Lake. The vines extend down towards the water, and across the street from the tasting room is a hauntingly cool old barn. Their wines didn't rank among our favorites, but we did take ample time to sit in their Adirondack chairs, play with their dog, Lizzy, and snap some photos with my trusty selfie stick while taking in the gorgeous views.

PS: You know how they say "Ithaca is gorges!" — I'm here to tell you that it really is. Before beginning the long drive back to the city on Sunday, we drove up to the viewpoint at Taughannock Falls State Park. The 215-foot falls is truly a stunning sight, and the gorge itself is more than 400 feet deep! I'm already thinking I have to plan a trip back to the area this autumn to take in the changing colors and hike around the gorges to see more of the natural scenery that make the Finger Lakes region so special.

Photography: Christina Buckley

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