Taste wine and fine golf among New Yorks Finger Lakes

By August 3, 2010, 12:10 am


Glenora Wine Cellars
Glenora Wine Cellars is one of many vineyards offering wine tasting in New York's Finger Lakes region.

With the Turning Stone Resort Championship returning to Upstate New York, excellent golf and wine tasting take center stage in the renowned Finger Lakes region. Wine and golf and drop-dead gorgeous scenery are three very good reasons to visit the Finger Lakes in New York, where more than 100 vineyards, 50 golf courses and 11-plus glacier-cut lakes dot the area's rolling, open hills.

It's a place where award-winning wines are made, greens fees are often less than $30, and you can probably get a tee time on weekends without a connection.

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You won't have to travel huge distances either. Wineries, golf courses and accommodation and dining options are within easy driving range of each other, many along or just off route 20.

Golf in New York's Finger Lakes

Just over 30 years ago Robert Trent Jones came to Canandaigua, looked down from the hilltop site to the lake and said, 'In all the world and of all the properties I've seen, this one has just been waiting for a golf course.' Today, Bristol Harbour Resort is the golf course to play to fully appreciate the beauty of the region.

Capitalizing on the wine-theme, a small vineyard is on the grounds of Reservoir Creek Golf Course in Naples. Reservoir Creek's five-bedroom inn, a renovated turn-of-the-century farmhouse, is a great place for groups to stay.

Lakeside Country Club, by Keuka Lake in Penn Yan, is a pretty track on the upper hills along the lake. It evokes a tactical dance between older push-up style greens and newer, more rolling, tiered greens.

Highland Park Golf Club, in Auburn, was built as a nine-hole layout in 1925. The back nine added in 1969 plays like a different course, with challenging rolling greens. Fairways are tree-lined, but generally the course is pretty open.

Lafayette Hills Golf & Country Club in Jamesville used to be private, so it's no surprise facilities are more upscale than most public tracks. Designed by A.W. Tillinghast, the 6,586-yard course sits on one of the highest points in Onondaga County, offering wonderful views of the countryside.

Although it has had maintenance issues, the pretty Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed Radisson Greens, carved through woods and meadows with water in play on many holes, is worth the modest green fee.

You'll need to think target golf at the recently renovated Links at Erie Village. It's a flat track with bent grass greens and fairways punctuated by plenty of bunkers.

In Elbridge, it seems like many people don't know about Millstone Golf Course, but then it just opened in 2004. Some of the trees still have growing to do, but with serious water hazards, solid par 3s and $20 green fees, you should give it a try.

If you have pull with a Cornell grad, beg your way onto the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University at the southern end of Cayuga Lake in Ithaca. Go, Big Red.

Wine tasting in the Finger Lakes

Although the Finger Lakes region was originally known more for its sweeter, fruitier Catabwa and Riesling wines, today these wineries and vineyards are producing award-winning wines from European varieties as well as from Labrusca and French-American hybrids.

Winery facilities are extensive. Many have gift shops and restaurants along with tasting rooms; some, like Glenora Wine Cellars on Seneca Lake, offer accommodations on site.

Close to 20 vineyards march up and down the slopes of the 40-mile long Cayuga Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes anchored by Seneca Falls on the northern end and Ithaca on the southern tip.

At Anyela's Vineyards in Skaneateles, you can enjoy a glass of Anyelas Avail 2007 while the incredibly deep blue Skaneateles Lake spreads out below rows and rows of vineyards.

Visit Goose Watch Winery for classic European-style wines such as Merlot, Brut Rosé Champagne and Pinot Gris. Set on the eastern shore of the lake, Goose Watch is accessible by boat and is in a restored 100 year-old barn.

The stylish modern Knapp Vineyards Winery offers specialty wine series labels such as Curiosity, Superstition and Kat Nap and the new White Deer Trilogy. The Vineyard Restaurant serves gourmet cuisine in the dining room and on the trellised patio overlooking Cayuga Lake.

The slopes of Y-shaped Keuka Lake are home to more than a dozen wineries, most notably the highly acclaimed Dr. Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars and Chateau Frank on Keuka Lake, founded in 1962 by one of the Finger Lakes' most important winemakers, Dr. Konstantin Frank.

You can find other vineyards on Canandaigua Lake, Skaneateles Lake and in the countryside. Seneca, Cayuga, Keuka and Canandaigua have organized wine trails with special events planned throughout the year, as well as maps and other helpful published materials. For example, with Seneca Wine Trail's 'The Riesling to Visit Passport' you get to enjoy a complimentary, standard flight of wine samples at each of 27 wineries for $12.

From fish fries to Italian, dining in the Finger Lakes

You can swing into wineries for a tasting and often a bite to eat at places like Simply Red Lakeside Bistro at Sheldrake Point Vineyard on Cayuga Lake or order a 2008 dry Riesling to go along with your meal at The Bistro at Thirsty Owl Wine Company, also on the lake.

Seneca Lake has the most places to eat lakeside, with access by boat, while Skaneateles is a favorite dining locale with a range of dining options, from Doug's Fish Fry, where the lines often reach out the door, to consistently good Italian food at Rosalie's Cucina.

Staying in the Finger Lakes

There are many B&Bs, small inns and hotels throughout the region. There's even a castle, Belhurst, in Geneva on Seneca Lake.

Enjoy a complimentary bottle of wine from your patio at The Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars or settle onto the porch of the historic Sherwood Inn on Skaneateles Lake and maybe take a lake cruise on the double-decked Judge Ben Wiles.

Built around a Monet-like pond and gardens, the European-style Mirbeau Inn and Spa in Skaneateles has an excellent but pricey restaurant and large modern rooms with fireplaces.

Bristol Harbour's 31-room Adirondacks-style inn has balconies and fireplaces about a chip shot from the first tee while more than 200 condominiums give you another lodging option.

For more information, see www.fingerlakesinfo.com.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.