Public tours are generally arranged by either tour companies or local organizations to provide an enjoyable day long trip to Finger Lakes wineries and attractions. Typically these tours are made via tour buses, which allow for many participants but can also restrict which wineries you can visit (some don’t allow buses, or limit the numbers) and also how many stops you can make (a tour with 50 people takes a long time to coordinate, load and unload–you won’t be stopping at 6 wineries with a bus like this).
Private Wine Tours
Private tours are the most popular option when it comes to visiting Finger Lakes wineries. A private wine tour can range from hiring a car and driver for two people, to an eight-person limo or even a full size bus for your group. With a private tour you can specify what you want to do for the day, or let the driver make recommendations to you. Besides allowing everyone to relax about drinking and driving and planning the day, the flexibility of a private tour can be invaluable. See a gift shop or farm stand you want to stop at? Just ask the driver to pull over. Don’t like the look of a winery you pulled into? No worries–the driver knows a great place just up the road.
Wine Tour Tips
1) The Tour Company Matters
There are dozens of companies that will take you on a wine tour around the region, but as with any business– some are better than others. You want a company that is prompt, courteous and that is respected and known by the wineries. On a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the summer, a limo with eight passengers will have trouble getting into some wineries. If the winery knows and respects a tour company, they are much more likely to allow them to stop by.
2) Be Flexible
You may not be able to get to every winery you want to visit, and the restaurant you wanted to eat lunch at could have a 45 minute wait when you stop by. Go with the flow, and enjoy the beauty of the Finger Lakes.
3) Bigger isn’t necessarily better
While bringing all of your friends on a wine tour sounds like a great idea, larger tours can sometimes be more difficult. During busy times, many wineries won’t allow buses, or limos without a reservation– so you may now be able to get in everywhere. This becomes less of a problem off-season or during the week.
4) Be Respectful
We almost titled this section “don’t be idiots,” because unfortunately, a very small minority of visitors become rowdy and create headaches for tour companies, wineries and the rest of the visitors to the region. Drinking wine is wonderful, but becoming loud and obnoxious is not. Please stay in control and think about everyone else that is in the tasting room with you.
5) Have Fun!
The Finger Lakes offer wonderful wines, great food and incredible vistas–enjoy your tour and tell your friends about it!