Niagara Gazette

Features

July 20, 2006

Finger lakes known for wining and dining

Life in this hamlet of 300 residents revolves around Sheldrake Point Vineyard & Cafe.

The village is too small to rate a post office or even its own name. Sheldrake Point is lumped under Ovid in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

Yet Sheldrake is a tourist mecca with around 10 waterfront bed and breakfasts, inns on a range from two bedrooms to Victorian mansions and guest cottages, nearly all within walking distance of the winery and its five-star restaurant specializing in Sheldrake-signature foods — dishes prepared to pair with the establishment’s 23 wines from its own grapes and those of other premier growers.

Foods feature freshables grown in the kitchen’s herb and produce garden and such local products as Mennonite cheeses from Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty.

The 160-acre vineyard slopes down to 40-mile-long Cayuga Lake, lengthiest of the Finger Lakes, making it such a choice spot for weddings that Sheldrake is booked through 2007. Expanded from its original 1850s farmhouse on 400 feet of lakefront, the property contains an award-winning winery served by in-house and visiting oneologists from France, meeting and conference facilities, a tasting room, expansive gift shop, decking through the gardens and gourmet restaurant under the supervision of executive chef Jack Carrington, a former mountain rescuer.

Michael Adams, managing partner of the vineyard/cafe complex, which serves as a central meeting/informational hub in the hamlet, describes the settlement as “lost in time.”

“I have a photograph taken in the late 1800s showing a 100-room hotel which burned to the ground near the time trains replaced water transportation,” he said. “Sheldrake did not progress, which was a blessing as the town was not tarted up. Today, we try to respect the rural, pastoral character of the neighborhood.”

The unique quality of the neighborhood is its prominence on The Nautical Wine Trail, along which you can taste libations by boat, as one couple cruising up from Key West to escape a hurricane did last year. Seven wineries mark the waterfront between Cayuga and Seneca lakes, which are connected by the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, which unites with the Erie Canal.

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