The Ithaca area is full of wineries and breweries, so how do you choose which ones to visit? It would be incredible if we all had the time to make it to each one, but as this is probably not the case, you should make the trip to one that has a little bit of everything.
On the day of graduation, my parents asked me to choose a winery to visit since they had not been to one on Cayuga Lake in awhile. I immediately thought of Americana Vineyards because they have something for everyone.
Every winery I have been to in the region offers something unique, but not only does Americana have wine, but also beer for those who do not indulge in vino. They bought Bacchus Brewing, a local brewery and an Ithaca favorite, and opened up a taproom below the winery last November. Americana wanted to start a small microbrewery on site, which is how they became interested in Bacchus, and still hope to do so in the future.
A manager of Americana, Ryan, described the taproom as slower paced for those who want to have a beer in a very relaxed environment. In addition to the house beers, they also have rotating varieties so everyone should be able to find something they like and try something new.
When you participate in a tasting, don’t shy away from asking questions; that’s what the sommeliers are there for. For those who don't know, a sommelier is a wine expert; they work in fine restaurants and wineries and educate their guests on what they are drinking using their vast knowledge of wine. Based on your preferences, they can tell you which wines you'll enjoy most. Depending on what you like, ask to try the dry or sweet wines or ask what grows best in the area. Since Ithaca’s climate is similar to Germany’s, Riesling is made in abundance and Americana’s best selling wine is their dry Riesling. I was told that Cabernet Franc grows well in the area also.
If you’re a first timer, let them know and ask for recommendations or just try anything you like the description of. The sommelier serving you will tell you about each wine as the pouring it after you’ve made your selections. Additionally, make sure to go with plenty of friends so everyone can taste several wines at once.
After a tasting, of beer or wine, you can eat at the café and order your favorite drink that you tasted that day with your meal. Or eat and then taste, as my family did.
I tried the Chardonnay, Chablis, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lemberger, Sapphire, Crystal Lake, and the semi dry Riesling. The Riesling turned out to be one of my favorites and I now frequently order Rieslings if I see a dry or semi dry one when I go out to eat.
The Chardonnay is made in an oak cask and the Chablis, which was recommended to me, is made in a steel cask. Many people prefer wines made in steel casks because it produces a crisp, clear taste, but I prefer the oak cask because of its full-bodied taste.
The Sapphire is one of Americana’s blueberry wines that they specialize in and it was delicious. I usually do not like sweet wines, but in small doses, the Sapphire is a treat. After trying Crystal Lake, I discovered that it's very dangerous because the wine is very easy to drink. If you are new to wine, I recommend this one for its flavor and also, because it is one of their best sellers.
As for beer, I tried the Red Rye Ale, the Bacchus IPA, and the Beerded Brown. I wanted to try Bacchus’s stout, but it wasn’t available at the time. I loved all three, but if I had to choose my favorite, it would be the brown because I prefer darker beer.
Before you leave, make sure to try some of Americana’s homemade fudge. They usually have five selections to taste, but many more to buy. I bought both the cookies and cream and the Mexican chocolate. Both were very well made and extremely delicious, but steer clear of the Mexican chocolate if you aren’t a fan of anything spicy.
If you haven’t been convinced yet, then here are a few more things you should know. There is live music on Fridays from 6pm to 8pm and Sundays from 4pm to 6pm.
There is outdoor space behind the tasting room and next to the taproom to be used in the warmer months. Dogs are allowed inside so feel free to bring along your furry friends. My dog enjoyed lunch with us by the café and made some friends down in the taproom.
Americana welcomes any level of wine or beer drinker. All of the employees are extremely helpful with questions and there is a large selection of beer and wine to choose from. If you like wine or beer even just a little bit, they can find something for you to try.
The winery and taproom remain open all year around and you can come in any day of the week. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for hours and events.
Special thanks to Ryan, Max, and Tucker.