Finger Lakes NY

Farmers Markets and Roadside Stands offer bountiful choices

When I was growing up, my grandfather was an avid gardener.  He had a planted lot behind his house in Auburn, NY that to me, as a child, seemed to go on for miles. The corn, tomatoes, peppers, beets, squash and even horseradish were strung in rows, waving like laundry on a sunny day.  I can almost smell the rich earthiness of the corn or tomatoes he would pass to me as made his way down the aisles, picking only the best and ripest for me to take home that day.

Sadly, I did not inherit his skill or zeal for gardening.  I love the idea of it, but I didn’t spend enough time there learning the tricks of the land, so my attempts at gardening have ended in woefully withered, barren or bug-infested plants.

I did, however, inherit his love of fresh produce, and fortunately, one of the things this region is known for is its agricultural bounty. From May through October, you can find some of the most delectable delicacies of the earth here.  Below are resources where you can find a list of farmers markets for each Finger Lakes County where farmers gather on various days of the week to sell succulent produce to local resident.  As you travel throughout the region, also be sure to visit the roadside vegetable stands  where local farmers and entrepreneurs offer some of their finest fare to neighbors, friends and lucky passersby.

Cayuga County Farmers Markets – Listing of 14 markets including Greater Auburn, Aurora, Locke, King Ferry and Weedsport. Courtesy of the Assemblyman Gary Finch. Note: list is from 2010 but should still be in effect.

Chemung County Farmers Markets – Listing of 4 farmers markets, including Big Flats, Elmira and Horseheads. Courtesy of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Cortland County Farmers Markets – Listing of 5 farmers markets, including Greater Cortland, Cincinnatus, Homer and Virgil. Courtesy of BDC/IDA of Cortland County.

Livingston County Farmers Markets – Listing of 7 farmers markets, toward bottom of page including Avon, Dansville, Lima, Mt. Morris, Nunda and Geneseo. Courtesy of Finger Lakes West.

Monroe County Farmers Markets – Listing of 20 farmers markets including Brighton, Brockport, Chili, East Rochester, Fairport, Greece, Hamlin, Irondequoit, Penfield, Pittsford, Greater Rochester, Rush and Webster. Courtesy of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Onondaga County Farmers Markets – Listing of 8 farmers markets and 10 mobile markets including Camillus, Liverpool, Skaneateles and Greater Syracuse. Courtesy of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Ontario County Farmers Markets – Listing of 5 farmers markets including Canandaigua, Geneva, Naples, Phelps and Victor. (Please note that the location of the Canandaigua Market has changed to167 Mill Street.) Courtesy of Ontario County’s Agriculture.

Schuyler County Farmers Markets – Listing of 2 Farmers Markets including Montour Falls and Watkins Glen. Courtesy of Beautiful Finger Lakes.

Seneca County Farmers Markets – Listing of 4 Farmers Markets including Seneca Falls and Waterloo, toward bottom of page. Courtesy of Finger Lakes Central.

Steuben County Farmers Markets – Listing of 3 Farmers Markets including Bath, Corning and Hornell. Courtesy of American Towns.

Tioga County Farmers Markets – Listing of 4 Farmers Markets and multiple other farms, including the towns of Owego and Waverly. Courtesy of Assemblyman Gary Finch.

Tompkins County Farmers Markets – Listing of 9 Farmers Markets including Caroline, Groton, Lansing Trumansberg and Greater Ithaca. Courtesy of Ithaca’s Food Web.

Wayne County Farmers Markets – Listing of 6 Community Farmers Markets including Clyde, Lyons, Macedon, Newark, Palmyra and Sodus.  Courtesy of Wayne County Tourism.

Yates County Farmers Markets – Listing of 3 Farmers Markets on page 18 including Penn Yan and Dundee. Courtesy of Cornell Cooperative Extension. (Note: This is a fabulous downloadable pdf guide to a variety of food products in and around Yates County and includes wineries, the cheese trail, various beverages, U-pick produce, harvest season, etc.)

Another terrific resource for Farmers Markets throughout New York State is the New York State Department of Agriculture.


The Finger Lakes are well-known for their Riesling Wines

Although the Finger Lakes region has many delightful wines, it is often thought of as Riesling Country because this region wins so many awards in this wine category.  If you are a lover of Riesling wines (or wine tasting in general), be sure to visit Finger Lakes Wine Country to check out the many events planned, and the  winery and restaurant promotions celebrating this popular wine.  If you’re thinking of staying overnight, don’t overlook the many package deals on Keuka and Seneca Lake as well as those south of the Finger Lakes.  This link on their database can also help you identify the wineries that specialize in Riesling wines.

If you sell art, crafts or gourmet food items, Granger Homestead’s Christkindl Market may be the perfect place to exhibit for the holidays.  This three-day event is held under heated tents on the grounds of the historic Granger Family home and it gets thousands of visitors over the course of the weekend who are looking for unique items for holiday gifting and in seeing the lovely Festival of Trees that opens the same weekend.

The 2011 Christkindl Market will take place from November 11 – 13, so be sure your application is postmarked on or before May 1 to participate as a vendor in this fun and festive event! CLICK HERE FOR VENDOR APPLICATION.

Video courtesy of Youtube, Granger Homestead & Carriage Museum and Bed and Breakfast Video.

Looking for information on the 2012 Maple Sugar Weekends? CLICK HERE to read “A Sweet Time at NYS Maple Sugar Weekends 2012” on our new Finger Lakes Travel Maven blog.


Warming weather causes maple sap to flowWhen I was a kid, my family occasionally vacationed in Vermont. A treat I always looked forward to were the little packages of maple sugar candy found in most gift shops that were formed into shapes. The heavenly taste melted on my tongue, all too fast. Fast forward many years, and I realize we could as easily have purchased the candy here in New York State, since we're the third largest producer of maple products in the U.S., following Vermont and Maine.

Thinking about maple products, who would imagine you could get a sweet tasting liquid from a tree? According to Iroquois legend, it happened by accident one spring when Chief Woksis planted his tomahawk in a tree above a spot where the family always left a container for water. Sap from the gash dripped into the bucket and when his wife retrieved it, she thought the liquid it contained was water. When she  cooked with the unsuspected ingredient, the family discovered the delightful sweet taste of maple sap.

Now, maple producers across New York State celebrate the arrival of spring and maple sap collecting season with Maple Weekend, which will be held this year on March 19-20 and March 26-27.  The event is free, fun and educational for the whole family because at each participating producer, you’ll have a chance to watch the process of maple sugaring, from tapping the tree through to boiling the maple sap down into syrup. This is a long process because it takes 45 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup! You’ll discover that some producers continue to use the traditional method of bucket and spigot, called a “spile”, while others have adopted more contemporary and efficient methods involving vacuum pumps and plastic tubing that leads to a central collection location.

Many of the locations also offer traditional pancake breakfasts with prices varying by location.

Because there are over 100 participants across the state, I won’t list them here, but you can discover the maple syrup producers nearest you by clicking on the following link and looking up participants in your county: Maple Weekend Participants by County.

Click on the following link to discover the closest pancake breakfast: Maple Weekend Pancake Breakfasts.

The event runs on March 19-20 and March 26-27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, but times for some participants may vary,  so be sure to confirm hours for the destination you plan to visit.

I know there are a lot of foodies out there who love cheese because of the number of visitors reading my post on last year’s October Artisinal Cheese Open House.  Now cheese and wine lovers will rejoice to hear that the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail is pairing with the Keuka Lake Wine Trail in what promises to be a delectable weekend that’s sure to please every foodie’s palate!

Attendees await a delightful wine and cheese pairing at each winery

On April 9 and 10, participants on this Artisan Cheese and Wine Weekend on the Keuka Lake Wine Trail will receive a souvenir glass, food and artisan cheese samples as well as 32 wines to taste along the trail. They’ll also have the opportunity to meet the cheese makers, learn about the process by which the cheese is made and purchase samples of their favorites! All ticket holders will also be entered to win a one-night stay for two at the charming Inn at Esperanza Mansion, a sightseeing cruise aboard the Esperanza Rose, and a bottle of wine from each winery on the Keuka Lake Wine Trail.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and ticket prices are $25 for participants or $18.75 for designated drivers. On Sunday, the day starts at 11 a.m. and runs through 5 p.m. and tickets are $19 for participants and $14.25 for designated drivers. They may be purchased through the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, at your local Wegmans service desk or by calling 1(800) 440-4898.

To read the full press release, visit Finger Lakes Wine Country.

When Ed Kwiek’s sister gave him a wine making kit 12 years ago, I bet she never dreamed it would launch her brother’s second career following his retirement from IBM.  After making his first batch of wine, he was hooked. The one concord grape vine that twined so gracefully along the trellis in his back yard inspired him to plant 50 more by year 2000, and now he’s up to 100. Although he has all the necessary equipment in his cellar, complete with a 750 bottle wine rack, wine making is strictly a hobby and he reserves the 500 or so bottles he makes for the pleasure of family and friends. The business he started on Ground Hog’s Day three years ago is consulting on backyard vineyards.

Ed Kwiek's 3-part course begins at NYWCC March 12

I learned of Ed when I discovered a 3-part course he’s teaching at the New York Wine and Culinary Center called “The Backyard Vineyard,” so I gave him a buzz to learn more about this fascinating business that is such a perfect fit for the Finger Lakes Region.

“When I had friends over and invited them into my back yard where I have a vineyard about two blocks long leading to a small fruit orchard, they were always so interested about the vineyard, that I began giving advice. Then I approached the Wine and Culinary Center about teaching a class there. The class was very popular and they asked me to develop a course.”

The first class led to a full-fledge consulting business called Woods Wine Backyard Vineyard Consulting that has attracted clients from the Finger Lakes region, the Hudson Valley, the Thousand Islands, Ohio and even Maryland to learn how to cultivate a backyard vineyard.

“I usually do private consulting in my home, but sometimes I travel. My client from the Thousand Islands came, picked me up in his plane and flew me to his island,” Ed laughed. “He’s planting 500 vines.”

Over the years, Ed has planted about 8 or 9 different varieties of grapes, but the three he’s settled on for his wines are hearty Cornell hybrids including Traminette, Corot Noir and Noiret. The traminette produces a light white wine with a fruity finish that’s good for the summer. The Corot Noir offers a tasty all-purpose red wine that offers a hint of black cherry, and the Noiret delivers a hearty red with black pepper overtones, similar to Shiraz, that’s good for winter.

Unfortunately, his clients never get to sample his wines.

“I’m very strict about that,” Ed stated. “I don’t have a permit to serve wine and if I served wine, I’d risk losing my whole business.”

Although Ed prefers to consult and offer classes in his home where he can give a tour of his vineyards and his wine making facilities, he will also do consulting over the phone and via email, as he did with the client from Maryland.  Ed’s product is knowledge and he doesn’t provide the labor, but he often works alongside a crew to make sure the process goes smoothly.

“From the diagrams sent by my client in Maryland, I learned that the backyard was very shady, so he ended up having to de-limb some of the trees, and some clients have to cut some down to put in a backyard vineyard if the yard is too shady. I tell people it’s like family…you can’t always pick your backyards,” he jokes.

“This is the  best job,” he exclaimed. “Consulting on vineyards is like delivering flowers. People are always excited to see you show up!”

Ed’s “Backyard Vineyard” course at the New York Wine and Culinary Center is given in three parts and those who are interested may take one, two or all three of the following classes:

  1. Backyard Vineyard: Introduction and Planning – Saturday, March 12 from 9 a.m. – 12 Noon.  $45
  2. Backyard Vineyard II: Installing and Maintaining Your Vineyard – Saturday, March 26 from 9 a.m. – 12 Noon.  $45.
  3. Backyard Vineyard III: Harvest, Crush, Fermentation and Press – Saturday, April 9 from 9 a.m. t0 12 Noon. $45.

Those who take all three classes will receive a $15 discount and a Certificate from the NYWCC, located at 800 South Main Street, Canandaigua.

For a man who aspired to become a vintner but who was concerned about the investment needed to launch a winery, starting a backyard vineyard consulting business was the perfect way to have his wine and drink it too!

If you are interested in consultation on planting your backyard vineyard, Ed suggests you check out his website and blog, then call him at (585) 730-2681.

Photos and video courtesy of Ed Kwiek.

When I lived in New York, one of the men I worked with raised orchids. His orchids had their own room, he loved them so much. He assured me most varieties were not difficult to raise.

Many varieties will be on display at Sonnenberg's Annual Orchid Show

When I walk past these lovely flowers in a florist or at Wegmans, I’m always tempted to try my hand at raising one, in spite of having  what I call ‘a purple thumb.’

If you, like I, are attracted to orchids, you’ll want to put Sonnenberg Garden’s Annual Orchid Show on your calendar. This show will be in bloom within Sonnenberg’ Garden’s historic Lord & Burnham greenhouse complex Friday, March 4 through Sunday, March 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.  You’ll delight in a wide array of these exotic blooms, including Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilums, colorful Cattleyas and Cymbidiums and delicate Dendrobiums and more.

The show will also offer you the opportunity to take a seminar on orchid care Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and on Sunday at 2 p.m. Orchid growers, including Joe Kunisch of Bloomfield Orchids of Pittsford, will be on hand throughout the weekend to answer your questions. A variety of orchids will be on sale in the Sonnenberg Gift Shop.

On Friday, Sonnenberg Garden’s Executive Director and horticultural expert David Hutchings will be on hand to re-pot your plants for a donation.  And while at the show, be sure to stop by Sonnenberg’s Gift Shop, where you can enjoy a wine tasting, served from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Admission to the Annual Orchid Show is $5 and goes to benefit Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For more information, visit Sonnenberg Gardens’ website or call (585) 394-4922.

Sonnenberg Gardens is located at 151 Charlotte Street in Canandaigua.

Next Page »