Winery Weekend Wisdom

It is that wonderful time of year when a winery weekend beckons, as October is your last chance to get out before the cold winds of November begin to blow from the north. For this reason, we call October “weekend month” in Finger Lakes winery lingo.

At Sheldrake Point, we see visitors all through the week during the summer months, but on weekends in October, visitors arrive at the winery in droves. Especially on Saturdays.

Autumn in the Finger Lakes

Autumn has begun and grape harvest is in full swing. The sun is lower in the sky, days are warm, evenings are cool and crisp, and the colors of the season are a painter’s palette on the hillsides. This is a season for savoring bounty, so we want to share with you our ‘winery weekend wisdom’—because just as retailers brace for the weekend after Thanksgiving, Finger Lakes wineries take a deep breath as the calendar flips to October.

Everyone has the same idea

It is true that for most wineries in the Finger Lakes, the busiest days of the entire year are Saturdays in October. As many as 500 to 1,000 visitors in a day stop at Sheldrake Point as part of their winery weekend. Those kinds of numbers may be great for the wineries, but are really not so great for the visitor experience.

Parking is difficult, tasting rooms are crowded and noisy, winery staff don’t have time to engage with visitors, long lines form for the bathrooms…. To be honest, Saturdays in October can give visitors a pretty lousy impression of our wineries.

Here are a few tips to make the most of your autumn winery weekend:

To avoid those crowds, try weekdays!

Cayuga Lake Tasting Room, Sheldrake Point Winery

A great tasting room experience gives you elbow room, time to engage with knowledgeable staff, and a peaceful savoring of great Finger Lakes wine.

  • More and more visitors are stretching their winery weekend into Friday and/or Monday, with both of those days more typically and relatively quiet.
  • At many wineries, most harvest activities occur Monday through Friday, offering visitors a better chance to observe winemaking in action during the weekdays.
  • Tasting room staff is more relaxed and available to converse about the wines you are tasting and your personal experience.
  • Avoiding Saturday, and even Sunday, can set up for a truly engaging visit.

 Or, better strategize for your Saturday-Sunday winery weekend!

  • Always choose Sunday over Saturday.
  • If you must plan for a Saturday, visit the wineries early (many open at 10am) and plan for a later lunch.
  • The busiest time of day at winery tasting rooms is mid-afternoon—a time when you could be relaxing around the lunch table and sharing your impressions of the wines you tried earlier in the day.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Enjoying a winery weekend is all about taking in the sights and flavors of this wonderful season in the Finger Lakes. If you are here jostling with the October winery weekend crowds, we will happily welcome you to the excitement around the tasting bar.

If you want a leisurely experience, consider our tips for planning your winery weekend. You can’t beat pairing our Sheldrake Point wines with rich conversation with tasting room staff, and peacefully gazing out at the autumn colors reflected on the waters of Cayuga Lake.

Born and raised in the Finger Lakes, Whitney has always been passionate about the region.  She attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she earned her degree in English and Education.  After a tasting room position at a local winery, she traveled to California, New Zealand, and Washington State to work harvest and gain production experience, returning in early 2015 to join the Sheldrake Point team.