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State spotlight: New York

Courtesy Cayuga Co. Office of Tourism

A Sweet Finish
The Finger Lakes area of central New York has a host of wineries, agritourism opportunities and other culinary experiences for groups. The newest is the Cayuga County Sweet Treat Trail, created last fall by the Cayuga County Office of Tourism.

As its name implies, the Sweet Treat Trail focuses on desserts and other sweet items made in Cayuga County with fresh, local products. Seventeen stops on the trail feature baked goods, jams and jellies, fresh honey and other culinary items. The trail also includes eight farm markets.

Stops include Bet the Farm, a winery and gourmet market in the Village of Aurora that specializes in dessert wines, maple syrup and peanut brittle. In Weedsport, groups can stop at Giancarelli Brothers, a farm store and winery that features fruit pies and fruit wines. Lake Ontario has the Fly By Night Cookie Company, where visitors can taste pastries, cookies, pies and cakes made from fruit, eggs and butter fresh from local farms.

Ice Wine and More
Travelers know the Greater Niagara region near Buffalo for the stunning cascades at Niagara Falls, but the area has made quite a name for itself as a wine destination as well. Visiting groups can tour the Niagara Wine Trail to learn about the burgeoning industry.

Much of Niagara’s wine prowess is due to its geography: The area’s location between the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario creates a microclimate suitable for the cultivation of several specialty grapes that benefit from the mild temperatures and long growing season. Producers in the area are known for their pinot noir, cabernet and syrah. The Niagara region is also one of North America’s premier places for ice wines, which are dessert wines made from grapes that have been allowed to freeze on the vine before harvest.

Although wineries make up the base of the appeal of the trail, travelers also have access to an impressive array of breweries, farm markets, restaurants and other attractions.

Cooperstown Beyond Baseball
If your group is thirsty after a visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, take them for a trip on the Cooperstown Beverage Trail. Cooperstown has a centuries-old brewing tradition and was once the hops-growing capital of North America. The Cooperstown Beverage Trail preserves that heritage and introduces visitors to the modern drinks produced around town.

The trail was created in 2004 when four brewing companies joined forces to market their sites to visitors. Today, the trail has expanded to include the Bear Pond Winery, the Cooperstown Brewing Company, Brewery Ommegang, the Fly Creek Cider Mill, the Rustic Ridge Winery, and Butternuts Beer and Ale.

Each of the sites on the trail specializes in a different variety of beer, wine, cider or ale. Each location offers tours and tastings to visiting groups; several are located on family farms that grow the ingredients used in the beverages.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.