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Democrat & Chronicle

August 17, 2008

Lighting the Wine Trail
By Christine A. Smyczynski

Hammondsport, a quaint village situated on the southern tip of Keuka Lake is a perfect day trip destination that has something for everyone. Wine connoisseurs enjoy the area’s many wineries and fine restaurants, while shoppers can perusing the many shops that surround the village square.


Rich in history, Hammondsport, is also known as the “cradle of aviation” because of its most famous son, aviation pioneer Glenn H. Curtiss. The museum that bears his name, located just outside the village, chronicles his life and work.


One of my favorite wineries in Hammondsport is Bully Hill Vineyards. Established in 1958, it was one of the first small estate wineries to be established in the Finger Lakes region. I find the wine tastings and tours at Bully Hill a bit more relaxed and interactive, compared to other wineries I’ve been to. The wines themselves are unique too, with comical labels and unusual names like, “Love My Goat Red.” A wine museum with 18th century winemaking equipment, several gift shops, and a winery restaurant, round out the things to do at Bully Hill.


Other wineries in Hammondsport include the Pleasant Valley Wine Company and Great Western Visitors Center. Established in 1860, it was the first bonded winery in the United States. They are also the largest bottle fermented sparkling wine producer in the east. Another area winery, Dr. Konstaintin Frank’s Vinifera Wine cellars, produces some of New York State’s most award wining wines.


My family enjoys the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, which features vintage aircraft, as well as motorcycles and bicycles. Curtiss, who was issued the first pilot’s license in the United States, is considered the father of naval aviation. Many early aeronautical developments can be attributed to Curtiss.


One woman I know had several of her friends, who live in various parts of the state, converge on Hammondsport for a “girl’s weekend.” In addition to visiting the many wineries and dining out, they also enjoyed browsing the shops the surround the village square. The Cinnamon Stick is an old-fashioned country store that has gourmet foods, country accessories and gifts. Across the square, Browsers has an assortment of items, including clothing, home décor toys, and Keuka Lake merchandise. There is a café in the basement which serves coffee, tea and lite fare.


If you like sweets, be sure to stop by the Chocolatier of Hammondsport, which features a variety of chocolate goodies, including homemade fudge. One of the newer shops in town, D’Vine, hosts wine tastings and offers winery tours. They also have a selection of antiques.

Here are some reasons to visit Hammondsport in August.
The 28th annual Hammondsport Festival of Crafts on August 16-17, features over 125 crafters and artisans, including quilters, leatherworkers, potters, photographers, woodworkers, jewelry makers and more, who will be demonstrating and selling their crafts on the village square. For more information visit


Another annual event, Genundowa, or Festival of Lights, which celebrates the end of summer and Native American culture, takes place on August 30-31. This celebration recognizes the ancient Seneca tradition of lighting a fire to give thanks for peaceful times and an abundant harvest. That initial fire was answered by smaller fires built along the lake. Since the late 19th Century non-Indians living along Keuka Lake have also observed this tradition.


The event, which includes the lighting of a celebration fire at the village lakefront, features Native American artisans, dancing drums, storytelling and Native American foods. For more information visit

If you go
Hammondsport Chamber of Commerce (607-569-2989; 47 Shethar St., Hammondsport

Bully Hill Winery (607-868-3490;

Glenn H. Curtiss Museum (607-569-2160: 8419 State Route 54, Hammondsport

From Rochester, take the I-390 south. It will merge into Route I-86 east towards Corning. Get off at exit 38 (Bath) and follow Route 54 north to Hammondsport.