A Trip Around Canandaigua Lake

The Finger Lakes

Spread across central New York State are a series of lakes known as the Finger Lakes. Carved out of the earth by an ancient glacier, these five long and narrow lakes all lying in a north-south orientation, look like the fingers of a hand. In fact according to indian legend the five were created when the Great Spirit touched the land and the lakes were the imprint of his fingers.

Canandaigua is the western most lake of the Finger Lakes group and is rich in history and beauty. The pictures below will give you an idea of the beauty of the area.

Canandaigua Lake as seen from the the City of Canandaigua on its north end.
Canandaigua Lake as seen from the the City of Canandaigua on its north end. | Source
Ontario County Courthouse in downtown Canandaigua.  It was on this site on November 11, 1794 that Timothy Pickering representing the United States met with a group of sachems and Warriors, including the famous Chief Red Jacket, representing the Senec
Ontario County Courthouse in downtown Canandaigua. It was on this site on November 11, 1794 that Timothy Pickering representing the United States met with a group of sachems and Warriors, including the famous Chief Red Jacket, representing the Senec | Source
Home at 211 Main Street.  When her son left to fight in World War I, his Mother placed a lighted candle in the window to the right of the front door "so that he could find his way home".  She kept the candle lit through the war and after, eventually
Home at 211 Main Street. When her son left to fight in World War I, his Mother placed a lighted candle in the window to the right of the front door "so that he could find his way home". She kept the candle lit through the war and after, eventually | Source
Leaving the city and driving down the west side of Canandaigua Lake we come upon the little hamlet of Cheshire, first settled in 1815.
Leaving the city and driving down the west side of Canandaigua Lake we come upon the little hamlet of Cheshire, first settled in 1815. | Source
We stopped to check out the Cheshire Antique Shop in Cheshire, New York.
We stopped to check out the Cheshire Antique Shop in Cheshire, New York. | Source
When it was time to leave, the proprietors of the Cheshire Antique shop stepped out and saw us off.  Small towns are so friendly.
When it was time to leave, the proprietors of the Cheshire Antique shop stepped out and saw us off. Small towns are so friendly. | Source
South Bristol New York is a newer town and, as you will see from the next photo, really hasn't had the growth spurt that its neighbor to the north, Cheshire, has enjoyed.  But South Bristol has a quiet beauty all its own.
South Bristol New York is a newer town and, as you will see from the next photo, really hasn't had the growth spurt that its neighbor to the north, Cheshire, has enjoyed. But South Bristol has a quiet beauty all its own. | Source
This quaint old barn is the only building we found in South Bristol, New York.  Like, I said, it is a newer town than Cheshire and really hasn't started to develop.
This quaint old barn is the only building we found in South Bristol, New York. Like, I said, it is a newer town than Cheshire and really hasn't started to develop. | Source
A slender finger of water nestled between the hills.  We have now reached the south end of Canandaigua Lake and are looking north back toward the City of Canandaigua.
A slender finger of water nestled between the hills. We have now reached the south end of Canandaigua Lake and are looking north back toward the City of Canandaigua. | Source
Widmer Wine Cellars located at the South end of Canandaigua Lake near Naples, New York
Widmer Wine Cellars located at the South end of Canandaigua Lake near Naples, New York | Source
Original home of the founding Widmer family, located on the grounds of the Widmer Winery outside of Naples, New York.
Original home of the founding Widmer family, located on the grounds of the Widmer Winery outside of Naples, New York. | Source

Wine Country

California may be the premier wine producing state in the United States. With its gentle climate, irrigation and fertile soil it is difficult not to produce the grapes needed to make award winning wines - even beating the French on occasions.

But New York State is a very close second in terms of quality and quantity of wine produced and has long had a reputation for excellent wines.

Taylor and other names associated with California wines were established in New York years before they opened facilities in California.

Today many of the old established names in New York (and California) wineries are owned by big beverage conglomerates (note the words A Constellation Company at the bottom of the picture of the Widmer banner.

But new independents keep popping up, helped in part to the Internet and a recent Supreme Court decision that cast aside Prohabition Era shackles and allowing interstate wine sales via the Internet throughout the U.S.

Ironically, a big incentive for establishing new wineries in New York, in addition to its land and climate, is land costs.

Despite sky high prices per acre for good hillside land in this area, the price is a bargain compared to the out of this world prices in California.

Widmer was the first winery we encountered on this trip and, of course, we had to stop, tour the grounds and sample their wares.

Bella in the vineyard of the Widmer Winery outside of Naples, New York.
Bella in the vineyard of the Widmer Winery outside of Naples, New York. | Source
The rolling hills of Central New York are ideal for growing grapes.  Some time next year these grapes will have been transformed into a pleasing nectar in a wine glass on someone's dinner table.
The rolling hills of Central New York are ideal for growing grapes. Some time next year these grapes will have been transformed into a pleasing nectar in a wine glass on someone's dinner table. | Source
My wife and I in the Wine Tasting Room of the Widmer Winery outside of Naples, New York.
My wife and I in the Wine Tasting Room of the Widmer Winery outside of Naples, New York. | Source
No, we didn't take a wrong turn and end up in Italy.  Nestled at the southern tip of Canandaigua Lake and in the heart of the wine country is the village of Naples, New York.  Smaller than its Italian namesake, it has a charm of its own.
No, we didn't take a wrong turn and end up in Italy. Nestled at the southern tip of Canandaigua Lake and in the heart of the wine country is the village of Naples, New York. Smaller than its Italian namesake, it has a charm of its own. | Source
A good excuse to slow down and enjoy the scenery on a peaceful back road, in an Amish area above Canandaigua Lake, that cars share with horses pulling carriages.
A good excuse to slow down and enjoy the scenery on a peaceful back road, in an Amish area above Canandaigua Lake, that cars share with horses pulling carriages. | Source
Getting back on course, we not only spotted Canandaigua Lake but ended up in a little park half way up the east side of the lake in the Township of Gorham, New York.
Getting back on course, we not only spotted Canandaigua Lake but ended up in a little park halfway up the east side of the lake in the Township of Gorham, New York. | Source

I take a Wrong Turn

Our trip down the west side of Canandaigua lake was easy as the road paralleled the lake and we could usually see the lake in the distance on our left.

At its southern tip the lake tapers off into a marsh and disappears while the road continues south with only small country dirt roads branching off from it.

The Village of Naples is actually just south of the lake itself and is not on the lake. Like the west side of the lake, a similar road runs up the east side as well.

Unfortunately, not bothering to take time to get a map, I simply turned left on the first main road past Naples and began looking for the lake on my left to confirm my position.

Unfortunately, I choose the wrong road and ended up going north east rather than north. But it was still beautiful country and I eventually found a couple of landmarks and got going again in the right direction.

The first thing that should have told me I was off course (in addition to the lack of a lake on my left) was a farmhouse with a horse drawn carriage in the front yard.

Shortly after that was a sign warning to watch out for carriages. We had entered an area that was predominently Amish.

Founded in the seventeenth or eighteenth century in Germany, the Amish sect of the Mennonite faith have interpreted the simple life to mean a refusal to quickly accept new gadgets as they are invented.The Amish have thus continued to rely on horse power rather than gasoline.

Originally centered in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania, where they are commonly referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch, they have, in recent years branched out and established communities in many parts of rural America.

In addition to the quaint touch of their carriages on the roads they have brought up old farms, with poor soil, and with hard work, have turned them into productive farms supplying food for their families.

It was here, along this stretch of road in the flat plateau between the lakes, where the land is not good for vinyards or commercial farming that we encountered the farmhouse with the carriage and the sign at the right.

The summer cottage on Canandaigua Lake that used to belong to my Aunt Helen and Uncle Walt
The summer cottage on Canandaigua Lake that used to belong to my Aunt Helen and Uncle Walt | Source
Back in the City of Canandaigua we decided to fill up before continuing. Times have changed - when I was young and my father stopped for gas here lake the decimal point was in front of the first 3 digits in the price.
Back in the City of Canandaigua we decided to fill up before continuing. Times have changed - when I was young and my father stopped for gas here lake the decimal point was in front of the first 3 digits in the price. | Source
Victor and his Village of Victor, New York
Victor and his Village of Victor, New York | Source

We Get Back on Course

I eventually got us back to the lake and we ended up at a little beach front park about half way up the east side of the lake which I recognized from my childhood.

The park is located in the Township of Gorham named after a Mr. Gorham who, with a Mr. Phelps (who also has a near by township, just as small, named after him) led a survey team that surveyed the new lands that the United States acquired as a result of the Pickering Treaty, thus opening the area for development.

My great-uncle Walt purchased a lake front lot in the Township of Gorham in the 1930s for about $4,000 and built a summer cottage which we visited regularly as children in the 1960s. He sold it about 30 years ago for some mid-five figure amount. While subsequent owners don't seem to have made many changes, my brother and I estimate that, based upon development and prices in the area, it would probably sell for between a half-million to a million today - of course property taxes on the property probably contain quite a few zeros between the whole numbers and the decimal point.

Gas is another thing that has risen in price over the years. When we reached the City of Canandaigua agin we stopped for gas. Of course the price was about fifty cents a gallon higher than Arizona, which is to be expected as New York works hard at maintaining its reputation as one of the highest taxed states in the nation. But while at the gas station I was reminded of another fun time at the lake when I was a child. This was the Genundowa Autumn Light Festival the continuation of an annual Seneca indian autumn harvest festival in which, instead of lighting bondfires around the lake as the Seneca villages did in the past, all the cottages on the lake light flares on their beaches so that the lake is ringed for a few minutes with the light of red flares.

Leaving Canandaigua and heading back to my brother's home in Rochester, we paused in the little village of Victor, New York. I think the name comes from the 1687 victory of the Marquis de Denonville, Governor of New France, over the Seneca indians on a hill just above the town. Today it remains, as it always has, a charming little town. However, I couldn't resist a picture of my son (and fellow Hubber) Victor posing in front of the sign welcoming people to Victor.

Victor in front of sign welcoming travelers to the Village of Victor, New York.
Victor in front of sign welcoming travelers to the Village of Victor, New York. | Source

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10 comments

leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

We're heading up to the Finger Lakes this summer for a short vacation - we will probably stay near Seneca Lake, and make a few side trips to see Watkin's Glen and the local wineries. Great hub!


Jody Oliver 6 years ago

I was born and raised in Canandaigua, and boy has it developed by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years, but it is always wonderful to go back home and visit all my family and friends in my hometown. It is a beautiful area, especially in the fall.


west40 profile image

west40 6 years ago from Canandaigua, NY

Chuck,

Great Hub - I happen to live in Canandaigua and it is without a doubt one of the greatest summer spots in the US.

Thanks


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Pennsylvania Wanderer - Thanks for visiting my HubPage and for your comment.

I saw your comment on my Crop Circle Winery about being from Rochester. I also grew up in Rochester and I remember Roseland Park. My parents used to take us to the lake to visit my Aunt and Uncle at their cottage on the east side of the lake and the road in those days ran right next to the park so we saw the park every time we went to the cottage and when we came home. However, we never visited the park.

Good luck with your business. I checked out your website and blog and it looks like you have a fun business.

Chuck


Pennsylvania Wanderer 7 years ago

Thanks for posting this lens on my old stomping grounds. I grew up in Rochester and we spend many pleasant summer days in Canandaigua. Did you know there used to be an amusement park there called Roseland Park?


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 9 years ago

Great hub! Nice pictures. Brought back memories of an enjoyable summer I spent many years ago in Ithaca on Cayuga Lake. The finger lakes area is similar in many ways to northern Michigan. Great country in the summer. Quite cold in the winter.

Also, there's a great restaurant called The Krebs in Skeaneatalis.


Larry Douglass 9 years ago

I lived in Victor, NY for years, drank Widmer wines and loved to fish all the lakes and streams around. My wife and I cut our Christmas trees from the hills around the Lake. I only miss the beautiful summers, the fall is somewhat colorful and the temperature year-round is too cold, so we moved to Florida.

Good photos and commentary.


bobmnu 9 years ago

I have taken several trip around the Finger Llakes Area and I would have to say their Wines are Great. Check out Bully Hill Winnery. They sell themselves as the Blue Collor Wine.


jimmythejock profile image

jimmythejock 9 years ago from Scotland

Great hub Chuck, very informative and the pictures are fantastic...jimmy


livelonger profile image

livelonger 9 years ago from San Francisco

Great Hub! I visited the Finger Lakes for the first time myself, with my partner, last summer. We stayed in Hammondsport on Keuka Lake and went to a few wineries there (Bully Hill & Dr Konstantin Frank). It's stunningly beautiful there and so charming. We had dinner at a traditional country inn right on the lake.

The next day, we spent the day in Canandaigua Lake because the water was so much warmer.

I'm a big fan of Rochester & the Finger Lakes now.

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