Welcome to New York’s Wine Hub: Canandaigua, NY

Canandaigua, New York is about as far fetched from Napa Valley as Timbuktu is to Hollywood.

The sleepy little town/city, with the charm of a Norman Rockwell painting, is a mere 30 minute drive from Rochester, and known for being the gateway to the Finger Lakes and for its small town friendliness.

Now it is also the Mecca for New York’s food and wine — the New York Wine & Culinary Center — the pseudo-clone of COPIA, the Mondavi-backed culinary center in Napa Valley.

As a native downstater I never thought that upstate New York would be home to the New York’s wine center (you’d think it would be closer to the Big Apple), but I’ll admit, it’s a pretty impressive hang out for diehard foodies and wine lovers like me.

The high-tech center boasts a tasting room, wine and tasting bar, and a Food Network-inspired theater-kitchen where the center’s head honchos hope to recruit celebrity rock stars like Rachael Ray (as of this posting no word yet).

And the center’s theme of course is “Made in New York.? Even the wood and stone that make up the tasting room come from New York. Another highlight: cooking classes for kitchen virgins like myself.

Canandaigua is a pleasant and pretty place to visit. The center happens to overlook cobalt-colored Canandaigua Lake, a highly recommended place for a post tasting-swim to work off all that cheese and Merlot.

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