Day 10: West Lake to Urbana State Forest

Wine Trip

The grand plan for my 90 days in the US is to cross the country with sufficient time remaining in which to go visit the wine producing regions of Napa, Sonoma and Lodi counties.

I’m happy also to take additional odd days here and there if time allows and my interest is perked – which it obviously is when touring through another wine region.

So today was an open day to both see whatever passing wineries interested me (ie, those recommended by Decanter, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, etc magazines) and get as many miles in on top of that – distance today not being the key driver!

In marked contrast to yesterday, the weather was lovely – despite the almost predictable headwind – and so cruising down the road parallel to the coast was really quite lovely.

I’ve found that many roads in the US which claim to be “lakeside” only run vaguely parallel to-rather than actually alongside the lake – so I refuse to repeat the misleading credit.

My first stop wasn’t too long after heading off – later than planned (it gets really cold in the mornings!). Red Tail Ridge was a winery that I’d seen recommended by Wine Enthusiast, particularly for their Dry Riesling.

Operational for just 10 years and only recently having acquisitioned a further plot of neighbouring vineyards, quality driven growth seemed to be what RTR portrayed.

I tried a few (7) of their wines, mostly varieties of German origin – these are what have been proven successful in the Finger Lakes.  I was most taken with their Gewurztraminer (white floral/ camomile aromas, lychee on palate) and Dornfelder (big spice/anise aromas, flavours of charcoal-oatcakes and blueberries).

Back on the road, I was making some decent miles over the undulating terrain. Most were nothing to complain about, but there were a few which presented more of a challenge, and one particularly long & steep climb for which I had to resort to getting off and pushing.

Late in the afternoon, I stopped again.  This time at Dr Konstantin Frank winery, high on the hill overlooking Keuka Lake.  My hope was that I might be able to pitch tent here, but this was not to be the case.

Still, the tasting was free and some of the wines pretty good. I opted for a bottle of their Gewurztraminer, which I promptly decanted into a more bikepacking-friendly container.

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I saught advice of the winery’s receptionist for camping site, but upon checking map and possible next-day route, opted for a more direct-line option and climbed more into the hills of Urbana State Forest. And then I climbed some more.

With time and light drawing short, I finally asked a couple of folk for permission to pitch up.  The first declined but that I ask her neighbour, who suggested that I camp on a large flat portion at the foot of his driveway.

Another perfect free campsite. This time however, when I pitched my tent and prepared dinner of peanut-butter and hazelnut spread tortillas, I had a nice bottle (water-bottle) of good wine to complete the day.

Check out my ride on Strava.

Relive my ride.

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