The New York Wine and Culinary Center (NYWCC) holds a special place in my heart. Not only is it one of the places where I developed a love for wine, it is where my partner and I got married back in 2014. If you’re looking for a way to develop your wine tasting skills, learn about new spirits and beers, or gain culinary skills, this is a great place to start and its only 35 minutes from Rochester.
Founded in 2006, NYWCC was created to be a gateway for people around the state to learn more about the amazing food and drinks available in New York. It is located on the Canandaigua Lake Pier, which means you get a great view of the water from their deck. You can sample wine, beer and spirits in their Tasting Room, learn new recipes and techniques in their Hands-On Kitchen, get a lesson in wine and beer regions in their Demonstration Classroom, or enjoy a meal in their restaurant, the Upstairs Bistro.
This restaurant is focused on showcasing local fare, and has partnerships with farms from the region. It is led by Matt Laurence, Executive Chef, and Gary Parmelee, Executive Sous Chef and their culinary team, who work hard to use seasonal ingredients that show off all the amazing produce and meat in the area.
Tip: If the weather is nice, I strongly suggest sitting out on the deck, and if it’s a Friday or Saturday make reservations.
Starters and salads range from $6-18, and the main courses are $20 and up (most cap at $28, but sometimes the steak specials can get a little higher). The meals are fairly substantial, so the price point while high is totally worth it.
We started out with a cheese and charcuterie for the whole table, which came with an assortment of local cheeses, meats and accoutrements. I really loved the blue cheese, it was creamy and tangy. The chicken liver was also fantastic and indulgent. That little cup with the red jammy stuff in it was strawberry rhubarb mash and it was incredible, especially with the blue cheese.
For our main courses, I did the salad special, which was made up of micro greens and baby basil with fresh heirloom tomatoes and house-made mozzarella cheese (yup, hand pulled in house with fresh herbs), and a half portion of the crab cake. If you want a full order, you get two cakes. Keith ordered a steak special that came with potatoes and onion rings. Both meals were delicious. My was light and fresh, exactly what I wanted on a hot summer night, and Keith’s was indulgent and fun for a date night out. But let’s get to the important part… what did we drink?!
NYWCC Wine List
If this was any other restaurant, I would start by listing the local wines they carried, but at the NYWCC all the wines are local. Not all are Finger Lakes, but all are from New York.
Tip: For $10 you can do a flight of three wines, which can be a cheaper option if there’s a couple $15 glasses you’re thinking about doing.
For my flight, I went all Finger Lakes, and didn’t really consider pairing it with my food. I just went with options I either wanted to try or knew would make me happy:
- Chateau Frank Célèbre Rosé: This was a fun strawberry and watermelon bubbly, with a great clean acidity and lingering notes of strawberry.
- Swedish Hill Winery Blanc de Blancs: With notes of lemon and apple, this is a great summer sparkling. Notes of bread and apple continue on the palate and linger.
- Ravines 2015 Maximilien: Totally opposite of the light sparklings, this red blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot has big notes of smoke, lead, dark berries and cherry, leather and spice that continue onto the palate with a great chewy tannin and medium acid.
Local Wine Overview
Finger Lakes Wine: Yes, lots and lots of options
- Red, sparkling and white by the glass or bottle
Price Range: $7-15 for glass of white, red or white (higher for dessert wines), $32-72 for a bottle
Range of Local Wines by the Glass: Many options, Dry Riesling, Rosé, Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, Gamay Noir, and more!
Wine Knowledge: The staff knows their wine- many of them are trained in wine, or can get the knowledge for you. My favorite thing to do when I’m looking to delve deep and nerd out is post up at the bar and get a flight of wine recommended by the bartenders. They know their stuff and are always tasting new things so they can give you the skinny on what’s hot and what’s not.