Finger Lakes Boating Museum and the Pleasant Valley Wine Company

With less than a week left in the area (boo!), we are trying to slip in visits to the final entries on our sightseeing wish list. Since the Finger lakes Boating Museum and the Pleasant Valley Wine Company are within spitting distance of each other, they’re a natural fit to see on the same day. Neither take much time and we spent about an hour and a half all-in.  Update: Pleasant Valley will require more time if you take the 45-minute tour.

Due to a construction detour, I’ve driven by the boating museum a dozen times this summer. When I first passed I assumed it’d been around a long time and I’d just never noticed; turns out the museum has been open less than a year. It’s a work in progress but well worth a stop if you have any interest in old wooden boats or regional history.

The Finger Lakes Boating Museum. Foreground: Gift shop. Background: Main Hall and Boat Shop

The museum’s stated mission is “…for the education and preservation of the rich history of boating activities and boat building in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State”. Right now the museum consists of a main hall housing gorgeous wooden motorboats and sailboats, and few small themed galleries highlighting steam boat history, fishing boats and canoes.

Canoe gallery in the Finger Lakes Boating Museum

There’s both a little kid play area and a big kid play area. Like the Curtiss Museum, the Finger Lake Boat Museum has an active restoration shop. Since the door was closed when we approached, we assumed we could only peek through at the activity; luckily a volunteer noticed and waved us in. Visitors are welcome to wander the “Boat Shop” and when we entered, a gentleman briefly explained their latest restoration projects.

A portion of the kids play area in the Finger Lakes Boating Museum

The "Boat Shop" in the Finger Lakes Boating Museum

We finished off our visit with a brief walk through the old Taylor wine cellar below. If you visit and are short on time, be sure to see main gallery and the boat shop, but start with the overview movie which offers a brief history of the major wooden boat builders in the region.  Next summer I look forward to attending a class or workshop.  This year they had a sailing class which ended with an opportunity to sail on a Lightning in Lake Keuka.  Fun!

It was all of a 2-minute drive to the Pleasant Valley Wine Company. I was excited to visit as I have fond memories of the Taylor Wine concerts on the lawn - this was where I first fell in love with The Kingston Trio! Unfortunately the campus hasn’t withstood the test of time; the buildings are faded and the area felt desolate.

Pleasant Valley Wine Company entrance

It was a hot day, and the visitor center and tasting room were a welcome escape. The air conditioning was refreshing and with no windows, subdued lighting, and rooms appointed with rich dark woods, it was easy to forget if it was day or night. The center offered a wine museum of sorts, but much of the information was dated and could stand an upgrade.

Looking at the displays in the Pleasant Valley Wine Company

Given my family history, I was delighted by the working train display of the Bath-Hammondsport Railroad complete with a miniature Babcock Ladder Company :)

Miniature Babcock Ladder Company buildings in the train display!

We moved on to the tasting, but I didn’t care for most as their offerings are quite sweet. My favorite was the Extra Dry American Champagne and we purchased a bottle to take home. With so many small, innovative wineries in the region - many sporting spectacular views - this is not a winery I’d recommend.  But when writing this piece I looked around their website.  How did we miss that tours are available?  We'll have to give this winery one more try considering it was established in 1860 (check out their unbelievable timeline), is the oldest winery in the region, and has eight stone buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Dagnabbit!  This one doesn't get crossed of the list!  Next year, definitely next year.  One final note: If you’re an aviation fan, pop by - this was the site of one of Glenn Curtiss’s historic flights.

Where Glenn Curtiss flew the June Bug in 1908

Finger Lakes Boating Museum: $6 adult admission; 8231 Pleasant Valley Rd
Hammondsport, NY 14840

Pleasant Valley Wine Company: 8260 Pleasant Valley Rd
Hammondsport, NY 14840