"Welcome to the real New York,” Christopher Bates says, grinning. The Finger Lakes winemaker 
and chef is standing next to his mud-caked SUV. “I brought 
some drinks for the road,” he says, flipping open a tailgater’s beer cooler. Inside: Vichy Catalan mineral water. Bates is all about the high-low mix: He’s a Master Sommelier who also owns a wildly popular local hot dog joint. He makes perfect sense in the Finger Lakes, a rough-and-tumble stretch of pure Americana that’s home to a Nascar racetrack as well 
as Riesling vineyards that are arguably the country’s finest. Those vines—not the stock car races—have started luring winemakers here from as far away as France and Germany. But Riesling isn’t the whole story. In the past few years, winemakers have dramatically improved the quality of both red and white wines here. Local chefs and restaurateurs have kept pace, taking advantage of superlative local produce that chefs would travel miles for. With Bates’s assistance, I charted an ambitious eating and drinking tour through the region. --Carson Demmond

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