Well, I’m once again the midst of my annual month-long break from alcohol –– but that doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy a trip to Finger Lakes wine country.

In need of a road trip and eager to take advantage of Wednesday’s lovely weather, I hopped in the car and headed to Keuka Lake for a long overdue visit. (Note: to the tasting room servers’ credit, I didn’t get a single stare or snide comment when I asked for a spit bucket, which I’ve heard can be a problem at many wineries. I thus managed to taste responsibly and maintain my detox.)

My first stop was Hunt Country Vineyards, where I finally got to meet marketing/PR manager Andy Marshall in person after months (years?) of tweeting back and forth. I enjoyed several of the wines, including the semi-dry Pearl and Valvin Muscat, which showed the right floral notes and balance to make me start craving South Asian cuisine, and the nutty, spicy cream sherry, which begged for awesome after-dinner cheese and dried fruit. But most of all I enjoyed talking with Andy –– we’re like-minded on an amazing number of topics and I always love getting his thoughtful opinion –– while his gigantic Bernese mountain dog, Pax, sat on my feet.

On Andy’s recommendation I enjoyed a massive vegan sandwich at Medley’s Cafe in Prattsburgh (for the first time in my life onlookers actually suggested that I “take pictures of it and post it somewhere” –– which of course I did) and then headed to Hammondsport for a visit to Heron Hill Winery. With the stunning view of Keuka Lake to keep me company I enjoyed several of the wines but, as always, it was this winery’s riesling lineup that blew me away.

I went home with a bottle of 2009 Ingle Vineyard Riesling, which at about 2.5 % RS balances the acidity of that cool vintage deftly and is just starting to throw out a little petrol. That bottle won’t last long in my fridge once this “detox” is done.

My next stop was Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars, and perhaps I’m out of the wine loop after the past year in the “office job” world, but I didn’t expect to see gruner veltliner on the list! I enjoyed its delicate minerality and appreciated seeing the variety in this region; I’ve always thought more people should try it in New York.

My server recommended the 2010 Pinot Gris next, and he didn’t steer me wrong –– it was full, earthy, woodsy, and a real change from the other whites I’d tried that day in its dry-but-ripe character. I don’t often find pinot gris I enjoy but I always want to taste it out of curiosity, and I had to buy a bottle of this one.

Now that I have a more flexible work schedule I hope to make several trips to my neighboring wine regions this summer, but this was an inspiring start to the season. And I now have four fantastic Finger Lakes bottles to enjoy as soon as my teetotaling month is up… if I can wait that long!