Cooperstown Beverage Trail
It took a total of about three hours to visit each of the six sites. We started in Oneonta and ended the trail in Garrattsville, but came full circle and went to Brooks BBQ in Oneonta for dinner afterwards - because beer, wine, cider and barbeque just make sense together.
For visiting all of the businesses, at the end of the trail you get either a pint glass or a wine glass that has the logo of each of the establishments. They keep track of which you've gone to by stamping a packet that you can pick up at one of the places.
The trail includes: Bear Pond Winery, Cooperstown Brewery, Brewery Ommegang, Fly Creek Cider Mill, Rustic Ridge Winery, and Butternuts Beer & Ale.
While you don't have to do a sample at each of the places to get the stamp, it seems silly not to. You can try a couple of the beers at Cooperstown and Butternuts for free or pay a few bucks and do a sampling of all their beers. It's a few bucks to do the samples at the wineries. The tour at Ommegang is free but spots fill up quick. Fly Creek was also very popular and they had free samples of ciders and most of their fare - their cider donuts were actually pretty awesome.
Each of the places has its own personality. Bear Pond and Rustic Ridge are your typical winery stops featuring other locally made items for sale and cheese plates (the dog at Bear Pond is really cute), while Cooperstown and Butternuts could probably both be described as hole-in-the-wall type places, a vibe that they both embrace and that their regulars seem to enjoy. Butternuts has a dilapidated old barn that they use and Cooperstown has a big, old warehouse-like building. Meanwhile, Ommegang and Fly Creek were probably the most crowded sites we saw during our visits. Ommegang has a pub and tasting room, and Fly Creek is definitely a family-oriented business (the phrase "tourist trap" also comes to mind) with several rooms of products. I enjoyed each of the unique places.
Maybe it's the time of year, but my favorite beverage from the trip was a warm mulled wine at Bear Pond which has been haunting me ever since. I'm thinking of stopping there when I visit my grandma in Binghamton later this month just to get a bottle of that wine - and visit my friend here in the pink sweater.
The Butternuts website is kind of hilarious, by the way. I've never seen a site quite like it. There are sound effects, aliens, and pigs slapping their bellies (a reference to one of their beers). And the brewery may look closed, but it's not.
If a place is closed for the day while you're doing the tour - though they all seem to be open daily, year-round - you still get credit for the visit and get the glass.
The Beverage Trail started in 2004 with four participating venues. Along the way, you get other free mementos like a compact corkscrew, cider slush, coasters and a bottle stopper. The Oneonta area is about 1 hour from Albany and it's a nice escape into the countryside while checking out some new wines, beers, ciders, and food. I really do recommend saving room for Brooks, especially if you've never visited their one and only restaurant. It's worth it's own blog post.
And, if you like imbibing, you might want to check out some of my past posts about the Adirondack Brewery, and about doing half of the Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail in Columbia County.