Bypass the fall harvest crowds jostling for tastings at the wineries, and instead embark on a cheese-focused tour through the region’s best artisanal dairies. Fans of cow’s-milk cheddar should start out at Shtayburne Farm (open year-round) in Rock Stream, where nine varieties are produced in addition to cheese curds and Monterey Jack. In Waterloo, you’ll find a selection of raw-milk cheeses including fuller-bodied, British-style cheddars at Muranda Cheese Company (open year-round), which has been producing artisanal cheeses for over five years.
Try goat’s-milk cheeses like chèvre made in the traditional French style and Mediterranean-style feta at Lively Run, near Interlaken. Afterward, make your way to 25-year-old Side Hill Acres Goat Dairy in Candor to learn how to milk a goat by hand. As part of the tour, you’ll also taste kefir, yogurt, and cheddar before meeting the 138 animals that make up the dairy’s herd. For souvenirs that aren’t cheese, you can pick up handmade goat’s-milk soaps and homemade fudge in the store on the way out.
Learn how to pair your new favorite Finger Lakes cheeses with locally produced wines in a class ($25) at the sleek New York Wine and Culinary Center, where local chefs and wine professionals lead a wide variety of courses focusing on everything from bread-baking to fall desserts. After class, head to the airy, wood-paneled tasting room for flights of craft beers, wines, and spirits ($5-$8) from local producers.