Finding the balance
Yates County is blessed to have three of the most marketed and widely known and sought out Finger Lakes: Keuka, Canandaigua and Seneca Lakes. Every year the lakes are recognized by national and international media for their beauty, and many of the one million annual visitors to the area come to see them.
Keuka Lake was the initial source of commerce for Penn Yan and Yates County. Grapes from the hills around the Lake were transported by steamboats to the Keuka Outlet (then called the Crooked Lake Canal) to be taken by horse- and mule-drawn barges to Seneca Lake and through the New York State Canal system to their end destination. At one point in the Outlet’s history, it had more than 40 mills along its banks, which also utilized the barge system to distribute goods. The trails used by the mules and horses to pull the barges still exist and form the base for the Outlet Trail.
The same lakes that brought the original settlers and industry to the area still provides the essence behind the creativity and bounty that fuels our continued economic growth while balancing it with the personal and family health of our residents and visitors.
Music, physical recreation, food, beverage, and artist events fill the calendar of those who choose to visit us and those lucky enough to call Yates home.
Arts and Culture
Relax with a glass of something local in hand while you listen to live music at an area venue. Check out artists’ works and see what the region does for creative inspiration. Check out the Arts Center of Yates County and ReFIND for arts or crafts workshops. Find out more about the history of how different towns in Yates County were settled at various historical landmarks and societies.
You can find live music in Penn Yan almost every night year round, and once summer starts, you can enjoy a lakeside meal or a local craft beverage with musical accompaniment. CMAC, a large outdoor music venue that hosts big-ticket musicians, is a brief drive to Canandaigua.
The renowned Corning Museum of Glass is a short drive away and offers museum collections to browse, as well as glassblowing demonstrations. The Glenn Curtiss Museum of Aviation has an extensive collection of vintage and antique aircraft. The Women’s Rights National Historical Park is close, as well.
Explore the Past
Quench your curiosity about the area’s heritage and culture at the Yates County History Center or the Finger Lakes Museum and Aquarium. Visit the Ganondagan State Historical Site, a short drive just outside the county, to experience the history, culture, and education surrounding the Seneca people and their past, including a full-size and historically furnished Seneca Bark Longhouse.
Celebrate summer and everything good in life at a local music festival. From the famous GrassRoots to the reincarnation of Woodstock, the surrounding Finger Lakes area offer the musical experiences you’ll be talking about for years.
Penn Yan, New York
The Craft Beverage Scene
Home to the original craft beverage industry in the Finger Lakes, there are more than 100 wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries in and around Yates County. We are in the center of the largest organic farming county in all New York State and home to two organic grain mills. Thanks to our Mennonite residents, there are fresh produce stands everywhere you look and we are the only county in New York where the number of acres farmed and total farm establishments are increasing.
Vineyards, Wineries, and Wine
The Finger Lakes was recently voted the best wine region in the United States. Yates County, touching three lakes, has quite a few wineries, including some with world-renowned reputations. Although the Finger Lakes used to be known primarily for sweet wines, winemakers are getting serious about various grapes and styles, and those who enjoy wine can find a glass of something they love. Check out the Keuka Lake Wine Trail and the Seneca Lake Wine Trail.
Beer and Breweries
Entrepreneurs in Yates County are growing hops, brewing craft beers, and quenching the thirst of residents and tourists alike at the numerous breweries throughout the area.
New York is becoming known for its homegrown spirits, too. Many Finger Lakes distilleries use locally grown grain in their craft spirits. Look for Empire Rye, a distinctive and high-quality rye whisky made by local distillers, which celebrates New York’s pre-Prohibition whisky heritage with grains grown on New York farms.
Recreation and Well-being
Yates County’s natural landscape provides opportunities for leisurely walks or boat rides, as well as more rigorous outdoor pursuits. From challenges for the body to balms for the soul, the area offers a plethora of opportunities for sporting, health, and wellness.
If you’d rather watch a sporting event than participate, hop in the car for a short drive to various collegiate games, minor league teams, professional teams, or the Watkins Glen International Speedway.
Fitness and Sportsmanship
You can hit the treadmill at one of the area community or private fitness centers, or get your heart rate up outside on the Keuka Outlet Trail. Check out the local golf courses (and try not to get distracted by the views). The area offers both youth and adult sporting leagues. Sportsman can find both local shooting clubs and a celebrated hunting tradition
Farms and Food
Yates County’s rich agricultural heritage provides fascinating history, as well as world-class wines and a bountiful and delicious harvest. The productive land and abundant fresh water have made the area home to both farming dynasties and beginner farmers, including a well-established Mennonite community. From vineyards to apple orchards to dairy farms to organic grains, Yates County is one of New York’s most important agricultural assets.
Penn Yan’s Main Street is home to one of the longest-running farmers market in New York, occurring every Saturday morning. Ironically, Penn Yan has a significant lack of real estate inventory for restaurants, as well as resources like commercial kitchens or co-packing facilities. The lack of these entities significantly decreases tourism revenue and sales tax revenue as visitors and residents head outside of the county to eat, as well as reducing employment opportunities because food entrepreneurs go elsewhere to establish their food-based businesses.
The Finger Lakes Economic Development Center created the state’s first agriculture loan fund, now capitalized at $2,000,000, which has helped numerous production farms, wineries, breweries and distilleries launch.
The FLEDC has now created a restaurant loan fund to help bridge the financing gap to getting new restaurants started by offering up to $100,000 in 1 percent loan funds with a flexible repayment plan to building owners willing to purchase and build-out kitchens in their vacant downtown Penn Yan buildings.
Building owners who participate only need make payments on the loans while they have an active restaurant tenant in the facility.
During the time it takes to attract a restaurant or if the unfortunate case that the restaurant closes, loan payments would be suspended until a new restaurant opens.
Although just released, the program is already showing promise as it has attracted its first restaurant to downtown Penn Yan, which hopes to be open in the spring of 2019 and is projecting to have 50 full- and part-time employees.