There are tour operators, and then there's Zach. The dude is a mind-reader....he knows what you want to do and where you want to go better than you do. Hop aboard the VW and you're instantly the coolest kids on the block. Everywhere we went, people were in awe of the vehicle. And rightfully so. It's an American Beauty. With the world's nicest guy at the wheel. There ain't no better way to spend a day in the Finger Lakes. Our thanks to Zach and Laura for a great afternoon
The Winewagen – a 1971 Volkswagen Westfalia – is Zach's brainchild and labor of love. He bought the van a couple of years ago and has renovated the interior for comfort while keeping the integrity of the aging bus experience. The two brown, vinyl-covered bench seats face each other and can seat six. Cutlip has covered the door panels and replaced the headliner with golden-stained birch veneer, giving the inside of the bus a rosy glow that nicely complements a buzz.
Zach tends to play Grateful Dead tapes as he drives between the wineries, following custom itineraries. And the Winewagen attracts attention from winery staff as well as drinkers, which makes free pours and personal attention one of the perks of being a passenger.
The van zigzags through a lush countryside dotted with Greek Revival farmhouses and vineyards crawling up and down gentle hills. Among the excellent vineyards – Buttonwood Grove, Goose Watch, and Cayuga Ridge are all worth visits – distilleries that make smooth, organic gin, crop up (try Myer Farm, in Ovid). And every business has a cast of characters. Bill, a retired-postal worker, pours us some fine wine at Goose Watch. His black Arlo Guthrie T-shirt, wire rim glasses, and cut-off jeans give him away: He likes the bus and the soundtrack.