Mom: Man, I haven’t had a grape pie from Naples in a while, and now is the season for them.
Me: Let’s go to Naples next week and get a pie.
Mom: I have to stop saying these things.
And that’s how we ended up going to Naples, NY, for a grape pie.
Naples is on the southern tip of Canandaigua, one of the Finger Lakes, and in prime New York wine country. Everything has grapes on it there—even the LDS church sign. In fact, this town is so into grapes that it has a whole weekend devoted to its Grape Festival, which took place the weekend after we visited. We’re glad we missed it; we like grapes more than big crowds of people.
Naples is a 4-hour drive from our part of PA, so it’s a little too far for an enjoyable day trip. We decided to overnight there, but because we had just been traveling in eastern PA, I suggested we save some money by camping instead of getting a room at a hotel or B&B. So we booked a site at Stony Brook State Park, packed up my tent and a cooler, and headed north!
Everything I read before leaving said we had to do a wine tasting at Arbor Hill, so that’s the first place we headed after reaching town. It’s up a wonderful, windy, hilly road—the kind I was made to drive—that included a pull-off to gaze at Canandaigua Lake.
Sidebar: I LOVE CANANDAIGUA. When I was 9 years old, my dad had to work in New York for a week, and he took the family along for our vacation. We stayed in Canandaigua, at the Inn on the Lake, thus starting my lifelong obsession with bodies of water. During the day, my mom, brother, and I rode our bikes around town, and one evening, we even convinced my dad to go out on a boat ride. (The man hated water.) So when I was driving along and mentioned, casually as possible, that we were probably near the lake, and my mom pointed out that we could actually see it up ahead, I confess, I squealed. A lot.
When we arrived at the winery, we saw an arbor and knew we were in the right place.
When we walked in and Mom said, “Are you excited for the Grape Festival this weekend?” we wondered if maybe we’d gone to the wrong place, after all.
The self-described shopgirl was very chatty, and after the first overwhelming wave of realizing she was going to talk to us the entire time we were there, we sat back and let her go. While Mom and I chose the wine we wanted to taste, she whined about how busy things would get at the Festival. While pouring out our tastes of wine, she regaled us with descriptions of the strange people she’d served there. And when Mom mentioned I was the instigator of the wine tasting, she said, “Oh, celebrating finally being legal?”
Honey, I was already doing long division in 1994.
Overall, it was a tasty tasting, and we left with two bottles of peach, a chardonnay, and more character fodder for future stories than I ever thought possible.
That evening, we set up camp in a fairly empty campground. There were a few older couples around us, but everyone was spaced apart enough to make it feel like we were pretty alone. The site I chose was right on the brook, and I went hiking a little bit around while Mom built our fire. Mom’s not much of a hiker, so I didn’t go far, but someday I’m gonna return with a hiking buddy and really see where those trails go.
Now, one thing I haven’t mentioned yet is what we packed to eat. In my part of PA, we all know about mountain pies, and it’s a staple when car camping. (Anecdotally, I’ve never met anyone outside of Western PA who’s heard of these unless someone from Western PA introduced them.) So I packed ingredients for pizza mountain pies, including some garlic.
You would think that garlic, in a sealed baggie, wrapped in a plastic shopping bag, wrapped in another plastic shopping bag, stuck in a cooler with a lid, in the trunk of a Honda Civic, would not make you smell garlic for the entire 4-hour ride to Naples, NY, but if you were to think that, you would be wrong. Our campsite had a million chipmunks, several crows, and probably a handful of mosquitoes, but one thing we didn’t have to worry about was vampires.
Overnight, it dipped to below 50º, and I woke up with a sore throat which developed into a head cold after we got back home. But first, we needed to go back to Naples for the reason of our drive: the pie!
We bought them at Monica’s Pies, picked up two plastic forks from the cashier, and dug in before we’d even put the keys back in the ignition. Despite the lingering smell of garlic, I have never tasted anything so sweet. “It’s like eating wine! It’s like wine that I can drive after consuming!”
Conclusion: Grape pie is SO worth the drive.
Since I was 9, I’ve dreamed of moving to the Finger Lakes, but for now, living just a few hours away is a pretty good deal. I conclude with a few fun signs I spotted on the drive.