Summer Guide: Sailing Away on the Spirit of Buffalo

It’s no secret these days that one of Buffalo’s biggest gems is its waterfront. But as fun as it is on the shore, there’s nothing quite like taking in the Queen City from the water itself. Add in some refreshments, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a warm summer evening.

Luckily for locals and visitors alike, Spirit of Buffalo offers “Wine in the Wind” sunset cruises every Wednesday. An impressive, 73-foot schooner, the Spirit of Buffalo is the only such vessel to sail out of the Buffalo Harbor. You’ve probably marveled at her before, docked next to the Liberty Hound or sailing around the Outer Harbor, red sails billowing.

For $42, a Wine in the Wind cruise includes two hours on the water, magnificent views of Buffalo’s waterfront and skyline, a plate of cheese and crackers, and tastings of several varieties of wine to wash it all down. Leonard Oakes in Medina, NY, was the featured winery for my sail, but other nights feature different wineries in the region and international wines.

The Spirit of Buffalo is manned by a friendly crew of four, who interact with the passengers and make the voyage feel more like an outing with friends than a paid charter. Guests can volunteer to help hoist the sails and are encouraged to ask questions about sailing and the boat itself. There is a cash bar in case you’re hankering for something a little stronger than a few sips of wine, and there is also a restroom onboard.

My husband and I, along with a dear friend from college, were lucky enough to experience Wine in the Wind on the first official day of summer 2017 with about two dozen fellow passengers. With an enthusiastic breeze whipping through our hair and the setting sun warming our faces, we waved at passing sailboats and took in the gorgeous, sunset-soaked Buffalo skyline to one side and glistening Lake Erie to the other.

Everyone chatted and laughed together, and Wendy from Leonard Oakes made her way around with wine samples, helpful information about each bottle and friendly conversation. A playlist including everything from Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s Hawaiian version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” an Irish sea shanty and a few reggae songs kept the atmosphere festive and relaxed. It all added up to a wonderful evening welcoming in another bustling Buffalo summer.

Wine in the Wind excursions are available at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday through the end of September, and for those who prefer beer over wine, there are also Craft Brew Cruises offered every Tuesday evening. Though those trips are restricted to those who are 21 or over, there are also plenty other Spirit of Buffalo options for the whole family. Check out all of your options and book your trip today!