Governor gives final OK to expanded Niagara Wine Trail

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 October 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has finally signed an expanded Niagara Wine Trail into law, a measure that could be a significant benefit to Orleans County.

The Niagara Wine Trail ran along Route 104 mostly in Niagara County. It reached into Orleans to include the Leonard Oakes Estate Winery near the western end of Ridgeway. But it couldn’t keep moving east, without a change in the state law.

Several groups, including the wine industry, have tried for years to extend the wine trail. The State Senate was the first to go for it, but the Assembly didn’t agree until this year.

The Assembly and Senate both voted in favor of the measure. It seemed a done deal back in June. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature seemed a no-brainer.

This trail is expected to be a tourism boost for Western New York. It will stretch from Niagara Falls through Orleans and into Monroe County. It also will run south from the Falls area into Erie County.

I’ve been watching this for nearly four months now, wondering why it was taking the governor so long, especially with all of his talk about creating jobs, promoting New York and agriculture, and the need for more state attention for Western New York. We lost the summer, a chance to rev up our tourism engine while this sat on his desk.

The governor finally summoned the strength to sign this last week.

The legislation expands and renames the Niagara Wine Trail system. The new configuration, which takes effect immediately, extends the trail across all of Orleans County and into western Monroe County, encompassing more wineries.

We in Orleans can piggyback on this trail and create other trails. A “Cobblestone Trail” on 104 makes a lot of sense. We might consider trails for farm markets, Medina sandstone and perhaps other historic sites.

We can tap into the tourism promotion dollars in Monroe County, Rochester, Buffalo and Erie County. This could be big for Orleans.

The trail will run on Route 104 between the Ferry Avenue/Route 62 intersection in Niagara Falls and Route 390 in Monroe County. That will be known as “Niagara Wine Trail Ridge.”

The complement to the Ridge route is the “Niagara Wine Trail Lake,” which follows Route 269 north from its intersection with Route 104 at the Niagara-Orleans County Line to Route 18. It then runs west to Route 425, then south to Route 62 and along that route until its intersection with I-290 in Amherst.

Seventeen wineries are on the trail now and more are under development. The money to pay for additional signage on an expanded trail system has already been earmarked through a 2011 Regional Economic Development Council Award. The expansion imposes no new costs to taxpayers.

The governor also signed legislation for three other wine trails, giving the state 16 such trails.

The state expanded the “Shawangunk East Wine Trail” in Ulster County. New York established the “Adirondack Coast Wine Trail” that runs from the Town of Peru into the Town of Plattsburgh. The “Chautauqua Wine Trail” will be renamed the “Lake Erie Wine Country Trail.” The route will remain unchanged.

The state also approved new legislation allowing New York wineries to sell wine from roadside farm markets if the product was made within 20 miles of the roadside farm market.