State pushing to extend Niagara Wine Trail to Rochester

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 June 2013 at 12:00 am

Niagara Wine Trail

MEDINA – The State Senate has approved extending the Niagara Wine Trail through Orleans County all the way to Rochester, which brings the prospect of new tourists and economic development for businesses in Orleans.

The legislation would designate two state roads as wine trails. All of Route 104, between the Ferry Avenue/Route 62 intersection in Niagara Falls and Route 390 in Monroe County, would be known as “Niagara Wine Trail Ridge.” All of Route 18, between Route 104 in Lewiston and Route 390 in Monroe County, would be known as “Niagara Wine Trail Lake.”

The longer trail could be a huge asset for Orleans County businesses, said Wendy Wilson, president of the Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina and treasurer for the Niagara Wine Trail.

“It connects everything between Niagara Falls and Rochester, and we’re right in the middle of it,” she said. “This will be a whole new dynamic for promoting the area.”

Orleans County could piggyback on the wine trail, creating trails for cobblestones, sandstone, antiques, quilts and perhaps the Amish and Mennonites, Wilson said. The wineries could then promote those other attractions, and those businesses could promote the wineries.

“There are a lot of things going through here,” she said. “There are a lot of things that we could build off this. This will allow us to have the needed signage.”

The Niagara Wine Trail already has state funding lined up for the wine trail signs. That was approved two years ago.

Orleans businesses will gain more exposure with the trail, and will benefit from the marketing and tourism dollars in Rochester and Monroe County, Wilson said.

Leonard Oakes is currently at the end of the Niagara Wine Trail. If the Assembly and governor approve the extension, Schwenk Wine Cellars in Kent could join. Wilson said other wineries in the county and in Monroe are in development.

The Senate approved the trail extension last year, but the Assembly never voted on it. Wilson believes any reservations in the Assembly have been addressed.

“I call upon the Assembly to approve this measure as soon as possible and stop ignoring one of the brightest areas of economic development in Western New York,” State Sen. George Maziarz said.  “There is simply no reason why the Assembly has not passed this, and hopefully they will move forward in a timely fashion. We have been waiting long enough.”

There are currently 17 wineries on the Niagara Wine Trail, which started about a decade ago. Maziarz praised the growth on the trail.

“The wine industry in the greater Niagara Region is growing so fast that our laws designating the various wine trails must keep up with the pace of growth,” he said.  “Signage, literature, and other tourism promotion materials need to be updated to reflect the wineries in existence now and the wineries soon to come.”