Wine Trail signs headed to Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 August 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – This sign promoting the Niagara Wine Trail is in Lockport. More of the signs are headed to Orleans and Monroe counties after the trail was expanded.

Orleans County wineries and business owners cheered a long-sought move last September when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation expanding the Niagara Wine rail through Orleans, all the way to Route 390 near Rochester.

Orleans officials and businesses expected the expanded wine trail would lead to more tourists and customers for Orleans wineries, farm markets, restaurants and other businesses.

It’s been nearly a year since the state expanded the trail, but a road-side sign is yet to go up in Orleans County, promoting the Niagara Wine Trail.

That should soon change, local winery owners said.

Paul Schwenk of Schwenk Wine Cellars of Kent is picking up Wine Trail signs next week that will go on Route 18, directing people to his winery on Bills Road. He will hand the signs off to the state Department of Transportation, which will install them.

“Let’s hope they are up by Labor Day, at the latest,” Schwenk said on Thursday.

Wendy Wilson of Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina is also hopeful the signs will be along Route 104, promoting the Wine Trail. She worked on expanding the wine trail for several years.

Each of the signs needed a DOT permit. Wilson said about 100 new signs will be going up to promote the expanded trail.

The Niagara Wine Trail used run 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, 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 last year. The state about three years ago approved funding for the signs.

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.

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.