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Wine Trail will run through Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBANY – The State Legislature today approved an expansion of the Niagara Wine Trail, running from Niagara County through Orleans and ending in Western Monroe County. The Trail will also run south from Niagara County to Buffalo.

The vote was years in the making, and is expected to have a big impact for wineries and other tourism-related businesses in Orleans.

“It will be the longest wine trail in New York State,” said Wendy Wilson, president of the Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina. “It will connect three metro areas – Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester. We’re right in the middle of it. It’s going to be huge.”

Niagara Wine Trail

The State Senate backed the expansion in recent years, but the legislation failed to pass in the Assembly – until today.

“I have fought hard over the last couple years to make sure our wine trail system keeps up with the rapid growth we are seeing in local wineries,” said State Sen. George Maziarz. “This new configuration will make it easier for tourists and visitors to find our wineries.Signage, literature, and other tourism promotion materials need to be updated to reflect the wineries in existence now and new wineries that are springing up almost every year.”

The wine trail will be renamed the Niagara Wine Trail system.The new configuration includes all of Route 104 between the Ferry Avenue/Route 62 intersection in Niagara Falls and Route 390 in Monroe County. It will be known as “Niagara Wine Trail Ridge.”

The complement to the ‘Ridge’ route will be the “Niagara Wine Trail Lake,” which would follow Route 269 north from its intersection with Route 104 at the Niagara-Orleans County Line, then 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.Leonard Oakes is currently at the end of the Niagara Wine Trail. The extended trail will reach Schwenk Wine Cellars in Kent. Wilson said other wineries in the county and in Monroe are in development.

The money to pay for additional signage on an expanded trail system was earmarked through a 2011 Regional Economic Development Council Award.

“This configuration shows the public sector can work with the private sector to expand the economy, capitalize on our assets, and create jobs,” Maziarz said.

The bill will be sent to Gov. Cuomo, who is expected to pass it without any issues.

Wilson said other “trails” could piggyback off the wine trail, including routes branded for cobblestones and sandstone.

“It’s going to be a way to promote our businesses,” she said.