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• The grapes of Madison County

03 Feb

CAZENOVIA, NY — Tonight’s Cazenovia Town Planning Board meeting is a crucial one for Ben Reilly.

He is the operations director of the budding Owera Vineyards project, which is seeking to become the first winery in Madison County, with a fall opening being targeted.

So far, things have gone without a legal hitch and final approval is expected from the Planning Board. If received, work will begin as soon as weather permits on the planned 8,500-square-foot winery building and a smaller pole barn. (Architect’s rendering of the main building shown above right.)

Owera Vineyards is located near the intersection of East Lake and North Lake roads on the north shore of Cazenovia Lake. Plans call for several acres of vineyards, a winery and a tasting area for visitors.

In 2008, a variety of grapes were planted on the 60-acre tract owned by Peter Muserlian, along with a range of fruit trees and an organic garden. Experimentation with grape varieties is needed to find those best for the slightly harsher climate compared to that of the Finger Lakes, an hour’s drive west of here. Reilly has said he will apply for state agriculture grants to test different varieties.

When Owera, which has been experimenting this season with ice wines, officially opens, it will mean that 51 of the state’s 62 counties has at least one winery. Given the absence of other wineries nearby, Owera is being planned as a destination site that will host tasting events, live entertainment and guest chef demonstrations and dinners.

Check out my New York Drinks Events Calendar, the most comprehensive you’ll find anywhere.

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