Niagara Gazette

Niagara Living

September 4, 2008

TASTE THE WINE: Ed Adamczyk's summer on the Niagara Wine Trail

Dare not call them wine bars. They are not saloons, but places to sample the local grape and perhaps purchase a few bottles to take home.

They are called tasting rooms, and Niagara County is dotted with them, small showrooms for its budding wine industry. Each of the 12 wineries on the Niagara Wine Trail has one.

Can a grown man, hale of heart and strong of opinion, visit all 12 for a compare-and-contrast of what Niagara County’s vintners offer the world? Of course he can, and they sent the right guy for the job.

The Niagara Wine Trail is a curious blend of tourism and agriculture, with a mission to strengthen the local wine industry while welcoming customers to learn about the delights of its products.

This is a competitive business; beyond Bordeaux and Chile and Italy, every state in America has at least one winery (imagine drinking Kansas or Arizona wine), and New York itself has several winemaking hotbeds besides the prominent Finger Lakes region (Long Island wine, anyone?). Into this aggressive and cutthroat atmosphere, the Niagara Wine Trail joins the fray.

The tasting rooms tend to be little art galleries and upscale souvenir shops in addition to their core business of wine sampling. The trail offers weekend events and promotions, but except for some roadside signage directing drivers on the trail, government has little involvement in this venture.

Enough of that. Let’s try some wine from the remarkable grapes grown in the rich farmland and localized climatic conditions (also known as microclimates) of the Niagara Escarpment.

At the Honeymoon Trail Winery, outside of Lockport, a limousine is parked in the driveway and a bachelorette party is in progress. This rolling bridal shower is testing the wines, too, in a friendly housefront of a tasting room.

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