Jun 18, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The first and only winery in Madison County officially opened its doors and cut the ceremonial ribbon last week — and it is located on East Lake Road in Cazenovia.
Owera Vineyards, owned by the Muserlian family and already producing award-winning wines, welcomed local and state politicians, business owners, friends and visitors on one of the few sunny days in recent weeks to inaugurate its new facilities.
“So it’s finally come to fruition,” said owner Nancy Muserlian, surrounded by her family, as she made remarks during the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, June 14. “This has become a family legacy and I intend to grow old here. This is an amazing place, a wonderful community, and I think it will live on long after I am gone.”
Then, using a pair of family heirloom scissors, Jane Muserlian, who is Nancy’s daughter and also a tasting/events consultant at the winery, cut the ribbon.
“This is awesome. Driving in here just takes your breath away,” said James B. Bays, first deputy commissioner of New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, who attended the event as a representative of the governor and the commissioner of agriculture and markets. “I had no idea it was as beautiful as it is here.”
Owera Vineyards has been five years in the making, with four acres of Frontenac Gris and Marquette grapes planted on their land at 5276 East Lake Road in summer 2008. Their first “crush” of grapes occurred in 2010, from which they produced just over 1,000 cases of wine at their original wine-production facility in East Syracuse.
Owera wines, created with the help of consultant winemaker Peter Bell of Fox Run Vineyards in Penn Yan, are a combination of grapes grown in Owera’s Cazenovia vineyards and grapes from other Finger Lakes vineyards. Owera currently produces 12 different wines — from the well-known grapes such as Chardonnay, Reisling and Cabernet Franc to the more obscure such as Frontenac Gris, Chambourcin and Lemberger — and boasts 25 awards, including top Wine Spectator ratings for two of their Riesling wines.
In 2011, the Central New York’s Regional Economic Development Council awarded Owera Vineyards a $994,000 grant to promote agri-tourism in the area, which the owners used to construct the 7,200-square-foot production facility and tasting room, and a 5,200-square-foot events center at their East Lake Road property. Groundbreaking occurred in 2012, and the facilities were completed last month.
During last week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Nancy Muserlian gave a brief history of how and why she and her husband Peter, a developer, bought the land and ultimately created the vineyards and winery. She thanked numerous people who assisted them through the years to help create the winery, many of whom were in attendance at the event.
“This is wonderful,” said Assemblyman Bill Magee, who represents Cazenovia in the state assembly. “As chairman of the agriculture committee I’ve worked with wineries many times. It’s a fast growing industry, and now we have one in Madison County. It’s a beautiful facility and I’m sure it will be very successful.”
State Sen. David Valesky, who represents Cazenovia in the state senate, was also on hand at the event. “Thank you for your vision, and what you do for Central New York,” he said.
State Sen. John DeFrancisco, who does not represent the Cazenovia district but is personal friends with the Muserlians, said, “Obviously they know how to do things right. This is magnificent, the quality of the wine and the beautiful setting. I’m sure it will be very successful.”
On the local level, people are excited about the benefits in agri-tourism and to the economy that owera Vineyards is expected to bring.
“I am incredibly excited. This is such a great boon for the county,” said Scott Flaherty, newly-appointed director of the Madison County Tourism office. “Tourism really is economic development, and new businesses such as Owera benefit everyone.”
Gene Gissin, chair of the board of directors for the Greater Cazenovia Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “It’s a great beginning for really bringing the community new excitement, more jobs and getting us on the map. The spillover [to the downtown village] is probably something we can’t judge yet, but in the long run I think we’ll really see it.”
Owera Vineyards is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. They offer standard wine tastings (three wines) for five dollars and premium tastings (five wines and a souvenir wine glass) for eight dollars. They also have a café that offers brick oven pizzas, salad, a cheese plate and Mediterranean plate.
Owera’s event center is also available for weddings, corporate retreats and other events. Its first wedding was held Sunday, June 16. They have 15 weddings already book for the remainder of this year, and 20 for next year, said Kristie Fondario, director of sales.
Owera wines can be found in about 30 retail shops in Syracuse and Utica, with a few of their signature offerings currently available only at the winery.
For more information visit Oweravineyards.com or call 815-4311.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.