Tonawanda News — MEDINA — As the sixth-annual Wine about Winter event nears, a question has been on the minds of many business owners — should I stay or should I go?
Medina Business Association President Cindy Robinson said 28 businesses will participate in the Feb. 2 wine tasting and business networking event, with only a few opting to partake as a member of the 750-strong crowd instead of being a host.
Getting local winemakers to return has been far easier. More than two dozen wineries, tasting rooms and wine-related businesses has sprung up in Niagara and Orleans Counties. They are proud of their grapes and eager to share the wines they produce.
“It gives people something relaxing and fun to do,” said Cathy Schwenk, the Tasting Room Manager at Schwenk Wine Cellars in Kent.
Those wineries are attracting recognition at wine competitions, but developing a year-round interest in wine is aided largely through special events like Wine about Winter.
Cathy and winemaker husband Paul Schwenk have produced wines for two decades. Their Bills Road facility is busiest in the summer, when tourists and seasonal residents make their way to Orleans County. The post-Wine about Winter surge is appreciated.
“We see more people coming out after they get exposed to our wines,” said Schwenk, who will feature one wine while Paul sets up shop in a different business. “This helps pull us through until the spring.”
Ann and Martin Schulze of Schulze Vineyards & Winery in Burt have participated in the event for four years, watching both the event and the interest in wine grow in popularity.
“It’s becoming a trend, people are starting to catch on with how well wine pairs so nicely with food,” Ann Schulze said. “The event has dramatically grown. It promotes the beautiful little city of medina, the businesses and the wineries. I always enjoy it.”