By Jim Krencik
The Tonawanda News
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.”
Attendees of the event, which raises funding for the Medina Business Association, will taste a wide variety of wines. Robinson said the MBA teams with winemakers and Main Liquor to provide a mix of dry and sweet wines.
Representatives from Schulze will showcase a semi-dry cabernet and a semi-dry riesling.
“We’re turning people on to the middle, toward what would pair well with foods,” Schulze said. “Our riesling is at Zambistro, so people can enjoy it at dinner after the tour.”
The Schwenks will pull from their diverse offerings, but their Santa’s Secret, a semi-sweet wine made with blackberries, concord and baco noir grapes, is a crowd-favorite.
“We bring a dry wine and a sweet wine because some people don’t like dry or they don’t like sweet,” Schwenk said. “People recognize certain wines, they ask about Santa’s Secret if we don’t bring it.”
The wineries know that new favorites can be found at any of the participating businesses. Robinson said a few are even debuting new wines at the event.
Regular tickets, which allow wine tasting from 3 to 7 p.m., are in short supply, with VIP tickets having already sold out. Robinson urged those interested in attending to buy their tickets at Ashlee’s Place, 116 E. Center St., or online at medinabusiness.org, before they sell out.
Contact reporter Jim Krencik
at 798-1400, ext. 6327.Contact reporter Jim Krencikat 798-1400, ext. 6327.