A new wine making place is to come up in the Watkins Glen area in a few years — but don’t expect to take a tour of their tasting room.
Located in the Schuyler County Business Park off state Route 414, the new facility will focus strictly on wine production. That means there will be no vineyards, no wine tastings, and no retail sales.
Instead, the facility will produce high-end wines that will be exported globally, and local tourism officials hope the product will serve as a business card to let the rest of the world know about Finger Lakes wines.
“This is not a winery that will cater to the summer tourist. We’re focused on the export of products,” said Judy Cherry, executive director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, which runs the business park. “We believe this will raise the profile not just of Schuyler County, but the region and the state. Everyone is focused on wine production, but not for export outside the area. We believe there are makers of premium wines in the Finger Lakes today.”
The 19,500-square-foot facility will be divided into three units. SCOPED will own the building, but each tenant will supply its own equipment, and will use locally supplied grapes to create premium Rieslings and other wines.
SCOPED will handle necessary permits, waste management and other details so each winemaker can concentrate on creating its product.
Work on the new building is expected to start in the spring, and the goal is to have it ready for occupancy by the spring of 2018 so winemakers can install equipment in late spring and summer and be ready for the fall 2018 harvest.
The agency already has its first tenant lined up, a new winery from outside the area. However, existing wineries that are looking to expand production — but not necessarily at their own locations — will also be welcome in the new space, Cherry said.
“The ideal would be to make this available to a local business that wants to expand,” she said. “You always want to take care of existing businesses first and then attract new ones. I will always make sure that we take care of our own.”
The winemaking facility will have capacity to accommodate 30,000 cases of wine and should create between 15 and 20 new jobs, Cherry said.
But the economic benefits will go far beyond jobs directly created by the facility, she said.
“We believe it will encourage more direct investment, we believe it will raise our profile and it will bring economic value to the area,” Cherry said. “We also believe that once products are shipping, it will create more demand and raise all of the wineries. They will all benefit from this. It could allow existing wineries to expand.”