The legacy of New York State’s Farm Winery Act, which became law in 1976, continues. In 39 years, we have gone from 14 licensed wineries to 400, the latter mark just reached when the State Liquor Authority issued a license to the Five Sons Winery now in development in Monroe County. That facility also will house a micro-brewery and soft drink-making operation.
While reaching the 400 mark may not seem particularly impressive over nearly a four-decade period, it should be noted that 147 of those wineries have opened just since 2011, which represents 37 percent of the total. To put that even further in perspective, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation explains, taking 1939 as the start date for the state’s wine industry, that growth spurt has occurred during just 2 percent of its history.
Geographically, Suffolk County leads the state with 91 wineries or satellite stores, Yates and Seneca counties are tied for second place with 37 each, followed by Schuyler County with 26, Ontario County with 17 and Wayne County with seven. Only Fulton, Hamilton and Richmond counties are without a winery or satellite office.
The Farm Winery Act, signed into law by then-Governor Hugh Carey, allows grape growers in New York to establish wineries and sell directly to the public, subject to a maximum of 50,000 gallons annually. It also reduced fees and provided other tax and marketing advantages to small wineries. Farm Winery License No. 1 was issued to the Hudson Valley’s Benmarl Winery in recognition of owner Mark Miller’s leading role in crafting and getting support for the act.
Five Sons Vineyard, which was issued Farm Winery License No. 400, says it expects to issue its first wines later this spring. They are: Five Sons Cayuga White, a semi-dry table white wine; Five Sons Traminette semi-dry table white; Five Sons Patriot Blend, a sweet blush made from three native; Five Sons Vignoles, a semi-dry table white, and Five Sons Ruby Sipper, a proprietary sweet red blend. They will be followed by the fall release of four wines currently undergoing barrel aging: Five Sons 2014 Lemberger, Five Sons 2014 Baco Noir, Five Sons Rocco’s Red, and Five Sons Sailors Delight.
Five Sons Vineyards began when Adam and Aimee Mesiti, parents of five boys, began planting their first vines in 2005. They have been selling their hand-harvested grapes to wineries along the Niagara Wine Trail. This year, in addition to becoming Five Sons Vineyards and Winery, they also will debut RG Brewery and the Cubby’s Corner soft drink maker in the same facility, all when current construction is completed. Brews that will be released this spring are Lazy day IPA, RG Coffee Porter, Son of a Peach Ale, Back Woods Honey Brown Ale, Gentleman’s Brew Scotch Ale, and RG Pale Ale. Specialty brews will be released throughout the year.
Five Sons is located at 1356 West Sweden Road, just west of Brockport near the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Phone: 585-734-7684.