The county has a population of 19,000 and boasts a slow and easy pace of life in a beautiful rural setting on the banks of the largest of the Finger Lakes––Seneca Lake. It is home to 17,000--acre Finger Lakes National Forest and Watkins Glen State Park, known for its breathtaking waterfalls and for its neighbor, the Watkins Glen International Raceway, the birthplace of road racing in America.
Glenora Wine Cellars
Tourism Is Big Driver In Area’s Success
Glenora Wine Cellars in Watkins Glen, NY, ranks among the top five wineries in the Finger Lakes region, says Gene Pierce, president and owner of Glenora Wine, Logan Ridge Wine Cellars and Knapp Vineyards.
"A lot of our success is due to the business generated by tourists who have come here and enjoyed our wines and then asked for our New York wines in their local liquor stores, creating a regional awareness," Pierce says.
Since 1977 when he first began operating his wineries, Pierce says the highway infrastructure has improved significantly, with three major interstates (I--90, I--86, and I--81) within miles. “We didn’t have the interstates back then and now, with the opening of
I--86, and with the development of the Route 15 corridor connecting Harrisburg to the Corning and Elmira area, this infrastructure will be instrumental in putting this region on the map, he says. He adds tourism is a major driver in the success of the region’s businesses, and the highway systems contribute to the logistical needs of these businesses as well as providing an easy corridor for tourism with New York City only a four--hour drive away.
Between the three wineries, Pierce ships up to 80,000 cases of wine annually, mostly by regional truck carriers. Pierce sells direct to customers visiting his wineries, as well as to wine distributors. "Wine and spirits distributors pick up the wine here at our wineries and deliver it to their warehouses and they, in turn, distribute it to retailers," he says.
One of his wineries just received Empire Zone status, which Pierce says will be beneficial to his overall business. "Being the size we are with under 40 employees, we sometimes have a limited number of opportunities to use some of the business, tax and workforce incentives––but the programs are there and they are wonderful," he says.
As this region gains more awareness as a center for viticulture, Pierce says the New York wine industry will soon be recognized at the national level as a major wine--producing area. "We are working hard here to make that happen," he says.