BENTON When Scott Osborn and the late Andy Hale bought land along Seneca Lake with the goal of making wine, there were 14 wineries surrounding the deepest Finger Lake and 36 in the entire region.
“Fox Run Vineyards is a dream come true,” Osborn said this week. “The international recognition we have received thus far is a testament to the hard work our staff puts in daily. From welcoming every customer through our doors, the expansion into new markets, to making extraordinary, award-winning wines that a customer buys and shares with friends, we will celebrate the past 25 years and build for the next generation to continue the legacy of Fox Run Vineyards.”
It all started with eight acres of grapevines being planted in 1984 by original owners Larry and Adele Wildrick. The property included a dairy barn built in 1865 that remains part of the business.
Before wine could be made and sold on the property, though, there was the small matter of Benton being a “dry” town, meaning alcohol sales were prohibited.
In 1989, a town referendum to allow alcohol sales passed by a single vote. The Civil War-era dairy barn was converted into a tasting room and winemaking facilities later that year.
The tasting room opened to the public in 1990. In 1993, there were 7,500 visitors. By 2006, that number had grown to 80,150, mirroring the explosion of the local wine industry.
As Fox Run gears up for another season, Osborn said this year’s grape crop, which will be harvested from mid-September through October, should be OK in spite of another harsh, cold winter.
“Because it got cold and stayed cold with a lot of snow to protect the vines, the grapes should be good,” he reported. “There was not the freeze and unfreeze of 2014. It’s the freeze and the unfreeze that damages the buds.” BUSINESS OF THE WEEK: Fox Run Vineyards – Finger Lakes Times: News