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April is Niagara County Wine Month
At the Tuesday, April 19 meeting of the Niagara County Legislature, a resolution declaring April Niagara Wine Month was present. Legislator John Syracuse spoke on the importance of the wineries to the county. In accepting the proclamation, Niagara Wine Trail President Oscar Vizcarra thanked the elected officials for their support.
Wine Trail Vice President Erik Gustafson explained why we have a burgeoning wine industry in Niagara County. Explaining the importance of both the escarpment and Lake Ontario, he describe the ideal conditions here. He buttressed his discussion by mentioned the various gold medals and other awards our wineries have received. He concluded by sharing his journey to owning a winery in New York. After attending Purdue University, he and his wife Shane explored various areas. After looking at California and other locales, they decided that the opportunities in Western New York outweighed all others.
Proposing a toast to the industry, Event Committee Chair Margo Sue Bittner recognized the farmers and the organizations that support the wineries. She encouraged everyone to buy local, including using the Uncork NY restaurant cards when dining out. Thanking the legislators for their support, she asked that they sign a pledge to serve only NYS wines at any of their functions. Senator Rob Ortt and Assembly members Jane Corwin and John Ceretto have signed the pledge. In concluding her toast, she reminded everyone to find local wines at the wineries, in liquor stores and at local farmers markets.
Legislator Syracuse concluded the presentation by presenting the proclamation to Vicarra and Gustafson. For more information about the wineries, to get copies of the UnCork NY wine card or wine pledge or learn about the wine trail events, go to www.NiagaraWineTrail.org or email Contact@NiagaraWineTrail.org.
Photo: Niagara Wine Trail President Oscar Vizcarra and Vice President Erik Gustafson hold the Niagara County Proclamation.
A Role Model Couple: Bittners are named 2015 Distinguished Citizens by Iroquois Trail Council
Margo Sue and Jim Bittner have been named 2015 Niagara County Distinguished Citizens by the Iroquois Trail Council, Boy Scouts of America.
The Bittners will be presented with their award on May 28, at the 40th annual Boypower Dinner at Genesee Community College, Batavia.
Boypower Distinguished Citizen awards recognize individuals' positive countywide impact through community and professional service.
Posted: Sunday, May 24, 2015 in the Lockport Union Sun & Journal. Read full article here.
Cherry Concerto wins Gold Medal!
At the recent Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, The Winery at Marjim Manor received 4 medals.
Cherry Concerto, a sweet cherry wine, received a Gold Medal. Made with the Montmorency cherry, it has been nicknamed Cherry Pie in the Bottle. It pairs well with spicy beef dishes. However, the flavor pops when paired with anything chocolate.
Silver medals were awarded to Applegria, a blend of apple, peach and pear wines; Slice of Heaven, a sweet apple wine, and Adams Appleberry, a blend of apple and cranberry.
Thursday Afternoon at 3, a peach and white wine blend received a bronze medal.
The Niagara County Farm Bureau hosted its annual holiday gathering at The Winery at Marjim Manor. Board members and their guests used the opportunity to interacting with local political leaders!
The Niagara County Farm Bureau hosted its annual holiday gathering at The Winery at Marjim Manor. Board members and their guests used the opportunity to interacting with local political leaders. The Board members present each introduced him or herself and describe their agricultural connection. Niagara County Legislature Chair Bill Ross attended. He spoke briefly about the county budget and upcoming appointments to the Farmland Protection Board and the County Planning Board. Chairman Ross asked for Farm Bureau’s help in finding people for those positions.
Gerry Farnham represented Assemblywoman Jane Corwin. He updated the group on the issues facing the Assembly that will affect agriculture in the future and the Assemblywoman’s interest in hearing from the farmers in her district.
Newly Elected NYS Senator Rob Ortt introduced himself to the group. He expressed his interest in working with the agricultural community in his district. One of the committee assignments he requested was to be on the NYS Senate Agricultural Committee so he can be a voice for WNY agriculture. He also signed the NY Wine pledge to only serve New York State Wines at his political functions. A number of local elected officials have signed the pledge as a way to get raise awareness of locally produced ag products.
County President Jim Bittner was very pleased with the event. “Anytime we have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with our elective representatives we enjoy the opportunity. Most of them have no direct ties to agriculture, but realize the importance of agriculture to the local economy. We are pleased to announce that Assemblywoman Corwin will be receiving the New York Farm Bureau Circle of Friends Award for her steadfast support of agriculture. As Senator Ortt begins his tenure, we appreciate the opportunity to get to know him. It is this kind of communication that will benefit the agricultural industry locally and across the state.”
The Winery at Marjim Manor wins awards at the 2014 American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition!
2014 American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition
Double Gold: Treasure Beyond Measure
Gold: Pear Made in Heaven
Silver: Once Upon a Time, Slice of Heaven, Applegria
Bronze: Jewel in the Crown
At the recent American Wine Society Competition, The Winery at Marjim Manor
received 6 medals for the six wines it submitted.
Treasure Beyond Measure is a sweet plum wine. It received a Double Gold medal.
It is the perfect wine for pairing with spicy dishes such as Cajun, Asian,
Mexican or Thai. It also goes well with gingerbread and other tangy desserts.
A Gold Medal went to Pear Made in Heaven. This wine is made with Bartlett
Pears. It starts like a chardonnay and ends with a pear richness. It has been
paired with a cheese course and poultry dishes.
The three newest wines all received Silver medals. Once Upon a Time is a
sparkling Apple. Slice of Heaven is a sweet apple wine. Applegria is a blend
of apple, pear and peach. Finally, Jewel in the Crown, a blend of apricot and
white Catawba received a bronze medal.
These wines join Katapalooza, Double Gold and Best Fruit wine at NYS Fair; 50
Windows , Gold medal and best of its class at the Pacific Rim Wine Competition
and Lady of the Manor, Gold medal at the Finger Lakes wine competition, as the
The American Wine Society competition for commercial wine has been held annually since its successful trial program at the 1986 AWS National Conference. The 2014 AWS Commercial Wine Competition was held October 28-30, 2014 in Charlotte-Concord, North Carolina.
Katapalooza receives Double Gold, Best Fruit Wine at the 2014 NYS Fair Competition
Governor Cuomo Congratulates Winners of State Fair Commercial Wine Competition
Competition Reflects Soaring Quality of New York Wine as Number of Highest
Honors Triples from 2013
Taste NY Wine & Cheese Seminars to Feature Best of Show and Wines from Best Winery
Albany, NY (June 13, 2014) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today congratulated the
winners of the New York State Fair's annual commercial wine competition.
Awards were given to 330 commercial wines and spirits after judging that took
place this week at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Professional judges from
throughout the East Coast judged 43 entries to have earned the highest
designation, double gold. That number is nearly triple the 15 wines and
spirits that earned double gold last year.
25 percent of entries this year earned either double gold or gold medal
status, up from 15 percent last year.
“These results confirm what we have been hearing from wine enthusiasts
everywhere: New York wines are among the very best, and they're getting better
every year," Governor Cuomo said. "Our administration has been working
alongside New York winemakers to support the continued growth of this
industry, and we've already begun to see the results. I congratulate this
year's winners - businesses and vintners who support jobs and economic
opportunities from Long Island to the Finger Lakes - and encourage all of our
great winemakers to prepare for next year's competition."
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards of Hector earned one of the top two honors, Best of
Show, for its 2012 Solera Sherry, which won in the Best Dessert - Fortified
category. Swedish Hill Winery earned the other major honor, Best Winery, as
the company's products won 19 awards, including five double golds.
The winners in the other categories are:
Best Fruit Wine: The Winery at Marjim Manor of Appleton for its Katapalooza
Best White Wine: Glenora Wine Cellars of Dundee for its 2013 Riesling
Best Spirits: Sherwood House Vineyards of Jamesport for its XO Brandy -
Best Mead: Earle Estates Meadery of Penn Yan for its Wort Hog Porky's
Pleasure Hard Cherry Cider
Best Dessert Wine - Non-Fortified: Glenora Wine Cellars for its Vidal
Blanc Ice Wine
Best Sparkling Wine: Chateau Frank of Hammondsport for its 2008 Blanc de
Best Red Wine: Glenora Wine Cellars for its 2012 Meritage
Best Blush Wine: Woodbury Vineyards of Fredonia for its 45 percent Cayuga
White, 45 percent Vidal Blanc, ten percent Marechal Foch
Harvey Reissig, chairman of the competition, said, "In talking with our
judges, they mentioned the overall outstanding quality of wines in this year's
competition. It's not just one or two wineries. Many are making rapid growth
and raising the benchmark for New York wines. And I'm pleased that our top
winners reflect not only a diversity of types of wine but also come from
diverse regions of the state."
155 wines earned silver medals, while 91 earned bronze. The winners, along
with those who won in the amateur winemaking competition, will be honored at a
ceremony during the Great New York State Fair. Full results from the
competition are available on the Fair's competition results website, at
Richard A. Ball, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets,
said, 'We are constantly looking for more ways to highlight the great products
of New York's vineyards. The Fair is the state's largest showcase for the high
quality of its agriculture and we are determined to bring New Yorkers ever
closer to the people who make their food and drink. It's good for our health; it's good for our economy, and, at the Fair, it's fun! I encourage everyone
who enjoys a glass of wine to visit the Fair and go home with new favorites."
Wines Featured at the Fair
Commercial wines featured in the competition will play a major role in the
2014 New York State Fair.
Each of the wines that won in their categories will take part in a second
competition. Judges in the Taste NY Wine and Cheese Pairing Competition will
use their expert palates to taste each of the nine winning wines as well as
the cheeses that won each of their categories. They will then decide on the
best pairing of a wine and a cheese. Last year's inaugural event saw Baldwin
Vineyards' Strawberry Fruit Wine, which won for best fruit wine, and Old
Chatham Sheepherding Company's winning Camembert emerge as the best pair.
The exact day and location of this second annual event will be announced in
the near future.
Fairgoers can taste what the judges sampled at a booth in the Horticulture
Building. Many of the wineries that took part in the competition donated extra
bottles of their wines. Free samples of those wines will be available at the
booth. Only wines entered in the competition are provided for sampling.
Across from the booth is a meeting room. Last year in that room, the Fair
began holding daily seminars teaching consumers how to pair wines and cheeses.
The seminars were taught by experts from some of the state's top wineries.
They were very successful, with overflow audiences on hand. New this year, the
Fair will focus two days of seminars on the wines from the wineries that won
Best of Show and Best Winery.
Fairgoers have offered strong praise for the Fair's decision to return the
Wine Court to its original home at the Colonnade, near Chevy Court's daily
free concerts and in the heart of the Fairgrounds. The Wine Court features
only New York State wines.
Some New York wineries also offer free samples at the Taste NY Tent, located
just inside the Main Gate. The tent debuted last year, offering samples and
sales of all kinds of New York-made food and drink.
According to a recent study commissioned by the New York Wine and Grape
Foundation, the full economic impact of New York grapes, grape juice, and wine
in 2012 was $4.8 billion for New York State. The farm-based beverage industry
and the wine industry in particular have shown rapid growth in recent years,
thanks in part to a concerted effort by the Governor's administration to be a
partner in the industry's growth. Governor Cuomo has hosted two industry
summits, listening to industry and acting on its behalf, and a commercial was
launched in 2013 promoting the quality of New York's wine industry.
The Governor also launched Taste NY as a way to market farm-based beverages to
a wide audience and recently announced that a Taste NY marketing and branding
program at state liquor stores will be created to maximize exposure and sales.
As a result of feedback from industry at these summits, the Governor launched
a one stop shop designed to provide New York's wine, beer, and spirits
producers with a single point of government contact for assistance regarding
regulations, licensing, state incentives, and any other questions or issues
facing the industry.
For more information about New York's wine industry, please visit
Public Information Officer
NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
50 Windows won a Gold Medal, Best of Class at the 2014 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition.
April 2014: 50 Windows won a Gold Medal, Best of Class at the 2014 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition. The Pacific Rim International Wine Competition is held at the National Orange Show Events Center in Southern California. This annual competition has been setting standards for the judging of fine wines since 1985.
Thirty wine professionals conducted a blind evaluation of about two thousand wines.
Senator Gillibrand Fights For Tax Exemption To Boost New York Wine And Craft Beverage Sales To Canada
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 30, 2013:
Contact: Bethany Lesser (202) 224-3873
GILLIBRAND FIGHTS FOR TAX EXEMPTION TO BOOST NEW YORK WINE AND CRAFT BEVERAGE SALES TO CANADA
39.6 Percent Provincial Levy for Wine Brought from the U.S. into Ontario, Over 66 Percent Barrier for Québec - Limits Sales to Canada, Visits to NY Wineries
NYS is Nation's Third Largest Grape Producer - But Sells Less than Half the Amount of Alcoholic Beverages Imported from Canada.
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a new member of the President's Export Council, is taking action today to change a burdensome tax regulation to help increase exports of New York wine and craft beverages to Canada, and attract more tourism to New York's vineyards, distilleries and breweries. In a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, Senator Gillibrand urged for a provincial sales tax exemption for all wine and craft beverages grown and produced in New York State. Currently, a 39.6 percent provincial levy is issued in addition to a customs duty paid to the Canadian federal government for anyone bringing more than 1.5 liters of U.S. purchased wine into Ontario, Canada. A similar levy and duty is over 66 percent for the Province of Québec. At the same time, visitors to Canadian wineries can travel back into the U.S. and only pay a 3 percent duty on wine exceeding more than 1 liter.
"New York is home to beautiful vineyards and high quality brewers, cider houses, and distilleries that produce first-rate wine and craft beverages," said Senator Gillibrand, New York's first member of the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly four decades. "But burdensome trade regulations hold us back from selling our great products to our neighbors in Canada. It's time to harness our full economic potential, take this commonsense step, and give sales this exemption so we can boost our exports, and strengthen our economy."
"We greatly appreciate Senator Gillibrand's initiative to create a more equitable trade environment between New York State and the Canadian provinces just north of our border," said Jim Trezise, President for New York Wine & Grape Foundation. "Each year, our wineries welcome thousands of Canadian visitors who truly enjoy the wines and would like to take some home, but the hefty provincial taxes strongly discourage that. By contrast, American visitors to Canadian wineries routinely bring back a good supply of the wines they enjoy."
"The inequity that exists between visitors bringing wine, beer and spirits into New York and the bordering Canadian provinces clearly puts our growers and producers in New York at an extreme competitive disadvantage. New York Farm Bureau appreciates Senator Gillibrand's attention on the matter. Having a fair trade policy would provide an added boost to what is a thriving and exciting industry in the state,"said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President.
"We appreciate Senator Gillibrand's dedication to the agricultural industry," said Margo Sue Bittner, Owner of the Winery at Marjim Manor, Niagara Wine Trail. "As a winery owner close to the Canadian border, this is an issue I deal with regularly. We frequently have Canadian tourists but they do not purchase wine because of the onerous duty. Toronto is a large metropolitan area only an hour away. Yet, I cannot tap into that market because of this duty. When New Yorkers visit Canada, the duty is virtually nonexistent. I look forward to the day when we have parity and can partner, not compete, with wineries across the border."
"Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance has always provided marketing efforts to our wine industry and this ability to potentially increase sales to the Canadian market will certainly benefit our winery industry," said Cynthia Kimble, President of Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance.
"The Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation's Hudson Valley Food & Beverage Alliance wholeheartedly endorses Senator Gillibrand's efforts to alleviate the 39.6 percent levy on wine exports from New York State to Canada," said Laurence P. Gottlieb, HVEDC President and CEO. "This exemption would greatly benefit the wonderful wineries and scenic vineyards of the Hudson Valley that host many tourists from Canada who buy their products each year. Sales would obviously increase and that would be beneficial for everyone."
"As owner of a winery and vineyard, I know that our Canadian customers are discouraged from purchasing our wine by the high tariffs they pay for bringing the wine home," said Sue Maring, Owner of Tug Hill Vineyards. "Fair and equivalent taxing at the boarder would benefit the wine producers in this bi-national economic region."
In 2011, New York exported just $29.6 million worth of alcoholic beverages to Canada, less than half of the $60.4 million that Canada sold to New York State, according to the New York State Department of Economic Development, despite New York being the nation's third largest grape producer with 320 wineries across the state, the nation's fourth largest beer producer with over 80 breweries, including three of the top 20 brewers nationally in sales, and the nation's third largest spirits producers with close to 30 spirits producers.
A provincial levy exemption for New York State wineries would increase wine sales to Canada by as much as $2.5 million in direct winery sales alone, according to estimates from Cornell University's School of Applied Economics and Management.
Senator Gillibrand's letter to Acting U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro can be read here.
2011 International Finger Lakes Wine Festival Results
All of our Winery at Marjim Manor wines submitted received medals at the 2011 International Finger Lakes Wine Festival Competition!
Results: Cat's Meow received a Silver. Bronze went to Carondelet, Cherry
Serenade, Cordially Yours, Legacy and Plum Dandy.
PeopleTalk: A conversation with winery owner Margo Bittner
By Jane Kwiatkowski, Buffalo News - June 27, 2010
Margo Bittner, 51, makes 35 kinds of wine at The Winery at Marjim Manor in Appleton in Niagara County. Down the road from the winery, her husband, Jim Bittner, runs Singer Farms, a 500-acre farm that supplies the fruit for her wine. A former member of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency and a 12-year member of the Barker Board of Education, Bittner takes her life down many roads. As you will see, she is spiritual -- in more ways than one.
People Talk: Do you believe in spirits?
Margo Bittner: Well, according to Jason [Hawes] and Grant [Wilson] from "Ghost Hunters," we have a number of spirits here. Our episode [in October 2008] was called "Bottled Spirits." Things move on occasion. The cats look like they're playing with somebody who isn't there. I have spirits who love this house and who just want to see what we are doing.
Read full article here.
Margo Sue Bittner quoted in this article: Senator Schumer Fights Against Cutting Programs That Promote NYS Wine Sales Abroad
SENATOR SCHUMER FIGHTS AGAINST CUTTING PROGRAMS THAT PROMOTE NYS WINE SALES ABROAD
Proposed Elimination of Substitution Drawback Program
Undermines Global Competitiveness of NYS Wine Exports
Schumer also Secures Pledge to Push Canada to Remove Duties
That Discourage Virtually Any Wine Purchases by Canadians Visiting New York
The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) have proposed changes that would repeal a program currently providing a rebate for wine producers who export NYS wine. Under the program, any federal tax or duty that an American winery pays on wine imported from another country is refunded when that same entity exports American-made wine of roughly the same value. This incentive program is known as “substitution drawback” because wineries are “substituting” a US-produced bottle of wine for an imported bottle of wine.
The CBP and TTB have proposed eliminating this program which Schumer said will greatly hurt New York wineries, an important source of economic activity in many parts of upstate and on Long Island. Schumer has asked Treasury and DHS, the federal parent agencies of CBP and TTB, to withdraw these proposals.
Another issue having a huge negative impact on New York’s wine industry: New York wineries are faced with an overwhelming disadvantage when Canadian tourists come to our wineries. Canada’s border tax policies ensure that virtually no Canadian tourists will want to buy NY wine. Specifically, Canadian day trippers are hit with duties and taxes of 80-100 percent of the cost of the bottle of NY wine. The result -- Canadian tourists visit NY wineries and enjoy tasting NY wines, but they never buy. The US does not impose the same onerous taxes on its returning tourists — US tourists returning from Canada are entitled to bring in 2 bottles of Canadian wine duty free.
Schumer urged United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk to raise the issue with his foreign counterparts to ensure a fair shake for New York’s wineries. Kirk pledged to raise the issue with Canada. “Removing the duty that Canada places on its citizens will help fuel explosive growth in the New York industry and I will pursue this until it is done,” said Schumer.
“We appreciate Senator Schumer’s dedication to the agricultural industry,” said Margo Bittner, owner of The Winery at Marjim Manor in Appleton, NY. “As a winery owner close to the Canadian border, this is an issue I deal with regularly. We frequently have Canadian tourists who do not purchase wine because of the onerous duty. I am participating in Bi-National Tourism’s Open Doors Niagara. While people interested in architecture and history will visit, purchases are negligible. Other businesses participating anticipate wonderful sales. I look forward to the day when we have parity and can partner, not compete, with wineries across the border.”
The state’s wine industry has proved to be one of New York’s most resilient. This industry has a particularly powerful impact on New York’s rural economy by increasing tourism at a rate of 4.1 million people annually and adding a $6B boost to the state’s economy every year. Overall, the industry directly employs 36,000 people in New York.
Margo Sue Bittner, owner of The Winery at Marjim Manor, made a presentation at the 2009 Cornell Strategic Marketing Conference on November 2, 2009.
Margo Sue Bittner, owner of The Winery at Marjim Manor, has been invited to the 2009 Cornell Strategic Marketing Conference to be held at the Henry A Wallace Visitor & education Center in Hyde Park, NY on November 2nd and 3rd.
Appropriately, the conference theme this year is Story Telling—Marketing the Unique Story of Your Business for Success, and will feature successful producers, processors, and other agri-businesses showcasing their unique business story, the ways they use it as a marketing tool, and methods to utilize and evaluate the success of various marketing activities.
The 75 conference attendees are small- to medium-size agricultural producers and food processors, educators, state agencies, economic development specialists, and agri-service providers from around the Northeast. The ultimate goal is to provide productive marketing information and tools for the region’s agri-based businesses.
On Day One of the two-day conference, Ms. Bittner will be presenting Once Upon a Time . . . Building & Telling Your Story along with Jeanine Laverty, a professional Story Teller from Saratoga Springs, NY. For those who have visited The Winery at Marjim Manor, it is well-known that story telling is a significant draw. The quality of her wine selections and attention to service account for her overall success however, based on repeat business. And the chief ingredients for her wines come almost exclusively from locally-grown produce. Ms. Laverty will focus on how to think about story telling when developing a business plan. Both presenters have been asked to feature key practices or skills critical to successful marketing.
A surprise marriage proposal at the Manor.
surprise marriage proposal at the Manor! We received this
recent email: "A
group of us were at your winery last weekend (12/6/08)
where my friend
her. The girl who did our tastings was very nice and helped
in the planning of the proposal."
We were glad to help! Congratulations!
Niagara Wineries Trail: Grapes, tastings and ghosts
Wineries Trail: Grapes, tastings and ghosts
by LARRY PRICE Associated Press Writer, September
N.Y. Standing behind the long wooden bar in one of
two elegant tasting rooms at The Winery at Marjim Manor,
Margo Sue Bittner proudly shows off her 28 wines. The
complete article can be viewed