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Winery events sold out; Year results mixed

    TRI-COUNTY AREA—The Keuka Holidays and Deck the Halls winery events for this year have been sold out.  However, the overall 2011 figures for sales and visitors at the wineries are mixed.
    The Seneca Lake Wine Trail Deck the Halls event, which continues this weekend, was sold out as of October.  Gene Pierce, owner of Glenora Wine Cellars, said they had 2,585 visitors come to the winery the weekend of Nov. 18 to 20 for the holiday event.  Ann Martini, co-owner of Anthony Road Wine Company, said around 1,600 people attended Deck the Halls at their winery.
    Jim Alsina, marketing manager for Hunt Country Vineyards, said the Keuka Holidays wine event was also sold out.  He added ticket sales for the event increased five percent.
    “Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves,” said Eileen Farnan, co-owner of Barrington Cellars.
However, area wineries are reporting mixed results overall for sales and visitor numbers when comparing January through November, 2011, to the same time frame in 2010.
    Farnan said both sales and and visitors at Barrington Cellars have not increased over last year.  She said the winery experienced a “lean start to the season.”  However, she also said that as long as there wasn’t a decrease in sales, this year has been “good in this economy as far as I’m concerned.”  She explained sales of grapes in the New York City market have also been good.
    “Overall, the harvest is quite plentiful,” added Farnan.
    Alsina also said that sales are even with last year for Hunt Country Vineyards.  He attributed the result to both the economy and the weather in 2011. To encourage customers, Alsina said Hunt County is emphasizing their wines priced under $10.
    Sales at Keuka Spring Winery have also been flat compared to last year, said co-owner Judy Wiltberger.  She said that while they don’t keep a visitor’s count, she has seen the regulars who come to the winery every year or every few months.  Overall, she said she is pleased with how this year has turned out.
    “People come here for the wine,” said Wiltberger.  “It’s a wine tourist destination.”
    Martini said both sales and visitors at the Seneca Lake winery are down between 10 and 15 percent.  Martini explained overall this year, customers are spending money more carefully.
    Pierce said his sales at Glenora Wine Cellars are up four percent.  As for visitors, Pierce said traffic is flat compared to last year.  He explained Glenora tracks sales by zip code, so they can examine where visitors are coming from.  Pierce said customers from financially better off areas continue to visit the winery, but the number of customers with lower incomes has dropped.  He added that people are traveling shorter distances in visiting Glenora.
    Liz Stamp, co-owner of Lakewood Vineyards, said sales are up between six and eight percent this year over last year.  She explained there were a few flat months in 2011.  However, she added the number of visitors is down 8.4 percent.
    “We don’t like like to see the customer count down.  It usually means sales will be down,” said Stamp.  “However, sales per person were quite a bit better.”
    Stamp explained people are still coming to the Finger Lakes and spending money, because it is a “budget friendly destination.”
    Jessica Kilcoyne, co-owner of Catharine Valley Winery, said sales for the Burdett winery are up two to three percent over last year. She said the season has been great, especially the holiday Deck the Halls wine trail event.  However, Kilcoyne said she hasn’t been tracking the visitor numbers so doesn’t know how that compares to last year.



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