Duncan Hilchey, Cornell Community, Food and Agriculture Program at Cornell University, was recognized for his work as a key partner in the development of the Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association at its first annual meeting.
The first Annual Meeting of the Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association was held on Thursday, November 10, 2005 at the Days Inn on Rt. 60 in Fredonia, NY. Approximately 75 people were in attendance for the dinner and business meeting. A Wine Tasting, hosted by Merritt Estate Winery, Johnson Estate Winery from NY and Arrowhead Winery and Mazza Vineyards from PA was enjoyed by all attendees prior to the dinner and meeting.
Association Co-Chair Helen Baran introduced the various committee chairs to provide a report on the past year’s accomplishments and goals for the future. The Association has been successful in securing grant funding for several development projects in the grape belt. It has had traveling displays at ten regional festivals in the past year. With the support of the Chautauqua County Legislature, it has taken the lead in applying for a Heritage Area Designation in New York State and for a Heritage Park Study in Pennsylvania. The promotion and tourism committee is producing a “Virtual Tour of the Grape Belt” on DVD which is expected to be released in late December. The Inter-Industry committee is coordinating an economic impact study on the effect of grape production, processing and marketing on our region. The desert was accompanied by keynote speaker James O’Brien from the Chautauqua County Historical Society who provided some humorous anecdotes on the history of the Concord Grape Belt.
Along with local wines, several local products were on display and on the menu for the dinner. Local apples were used in the pork tenderloin, concord grape puree was a key ingredient in the desert tarts and a new Concord Grape Vinaigrette dressing was a big hit with the dinner salad. The dressing is a new product being introduced by chef Tim Murphy of Brick Village Gourmet, a new start up company located in Sherman, NY. The dressing uses concord grape juice concentrate and concord grape seed oil to create a uniquely wonderful taste. The group welcomed chef Murphy as a new member of its culinary bounty committee.
To date the Association has grown to over 135 members. It’s mission is to encourage and support the dynamic economic development of the grape and wine industries throughout the Lake Erie Region that is built upon our grape heritage and results in an enhanced quality of life for all the region’s citizens. Several levels of membership are available for those interested in joining in or supporting the group’s efforts. For more information, please visit www.concordgrapebelt.org