Group to study setting up wine, culinary center
Advocate: Private cash will be needed
By Sarah Bradshaw
Thursday, March 8, 2007
The future of a possible Hudson Valley wine and culinary center rests in the hands of private investors, according to Phyllis Feder, the woman spearheading the project.
The center would serve to advance agriculture, tourism, economic development and education in the region, but would need a significant investment, she said.
A $44,500 Empire State Development grant was given to New York Wine and Grape Foundation to conduct a planning study to explore the creation of the Hudson River Valley Wine & Culinary Center. Results are due in 90 days.
The wine and grape foundation chose the Hudson Valley region because of its proximity to New York, its small boutique wineries and quality food producers.
"The grant underscores the high regard that the Hudson Valley has held and agriculture and wine is seen as an area for enormous potential growth," said Feder, of Clinton Vineyards, in a news release by Dutchess County Tourism. Feder will chair the steering committee and Mary Kay Vrba, director of Dutchess County Tourism, will be vice chairwoman.
The committee also includes representatives from the public and private sectors, including from Adams Fairacre Farms, Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation, The Culinary Institute of America, Rivendell Winery and several local politicians. They will consider potential sites as well as partners and sponsors willing to invest in the project. But ultimately, money will be a determining factor.
"This is the kind of project that will require a lot of private support, but it is an investment that will really pay off big," Feder said. "We know that for every dollar invested in tourism there is a $7 return."
A similar center, the New York Wine & Culinary Center, opened in mid-June in Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes region thanks to a $7.5 million investment, including $1.5 million in state funds.
More than 21,000 people visited in the first month, according to the release. Those were people drawn to the tourism attraction's 40-seat demonstration theater, exhibit of New York foods, state-of-the-art kitchen for cooking classes, 20-seat private dining room, a "Taste of New York" lounge with drinks and food from New York and a demonstration garden.
"If there was a center here in the Hudson Valley, people could taste the wine and decide to go to the winery, see the vineyard and meet the winemaker. It would all connect and that's good for us," said David Bova, general manager of Millbrook Vineyards and Winery.
The center would also serve as an educational facility to ensure the future of farming in the region, the release said.