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Black Willow Winery celebrates anniversary, accolades

BURT – Black Willow Winery will mark its fifth anniversary later this year, and it has plenty of accolades to celebrate, as well.

For one thing, the winery’s award-winning Classic Diamond wine was featured in the Academy Award-winning movie, “Still Alice.”

“About 20 minutes into the movie, Julianne Moore is having dinner with Alec Baldwin and you can see her pouring our Classic Diamond, in its blue bottle, just like she was posing,” said winery owner Cynthia West-Chamberlain.

She and her husband, Michael Chamberlain, co-own the winery at 5565 W. Lake Road, and recently received “Mead Winery of the Year” in the New York International Wine Competition, which hosted 1,000 entries from 30 countries.

“Less than 30 percent won any award,” West-Chamberlain noted.

The winery also earned a silver medal, Bev Star Award, for its Trilogy Red in Beverage World Magazine’s July edition.

“This was really important,” said West-Chamberlain. “This was for all beverages – wines, beer, teas, coffees, waters – and there were only 40 winners.”

In making the award, the magazine said, “While New York is second to California as a wine producer, the state’s small-to medium-sized producers have largely been under the radar. As a family-owned boutique winery offering distinctive artisan wines like Trilogy Red, Black Willow is proving that New York may likely be the next great American wine region.”

West-Chamberlain said her business has probably garnered “75 awards in the past six months alone. It’s been great.”

They also took home a double gold for their DePeche Meow in the International Eastern Wine Competition; a Chairman’s Award, or unanimous gold, for their Classic Diamond in the 2015 Riverside International Wine Competition; a gold for their Bare Cat Blush in the Los Angeles International Wine Competition; and a gold for their Black Widow Berry in the International Women’s Wine Competition this year.

West-Chamberlain said her family business just launched a new website:, where they sell their 13 wines and meads and 22 artisan oils and vinegars, which are bottled on-site.

They also offer a line of clothing and accessories with their logo and maintain a small gourmet section in their tasting room. Black Willow is the only one in the state to sell Norman Love Confections, packed in ice to be flown in fresh each week from Fort Myers, Fla. They use them for their wine/chocolate pairings.

She added that the family recently trademarked the name “Valhalla Meadery,” and will slowly begin its conversion to “Valhalla Meadery at Black Willow Winery.” It is one of only two wineries on the Niagara Wine Trail USA to offer meads, or honey wines, along with 810 Meadworks of Medina.

West-Chamberlain said they hope to begin construction soon to more than double the size of their production area, and are working on the creation of new meads and wines, as well. They also plan some special promotions for their five-year anniversary celebration, and intend to partner with more local restaurants and retailers in the near future.

Black Willow is the official mead supplier for the Niagara Celtic Heritage Festival, which takes place this weekend in Olcott, where it will offer tastings, as well as sell its products.