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State helps fund expansion of Cambria vineyard

CAMBRIA – The vineyard that provides grapes for Cambria’s award-winning Arrowhead Spring Winery is being expanded with 15,000 new grapevines, its owner said Friday, and the state is providing about 20 percent of the cost.

Empire State Development last week announced a $370,000 grant to BeauVine Vineyards, part of a $1.3 million expansion.

Owner Robin Ross said plantings this spring included about 5,500 new vines of Cabernet Franc, a red wine in which Arrowhead Springs, owned by her husband, Duncan Ross, has become a nationally recognized specialist.

Its 2012 Cabernet Franc recently scored 96 points out of 100 in a test on the website, placing it among America’s 10 best wines regardless of origin or variety.

While most vineyards on the Niagara Wine Trail seem to specialize in white wines, Arrowhead features mostly red wines because of the microclimate resulting from its location right against the Niagara Escarpment instead of on the plains leading to Lake Ontario.

“We have such beautiful lands for growing reds,” Robin Ross said. “Out on the flat, you’re somewhat limited because of the (increased) risk of frost.”

The Rosses have been making wine since 2005 and opened their winery in 2008. Their annual production ranges from 3,500 to 5,000 cases, counting all varieties. The main vineyard covered seven acres before the new planting, which added 13 to 15 more acres. BeauVine also leases two acres.

“We’re looking for other property in the area,” said Robin Ross.

They also have broken ground on a new building for pressing grapes on their Cambria-Lockport Townline Road site.

But Robin Ross said selling grapes to other wineries may become a larger part of their business once the new vines start to yield in about three years. Besides the Cabernet Franc, they also planted about 4,200 Pinot Noir vines, 1,200 Merlot vines, 1,000 Cabernet Sauvignon vines and 460 Tempranillo vines, a Spanish red variety new to the area.

“Ideally, what we’d like to see is the whole area grow as a wine region, so people come from outside,” she said.

“The expansion at Arrowhead is so great for the Wine Trail. Anytime that our wineries are expanding and growing not just their facilities for tastings but for growing their acreage and the amount of wine they can produce, it will benefit all of us along the trail,” said Elizabeth Maute, media coordinator for the Niagara Wine Trail.