Celebrating ten years of wine at The Glen, the world-renowned road course, Watkins Glen International will once again replace oil slicks with red wine stains in one of the wine industry's most unique alliances, The Finger Lakes Wine Festival®, supported by The Corning Museum of Glass.
This year 80 wineries from across the Finger Lakes region are expected to attend. This is a record number of wineries for the Festival.
The 2006 Festival takes place July 14-16, as the track's garage and paddock are transformed into the site of one of the East Coast's premier wine events. 80 of the regions finest wineries will come together to offer one-stop tasting and sales of their award-winning wines. With an entire wine region in one location, the Festival offers tasters a chance to sample over 500 wines in one grand tasting.
The Finger Lakes Wine Festival was originated in 1994, by former winery owners Doug and Suzie Knapp, and was held at the New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls. The Festival was an immediate success, and by 1995 had already outgrown the facility.
Learning that the 2-year old Festival was in need of a new home, Watkins Glen International bought the rights to the Festival in 1996, as a tool to build regional tourism and support the growing wine industry. The track's event management staff and infrastructure offered the ability to grow the Festival, and wineries a venue to show off their collective achievements in grape growing and wine making.
In order to allow for proper planning and promotion, the Festival was not scheduled in 1996. The following year marked the beginning of a new era for The Finger Lakes Wine Festival, when the first event was celebrated at Watkins Glen International, July 26-27, 1997.
The event's supporting sponsor, The Corning Museum of Glass, joined forces with the Festival in 2001. Each year, The Museum provides live glassmaking demonstrations onsite with the world's premier mobile glassblowing unit, The Hot Glass Roadshow, to give Festival-goers a taste of the activities offered at the nearby attraction.
The Finger Lakes Wine Festival, a premier showcase for New York State wines, regional farmers and artisans, has grown from 44 wineries in 1997, to 80 in 2006, with a 5-15% visitor increase per year. Watkins Glen International isn't the only one to benefit from the Festival. Drawing thousands of visitors to the region - area restaurants, hotels/motels and retail business have seen a significant spike in their business.
"We are very proud of the impact on the Finger Lakes region-not just the weekend of the Festival, but throughout the year-80% of our guests plan a return trip to the area" states Wendy Brubaker, Festival Director. "Wine country tourism is particularly important in New York because it brings visitors to a predominantly rural part of the state and feeds many other businesses with the 'multiplier effect'. The Festival also helps promote smaller, off-the-beaten-path wineries that travelers would have otherwise missed".
Visitors to New York wineries have multiplied nearly seven-fold since 1985, with significant increases in every region of the state.
The 2006 Festival will officially kick-off at 6 p.m. Friday, July 14, with the 5th annual toga party, "Yancey's Fancy Cheese Launch of The Lakes". Saturday and Sunday mornings will begin with the Great Western Chardonnay Champagne Breakfast at the exclusive Glen Club, while Saturday evening is topped off with the Tasters' Banquet, where some of the areas finest wines can be sampled with dinner.
80 prestigious wineries, a record attendance, from Upstate New York will offer tastings and sales Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Enjoy shopping for quality arts & crafts, unique jewelry, gourmet foods, and wine related items. Celebrity chefs from the region, including Chef Paul Mach, star of PBS' "You're The Chef", will perform cooking demonstrations pairing local food products with New
York wines. Knowledgeable vintners will speak at several educational wine seminars throughout the weekend, sponsored by the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. Live music will keep your toes tapping, and in the center of it all, watch master glassblowers at The Hot Glass Roadshow, courtesy of The Corning Museum of Glass.
New for 2006 is Finger Lakes Tri-fecta's final bicycle race, hosted by FingerLakesRacing.com, Saturday night at 5:30pm. Racing ten laps around the world-renown road course, the event is open to standard, recumbent and tandem bikes. This race not only sets new standards in the bike racing world, it brings a new level of excitement to the Festival.
Watkins Glen International will once again offer the area's best bargain - weekend Festival camping. Campers that stay Friday through Sunday can enjoy 3 nights for only $35 (advance discount price good through June 23). FREE entertainment is also offered for our campers Saturday night in the Coliseum Village with food and beverage available for purchase.
For information, please contact the Watkins Glen ticket office, toll-free, at 866-461-7223, or log into the official website at www.flwinefest.com.