FORESTVILLE - Mmmm. Wine slushes.
With help from the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency, Merritt Estate Winery will "spill" into Pennsylvania and Ohio, purchase new equipment, expand its tasting room, and more.
At a recent CCIDA meeting, a resolution authorizing an Al Tech loan request for the winery in the amount of $192,787 was approved unanimously. This will help fund a large part of Merritt's $385,000 worth of planned upgrades and improvements.
"We financed a previous project for Merritt Estate Winery, and that was successful," said CCIDA Chairman Michael Metzger. "They paid off their loan on time, and in full."
In an interview with the OBSERVER, Merritt owner William Merritt discussed his family's plan for their business.
"We're going to remodel our sales room, doubling it in size, so that we can offer better service and more reasons for people to visit," he said. "We've been looking into doing wine classes, (so people can) learn about wine and food pairings, things like that. The new area will be able to handle a larger volume of people during wine trail events and at our own two festivals."
Merritt said that under Mercer's Law, the winery can purchase and operate a food truck to send to festivals and events, selling their famous wine slushes without a special license.
Both Ohio and Pennsylvania respect Mercer's Law, so Merritt expects to be trucking west by April or May.
"We'll be able to attend a lot more events to market our wine slush," he said. "Prep for that will basically begin immediately. We hope to get the tasting room renovation done this winter."
Other plans include a power upgrade for the winery as well as a new bottling line package.
"The new bottling line package would give us the flexibility of using screw cap closures for wine bottles, to make them easier for customers to open. It would also allow us to offer single-serve bottles to restaurants. We hope to get that going within the next few months."
The power upgrade will be completed in the spring, or perhaps sooner, if the freezing temperatures hold off.
While Merritt Winery fans look forward to the livelier festivals these upgrades will bring (and have-truck-will-travel wine slushes), they can stop by Merritt on King Road in Forestville to pick up some of their favorite varietals, or shop online at www.merrittestatewinery.com.
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