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Move Over Hammondsport - New Site for Oldest Winery?

Fernando Diaz
Staff writer, Democrat & Chronicle
Rochester, NY

(September 23, 2007) — Move over Hammondsport.

New site for oldest winery?

Ad suggests York may be its home

Though long considered the home of the earliest, commercially successful winery in the Finger Lakes, an advertisement from 1836 tells a different story.

Samuel Warren, of York, Livingston County, was making and selling sacramental wine decades before 1860, when the Pleasant Valley Wine Co. was established.

The proof was unearthed by a librarian at the Cornell Agricultural Station in Geneva and presented to the Town of York Historical Society last November.

In the ad, published in a religious newspaper, Warren purports to have "on hand five barrels of pure wine, from grapes of his own vineyard."

The historical society announced the find Saturday at a fundraising event held at Warren's home, which it purchased a year ago and has made its home.

By the early 1850s, Warren is estimated to have been producing about 3,300 barrels of wine from Isabella, Concord, Catawba, Ontario, Clinton and other native grapes, according to Jane Oakes, a board member of the historical society.

"He was a real player in the development of wine grapes here," she said.

The volume helps explain the extremely tall basement of the Warren home, where he likely stored the barrels.

The historical society hopes to restore the Warren home and York's place in the state's history of wine. Gary Cox, the group's president, began researching Warren years ago, Oakes said.

Oakes said they have shared their evidence with others and "at this point none of the other historians have come forward to dispute it."