For the past 12 years, thousands of wine lovers have made their way to Erie for the event, Wine on the Lake. The focus is on tasting wine from regional wineries.
“It’s basically the influence of Lake Erie,” says Robert Mazza, president of Mazza Vineyards. That’s the reason he gives for Lake Erie wine being unique.
"The soil is phenomenal for growing grapes. You go 20 miles south, 10 miles south of here, you're not going to see any grape vineyards,” says director of sales at Arrowhead Wine Cellars, Jim Wargo.
The guests at Wine on the Lake agree, “Oh yes, the wine is delicious, excellent,” says Ashley and Michael Taraska.
Both Mazza Vineyards and Arrowhead Wine Cellars have been part of Wine on the Lake since its early beginnings. As they see the event grow, they’re also seeing the wine economy pick up.
"We have a lot of people visiting the area to visit wineries, to visit farm markets, they're very concerned about where their food and their wine comes from these days,” says Robert.
With the help of stores like Wegmans, the phrase “farm to table” is becoming easier for local wineries.
Traditionally, in order to buy a bottle of wine, you'd have to do it at the state store, or right at the winery itself. But due to recent law changes, you can get it right at the grocery store, making an even fuller circle in the Lake Erie wine economy
"So, we're seeing a transition from just in the winery out more to the public to help increase sales for us, and the state of Pennsylvania,” says Jim.
"I think this is one of the best events for building relationships in the community, and that's what's going to keep up all going, is that relationship,” says Virginia Sawdey with Wegmans.
Even though the wineries see each other as competition, “We're also friends, and we want everyone to succeed because from coming from outside the area to enjoy the wine and keep coming back and back,” says Jim.
"Presque Isle seeing over 4 million visitors a year, we're certainly beneficiaries of that in the wine industry,” explains Robert.
And for those that consider Erie a tourist town, “This is home, and that's what everything is, and that's why people come in. They always say it might be a tourist spot and what not, but it's just about home, and it's about being with friends family, it is close knit, everybody works together to make it the best city possible,” defends Jim.
At Wine on the Lake, it’s a wine family working together for economic boost in the Lake Erie wine country.