By: Ben Blakely
BROCKPORT, N.Y.— Western New York is known for wine. In particular, the Finger Lakes Region has 92 wineries, offering everything from dry reds and sweet whites. It seems wineries are opening every day and one hopes to open in the Brockport area.
Mark Speed, the owner of Rambling Road Winery, says the idea is not spur of the moment.
“This has been something that I have wanted to do for a long time. Now it seemed like a good time to start instead of having the idea sit on the shelf,” Speed said.
The building of the winery will happen in two phases. First, a vineyard and main winery will be built in the Brockport/Holley area. Then, Rambling Road will construct a tasting room in downtown Batavia.
No specific plot of land has been purchased to house the winery and vineyard yet. But Speed is talking to local realtors about buying the 10 acres of land needed.
SUNY Brockport student Leslie Hoag says supporting local businesses is important, and she is looking forward to the wineries opening.
“The local businesses [in Brockport] tend to want to help college kids and want to have a positive effect on the community, so I am happy to help when I can. Wineries are either hit or miss for me to feel like I am the target audience based on the ambiance of the place,” Hoag said.
The winery is launching a Crowdfunding campaign to build their business. But they cannot officially launch the campaign until a certain amount of people like, follow and share their Facebook page. The winery also has financial deals in place that are contingent on raising a certain amount of money through Crowdfunding.
If they can generate enough funds, the winery will be the second one based in Brockport. Five Sons Winery opened in 2005.
Portion of Profits to Benefit College Students
Speed is hoping the winery will also help students. In the Rambling Road Scholarship Program, 10 percent of the winery’s profits will help students pay for college. This percentage was part of market research done by the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester.
Speed says he has connections to higher education and understands the challenges of paying for college.
“I have talked to some students, and I know that it is difficult to pay for college. This is a small way that I could help,” Speed said.
For the scholarship program to become a reality, the winery must be open for a year. Once available, Speed hopes to find a program a school may be lacking to award them fairly.
“We do not want it to be a scholarship on top of other scholarships,” Speed said. “We want to permanently find ones that will fill a bigger need for students in an area that is not covered well.”
Speed says he wants the scholarships to support SUNY Brockport students.
Garrett Roe, the scholarship coordinator for SUNY Brockport, says the scholarship will help students pay for college.
“Students have mentioned that they do not qualify for state or federal aid, and they are looking for assistance to help pay for their education. Even beyond the educational aspect, students are looking for funds to help their families by fixing their broken car or paying rent and this opportunity could help,” Roe said.
For the upcoming school year, these scholarship programs will become more competitive due to financial burdens from the COVID-19 Pandemic. A poll by Discover Student Loans found 68% of U.S. parents of college-bound students are concerned about paying for their child’s education.
Still, Hoag believes the scholarship can help everyone.
“In terms of supporting Brockport students, they just need to make it clear that is the goal. There are so many students and organizations who would benefit from an opportunity like this,” Hoag said.
Like pairing wine and cheese, the developers of the winery hope the pairing of wine with educational opportunity is a winning combination.