You don’t have to be into wine to enjoy your time at Owera Vineyards. You just have to be up for an experience, one that includes great food, amazing views and good conversation.
That’s the vision of the founding family that planted their vineyard outside the village of Cazenovia in 2008. It was an adventurous endeavor for Nancy and Peter Muserlian at the time.
While this is a lakeside community, it falls outside of New York’s famed Finger Lakes wine region. In fact, Owera was Madison County’s first winery ever.
But, using carefully selected varietals, the farm winery has grown in multiple ways over the years.
“This area does contain a different product [than the Finger Lakes] because of the topography. It can only house certain types of grapes,” Owera General Manager Dawn Schmidt says. “You have to get a cold, hearty variety in order to withstand the temperatures of this region.”
Owera – which translates to “wind and air” – appropriately describes the winter climate here. The grapes – imported from Minnesota with roots capable of withstanding temperatures as low as -40 degrees – have produced plenty of award winners and earned a faithful local following.
Frontenac Gris, LaCrescent and Frontenac vines populate a portion of the 57 scenic acres here. They are often blended with grapes from the Finger Lakes to produce true New York flavors.
“We do keep all of our grapes local from New York state and we’re able to produce a larger portfolio of wine based off that,” Schmidt says.
But, the bottles aren’t the only place you’ll find wine at Owera.
“We try to create our menu based off of our wine, so we use it in almost everything we do here,” Schmidt says. “Everything in our cafe has some sort of wine element that goes into it and we pair each one of our cafe items with actual wine here.”
There’s an overarching theme of broadening horizons not just among wine enthusiasts, but casual tasters as well. Owera is part of the Cazenovia Beverage Trail, a local collection that includes breweries and a hard cidery. It also overlaps with other trails in the area, allowing Owera to draw in visitors of all craft beverage preferences.
“It allows people to be able to come here, pick and choose their trail or essentially build their own depending on their own tastes – and experience all the wonderful things that Central New York has to offer.”
Cazenovia itself is a quaint lakeside community, one of many historic towns and villages planted among the rolling hills and natural beauty of Madison and surrounding counties.
“We are trying to expand the horizons of wine in general, so coming to Owera is not just to stop in,” Schmidt says. “We do try to create an experience from the moment you walk in the door, from the service you receive to the items that you drink to the food that you eat to the scenery that’s around you.
“We want it to be this wonderful experience with wine being the center focus of it all.”