ROCHESTER, NY -- In the midst of an unprcedented growth in the number of wineries in New York State, one of the oldest is being closed.
Widmer Winery, located in Naples about 40 miles southeast of here, will be closed by 2011 and the building and vineyards donated to Rochester Institute of Technology. RIT offers academic programs in wine, sustainability and culinary arts.
Widmer is owned by Constellation Brands Inc., headquartered here in Rochester. It is the world's largest wine company.
Constellation CEO Rob Sands said the company plans to move production of its Taylor, Paul Masson and Manischewitz wines from Widmer to its Canandaigua Winery, located about 20 miles away. It said it probably will move the 55 jobs at Widmer to Canandaigua.
RIT is getting a piece of history as well as 860 acres of land on which there are 220 vine acres with 640 vines to the acre.
The foundations of Widmer's Wine Cellars began more than a century ago when Swiss winemaker John Jacob Widmer and his wife, Lisette, moved to the Finger Lakes. He planted his first vines in 1883 and his wine business started in 1888 when he began filling kegs and barrels on request, mostly for Swiss immigrants in Rochester and in Paterson, NJ.
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