CANANDAIGUA, NY – A mix of nearly 30 breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries will serve up some of their best products at the first-ever Rochester/Finger Lakes Craft Beverage Trail tasting event. The event, First Fest, will be held Friday, March 29 at Ravenwood Golf Club in Victor, and feature samples from nearly 30 craft beverage producers, plus there will be food vendors, a free tasting glass, music and raffle prizes. The ROC/FLX Craft Beverage Trail is a unique non-profit collaboration between brewers, wine makers, cider makers and distillers.
First Fest will offer a VIP hour from 6 to 7 pm where participants can sample special selections only available to patrons in the first hour with a $40 VIP ticket. General admission tickets are $30 each and are good from 7 to 9 p.m. The trail will also offer a designated drive ticket for $15. Tickets are on sale now at CraftBeverage.EventBrite.com.
Jason Barrett, founder of the trail, says an event like this is a fun way for those curious about craft beverage to sample a variety of beverages.
“An event like this encourage patrons to expand their tastes and build bridges with fellow craft beverage lovers,” said Barrett, owner of Black Button Distilling. “This takes the guesswork out of where to go because you get to try a variety of products.”
The ROC/FLX Craft Beverage Trail is a non-profit organization. Its mission is to create visitation to educate consumers about the diverse craft beverage producers in a four-county area of Ontario, Monroe, Wayne, and Livingston. The trail is made up of 40 craft beverage producers, Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, Visit Rochester, and Wayne County Tourism.
After the event, Barrett encourages patrons to head out to visit the multiple producers on the trail.
“We make it easier to identify and plan a day of experiencing unique local beverages made in your backyard,” he said. “A lot of the smaller operations are hard to find, and the trail helps highlight them — because you want to make a day of it. People want to try different beverages, see different atmospheres, learn new things. It’s a sense of adventure and exploring your community with friends. And you get to try some great locally made beer, spirits, cider or wine in the process.”
John Brahm, founder of Arbor Hill Grapery and Winery in Naples, and a founding member of the Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail, thought it was important to join the craft beverage trail. Plus, he liked the collaborative spirit.
“Our trail gives visitors so many different opportunities to sample wine, distilled products, cheese, and beer — it’s not one or the other. We offer a little bit of everything,” he said. “A formalized trail gives legitimacy to our efforts, plus it offers a larger group of producers for people to visit.”