9/28/2013 7:00 AM
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant New York Correspondent
Most people picture the Finger Lakes or the Adirondacks as an Upstate New York tourist attraction. Wayne County’s apple country? Not so much. Located along Lake Ontario’s southern shore between Rochester and Syracuse, Wayne County doesn’t offer much to make it a tourist destination.
But Wayne County does have apples: lots of them. The county produces more apples than any other in the Empire State and New York is the second-highest apple producing state in the nation. In an effort to build on the apple industry as a tourist attraction, Wayne County Tourism organizes the Annual Apple Tasting Tour each fall, with this year’s tour kicking off Oct. 1.
Fifteen area farms and ag-related businesses partner together under the guidance of the Wayne County Tourism Office to make their diverse locations into a tourist-attracting event throughout the month.
“They get so much out of the visibility of the advertising and the visitation of customers coming through their storefronts,” said Christine Worth, director of tourism for Wayne County Tourism in Lyons, N.Y.
The ag-related businesses each pay $150 to be part of the tour and donate another $50 worth of products for the give-away baskets. Visitors must visit each location and receive a stamp on their Tasting Tour Card to enter a random drawing for one of four gift baskets.
Lagoner Farms has been part of the tour for the last decade.
“I think it brings more awareness every year,” said Mark Lagoner, the farm’s owner. “It keeps growing and it’s definitely been a positive experience for our farm. That rings true for other farms, too.”
Like other farms in the area, Lagoner’s farm has plenty of apples this season.
“We have a wonderful crop,” Lagoner said. “We have a wide selection of varieties.”
Visitors can tour the farms, pick their own apples, try samples, and snap up produce, pies, wine and more. Two of the farms on the tour, Apple Country Spirits in Williamson and Kitchen’s Country Market in North Rose, are not only new on the tour, but also new to the county.
Apple Country Spirits is a distillery that makes apple vodka on a fourth-generation farm site. Its first product is Tree Vodka.
Kitchen’s Country Market is the other newbie. The farm market sells fresh local produce, dairy items, soups, salads and baked goods. The market also sells home decor, gift items and rustic furniture.
Many of the venues on the tour have planned special events during the month to help lure visitors to join the festivities. To get mobile directions, visitors can use the mobile-friendly farm locator at www.appletastingtour.com.
Mark Lagoner encourages other farms interested in partnering for a tasting tour to “be consistent. Follow the tour’s guidelines. We have to be prepared and have apples available for sampling. Be ready for what the consumer expects when they come. Have enough people prepared to handle the crowds you might attract,” he said.
The Apple Tasting Tour Challenge runs through October.
The participating businesses are: Apple Country Spirits, 3274 Eddy Road, Williamson; Apple Shed, 3391 Maple Ridge Road, Newark; Brownell’s Farm Market, 5247 East Lake Road, Williamson; Burnaps Farm Market & Garden Café, 7277 Maple Ave., Sodus; Grandview Farm, 1040 Canandaigua Road, Macedon; Heluva Good Cheese Country Store, 6152 Barclay Road, Sodus; Kitchen’s Country Market, 10006 Ridge Road, North Rose; Lagoner’s Farm Market, 6895 Lake Ave., Williamson; Long Acre Farms & JD Wine Cellars, 1342 Eddy Road, Macedon; Mason Farms and Farm Market, 3135 Ridge Road West, Williamson; Mills Fruit Farm, 10979 Ridge Road, Wolcott; Morgan’s Farm Market, 3821 Cory Corners Road, Marion; Orbaker’s Fruit Farm Inc., 3451 Lake Road, Williamson; Thorpe Vineyard, 8150 Chimney Heights Blvd., Wolcott; and Young Sommer Winery, 4287 Jersey Road, Williamson.