Chautauqua County is often called "Grape Country." This phase was perfect for describing the America's Grape Country Wine Festival held Sunday.
Floral Hall on the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds saw a good turnout from wine tasters, despite the threat of rain.
Each guest received a free wine glass souvenir to sample the varieties and toast with friends.
Americas Grape Country headline act Uncle Kracker
Eric Gernatt said it was his first time attending the festival, but was amazed at the many different varieties.
The wine festival brought together 27 wineries from local vineyards all the way from central and eastern New York.
David Pazdar, co-owner of Pazdar Winery from Scotchtown, said this is his third year coming to the festival, even though it is six hours away from home.
OBSERVER Photos by Nicole Gugino
Wine lovers turned out Sunday to taste the varieties 27 wineries had to offer at the America’s Grape Country Wine Festival.
Uncle Kracker, also known as Matt Shafer, signed autographs for fans before the concert.
"It is a good festival and it's gives us exposure," he said in an interview.
Many of the wineries reported the sweet wines to be the most popular of the day.
Gary Burmaster, owner of Liberty Vineyards & Winery in Sheridan, said their Sweet Trio of Lucy in the Sky, Purple Haze and White Side of the Moon, was their most popular seller of the day.
Organizers of the event said it went very smoothly.
"It's gone really well," Merritt Winery's Director of Marketing and Promotions Edwin Rodriguez Jr. said. "We were curious to see how the concert would affect attendance but it has been an excellent crowd and I haven't heard any complaints from vendors."
Local country music star Sean Patrick McGraw also took some time to enjoy the wine before his concert with Uncle Kracker later that evening.
"I'm happy to be home and I hope the weather cooperates," he said.
The weather did cooperate in the end and McGraw and his band played an hour of classic country/rock covers and originals like "Cow Tipping" which was written after an experience in Sheridan.
Jason Merritt thanked all the sponsors of the event and his staff before introducing the long-awaited main act, Uncle Kracker.
Before the band came on Uncle Kracker, also known as Matt Shafer, posed for photos with fans and signed autographs.
His fans welcomed him to the grandstand with cheers and danced along to his songs.
The concert had a good turnout and many fans gathered as close to the stage as possible, several wearing shirts emblazoned with "Uncle Kracker" on the back.