A Hamlin native will open A Gust of Sun winery Friday in Ransomville, Niagara County.
"We've actually been planning this for a long time, even before we were married (three years ago)," said Erik Gustafson, a 1994 Aquinas Institute graduate who co-owns the winery with his wife, Shane.
The couple met at Purdue University, where Shane, a Florida native, was studying food processing engineering and Erik was working toward his doctorate in chemistry education. After Shane earned her bachelor's degree, they moved to Iowa, where they lived for a couple of years.
They were home winemakers and decided they'd like to turn their hobby into a career, so Shane Gustafson took a winemaker certification course from the University of California at Davis.
Erik Gustafson said they figured they should move to a wine-producing region and finally decided to move closer to his parents, who still live in Hamlin. They considered the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes and the Chautauqua County area, but settled on the Niagara wine region.
"We decided it's a new frontier in the wine industry and people are producing world-class wine here," Erik Gustafson said. "... We're really impressed with the region."
They found their 17-acre site in September and moved in two months later, planting an acre of Frontenac and Vignoles grapes and making their first wines from grapes purchased from Niagara and Finger Lakes vineyards. They plan to plant Riesling and Cabernet Franc grapevines next year.
The couple have a 5-month-old son, Caspian, and three West Highland White terriers, Abbey, Cody and Jewell. Erik Gustafson said word has spread among online dog groups about Three Westies White, the wine named after their three pets, and he has been getting far-flung requests for it. The winery will start shipping to 38 states in mid-September.
The new winery's Grand Opening Celebration on Sept. 17 will include food, music, art and lawn games as well as tastings of its inaugural wines: sweet and dry Niagara, semi-dry and dry Rieslings, Chardonnay, Three Westies White and Trismegistus Dry Red. Tickets cost $8 at the door or $5 in advance at the winery or online at www.agustofsun.com/Event-Tickets.html.
The winery, which is a member of the Niagara Wine Trail, plans to add four wines this winter: Apric-Cadabra, Raspody in Blue, Sax on the Peach and 2010 Cabernet Franc. Erik Gustafson said the wines were awaiting label approval.
The state now has 307 wineries, according to the New York Wine and Grape Foundation.
Tasting room hours at A Gust of Sun will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. It is open only on weekends because Shane Gustafson also works at Kent Nutrition Group, a pet-food processor in Arcade, Wyoming County, and Erik Gustafson is finishing up his doctorate and teaching at Erie Community College.
A Gust of Sun is at 4515 Baer Road, Ransomville, and its website is www.agustofsun.com. For more information, email info@AGustofSun.com or phone (716) 731-4878.