The Finger Lakes Economic Development Center (FLEDC) board of directors approved a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement and a $200,000 low interest loan for Savour Finger Lakes LLC to construct a new winery in the town of Benton on Seneca Lake.

Savour Finger Lakes LLC owner Antonio Arias is planning to build a wine tasting room/event center that will be located at 655 State Rte. 14 across the highway from Fox Run Vineyards and near Monello Winery. The project will be 2,800 square feet tasting and event facility with a 4,000 square foot pad to hold a commercial tent for events. 

Following the public hearing in Benton Sept. 16, the FLEDC board approved the PILOT as a standard straight leaseback project at their Sept. 18 meeting. The total capital investment for the project is $1.3 million. The total economic benefit over 10 years is $3,453,349. The total company investment is $2,963,349. The project will create five jobs and two indirect induced jobs.

FLEDC CEO Steve Griffin reported that the total community investment over 10 years is $90,759. The property tax abatement is $45,649, sales tax abatement is $35,360 and mortgage tax abatement is $9,750 over 10 years. Griffin added that the project profiles do not take in to consideration future costs, tax increases, or assessed value increases.

FLEDC Chairman Gene Pierce, owner of Glenora Wine Cellars farther south on State Rte. 14, commented that Seneca Lake Wine Trail members and other Yates County wineries won’t be happy, as Savour FL is taking advantage of the Farm Winery Act to open a retail store for wineries from other lakes and other counties, and won’t be buying local growers’ grapes. Pierce explained that a “winery” only has to make a token 50 gallons of wine per year to qualify under state law, but are allowed to sell wines produced by others.

After the PILOT was approved unanimously, the board also approved a $200,000 loan to Arias from the Agriculture Fund for 10 years at 1% interest, with interest only payments until it opens. Yates County Legislator Bill Holgate, representing Barrington and Starkey, was the only nay vote.

Arias plans to partner with other wineries around the region, yet to be determined, and is looking to start with eight wineries, with some already interested. He is hoping to start construction this month to have the shell up before it snows so they can work on the inside all winter, and hopefully open next spring.