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Johnson Estate Winery

Jennifer Johnson
November 25, 2023 | Jennifer Johnson

The Perfect Christmas Gift - Legends of the Chautauqua-Erie Grape Belt

Dear Reader,
This just-released, highly-illustrated 132-page book is a perfect Christmas gift from Western NY.  Most especially for those who have happy memories of living in this region, where October's grape aromas are an essential part of fall, and whose grape industry also created the beautiful agricultural vistas of vineyards and the historic villages that line Route 20, creating a special sense of place.

Located in the center of the world's largest Concord grape belt, Johnson Estate's story is included in this book.

It was when I was in my early thirties, that I realized that I was drawn to historic buildings and landscape architecture, which together create a "sense of place". Every time my husband, Fred Johnson, and I moved, I wanted to find an old house and enjoy that city’s unique sense of place. And when we lived in Australia, I was able to complete a master’s degree in historic preservation.  Fred and I like to tell this "quick" story to guests: “We have been married for over 41 years and Fred's career, working for international food companies including Frito-Lay and Chiquita Banana, explains why our son was born in Australia and our daughter in Canada. It explains why they learned Spanish on a banana plantation in Panama.  And why our move to the Johnson family farm and winery in 2013 after our children had finished college, was move number fourteen.  We have now lived in WNY longer than anywhere else.”

After moving into the 200-year-old farmhouse next door to the winery, I discovered the WNY Heritage Magazine, and quickly began to appreciate the region’s unique sense of place. I learned that it was the generations of families who had worked in the grape industry - growing, processing, or delivering grapes - who had created its unparalleled and beautiful agricultural vistas of vineyards and the historic villages along the shores of Lake Erie.  I loved having issues of the magazine with John Thomas Slater’s articles about the region in the Tasting Room – even if that meant purchasing 200 copies for Wine Club members, visitors to the winery, and travel writers! As a result, I was happy to join Author John Thomas Slater and Editor/Publisher, Doug DeCroix, in supporting the publication of this special book of the region's stories and making it available to our growers, residents, and visitors.

The book is the result of over a decade of collaborative research by a network of dedicated historians and archivists working with author John Thomas Slater. This special publication, of 132 pages, shares the rich and evocative stories of the vineyards, farms, wineries and people that have made up this unique viticultural region since the early 1800s. 

So, open a bottle, pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy these stories about "our special place".

Jennifer Johnson


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