WESTFIELD Those who have been anxiously awaiting the opening of the Grape Discovery Center will have to wait no longer.
On Saturday the center will open at 10 a.m. Andrew Dufresne, Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association executive director, said it will be a soft opening to allow people to look around the facility. He said once all the exhibits and displays are finished, a grand opening will be held, which may happen in August.
During the opening, Dufresne said there will be grape product displays; educational events, including a demonstration of grape harvesting equipment; Mark Baldwin of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, who is a naturalist, will have a map of the Lake Erie Concord grape belt area and will talk about the unique plants, trees and birds found in the lake plain because of the climate.
''We're pretty excited to finally open,'' Dufresne said.
Dufresne said the Grape Discover Center, located at 8305 W. Main Road, Route 20, Westfield, was once a car dealership. In 2008 after receiving grants with the help of state Sen. Catharine Young, R-C-I Olean, the Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association bought the property, building and remodeled the facility for the center.
The facility has three main rooms. One is the welcome center that will house gift items for people to purchase.
''The retail gift items are on the grapy side,'' Dufresne said. ''There will be a grape taste to them, a grape smell, a grape feel.''
One wall will display a map of the grape-growing region and a flat screen television that will include additional information. In one corner there will be a demonstration table with grape-related products for tasting.
The second room will be the grape product room. The room has a restaurant look to it with a bar where people can have a glass of wine. Small food items will also be served like area cheeses and baked goods. One wall of the room has see through glass doors which leads to an outdoor patio. The patio is nestled nicely next to a grape vineyard.
''This is a nice area to have a glass of wine and see the lake plain area. Between the lake on one side and the hill on the other, people will see the features that causes the unique climate that makes this area right for growing grapes,'' he said. ''We are here to promote the local wineries, and this is a pleasant place to come to enjoy a glass of wine.''
The third room will be the display room where people can learn more about the geography that fosters the grape growing belt. People will also discover more about the grape harvesting process and the making of products.
''Here people can become more familiar with the grape growing industry,'' he said. ''The grape belt is 55 miles long, with 30,000 acres of grapes.''
Besides information about the grape belt, the center will also house information on other area attractions. Dufresne said he is hoping the association will be able to get a heritage sign to place on Interstate 90 to attract tourists to visit the center, as well.
The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Dufresne said the center relies on volunteer labor, and positions are available. For more information, call 326-2003 or visit grapediscoverycenter.com or its Facebook page.
The Concord Grape Belt Heritage Association, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation established in 2004. Its mission is to bring greater recognition to the oldest and largest Concord grape-growing region in the world. The organization's membership represents local agricultural, tourism, and wine and grape processing entities throughout a two state region in Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania. The grape industry provides more than $340 million a year to the region's economy.
Admission to the Grape Discovery Center is free as is the available Wi-Fi.