‘Dreams’ documentary chronicles Finger Lakes winemaking

The mission of the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium is to tell stories about the impacts and interactions that have taken place between the ecological evolution and human occupation of the 9,000-square-mile Finger Lakes Region since the last glacial recession ended some 12,000 years ago.

One of the ways it does that is through programs such as bird identification walks, kayak paddling events, wetland and woodland exploration and wildlife photography workshops. While the museum project itself is still in early development phases, these programs enable people to participate in museum events and learn more about our region’s cultural and natural history.

Another way the museum teaches is through the production of documentary films focused on various aspects of Finger Lakes history. The first public showing of its initial production will be presented at 11 a.m. Sept. 2 in the Star Theatre, 144 Main St., Dansville, during the New York State Festival of Balloons on Labor Day Weekend.

“Dreams Into Nectar: New York’s Finger Lakes Wine Story” is a two-part miniseries that chronicles the history of grape-growing and winemaking in the Finger Lakes Region, including right here in Livingston County. It is the first documentary film produced on the subject.

Part 1, which is named “Collision Course: Wine and Temperance in New York’s Finger Lakes,” explores the hardships that early colonists and pioneer grape growers confronted in their unsuccessful efforts to establish the nation’s first vineyards — and then how a social movement later devastated that industry once it finally became established.

“Collision Course” is a 45-minute film that begins during the time of New World colonization and ends at Prohibition. It was written and directed by winemaker and wine historian, Dr. Gary Cox, and includes interviews with notable wine experts, Thomas Pellechia and John Brahm with historical content provided by author Richard Figiel.

Part 2, entitled “Regional Resurrection: A Return to Prosperity,” also written and directed by Dr. Cox, is in production. It begins with the repeal of Prohibition and proceeds into today’s modern and mechanized vineyard and winery operations. It includes interviews with former New York Lt. Gov. Mary Anne Krupsak and national wine industry expert Jim Trezise.

Both parts of the mini-series were filmed and edited by David Cox of Eyeline Media and narration was provided by retired WDNY radio newsman Terry Van. The musical soundtracks were written and performed by SUNY Geneseo composer Glenn McClure.

Director Gary Cox said, “ ‘Collision Course’ is the story of how explorers and Early Americans, who dreamed of creating fine table wine in eastern America, especially here in New York’s Finger Lakes region, struggled against both unknown natural enemies and the ‘Drys.’ The sequel, ‘Regional Resurrection,’ will present the story of the astonishing, ongoing fulfillment of those dreams in the years since the repeal of national Prohibition.”

As the film’s executive producer, I am soliciting funds through tax-deductible contributions and program sponsorships in order to complete the production of Part 2. We are in talks with PBS Television for national broadcast of both parts back-to-back as soon as Part 2 is finished. Anyone wishing to contribute or become a sponsor can call me at (585) 746-6247 or send an email to

I want to take this opportunity to salute Edgar Schmidt, co-owner of the Star Theatre, for his generosity in donating his venue for our use. All ticket sales will benefit the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium—and popcorn and refreshments will be available to help the theater cover its operational costs. So please plan to attend—and bring an appetite.

Tickets prices for “Dreams Into Nectar” are $10 for adults and $5 for children younger than age 14. Children must be accompanied by an adult. You can pay with a credit card online at (Go to the “Programs and Events Page”) or pay with cash at the door.

“Dreams Into Nectar” is just the first of a series of educational documentaries being planned for production by the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium. Filming has already started for “From the Brink of Extinction: New York’s Bald Eagle Story,” which we hope to finish sometime next year. Please consider a contribution or sponsorship to help make these things happen.

Thanks and cheers!

John Adamski of Dansville has been a professional nature photographer and outdoors writer for almost 40 years. His work has appeared in Life in the Finger Lakes magazine and Adirondack Life, among others. His earlier careers included fish and wildlife management in the Adirondacks and residential design/build. He has also been involved in the development of the Finger Lakes Museum and Aquarium in Keuka Park. His “Woods & Waters” column appears twice a month in The Livingston County News. Contact him at (585) 746-6247 or email at

Featured Posts
Follow Me
  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey Pinterest Icon
Sailor - Hank Osborne
00:00 / 00:00

3369 Guyanoga Road

 Branchport, NY 14418

Tel: 315-595-2200

A Cultural and Natural History Museum