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Cayuga Wine Trail Co-Founder Passes Away


The woman who co-founded “America’s First Wine Trail” forty years ago has passed away.

According to her obituary, Mary Plane co-founded and ran Plane’s Cayuga Vineyards near Ovid in 1972, an associated winery of the same name in 1980 and in 1983 co-founded the Cayuga Wine Trail by joining her winery with four others that helped promote tourism in the Finger Lakes.

She and her husband, Robert, were among the first winery owners to grow vinifera grapes commercially in Upstate New York, and they participated in research at Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva to develop varieties that might tolerate the region’s cold winters better than pure European varietals.  Upon Robert’s retirement from Clarkson University as its President in 1995, the couple made the decision to sell the vineyard/winery and relocate to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Mary had a lifelong connection with the Finger Lakes and Central New York. She earned a Master’s degree at Syracuse University in Student Personnel Administration, and, after serving briefly as a residence hall director at the University of Minnesota, she moved to Ithaca in 1950. There she took up a position as Program Director in the Willard Straight Hall Student Union at Cornell University.

A memorial service for Mary Plane, who was 96-years-old at the time of her passing on September 14th, is planned for December in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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