By Maura Christie
On a typical Friday at Becker Farms, one would be surprised to see how much is going on around them. At first glance you might see people leaving with fresh-picked apples or pumpkins and little kids taking pictures by the haystacks and cornstalks. But look closer and you'll see adults tasting Becker Farm's own micro-brewed beer or hard cider, even the wine that is made from their own leftover fruit. In addition to that, one of the hundreds of weddings that are held there every year is being set up at one of the two venues they offer, and preparations are in order for the haunted hayride that will take place that night. And while all this is going on the aroma of fresh made cider donuts fill the air.
For owners Oscar and Melinda Vizcarra, this is a normal Friday and it's what they have been working on for the past 36 years. In 1979, they got married and began turning Becker Farms into the entrepreneurial empire it is today.
"Every year we have listened to what our customers wanted," Melinda said.
For the first 25 years, Becker Farms was known for its "U-pick," where customers could come on the land and pick their own apples in the harvest season from late August until the end of October. The owners then decided they needed something more and added the winery, Vizcarra Vineyards.
The vineyard was a good solution to using the leftover fruit that wasn't picked to make the wines. Because of all the different produce that is grown on the farm it allows them to come up with very unique wines they can sell to the public.
"We have really unique wines like raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, but we also started the grape wines, as well," Melinda said.
Not only can people come to wine tastings here, but they can also have beer tastings of their micro-brewed beer made by Buffalo's Flying Bison. In addition, they have hard cider that is made with their own grown apples, leaving something for everyone to try.
"I think from a perspective from the wine trail, it's a great winery. Sometimes people don't always want to drink wine, so they can go to the brewery that they have. There are also things for the kids to do if they go as a family. There really is something for everyone," said Elizabeth Maute, coordinator of the Niagara Wine Trail.
At Becker Farms, they hold two different venues for weddings, which started after the owner's daughter got married on the farm. Soon after, many people were asking if they could hold weddings for them. They now hold more than 100 each year.
At Becker Farms, fall is their busiest season with no shortage of things to do. For children, some of the activities include the pumpkin fiesta, goat races, hayride through the forest, Becker Mountain mazes, barnyard twister and slingshot on the mountain just to name a few. Closer to Halloween, kids can take a ride on the haunted forest hayride and get spooked in the "bio-tech gone wrong." For the older crowds they have live music Saturday and Sunday nights. Becker Farm is participating in the Niagara Wine Trail's "Hallowine" which is another fun activity for adults to take part in.
Another unique program they offer here at Becker Farms is community supported agriculture, or CSA. Started by the owner's son, Oscar Jr., CSA is a way for people of the local community to enjoy the different fresh produce. People are able to buy a share of the crop and, for 20 weeks, starting in mid-June to the end of October, customers pay a set fee each week and then are delivered a box of produce that includes whatever is in season.
"They go all the way through strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, sweet corn, all the summer vegetables and then, of course, now they're getting the apples, cider, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli - all kinds of things," Melinda said.
Even though CSA ends in October, if you would like to participate in this for next year, they will begin taking orders again in January.
As we know, winter is coming, which means at Becker Farms it won't be as busy as usual, but they still will have beer and wine tastings every day of the week, and will continue to have live music on Saturday nights. They will also be starting up brunch again going from November to December. They will be having a party on Thanksgiving eve from 7:30 p.m. to midnight with live music and a chance to taste their beer, wine and cider. Homemade pies will be available to purchase to bring to your Thanksgiving dinner and there are plenty of homemade sweets that would make great Christmas presents for all your family and friends.
For more information, visit www.beckerfarms.com.