FORESTVILLE - The first event of the summer for Merritt Estate Winery is its annual Strawberry Festival. Each year, Merritt teams up with a local celebrity athlete to raise proceeds for a charity of the athlete's choice. This year, the winery will be working with Buffalo Bandits forward Johnny Tavares in an effort to raise valuable funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
This year's Strawberry Festival will take place Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. at the winery. Admission is free both days of the event. The festival will feature area crafters, a classic car cruise, summertime grilling favorites, strawberry themed and infused desserts and Merritt's famous Sangria Wine Slush. The festival will also feature live music from Blood Money, Black Widow, and headliner Sean Patrick McGraw on Saturday and Fallen Union and Coal Train on Sunday.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is currently the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes research. Both the professionals and volunteers involved with JDRF are constantly looking for new treatments, preventative measures and most importantly a cure for the disease that affects as many as three million Americans.
Tavares has played with the Western New York lacrosse team since its first season in 1992. The well known player is the current representative for the Bandits and has achieved much success over his career with the team. Tavares was the first player in the NLL history to have 500 goals and 500 assists. The player is also the NLL's all-time leader in goals scored. Tavares has four championships under his belt and has been named to the NLL All-Star Game. Also referred to as the Godfather of the National Lacrosse League, Tavares has found many successes in his career with the Bandits and certainly has the potential to find many more.
Merritt Estate is located in Lake Erie Wine Country, the largest grape growing region of New York State located along the shores of Lake Erie. The grapes and wines produced by Merritt rival the quality of premium vintages throughout the world.