Orbitist Visits the "Other" Wine Country

Western New York is known for a lot of things, like chicken wings, frigid winters, and friendly neighbors. But it’s got a bit of a secret: it’s also wine country, trailing right behind California in grape growing. And if you take a drive through Chautauqua County in the late summer, you’ll smell a sweet, fruity aroma, and see endless rows of grapevines.

So how do you uncover this nearly hidden treasure in a way that speaks to locals who are already familiar with the industry, visitors who have yet to explore it, and everyone inbetween?

The Grape Discovery Center in Westfield, N.Y. has already taken the first step. As a visitor’s center focused on promoting the local grape industry through interaction and education, the Center sees visitors of all kinds — native New Yorkers and tourists, youthful and mature wine drinkers, and nondrinkers and children interested solely in the grape growing process.

Of course, one can use paper maps, magazines, and pamphlets to explore the surrounding area and activities. But rummaging through a stack of papers to find out which destination best matches your interests or fumbling with a gigantic paper map in the passenger’s seat of the car as you travel down the I-90 isn't the best atmosphere one looks for on a day-trip. A quick Google or Facebook search is good for finding something specific, but won't show the whole picture or give you all of the available choices of what the area has to offer.

What if all of these Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt locations — like vineyards, factories, and local wineries — could be placed into one, easy-to-access place that’s cheaper for the agency and more cohesive for the individual?

The Orbitist R&D intern team decided to do just that by building a map for an iPad kiosk in the Grape Discover Center. By plucking information from all of those different sources, we were able to create an all-inclusive map that not only shows the geographic location, but a quick snapshot into what a visitor can expect upon arrival. Points include photography, video, user-generated social media posts, and a written description about each winery, farm, or factory.

Standing in front of the kiosk, the map viewer is enabled to do more than just learn about these various points of interest; A Boy Scout’s interest in the grape growing process may be sparked by seeing the factory of his favorite Welch’s grape juice, or a young wine connoisseur may plan a wine-tasting event for her upcoming bachelorette party. Each of these locations is based on the grape industry, but each one has a different story to tell or adventure to provide. With the form of personal engagement that multimedia content provides, a point extends far beyond the initial layer of a map. It becomes a glimpse into that narrative and a visual, personal interaction with greater potential to generate real interest and become a future destination.

It’s really those interactions that make this Orbitist map unique, because they aren’t solely based on subjective interests or the accounts of businesses. While their interest in grapes may vary from the growing process to drinking the fermented after-product, each user is getting a combination of hand-picked entertainment and factual information. As they move from individually selected points across the screen, they also have the opportunity to experience a bird’s-eye views of nearby agricultural systems. Check it out below: 

We were really excited to team up with the The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program, who gave us access to data about the precise locations of each grape vineyard block in the area — that’s what all that purple space is on the map! — and make more information accessible to the user. There are plenty of online graphics that represent the size of the Grape Belt, but here, you can explore the full extent of the belt and also zoom in to a precise field. Combining this with the locations of the businesses involved, a comprehensive understanding of the Western New York Grape economy is made attainable.

So it seems we’ve covered most of the bases by now. But what about for those local wine-enthusiasts who have visited every local winery a dozen times and want to explore something new? Or the adventurous tourist that wants to take in more than the taste of a sweet raspberry wine from Woodbury Wineries? Using a geographic layer from our partner CartoDB, we were able to lay out scenic drives in the region featuring directions and some possible sights along the way. And because the map can also be found on the Orbitist website by entering map #1718, the viewer can easily take it along with them for the ride.

There are so many rural regions around the world with unexposed points of interests that are only known by a distinct few but are of potential value to so many others. It only makes sense to appeal to all facets of that prospective audience. With Orbitist, you can peel away the layers of concealment and create an explorative and comprehensive map that can be discovered anywhere — at a kiosk on-site, online, or on-the-go — and by anyone.   

Check out the video below to see Orbitist in action at the Grape Discovery Center in Westfield, New York.  

You can make beautiful maps like this using Orbitist.  Learn how how to make a map in 8 minutes.