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The villages of Madison County have surprising stories to tell.

This rural area in Central New York State is where you’ll find an annual Oz-themed festival in the hometown of L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The world-famous Madison Square Garden ring at the International Boxing Hall of Fame is here, too. You’ll even find a small village that consists almost entirely of mom and pop antique shops. Ohthe county’s two grand waterfalls, both with accessible viewing areas, are stunning. 

Wonderful as all this is, and it is wonderful, it was Madison County’s craft beverage scene that caught our eye. It all began in the 1880s when New York produced 80 percent of the nation’s hops, with most of them grown in the county and surrounding area. Prohibition (and a few other factors) put an end to that. 

But now Madison County and its villages are experiencing a new beginning at the forefront of the craft beverage movement. 

Today you’ll find Good Nature Farm Brewery offering “farm to glass” brews in Hamilton. They’re one of the state’s first, and largest, farm breweriesHead to Cazenovia for award-winning wine at Owera Vineyards (try their “Betty’s White”) and award-winning hard cider at Critz Farms Brewing & Cider Company. Or go micro at Canastota’s Erie Canal Brewing Company then round out your experience with a tasting of Applejack brandy at Old Home Distillers in Lebanon. 

Check out the Colgate Inn for farm to tavern cuisine by the fireplace and the Brewster Inn, where all menu items are made from scratch (ask about their Wine Spectator award-winning cellar). And indulge in the “Best Ribs in New York State,” as proclaimed by Food Network, at Ray Brothers Barbecue. 

 Begin your visit at www.theVillagesOfMadisonCounty.com. 

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