Free wine event helps boost business - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Free wine event helps boost business

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A statewide pairing of wine and chocolate is promoting a growing industry in Vermont.

Sunday afternoon at Shelburne Vineyard was all smiles and sweets - at a free chocolate and wine pairing.

  "The event was fun because wine and chocolate are two of my favorite things," said Marcy Whittle of Shelburne.

 But the journey for wine makers across Vermont hasn't been easy. 

Gail Albert, owner of Shelburne Vineyard, explained, "It's been a history of experimentation to find the grapes that really thrive here. But we have found them."

Cold temps have proved challenging for harvesters statewide so they've learned to rely on variety and individuality. 

  "You find dry, you find sweet, we do ice wine. We do a lot of different things which is awesome having that variety, it is such a turn on for people," said Hannah Swanson, an employee of Shelburne Vineyard.

And sip by sip their customer base is growing.

  "I'm not a big wine person -- there is like one or two that I like -- but I found like one or two out of the 8 that I really like here," said Marlene O'Brien, of Williston.

   "And it was amazing. It blew me away," said Katie Balas of Shelburne. "Since I've had Vermont wines, it's the best."

Since 1997, over twenty vineyards have popped up across the state. Owners hope that free events like this will help keep this local industry growing on a larger scale.

  Swanson explained, "People often just drive by and don't expect a winery and so they are always really surprised and looking around like 'oh my gosh, this is so weird, what is a winery doing here in Vermont?"

But those who have raised a glass off the Vermont vines once -- urge others to follow suite.

   "I think they should come and try them," explained Whittle.

The Vermont Grape and Wine Council sponsors events across the state year round -- in hopes of picking up more customers.

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