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Vermont vineyards grow by branching out - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont vineyards grow by branching out

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SOUTH HERO, Vt. -

Just beyond the vines at Snow Farm Vineyard in South Hero sits the house Dave Lane grew up in. He always worked in these fields when the farm was a dairy operation. But in 1997, Lane sold 20 acres to a man who got a group of investors together to start a vineyard. Lane liked the idea. So, he and his wife, Julie, joined the group, too. And a little more than six months ago the couple bought the land back and took over the wine business.

"It was part of the farm and we really wanted to bring it back into the family," Dave Lane said.

A key aspect to this business is selling wine. To do that, Snow Farm has a summer concert series that gets toes tapping and people sipping at the vineyard.

"Our best margin is when people come here and buy from the store. And part of local agriculture is experience and understanding we grow the grapes that go into our wines," Lane said.

The concerts represent 12 percent of Snow Farm's annual sales.

Snow Farm grows 11 acres of grapes and has 15 wine varieties. It produces 33,000 bottles of vino a year.

"We have a broad range of wines, so it makes it interesting for the consumer to try our wines," winemaker Patrick Barrelet said.

But this operation pours much more than wine. Lane says in order for any farmer in Vermont to be successful diversification is key. They also run a B & B at the farm, hold weddings and events, and produce maple syrup and pork.

"Diversification is really important and Vermont has a lot of opportunities, so it's exciting," Lane said.

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