On the trail of Vermont's fine wines - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

On the trail of Vermont's fine wines

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It was a busy late morning at the Snow Farm Vineyard in South Hero. Proof that wine tasting and the winemaking business are popular with visitors. In an effort to boost these visits, there is a new promotional tool. It's called the Champlain Valley International Wine Trail.

"We are the first international wine trail in the U.S. We link about 50 vineyards in Vermont, New York and Quebec. They are pretty evenly distributed in that area," said Stephanie Castle, the Wine Trail coordinator. "Our role is to facilitate communication among the existing wine trails and also to link the winemakers to the public."

This latest effort was launched late last year. Funding for the trail comes from the National Park Service. There is a website with an interactive map and links to all the vineyards, wineries and cideries. People are starting to discover this new resource.

"Yes, we have had some travelers from New York with the ferry being so close that come over. We have a couple of wines in common with some of the New York vineyards," said Julie Lane, the owner of Snow Farm Vineyard.

And those travelers wanted to compare the wines, which is good news for the man who makes the wine here.

"Absolutely. The more vineyards that are accessible to the people, it's good for us. Good competition makes people want to come out and try out the wines and for the consumer it forces the wineries to make good wines," said Patrick Barrelet, the Snow Farm vintner.

Just the latest effort to draw business to the vineyards.

The Vermont Grape and Wine Council has its own promotion. It's called the Vermont Winery Passport. The idea is to visit each vineyard and get an official stamp. After 10 stamps you can enter your passport in a drawing to win prizes.

Michelle and Richard Wojtkowski of Massachusetts had not heard about the Champlain Valley International Wine Trail, but said they would return to visit more wineries.

"I really like the people, the local people serving the wine actually. It is nice to talk to them, but just taste the different wines, it is very interesting. We have a few back home, small wineries, and I think the wines are really distinctive in taste," Michelle Wojtkowski said.

Next year, the goal for this new wine trail is to petition for federal designation as an American Viticultural Area.

"It's a designation that allows us to brand our region," Castle said. "So, just like Napa Valley, just like Bordeaux, it's a way of having the consumer identify where their wines are coming from and it's a label we will be able to put on our wines."

These folks will drink to that!

"Having a good meal with a good bottle of wine, that's the way to go. It's good," Barrelet said.

Click here for more on the Champlain Valley International Wine Trail.

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