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Touring the North Country's wine country

There's no need to cross the country toward Napa Valley for a wine tour, simply tour the North Country.

Lake Champlain Wines, an organization of the Lake Champlain Grape Growers Association of Plattsburgh, will be having its first wine tour, Saturday, Aug. 14 and Sunday, Aug. 15.

The mission of LCGGA is to "promote grape growing and wine making in the Lake Champlain Valley with an emphasis on developing a commercial wine and grape industry." Philip Favreau of Stonehouse Vineyard in Mooers said the Summer Wine Tour will do just that.

"There's now four licensed wineries and they're trying to promote the fact that there are four wineries in the area and that people can come through and visit and buy wine at all these vineyards," Favreau explained.

Favreau said the wineries are also trying to make people realize they can go on wine tours, walk through the vineyards and learn about cold-hardy grapes, which are grown in this area.

"[Cold-hardy grapes] are grapes that don't need any special protection," he said. "They'll withstand 35, 40 below zero."

The money raised during the tour will be going toward advertising and awareness of the vineyards.

"I think people are becoming aware of it," said Favreau. "But I don't think five years ago anybody anticipated it."

Now, while people are on the wine tour, they'll see how the area has been able to produce different wines, including sweet, dry and fruit.

"There's a variety for of different kinds of wine for every pallet," Favreau explained. "Some of these people are fantastic at what they've done. These people will see a variety of different pruning techniques and different growing techniques."

For those interested in taking the tour, the cost is $10, and will include a glass that can be taken to each of the vineyards. Participants can begin at any location, which include: Amazing Grace Vineyard and Winery, 9839 Route 9, Chazy; ELFS Farm Winery & Cider Mill, 7411 Route 9N, Plattsburgh; Stonehouse Vineyard, 73 Blair Road, Mooers; Vesco Ridge Vineyards, 165 Stratton Hill Road, West Chazy; Hid-In-Pines Vineyard, 456 Soper St., Morrisonville; and Purple Gate Vineyard, 7841 Route 9N, Plattsburgh. Designated drivers will receive free soda and water at every vineyard.

For more information, contact Nancy Vesco at 846-8544 or Tom Frey at 563-2750. There is also information, including a map of the wineries and vineyards at www.lakechamplainewine.org.

"We would like to see as many people as possible come out to at least walk through the vineyards and try the wines and get some idea of what's available," said Favreau.

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